5 Bad Character Personalities (and what makes them bad)

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Snowday, Dec 7, 2014.

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  1. Sometimes, it's more than appearances and Sue-worthy backgrounds that bother me about a character. But when it comes to bad personalities, figuring out why a character rubs you the wrong way can be a bit more difficult. My expectation is that, as you're reading through these, you might remember characters from times long past that you were forced to roleplay with and cringe to yourself. Why? Because chances are, if the following descriptions ring any bells, they were a pretty bland character. Sorry.

    Bad Personality #1
    "The Vanilla"

    XXX is nice and polite. Xe is shy, but can be bold if xe wants to be. Xe likes to read and write and sing, but can also fight if circumstance demands it. Xe is nice to everyone xe meets, if a bit shy, but gives bullies and jerks a real hard time. Though xe is happy and nice on the outside, xe has a dark side because xir parents/brother/second cousin/pet hamster died, but doesn't let it show cause that would be rude. Overall, xe is nice, but don't make xir angry/get on xir bad side!
    Well, as much as I hate, this cookie-cutter, hideously popular personality choice, I see what you were trying to do. These characters are born of roleplayers who want to play a character who is, for all intents and purposes, the best of both worlds - "badass" so they appear cool and can hold their own, but nice so that other characters are morally unable to dislike them. Why people insist on having every other character in the RP like their character is beyond me, but the best theory I have is that new roleplayers take it as a personal insult. This personality type is also popular among inexperienced players because they don't have to commit to a specific pattern of behavior, and are free to just let their character do whatever they feel like doing. It's lazy. Also, you may have noticed that I underlined that last bit. This is by far the most common phrase I see in character forms. I despise it. Case in point: give your character a real personality.
    Bad Personality #2
    "The Generic Protagonist"

