Characters 101: Roles, relationships, combat, and

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Ferret Dad
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  2. Female
  3. Primarily Prefer Male
  4. Primarily Prefer Female
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Post Apocalypse, Horror, Romance, Survival...
Note: Keep in mind, this is tailored for role plays, not literature! What makes a good character for a player dealing with other players and a GM isn't always true for a single author tale and vice versa! Special thanks to people who attend my roasts: They're in a Skype group and are too numerous to mention individually, but helped with certain lists and examples so I could have group consensus on specific things.

Keep in mind, that this guide was written in mind for stories that head towards some form of conclusion, and which involve some form of character growth. Role plays in which characters are static and never grow or learn may not find this guide as helpful.

  • Roles

    First, lets start with roles. In any story, characters fit specific purposes and ideas that an author is attempting to convey to a reader. In role plays, this can often be divided into two parts: Story, and mechanical.

    Story roles are built around the personality and history a character has, usually personified simply as an archetype: Mary Sue, The Squire, Blood Knight, The Tactician, et cetera. There are literally hundreds of archetypes, many of which being permutations of preexisting ones. Knowing how these work will exponentially increase your library of characteristics upon which you can draw for characters or non-player characters. The only way to learn more archetypes is by reading them, dissecting them, and using them however, so lets move onto those two keywords: Personality, and history.

    Regardless of whether you list a character's personality traits on the character sheet or not, you should probably have a general idea of who they are before you start playing them, right? Well, lets start by focusing on a few traits. The reason for this is most characters tend to really find their niche once they've been in a group for a while, so you generally want to allow them to shape and mold themselves to fit, whilst still having a core set of traits that define who they are from the start. Lets begin with something simple, such as this: Create a character around three positive traits, and one negative trait. Lets first start by listing a few positive and negative traits!

    Positive List: Kind, merciful, generous, friendly, empathetic, intelligent, courageous, hard working, optimistic, loyal.
    Negative List: Selfishness, arrogance, impatience, dishonesty, laziness, racist, short tempered, cruel, unforgiving, spiteful.

    Tip: Remember that positive and negative qualities in a person are subjective, and to avoid antonym qualities: Qualities which are in direct opposition! (ex: Kind and Cruel are antonyms!)

    Lets use the following for demonstration purposes: Intelligent, friendly, optimistic, and dishonesty.

    Now, for the history. A history is loosely defined as a series of events that lead to the character's present. For a character's history and for any other piece of writing, you'll want to memorize this rule: Conservation of Detail. Conservation of detail is essentially that every detail added to a piece of writing must be important and relevant to the reader. Thus, the more time you spend on something, the more important it must be. Therefore if you go into detail about an abusive family or other piece of background and then dispose of it before it can ever become relevant to characters around you, you just wasted everyone's time with pointless exposition and committed the cardinal writing sin of purple prose. Therefore the main purpose of a character's history is to explain what his or her motivation is for belonging within the story and attempting to see the conclusion of the plot.

    In the event that there is no plot (sandbox role play) or a plot without any particular end goal to accomplish (most high school role plays), give your character a personal goal or set of goals to accomplish. Try to tie it in such a fashion that they need the help of others, like group studying, or a theatrical performance.

    Now, knowing the history needs to lead up to a character motivation, what kinds of motivations can we use? Well, thankfully, this is another fairly flexible area where you can learn and grow simply by reading and writing and learning from both. Remember: If there is a plot that the GM (first poster) has made, try to tie your motivation into the plot! It'll directly place your character into the world and make your GM happy!

    List: Power lust, revenge/justice, wanderlust, exile, true love, patriotism, promise/debt to someone, chivalry/honour.

    You can mix them, but for the sake of simplicity we will stick with one. In this case, wanderlust.

    Tip: As before involving antonyms, ensure your motivation doesn't conflict with your core personality traits! Be sure you feel confident in playing it too!

