Deepening Characters?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by ElBell, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. Just a curious thought I wanted to ask that came to me this morning, but do any of you who've clicked open this thread try to expand characters to be deeper than maybe a plot calls for?

    By that, I mean do you build up little things about them you know will never come up to make them more fleshed out and real seeming, like your medieval knight's would-be favorite soda, or the kind of fruit your character could never turn down? Maybe even their sense of fashion or views on bullying, I don't know. There are just so many ways it could be done, but does anyone actually do that?

    Personally I do a lot of that. Most, if not all of my characters are very deeply fleshed out beyond what will ever really need to come up in a roleplay. It just helps me out a lot to really feel like I know them, even if it's some silly and irrelevant stuff. So how about you? Is this important to you, silly to you, or something you view with indifference? ^^
  2. YES.

    I have a roleplay blog for this exact reason. O__O Those little details really make the characters come alive and make them unique people. Plus, when the roleplay inevitably fails, I already have a good starting point to use that character again in another roleplay! 8D
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  3. I usually do it on the fly. I take a basic concept (set of skills + archetype) and develop it as it encounters situations, rather than preemptively. For example: Let's say I play as a mage, named Jimmy. Jimmy walks into a dark cave, and announces that he's claustrophobic: He hates tight spaces, he fears them. This is something that I made up just now for Jimmy: Because it reflects the situation he is in. There is nothing worse than building up a list of fifty things your character likes--from favourite colour, to favourite food--only to never end up using this anywhere in the role play. As for those who expect other players to add these things in, where's the sense of mystery? Maybe your character loves soda, but has no idea how the other character feels about soda! So your character offers them soda, and the response is suddenly dynamic rather than static: You don't know what the answer will be, which means there are multiple possibilities! As opposed to offering a character who has "soda" on their generic list of "liked items", who is guaranteed to like the soda: There is no mystery there, you're just going through the motions of an orchestrated event.

    Over time, that simple character, Jimmy the Mage? The simple minded guy who just wants to go on adventure? He'll grow by simply dynamically reacting to situations he encounters. Such as...
    --Going into a cave, we learn Jimmy is claustrophobic.
    --In Jimmy's first fight we learn he's a coward who is terrified of being injured.
    --In Jimmy's interactions with party members we learn of his hopes and dreams, and who he might be sexually attracted to in the group.
    --After escaping the cave and visiting a town, we might learn about Jimmy's favourite food here.

    In short: My characters start simple and easy to understand, with only a couple of defining characteristics, and grow dynamically from there based on the situations they encounter. It's organic, it's interesting, it ensures that whatever people learn about them is generally relevant in the future, et cetera.
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  4. Absolutely. From the moment I settle on a character idea, I start coming up with little tidbits about them that may never come up in the roleplay. This is fine though, because as far as I see them these sorts of things are mainly useful to help me as a roleplayer get more familiar and comfortable with that character. I don't list them on the CS because they aren't things that other players need or ought to know.

    For instance, I've got a female vampire character in a roleplay by the name of Legend of Renalta (hi Brovo :P). The other players have basically zero need to know that she doesn't like spicy foods, or that she already naturally preferred sleeping through the day and being awake at night before she became a vampire, or that she avoids alcohol due to some highly embarrassing times in her youth that left mental scars, and so on... unless they somehow become relevant, and then I have a ready answer. Then if something comes up that I'm not prepared to answer immediately, hey look at that, an opportunity for a bit of character development, neat.

    I kind of have to do this or else I get bored of characters very quickly. If they feel one or two dimensional to me rather than being a fully fledged character, then I don't have much interest in writing posts for them.
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  5. Yes. I do this all the time, often without even really meaning to, even for characters in relatively silly roleplays where there's really not much of a need for such nuances. Like an RP about personified fandoms, for example...

    But yeah. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about these things when my mind's a-wanderin'. Most of the time it just makes me like the character more and more and really enjoy playing them.