    XXX lost xir parents at a young age, and was a prisoner of war/victim of human trafficking/abused by stepparents. Today, xe is free, but doesn't kid around. I mean, xe can make friends, but xe doesn't stand for injustice or cruelty. Xe hates authority and speaks out against "the man" to anyone who will listen. Xe is also a master of martial arts/swordfighting/streetfighting. Xir greatest flaw is being so rebellious.
    Ah, yes. The attempted sob story without repercussions. This isn't generally used by new players like number one, but tends to be their next default personality once they get bored of Vanilla and realize how very "cool" their character could be. This is the result. Awful, isn't it? I wonder how long it will take for the roleplaying community to realize that having a rough childhood will not help you conveniently master the art of fighting to prepare you for your (brief) career in a roleplay where fighting skills might just make you look badass for a few minutes. Sadly, no one likes reading about a badass character in a roleplay. When I am in a thread with this sort of character, I only read through their posts so that I don't look like a total tool and ignore them completely. As far as I'm concerned, this character doesn't exist in the real world. Also, I just have to say it - find a character like this in any roleplay. If the skeleton asks for flaws, I guarantee you that "rebellious" will be at the top of that painfully short list. It's a "flaw" only a protagonist could have.
    Bad Personality #3
    "The Edgy"
    XXX is quiet and reserved. Xe wears dark clothing and xir eyes are red. If you do manage to talk to xir, xe is irritable and short tempered, but is also a fountain of grim but profound wisdom. Most of the time, xe lurks alone.
    There is a reason this particular personality description is so damn short - the roleplayer doesn't even need a proper personality, because they're just going to play by themselves, anyways. I can actually sympathize with you if your heart sank when you realize that your beloved character fit the description perfectly - I've done this character before, and regret it indeed. Most of the time, the only reason anyone would dream of using this sort of character in an RP is as a distorted self-insert for the special snowflakes out there. I'm thinking about writing a children's book for roleplayers; "If You Give a Mouse an Edgy Self-Insert." Care for a preview? No? Too bad. "If you give a mouse an edgy self-insert, they'll ask to be left alone for the entire RP. If they ask to be left alone for the entire RP, they will continue to post about their character's angst and loneliness. If they continue to post about their character's angst and loneliness, people will become frustrated and leave the thread. If people leave the thread, you'll be forced to confront the player. If you're forced to confront the player, they'll become defensive and rant about how misunderstood they are." That's all I've got, but you get the idea. Oh, and on a sidenote, I don't care what your excuse is for having a red-eyed character is. I don't want to hear it.
    Bad Personality #4
    "The Shameless Sue"
    XXX is nice, extremely intelligent, and a skilled fighter. Xe has powers, but has to hide them because people shun her when she shows them. Xe is also very beautiful and a talented singer, but can also wield large, deadly weapons. Xe is also an excellent healer. Xir powers are very powerful powers that could lay waste to cities. In spite of xir bountiful talents and abilities, xe has depression problems because xir parents are dead. Still, xe has a very strong sense of justice and would never get angry for a bad reason or hurt someone who didn't deserve it.
    Mary Sue is the most infamous member of the bad character family. She's also the kawaiiest. Thankfully, I don't encounter this one too often because apparently the people of iwaku have some sense of dignity. The reason this extreme character is so rare is because people tend to learn the hard way that people don't enjoy playing with these characters. While all of these types make some club-footed attempt at looking cool, none go so far as the sue in her natural habitat. The roleplayers of these freaks of nature seem to think that roleplaying is not a plot development exercise as much as it is a cool character contest. Of course, Sues aren't "cool," but their creators have a very jaded definition of cool. By the time the roleplay begins, all the other members of the roleplay have tacitly agreed to ignore the Sue until they leave of their own accord, like a lost mosquito or a urinary tract infection. When the offender finally leaves, they are positively indignant that we peasants dared to ignore our new God, AKA their character. They go off in search of a new RP to terrorize, and the cycle of the Sue is perpetuated. Are the folks who ignored Kawaii Supreme to blame? You could say that. But can you blame them for not going to the trouble? Yeah, that's what I thought.
    Bad Personality #5
    "The Mystery"
    Meet xir!/Will be revealed in RP.
    If you can't be bothered to write out a personality like the rest of us, then go find a jump-in, because some of us actually take pride in this kind of thing.

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  2. I think I'm just lazy to think for my character when it comes to "describe how him/her is to me, before we play."
    An horrible quirk, of course.
  3. I'm gonna keep this in mind next time I create a character! Thanks!
  4. You bet! Glad you liked it! <3
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  5. Outside a few of these, I'd have to disagree with the static notion of "this is bad, always and forever" when the cliche/trope is a tool just as much as a personality skeleton is but that tool can be well-written or executed well.
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  6. I can make a perfectly decent character out of premises one and two. All I need to do is add character-specific details. Three would also work in fiction, but in general is a bad archetype to use in roleplaying because that's an activity built on interactivity. Four is the only archetype beyond repair because it's fundamentally flawed in not having any flaws (which is impossible because lolperspective). Five isn't a personality to begin with.

    I mean let's put it like this. Maybe the vanilla, pre-RP, was a bully their selves. When their parents and/or pet hamster died, the only person who would actually approach them (and we can make a deliciously awkward scene out of this) was one of their previous victims. Realising their wrongs and feeling great guilt, the bully changes their ways. They became a bit shy because their confidence took a big hit and they come to hate their past self. Instead, they idolise the person who helped them and try to be like this person. Whenever they see another bully, on the other hand, this brings up self-hate which, as so many other bullies do, is taken out on the bully in question. Essentially this creates a duality and underlying struggle in a character between trying to let go of their past and not doing it. Maybe not an award-winning example, but throw this character in a 'shades of grey' scenario and watch them quickly differentiate from other vanillas.