    Now that we have a general idea of who this character we're going to create is like, and what they want out of life. Tie them together with a brief nod to the state of your character's social standing!

    History: John Doe was born twenty three years ago. A naturally clever child, he picked up on education fairly quickly. Reading through novels, he discovered a love for adventure, and often played out imaginary tales with other children around him. His parents on the other hand disapproved of his behaviour, instead preferring a more sedimentary and safe lifestyle to that of childish adventures. Deciding he had to prove them wrong, he began training in survival courses and with small arms, and studied archaeology intensely. When the opportunity came for him to leave on an expedition to the mysterious artifact in South America, he took it without hesitation, lying to his parents about the trip being a simple vacation to Mexico...

    Personality Traits: Intelligent, friendly, optimistic, and dishonesty.
    Motivation: Wanderlust.
    Social standing: A character's place in society, primarily involving family and friends. Try to keep it brief, as a character's family ties often play little to current events but may influence their decision making and beliefs sufficiently to make it worth including.
    Mechanical: Tying a mechanical role (to be explained below) into a character's history. This is most effective when it ties into a character's interests, which you can ascertain through their personality traits and motivation.
    Plot Tie: Remember what I said about the GM loving you if you can tie your character to their plot? Easiest way to do that is usually to link yourself to a GMPC, Magical Macguffin, or location within the story.

    Keep in mind this wonderful tip I picked up from someone far wiser than myself: A character sheet is like a resumé. Only give your employer the information he or she needs to know. Everything else can come as a surprise later in character developments that wow other people!

    Bonus round!

    Avoid the following cliches in your history for totally awesome bonus points!
    • Dead or abusive parents: It's so prolific that it's more surprising to find a character with living, decent people as parents. Family members can be interesting to pull into a role play later, you're only depriving yourself of a potential resource by killing them off or making them into abusive monsters.
    • Vengeful lone wolf: If your character makes this guy or this guy look like peace loving social savants, ask yourself, honestly... How are these characters going to interact with other human beings? This is important to answer because interaction is the main driving force behind role plays, and making your character a lone wolf makes it as hard as is humanly possible on yourself for little reason!
    • Pointless Amnesia: Imagine your favourite character. Imagine if an author deleted their entire history and personality. Now try to describe that character, and tie it to the main plot. Good luck.
    • CHOSEN ONE: "I am the last of X dynasty, profession, or et cetera, and wield the magical MacGuffin button." All you're doing is taking away from everyone else by trying to prop your character up as the absolutely unique main protagonist. This is probably the least painful of the offenders on this list, but it's still something worth noting. If you don't have to use a chosen one subplot in your history, don't.

    Bonus round over! Now we move onto the second part of a character's role in a story: Their mechanical component.

    Mechanical roles are what a character is physically capable of, what set of skills and abilities they bring to the table. Compared to what we just went over, this will likely be a lot simpler to understand. First, it's important to understand the setting a character is in. We can't cover every setting in one sitting in this guide, so we'll go with fantasy settings. Someone else can explain science fiction, modern, and so on. Understanding a character's mechanical skills, while not quite as important as understanding their story components, is nonetheless vital for knowing how to use your character in high stress situations. It's also important for avoiding creating godmoding characters, which are massively unbalanced and quickly become one man wrecking crews to plots.

    In a fantasy environment, you can divide combat skills into three categories: Aggressive, Defensive, and Utility. Aggressive skills are anything that deals direct damage to an opponent, such as skill with a blade, bow, or fireballs. Defensive skills are anything that protects a character from direct damage, such as skill with a shield, magic armour, or the agility to dodge attacks. Utility skills are things which aid allies or control the flow of combat, such as a stun effect, healing, and spotting weaknesses in enemy defenses. There are numerous skills, however, so they're most often arranged into archetypes. (Funny how that word's coming back, isn't it?) Here are three of the most common.