    Edit: Hell, I've even spent a good amount of time thinking about whether some of my characters would prefer Macs or PC's. There is hardly any chance that would ever become important, but it's something I like to consider.
    #5 Kagayours, Apr 11, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015
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  6. Always. I don't think there's possibly anything more fun than making a person out of a character concept. That being said, little details like favourite food or drink might not be important to the plot or any other character out there, but I generally think it's important to know whether or not a character can fend for themselves, or needs money to buy meals, or only ever eats microwave food. Itkinda just pops up on its own, sometimes I know specifics, sometimes I think about it, and sometimes it's just, yep, that's a food they'll arm-wrestle you for.

    I like thinking of their potential fears or what they think about each person they're interacting with and why, maybe they're reminded of someone they knew or maybe I now realise they once had a pet goldfish named Mary-lou.... Maybe, it happens... I dunno. :P But knowing more than just my character is a grumpy-butt with a sword, forever and always, makes it a lot more fun to write them. (a grump-butt with a sword and a goldfish named Mary-lou, heh)

    I really enjoy the familiar little things like whether they'd say something like "come on" or if they'd just gesture instead, and how they might show they're nervous. If they have any routine motions like touching a necklace that might be a religious symbol and a comfort, or pulling at their nose if they've got nothing else to do with their hands. How do they fidget? Rolling their weight, rocking on their heels, fiddle with their nails, pick at threads? Are they 'loud' about their impatience or not? Any phrases they might use regularly? Do they have particular facial expressions they might adopt more readily than others? Do they say 'what' or 'pardon'? I have one old fellow who won't point with a finger, but crooks it in and uses the knuckle instead because it doesn't seem quite as rude to him. I really like working on character body and verbal language...

    And if I'm bored somewhere I can always entertain myself by bringing up a character and wondering how they'd deal with the situation. Would Becca get up and move because there's some really loud, annoying kids across from her? Would she ask them to calm down? Help their parents if they're younger kids? Does Matt spend time people watching on his lunch break, or does he play Candy Crush? If they're fantasy characters, it can be all the better, if they're excited about riding a train for the first time, or trying to figure out how a movie projector works or going, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, loud noises. What happens when you give a dragon popping corn?

    But really, I don't think I could make a character and not start going into details at some point, whether or not the plot calls for them. It just wouldn't be the same.
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  7. You know, I love using personality quizzes and such to help do the situational stuff! Sometimes it brings up very interesting situations to picture and imagine playing out, and even thinking how your character may react to the end result can be interesting too. Just sharing that if you ever want another way to explore that kind of thing with a character :)
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  8. Those are just the things I enjoy doing now and again, too. I always like imagining the what ifs. Fun times, tossing a character at a quizz, though sometimes the situations need fiddling around if they're modern and the character isn't. What someone would do at a party when they get wine spilled on them might be a wholy irrelevent question for their life situation. And the multiple choice does not offer any uhhhh, would never be invited in the first place.
  9. I totally do

    Especially given the transient nature of most roleplays, I bank on a lot of elements of my characters never getting revealed.

    The RP may not go on long enough for anyone to discover that Kenzie's trust issues stem from a childhood teetering on the brink of homelessness, but that's okay, because I know it, and it influences her character development :3
  10. ... and allow him/her to watch "Rambo" movies?
  11. It's not extremely important for me, but I feel like the longer I roleplay a character, I get to know it better and those details show up by themselves. o.O
  12. I do this with the characters I'm really interested in, although I don't usually generate it all at once.

    Most of it is created kind of as I get to know the character better, and start to think about the kinds of things he/she might be interested in or would enjoy, or bits and pieces of their past that made them the way they are.

    I'm not saying everyone is like this, but in my own personal experience, me fleshing out ALL of the character's tiny insignificant details before playing them makes them feel fabricated and inorganic... like they're not genuine. In some ways I almost feel like I start stereotyping, which I don't like! So now I just figure stuff out as I go along.
    #12 fatalrendezvous, Apr 23, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
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  13. @Roose Hurro And that's when you get your house blown up.... Or just overflowing with popcorn.
  14. Which only goes to show: You shouldn't let dragons in your house.