    Rebel-hero archetype is also easy to differentiate. They may have a predetermined flaw in sticking it to the man, but their outlets can differ. Maybe they go shounen-protagonist jump into the open and start shouting and kicking ass. Or maybe they become the hero Gotham needs but doesn't deserve. Or maybe they start plotting in the background because they know that's their best bet at changing the situation (even if they hate every minute of it), using their street smarts and child-soldier training only when absolutely cornered. etc. I can make a dozen of characters that have a combo of tragic past/chaotic alignment/strong sense of justice/good combat skill. And they'd all be different.

    And... Well, so can you. The trick isn't to avoid a personality-archetype, the trick is to use an archetype as a skeleton instead of a final product. Differentiate through detail or character development. Even if those fail you, even fairly generic characters can be made great through skill in storytelling. Miyazaki is an excellent example of this; using his settings and adventures to enhance his characters. If you haven't seen those movies, you totally should.

    You do a decent job of pointing out common mistakes, but this isn't an end-all. Use the entirety of your toolbox when writing. Scrape at it's very bottom.
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  7. As I was reading this, I was mentally comparing my characters, lol. Honestly, a few of my characters are based on similar skeletons to some of your archetypes, and when they were first created by newbie!Asena they were pretty much JUST that. As I grew as a writer, I added more depth, and now though a lot of my characters are based on these terrible archetypes, they have their differences. I have a few variations on Vanilla. One is almost cloyingly sweet and bubbly, to the point where a lot of "cool" characters will think of her as nails on a chalkboard.

    Just like @Kestrel said, I think using these as skeletons for a more detailed and diverse character is great, as long as it doesn't encompass the whole character.
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  8. I have to comment on number three, largely because I have this nagging problem where I keep coming up with character ideas only to realize a fair number of them fall into the third category to some degree. It's not that I want to RP alone, I just... I want to RP out how they change? Like, I love taking this damaged character, who's built up these walls he or she shields themselves behind, and then putting them in a situation where they have to learn to trust in others and slowly learns to bond with others.

    That said, it's a really difficult evolution to play out, to have them be who they start out as and not make everyone hate him from the start, and be able to have them change. It usually works out best when it's just a one-on-one with a friend so we can discuss how things will work out and what's going on and the like.
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  9. I kinda disagree with number 5 in some cases. Personality listing is fine, but often I like to hide backstory. Revealing backstory in a few lines is infinitely more boring then if someone either took the time to put flashbacks or their character talking about their past in the rp giving a sense that the character has REASONS for the way they are as well as being dynamic enough to learn more about them.
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  10. Just because they put it in the character sheet doesn't mean they can't still have those things you describe, too. Not everyone actually reads other character sheets if they're not the GM; I generally only read them for the appearances, I only read more if our characters are supposed to know each other, you know? I prefer it that way to better write more organic reactions when my character learns things about others in-game.
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  11. I dislike the hiding of backstories... I think keeping it out of your character sheet takes away all possibility of other players reading it and coming up with plot ideas you'd never have thought of. Then again, that's just my play style. I typically want everything on the table OOC so everyone has a chance to interact with everything, while preserving the mystery just in-game.
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  12. I have done this once.... not out of evil intentions though. More because I have an imagine in my head and am unable to properly fit it in wholy just yet. It is a concept and I would like to flesh the character out before writing something like that up.
    There is a basic personality concept... the problem I personally have is that living creatures are not "simply silent", "simply arrogant" or anything like that.
    While I have in my mind the concept, I really would like to flesh these aspects a bit further out.

    You are right in one thing though.
    There is nothing against writing down the character concept with the note that this is only the absolute base concept and will be properly fleshed out within the RP if the character is accepted.
    @Nickboom (just because I, at first, had the same thought, if you wish the mark to be removed, leave a note on my profile and I will comply as soon as possible)

    The character type I have met the most is the "silent badass".
  13. I mostly use the the edgy type of personality when I start role-playing because I can't think of a personality for my character. I always knew that being quiet can be pretty annoying and all, but it was the only persona I can think of-- about that Mary/Gary Sue-- yes you are quite right about that. I've always encounter that kind of character, and they happen to be my friend. Since I don't want to break her heart I kept my mouth shut and hoping that someday she will realize what she was writing about her characters. But since I am an elementary role-player I guess I have a long way to go than I expected to be.
  14. There is one aspect of 'The Edge' that can be worked into an RP, and that's the idea of the Lone Wolf, and not liking to be in groups. But it comes with a very strong caveat that requires some awareness of the story and setting, as well as the group as a whole, for it to work.