    Tanks: Tanks are characters who stand up to punishment. Think plate mail juggernauts who wield tower shields of doom. They typically focus on locking enemies down and protecting their allies with their sheer mass and armour, but have a limited capacity for causing harm themselves, usually depending on...

    Damage Dealers: ...These guys. The assassins, rangers, rogues, and duelists. These guys and gals usually wield very deadly weapons and skills to tear through flesh and lives like a human lawnmower. It should be noted however that they usually have very limited ways to control a battlefield or defend themselves, and when caught alone tend to get slaughtered without help. Unlike tanks who can deal with their injuries, damage dealers most often depend on...

    Supports: To help them get through the day. These people are the healers and buffers, their goal is to improve the combat abilities of their friends and help them recover from fights. Arguable they're the most fun to play, because at the end of a fight, everyone is turning to you to help them recover for the next one, meaning there's plenty of character interaction to be had. They generally don't stand up well to taking hits, nor do they do well in delivering them, but these are the folks that can deploy visual or auditory barriers, stun enemies, and otherwise have great control over a battlefield to ensure their friends make it home alive.

    When designing a character's mechanical components, refer to the above three classes and ask yourself: What do they do well? What do they do poorly? You don't have to add artificial weaknesses like mental disorders if you balance them correctly. For example: John Doe from earlier knows how to use small arms (damage dealer trait) and has skill in archaeology as well as general survival (first-aid, lots of utility) but he's just a guy hoping to explore a pit. He didn't bring any armour, nor does he seem to have any experience dealing with physical pain. (Not a good tank.)

    John Doe is already balanced based on the skills given to him: He can't tank, but he can deal some damage (minor) and his skill sets are immensely beneficial at navigating, giving his friends first aid, and otherwise keeping the group on track and alive, which is great for utility (major).

    How you choose to set up your character's mechanical abilities is all on you. It takes some practice, as with most things in this guide, to really and truly understand the concept in action. Remember when giving your character practical abilities: What do they do well and what do they do poorly. Try to ensure that they need an ally while providing a use themselves. (ex: If someone else has made a tank, and you make a damage dealer, you can work with the tank to ensure he locks enemies down and you finish them off. It results in a natural teamwork dynamic, which results in interaction, and the development of relationships!)

    Tip: Mental disorders make for poor weaknesses to physical traits. Don't use them this way.
    Tip #2: If you divide your character's main abilities into individual skills, you can quickly find out what it is they do, skill by skill, and work out from there if you need to add or remove any skills so they can fit into a mechanical role.
    Tip #3: Avoid making a Jack of all Trades! They're typically more trouble than they're worth and usually slip into the godmoding territory!

  • Relationships & Arcs

    Now that we've covered how to create a character, lets cover the two primary methods of developing that character: Through relationships with other characters and arcs that result in growth.

    A character arc is a rather intimidating looking piece of information, and is something mastered with, yes, practice!

    When translated to role play characters, the inciting incident is always covered by the history (remember that motivation we talked about earlier?), with the call to action often also being encompassed by the history as part of the motivation. The defining moment is what your character is going to end up doing for the rest of the story in order to try and overcome obstacles. (ex: John Doe's defining moment is their knowledge of firearms, survival, and archaeology.) Their defining moment, thus, is usually decided by whatever set of mechanical characteristics you give them.

    The rest is as follows.

    Awakening: This is the moment in which your character really begins to grow as a person into something unique. Their relationships with others start to develop into solid friendships (or more :bananaman:) or competitive rivalries (or worse :devilfire:) and their overall level of power, skill, influence, and perhaps even importance grows with this. At this point in the story, this is probably where the true gravity of the situation has revealed itself, and you are pushing forward as fast as you can, as hard as you can, doing everything in your power to make the best possible decisions in-character.

