Roleplay 101 – Character Creation Part 1
Character creation is an essential part of any roleplaying game. For some people, the process comes naturally and making a good character takes little to no effort. For others, the process can prove difficult. This is where I can help you. It’s important to know that there isn’t a single formula to creating characters. I’ll cover a few basics.
Where to Start
First and foremost, you must decide what sort of character you are creating. This will depend largely on the roleplay. For example, you wouldn’t create a space pirate in a Tolkien-esque fantasy roleplay. So you need to ask yourself a few questions:
- Is my character of a race that ‘fits in’ with the roleplay?
- Will my character be a lead character or a supporting one?
- What role does my character have?
Of course, these are very basic questions to ask, but they allow an initial outline idea of your character. By answering these questions, you’re on the way to creating an awesome character.
For myself, I start by naming my character. Certain races have expected naming conventions, but that doesn’t always matter – your character’s name needs to simply fit in with the roleplay.
Names can be difficult to make up, but help is available! Check out the following links to name generators:
- Seventh Sanctum has a good name generator section, with many generators for all kinds of situations
- Dragon’s Mark is another service that offers multiple name generators, focusing mostly on fantasy names
- Another good name generator can be found at fantasyrole.org which again focuses on fantasy names
- PHP Geek is another site with a name generator. It’s pretty basic and works based on your own information – surname, first name, mother’s maiden name and the name of the city you were born in. Of course, you don’t have to enter real information though.
Others exist, of course, and you can use Google to search for them.
Your character’s appearance is important. Often it can be a reflection of your character’s personality, an indication of their position, or simply what they look like. A few things should be considered:
- How tall is your character?
- What build? Slim, muscular, chubby, some alien-looking abomination?
- What does their face look like? Hair colour, eye colour, ugly, pretty, handsome?
- What clothes do they wear?
- How does your character ‘carry’ themselves? Do they seem confident, nervous, arrogant, flirtatious? This is often directly linked to the character’s personality.
A character’s personality will determine their of the world, how they interact with others, and predominantly, how you play the character. A personality can also change over time, as in real life. Often, the character’s history will link into their personality – perhaps being the cause of the personality.
- What is the general attitude of your character? Fun-loving, happy, enthusiastic, serious, stoic, loud, bashful?
- In what way do they view others? Friends, acquaintances, enemies?
- How does your character view the world they are in?
- What standards/morals/principals does your character have?
- Is your character liked by others? Immediately, after getting to know them, not at all?
- What is your character motivated by?
A character’s history is one of the keystones in character creation. It is what ties everything together. Much like a real person, a roleplay character will inevitably be moulded by the events in their life. The history of a character can also explain why there are where they are in a roleplay. A few things to consider, when writing a character’s history:
- What was their childhood like?
- What events in their childhood helped to shape them, if any?
- What have they spent their life doing up to this point?
- Are there any influential people they’ve met ‘along the way’?
- What jobs has the character had?
- What trials helped to make the character stronger, weaker, less trusting etc?
- Has your character moved from their home town?
- If so, why?
- If not, why?
Some people like to have a very detailed history, some don’t. The choice is up to you. If you write a history, try to keep at least to the key points in their life that led them to ‘now’.
Abilities and Equipment
A character’s ability and equipment needs to again fit in with the roleplay. Your character wouldn’t have a phaser in a fantasy roleplay, typically. A few things, without going into specifics, should be considered:
- Do the abilities and equipment match the roleplay?
- Are the strength of my character’s abilities too strong? (After all, you don’t want to god mod.)
- Where did the character learn these abilities? Do they match up to the history?
- Do the abilities coincide with other character points? (For example, would a 15 year old really have mastered a technique that takes fifty years to do so?)
- What equipment does my character have?
- For what purpose?
- How many of each item?
- Is it realistic for my character to carry all this equipment?
- How does the equipment assist in my character’s role?
- Are these abilities and equipment necessary, or do I just want an ‘uber character of doom’?
We’ve looked at the basics of creating a character here. But, we’re not quite finished yet… We need to keep balance. A balance character is generally more interesting, and helps to suspend disbelief.
In the second part of this tutorial, we will look at how to maintain balance in your characters.
Lord Saladin is an experienced veteran RolePlayer and wordsmith, and long-time tutor of RolePlay and writing. He runs his own proof-reading business and has been published on several websites for his articles about sales and business.