    There has to be something tying him/her to the group. Maybe they're related to a member of the group that's off to do something dangerous and he wants to keep an eye on them. Maybe he's had an encounter with the antagonist and been soundly trumped by him, so he knows he has to work with a group if he wants to succeed. Maybe the group has a Macguffin or multiple ones that are tied to the goal. In other words, there needs to be something intrinsically linked to the Lone Wolf's goals or motivations that forces him to stick around and interact with the group. Over time, he can learn to be more comfortable with them, and eventually he might even decide he likes working with these people.

    And there can be multiple reasons for why someone is a lone wolf that don't come down to just being an edgy grump. Maybe he had a friend/partner who worked with him that died and he feels like working with other people puts them in danger (this type of person can even be pleasant to be around! You know, as long as you don't remind him of his dead friend/partner). Maybe said friend/partner betrayed him, so he has a hard time trusting people. Maybe he has some kind of personality flaw (you know, besides being a grumpy twat. Hell, they might even just be really shy and afraid of interacting with people due to something that happened before) or mental issue that makes it difficult for him to talk to people (twitchy nervous habits that put people off, a crippling addiction to something that people find detestable, a speech impediment they're embarrassed about, or maybe they have an imaginary friend/talk to themselves a lot and people get weirded out by it). The motivation for their current behavior is key in deciding how they develop later on down the road, and exactly how they interact with the group. For example, the guy who lost his friend/partner that's being forced to work with the group might become overprotective of them to a suicidal degree, and throw himself into a fight he knows he can't win so there's a chance the rest get away.

    This is also a line that bothers me due to the implications. That is, the idea that someone who is beautiful and talented can't be stressed out or anything like that. Maybe it's just the way it's worded when taken out of context. The death of parents can be plenty cause for depression, especially if it happened very recently. That's something that can take time to get over, especially if they were very close to them. Having beauty and talent doesn't suddenly make you immune to hardships and loss. Unless we're talking about a robot.

    I also agree with Kestrel on the points for the first two he made. A lot of the things that are often flagged as automatically bad in writing often come down to the fact that they are often misused or poorly handled. It's the same reason why the term 'Mary Sue' is so hotly debated in terms of its exact definition, because it often comprises a great many things that, on their own, aren't bad, but when all put together at once in a poor fashion, create something that is awful to read about. It really comes down to the fact that you can't just throw in common tropes without thought. Take into consideration what you're putting into your characters and story, and the purpose behind them. Why are you giving your character a tragic backstory? Is it just to make him sympathetic or give him a hard time? Or is there going to be an actual effect on the story, something that comes up and helps to develop the character and story?

    Tropes aren't bad by default. It's how they're used that can make or break it.
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  15. I think it depends on how the person portrays the character in and out of the game.

    Also, how about those bitches who select who they don't like? What in that person's personality makes them tick? And I believe the 'edgy' ones might (or might not) have killed them.

    What bugs me about the 'dead parents' is that the authors do not take realism to consideration. Stabbing someone is much harder than it looks on TV. You'd have to cut through lots of bone and flesh to get an inch down there. Also, I'd want to know what triggered their rage against their parents (or another person). Why do they hate them so much? Why do they hate "perky" people?