    Moment of Enlightenment: This is the point in the story where your character acquires their most magnificent power or plot device. If your character starts with amazing top tier power and/or equipment that can challenge even the big bad of the universe, you've gone and skipped at least 50% of anything you could have used to grow your character. So, keep in mind when making a character: What kind of stuff will they need? Do they need a magical artifact or lots of training or something else to make them able to fight the big bad? How will they get this stuff? Tie it into the plot or talk to the GM about adding it if it's a physical item. Plan things out as the story progresses. That way, your character can have a "fuck yeah I achieved my power level goals" moment, rather than starting out badass, and then only going downhill from there.

    Death Experience: This is usually put between the second (mid-point) and third (final) acts, but can technically be done nearly anywhere. (Lord of the Rings and Dragon Ball Z happily flout it and use it whenever, for example.) The Death Experience is essentially the eternal reminder of a character's mortality, usually used after a character has their moment of enlightenment to remind them that they're not omnipotent or omniscient. This is usually represented by a near-death experience for the protagonist (ex: being beaten to a pulp and left in a comatose state) or the death of a friend. In role plays especially, this phase can be skipped entirely or used as a surprise plot device at any point. If done with other characters who care about yours, prepare for a lot of feels material. If the GM does it especially well, prepare for it to feed your hatred of the villain a thousand fold.

    Descent: This is a story fork in a character's growth. At this point, nearing the end of the story, characters can become disenfranchised with the conflict and leave. Not often employed in role playing, but not completely unheard of, and it's an option if you want your character to suffer a bad ending.

    Transforming Moment: The moment when a character obtains their utmost potential. In a role play, usually translates to just before encountering the final conflict. Romance arcs are resolved, remaining subplots are closed, this is where all the loose ends prior to the big fight are tied up.

    Climax: Dat moment when you obtain inspiring victory or crushing defeat? That's the moment right here.

    Resolution: It's all over! Your character sighs a breath of relief and the story ends, write an epilogue of how they grow old and die... Or how they spend eternity. Or whatever else, you get the general idea. You can also use it as a cliffhanger for their next installment in a role play.

    You may also notice that visual guide dividing the various parts up into four equal pieces: Unknown, exhaustion, known, and renewal. These aren't quite as relevant for an RP character, but I'll summarize them as such.

    Unknown is when a character typically is alone and has no real sense of what is going on, reflecting a reader or audience's lack of awareness of the setting and plot that the story is attempting to tell them. In a role play, this usually translates to the initial set of scenes where characters meet and relationships start.

    Exhaustion is when the character is training and learning until their fingertips are bleeding and their minds are borderline comatose, rapidly gaining in power to meet the major obstacles of the story. This part of the story also usually builds up the tension for the inevitable conflict between the main antagonist and the main protagonist as well by having the antagonist do nasty, nasty things to innocent people.

    Known is the phase most commonly associated with the hero's lowest point. They engage in a conflict or attempt to circumvent an obstacle that ends up dealing them a severe blow to their confidence or emotional state such as but not limited to: The death of a loved one, friend, or mentor. The "good faction" losing a stronghold or major battle in which the protagonist was a participant, and usually in which the result was most concretely a slaughter. Dueling the main antagonist and losing, often sustaining a permanent, mortal injury, such as the loss of a hand.

    Renewal is the final phase, the moment a character takes everything they've learned--their friends, their skills, their tactical experience, their abilities or powers--and go after the final obstacle of the story. Here they either succeed or fail, they win or lose, their friends live or die, and so on. This is the finale for the character. The universe may go on, and they may see other adventures, but this particular adventure with this particular character is coming to a close.

    Seeing as how arcs in a role play rely so heavily on relationships, lets get to explaining that now.

    Relationships are the main (but not exclusive!) method by which role players advance personal arcs. Groups usually have a dynamic formed around the relationships between each interconnected character, and failing to utilize and build relationships results in a group that has zero cohesion and ability to do things together. This usually sounds the death knell for a role play shortly after. Thankfully however relationships are probably the easiest part of role playing in terms of story progression, as they come about organically and are derived primarily from stuff you've already made.

    Tip: If you want to do a little thought experiment with your character, look at the other characters and write 1-2 lines of dialogue in-character about what your character thinks of them in a notepad. Try sharing this with other players in the OOC and do some fore-planning about what kind of relationships characters might share!

    Lets take our John Doe example from earlier and give him three compatriots.
    Mary Sue is a thrill seeking adventurer who wants to see the world.
    Renaldo Enrique is an inquisitive ex-cop who is around as security and greatly dislikes weasels, both the animal and the people with that characteristic.
    Johnny Bravo is a charismatic lady's man with a natural sense of loyalty to the people around him. He's chatty and on the trip mainly because his father is part of the expedition's dig crew and is trying to instill a sense of lawful values in this otherwise chaotic neutral soul.

    So, what kinds of relationships would John Doe have with these three other characters?

    Towards Mary Sue, John Doe would probably feel a sense of camaraderie: They both have a sense of adventure. Therefore during the role play, they would probably be naturally friendly towards each other and compliment one another's personalities.

    Towards Renaldo Enrique, he'd probably feel suspicion and distrust. Renaldo is an ex-cop and inquisitive, he'd try to see past John Doe's lies, and wouldn't like John Doe's intelligent evasiveness towards his questions.

    Towards Johnny Bravo, he'd likely have mixed feelings based on his feelings towards Mary Sue: If he felt like pursuing something romantic with Mary Sue, it'd turn into a rivalry with Johnny Bravo. Otherwise Johnny's natural sense of loyalty and chatty nature would likely make him a quick friend.

    So we have: A friend/potential romantic interest, a direct rival, and a friend/potential rival.

    Knowing this, we can develop John Doe's relationships with these people over time through a series of events in the story: How they work together to overcome obstacles, how they fight and/or comfort each other, how they overcome barriers in their relationships, and so on. At some point maybe John Doe will turn away from his facetious ways due to hurting his romantic interest, thus impressing upon his direct rival that he can be redeemed! Maybe his potential rival, Johnny Bravo, will somehow get the girl instead of him, perhaps eroding on his natural optimism somewhat. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination and can come about naturally through play: Planning them out with the other players & the GM, or simply leaving it as a surprise to others in how your character will react towards theirs.

    This, plus the bread and butter of role playing: Actions and reactions, is the core of role playing. How others interact with you and how you interact with others, and how this affects and grows your character as well as theirs, as you progress through an evolving story crafted by a GM, is the magic of role playing. It takes the solitary activity of storytelling and turns it into a group activity, and this is where it is strongest: In relationships affecting the personal arcs of characters, each character commanded by an individual.

    That concludes relationships and personal arcs.

  • Combat, Injuries, & Actions

    Before we continue, you may want to get a general idea of what spacial contextual awareness is. To cut through the technobabble: It is essentially your ability to comprehend the passage of time, the distance of objects, and ability to perceive and understand the environment. It should also be noted that a lot of this will fall under physics & biology 101, so expect some science. Which means, as always, if your setting includes magic or technology sufficiently advanced it may as well be magic, you can circumvent a lot of this at your own discretion.

    Still good to know how reality works though. That way you can explain how you subverted it. SO! Shall we get started?

    Newton's Third Law of Force

    Lets start with one of the most important laws of physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This applies to everything: If you unsheathe your weapon, others will notice the change in your behaviour and grow tenser, some will also unsheathe their weapons. You aren't an island, you're part of the environment, and others are contextually aware of your being there and what you're doing. So before you decide on an action, ask yourself: What are others around me thinking when they see me do this?

    This also applies in combat. If you fire a weapon or use a weapon that causes an enemy to be propelled several feet through the air, you either have to be able to sustain that force to retain your position, or you will be sent sprawling backward from the reaction of that action. Therefore, ask yourself: If I use this ability or weapon, can I prevent myself from sliding backward, or will that be the result of the action?