    I mean, that's what I found in edgy people!
    #15 IceChateau777, Jun 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
  16. Interesting read, not sure if I agree with five though but I'm bias in that I get to know my character better the more I use them and often when I say they are going to be one way they'll very kindly punch me in the stomach steal all my money and let me know they are going to be another way. So I now tend to replace personality with just general things about said character things I know are going to stick and help shape them and what kind of person they will become. Though I suppose I could just be awful at writing personality information. Also I kind of like not knowing exactly how someone's character is going to act sometime can't really explain why closest answer I can come up with is it feels a bit more natural when interacting with them course it very easily could backfire all in your face and the character is actually a sue or just very hard to work with.

    Like I said I'm a touch bias though.

    Something random I've always wondered though. Why is being a good singer considered a Sue trait? This is a legit question. Is it because it just happens to be in there a lot of time in sue/stu descriptions for characters?
  17. The Shameless Sue is totally what I agree with. The Shameless Sue is nothing more than a power fantasy, much worse than any Superhero that you see in movies and what not. At least the Superheroes have weaknesses like Superman's green stone thing(can't spell it right without looking like a fool).

    For the other four, I do agree to an extent. The Vanilla can be a good 'Getting your Sealegs'. I know I used this one a few times before starting to toy around with other personalities like my Zanzibar's insanity and Jason's snarky personality types. They can also be toyed around with as well like how Kestrel said that they could have been a bully themselves and then something bad happened that changed them. Heck, they could be the child or sibling of a villain or other evil character and wished to be not like them.

    The Generic can also be played with. Yes, they're rebellious, but also suffer from minor depression and sometimes lapses into panic attacks when confronted with a moment that happened during their imprisonment. This one is where new Rpers can experiment with and add things, course if it's just like you said, then nope!

    The Edgy, like the last two, can be toyed with, or even have traits like XIR wears blacks clothes, but is social and yet doesn't let people know about their personal life. And like the person I mentioned before and whomever else, they can perfect Lone Wolf characters, though I recommend slowly introducing them to the group so they aren't so edgy.

    And then finally the Mysterious. I, myself, like starting off with simple characters and a basic backstory that details a few important events in their life, but not all and leave out any influential people. Some others also like starting off with simple characters and then have them grow as the Rp goes on. It's a lot more interesting and immersing than seeing a big old block of text. I also have issue with those monster apps asking for everything about that character even going as far as to go into likes and dislikes. Unless they're going to be used for plot purposes, I'm wasting my time.

    I do, however, have one Bad Personality to throw in. The damn Clone. This happens when a Rper keeps using the same character over and over again no matter what. Granted, this is justified if they're going to be used in a story and they need to develop their personality, but using the same character, no matter what, will get old. Now, I bid you good day and may the American Laser Abe Bear be with you!
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  18. What about characters who personality-wise are basically the same but differ otherwise? What about characters with basically the same ability? What about characters that are recycled because the RP it was originally part of ended prematurely? I agree that if someone is using the same characters over and over it can get boring, but saying that is hypocritical because I do it myself. I come up with a character idea I really enjoy, and throw it into a few RPs at the same time in hopes that one of them won't end instantly.
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  19. I should have said the exact same. Yes, while they may use the same character because a Rp ended prematurely, it could have been because their own character was too strong, annoying, or other. Course, I can't stop you from using the Clone.
  20. The thing about recycling characters is adapting them to the setting. For example, someone wants to use Bob the skeptic for a fantasy, a modern, and a sci-fi RP. The basis of Bob would be someone who questions everyday life, that much remain the same. But how he does it changes from setting to setting. In the fantasy story, Bob might be a witchhunter, who investigates magic and bring dangerous wizards to justice. In the modern story, snatching people like a vigilante can be problematic. So instead, Bob turns into a conspiracy theorist, who hacks government databases and leak them Edward Snowden style. The future Bob takes technology to the next level. Maybe he flies spaceships into unknown space, or maybe he still hacks the internet, but now doing it to alter the physical world. Whatever Bob is depends vastly on the environment he's in. There are stories of identical twins separated at birth, raised in different environments, and turned into polar opposites. In other words, you might have same core features, but the character's experience is going to play a much bigger role.
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