    The Human Body
    Tip: This will usually apply to most humanoid aliens as well. Similar structures which perform similar functions typically have similar construction: Also known as convergent evolution.

    First: This is a drawn picture of a human being's innards. I'd like you to pay attention to the sheer amount of stuff inside a human being. Look at all of those organs. They're all important to your continued existence. Therefore, from here on out, understand this: Every hit to the torso is a critical hit. You do not simply walk away from being impaled, shot, or "lasered" to the chest. A single blow that pierces the flesh is effectively going to end in your death. If not immediately, than within minutes at the most. Now, as I said above, if you have the power of magic or technology which is basically magic you can excuse yourself and survive, but you should at least treat the injury for what it is: A fatally damaging blow that will end you quickly if you don't receive immediate medical attention.

    Second: Muscles are muscles! Except in extreme cases of body builders, Olympic sprinters, and marathon runners, a person who has muscles is faster and more agile than someone who doesn't, as well as being stronger. That being said, a big part of what contributes to muscle growth and maintenance is your diet as well as your physical activity. People in medieval and feudal settings, unless comprised of the nobility, will likely have poor diets which will stunt their muscle growth. Conversely, people of "the distant future" will likely have superb diets even if they're impoverished.

    Third: If you want to know how to get around the problem of "pain hurts", allow me give you two magic words: Adrenaline and testosterone. These chemicals are known to allow human beings to fight through pain in high stress situations to get the job done. This, however, does not allow a person to ignore deadly fatal wounds and how deadly they are. Remember: Every hit to the torso is a critical hit. While adrenaline and testosterone may keep you on your feet for a few seconds longer, you'll drop dead from blood loss in a minute. Adrenaline and testosterone are more useful at keeping a person going longer, farther, faster, and stronger than without them.

    Fourth: Damage to limbs, while not necessarily fatal, can be. Major artery damage in your limbs can cause you to bleed out in mere minutes, and significant damage cannot simply be healed away: It usually results in long term impairments. Not to mention, muscle damage is something that you can't just ignore even if you won't lose your limb for it. For example: If you take a crossbow bolt to the shoulder, that arm is useless until the shoulder can heal.

    Keep in mind that the above four rules can be bent for the sake of fiction, but if you want to portray realistic human bodies where it concerns injuries and harm, you'll want to keep in mind then that human bodies are rather frail where it concerns someone attempting to mortally wound you, and any wound should have serious consequences.

    Tip: To balance magic and other such typically overpowered devices, add a charge-up time for spells and so on. That way, you can justify having a powerful fireball spell by allowing the enemy to have a window of opportunity to stop you!

    Combat in storytelling is simply a way to advance the plot by throwing in an obstacle. For this, I'm going to focus primarily on the basics of tactics and role play etiquette for such situations. For more specific advice on how to fight with medieval, modern, or future weapons, others will have to make those guides as I don't have enough practical skill in these areas to speak with any sort of authority.

    In any battle, you generally have the following basic tactics available to you: Retreat, charge, flank, pin down, engage, cover, and hold position. Most of these can typically be done in an aggressive or cautious manner: Aggressive meaning that there's less emphasis on preserving oneself and more emphasis on completing the task faster and more efficiently. Cautious meaning that one is focusing on self-preservation first and is attempting to get the task done where possible.
    • Retreat: Exactly as it implies. Sometimes it's just to fall back a few feet, sometimes it really means to turn tail and run for your life before the monster can get you. Either way, sometimes the greatest victory is survival, first and foremost, and retreats can offer interesting views into the mindset of a character: How does one deal with a defeat where they knowingly were forced to retreat so they could ensure that they would not lose the war even if they lost the battle?
    • Charge: I should not need to explain this, but it's basically when you think you can press your advantage into the enemy. PS: In real life, don't charge cavalry into spears. It doesn't end well for the cavalry to be charging into several hundred long pointy sticks. Newton's Third Law kind of fucks them up.
    • Flank: Especially effective against enemies who are otherwise preoccupied and can't turn to face you, this essentially means to attack a person or force from a side or from behind. You'll often find more honourable sorts of folks spitting at this tactic as dishonourable: Others would call it Tuesday.
    • Pin Down: Usually used in conjunction with flanking or to buy time for retreating comrades, this is when a person or force (most often tanks) attempt to prevent an enemy from moving or accomplishing any other task than engaging the person in question.
    • Engage: To open in force of arms against an opponent, most often with the intent to disable or kill them. The difference between this and pinning someone down is that to pin someone down is usually the more cautious answer, as it focuses on self-preservation and distraction rather than a straight up murder attempt. Sometimes the best answer is the most straightforward.
    • Cover: If a friend is in trouble, and you can save them, do that. They'll remember and save you later when you get into trouble. This allows small groups of friends who trust each other to defeat larger groups of enemies who hate each other!
    • Hold Position: Sometimes the best offense is a great defense. Let the enemy come to you while you hit them with ranged attacks from a nice cover point up on a tall hill.

    You'll notice a lot of these options are more effective when done as a group rather than alone. As covered in the roles section under mechanical, ideally, characters have an established set of characteristics that relegate them to an archetype. Three common archetypes being: Tanks, damage dealers, and supports. Common tactics for mixed groups include tanks pinning down opponents for damage dealers to flank and kill quickly, while supports cover them both with stuns and magical defenses and healing.

    Teamwork is not only supporting the core of role playing, but it makes it far less likely for your character to end up like this, all alone, with nobody to help them.

    Now, finally, for etiquette.

    Etiquette in combat is fairly simple. To avoid being accused of godmoding or metagaming, leave it up to the other person to describe whether or not they're hit by your attack by using words like "attempt". For example:

    Instead of...
    John Doe shot Carter.
    John Doe attempted to shoot Carter.

    This is far more polite. It allows your opponent (be that an NPC controlled by the GM or another player) to respond accordingly.

    Tip: For combat between two players, you may want to decide in advance who wins and what injuries (or deaths) are sustained for both parties before starting the duel. Otherwise you may have two people who refuse to lose, caught locked in an endless cycle of "he attempted to hit her" and "she dodged and attempted to hit him" and "he dodged and attempted to hit her" and "she dodged and attempted to hit him" and "he dodged and attempted to hit her" and "she dodged and attempted to hit him" and "he dodged and attempted to hit her" and "she dodged and attempted to hit him" and "he dodged and attempted to hit her"...

    ... You may want to ask a GM to decide who gets hit and who doesn't. The GM made up the world, they can probably decide that sort of stuff anyway, and then you don't have to argue with your fellow players about it.

    Tip for GMs: You may want to include a rule in your first post that says that you can enforce injuries. That way, if someone is dodging every attack and refuses to ever take an injury, you can break that cycle and force them to live with a small injury. Nobody has fun when someone in the party effortlessly cuts through every obstacle you present them while they're struggling to survive. Nobody.

    Beyond that in terms of etiquette? Remember the golden rule: Play nice!


    There isn't much left to say about them other than what I already said about them here, but as an added note, take account of how long an action is going to take. For instance, if you're in the middle of a heated battle, you probably don't have time to make up a several paragraphs long speech about how your forefathers were farmers back in Rome and how proud they would be to see you now.

    Don't be afraid to write shorter posts if you have less time to work with than you normally do, such as in the middle of a fight scene. In most novels, action sequences tend to be more rapid back-and-forth responses between multiple parties anyway, so it's actually normal for posts to end up becoming longer or shorter than normal depending on the situation at hand.

If you have any contributions to make, please do. Beyond that, I hope this guide is helpful in learning how to construct, grow, and use characters!
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I made a character who was pretty free of cliches a year ago, but another PC killed his family in the IC and he went on a quest for vengeance.
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