Demographics 13: Character Depth!

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Brovo, Jun 19, 2016.

?

How much depth do you load your characters with from the start of a role play?

  1. Fully fleshed out from the beginning!

  2. My biographies are never shorter than a few paragraphs, but a few things can be developed later.

  3. Just enough to make a basic, understandable archetype.

  4. Most elements of my character are secret, to be learned about and developed later.

  5. They might have a name. Maybe. Never more than that.

Results are only viewable after voting.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. @Staff: Keep in mind that (with Diana's permission and Astaroth overlooking it) I'm posting threads in GC first, leaving them there for a week, and then moving them to RP Help & Discussion after! This way, my demographics threads can have the widest breadth of community input without asking for unfair administration favouratism. Thanks. :ferret:

    Special Thanks: @Hana & @RedWillow who are helpers on the Demographics project.

    [​IMG]
    Credit goes to @RedWillow for creating the banner.

    Demographics
    Demographics threads are, essentially, an attempt to record the community's thoughts and feelings on RP-related subject matter via a series of votes. Iwaku's tastes, habits, et cetera. If you want further information on prior demographics threads, you can find the demographics hub thread here. (There are twelve other Demographics Polls to check stats on & vote in so far!)

    Demo threads are not an appropriate place for hardcore multipage debates. You can ask questions about each other's positions, but keep them professional in tone. Otherwise, the spirit of the demographics threads will be lost. They're meant to sample the community and put it into an easily digestible form of numbers that anybody can look at later when creating their own RP threads or when curious about Iwaku's general demographics. If you're really interested in discussing the subject matter, create your own discussion thread. I would be delighted if demographics threads started to spawn further topics of interest by the community itself.


    Previous Community Choice Poll

    • A. Pace: 2
    • B. Politics: 2
    • C. Mechanics: 1
    • D. Power Levels: 3
    • E. RP Completion: 3
    • F. Character Depth: 6 (Winner--Most votes!)
    • G. Romance: Pursuer vs Pursued: 2
    • H. Good vs Evil: 3
    • I. Surprise me: 1


    Question: How much depth do you load your characters with from the start of a role play?
    Clarity: That is, how much information do you put into your characters from the beginning? Do you fill them with tons of expository dialogue, a biography a mile long, and 6 different information fields about their eyes? Or do you make characters with a minimalistic amount of information, where the only thing people know about them is their name? This question does assume that you have the choice whether or not to put a large amount of detail into your characters from the start.

    Additional Questions
    • Q. How long was the most detailed character you ever created?
    • Q. How much value do you put into details at the beginning?
    • Q. Do you reveal all the details of your characters from the start, or keep some things secret but developed, or let your characters develop over time?
    • Q. How detailed do you like character sheets to be?
    • Q. (1x1 RP's): Would you say that you make your characters with more or less depth in the beginning of RP's than most of your partners? Do you like this, dislike this, or does it matter at all to you?
    • Q. (Groups RP's): Would you say that detail in a character is a factor to whether or not they would be approved? Why or why not?
    Community Choice Poll: Vote for the topic of the next poll! (You can choose multiple options. To vote, simply post in this thread which option(s) you want.) (Yes, this poll will shrink in size at some point. Some topics dead end after a while. :ferret:)
    • A. Pace. (How fast RP's go/how fast you and the rest of the community post on average.) (Single-choice poll.)
    • B. Politics. (New topic expansion: Polling to see the community's general interest in how politics manifests in role playing.) (Single or Multiple choice poll.)
    • C. Mechanics. (New topic expansion: Polling to see the community's general interest in how artificial mechanics like dice rolls and stats influence role playing.) (Single or Multiple choice poll.)
    • D. Power Levels. (As a follow up to "Genres" and "Character Archetypes." Has to do with the average level of power player characters possess.) (Single choice poll.)
    • E. RP Completion. (As a follow up to "Longevity." Has to do with how many have successfully completed role plays, and/or how many completed role plays they have.) (Single choice poll.)
    • F. Romance: Pursuer vs Pursued. (Specific follow up to "Romance." Has to do with whether someone prefers to be pursued or do the pursuing in romantic arcs. Will be gender divided for further clarity and curiosity.) (Single choice poll.)
    • G. Good vs Evil. (Specific follow up to "Villainy." Has to do with the proportion of characters created which players perceive to be good or evil, or who fall somewhere in between.) (Single choice poll.)
    • H. Relationship Types. (Follow up to "Character Depth." Has to do with the types of relationships characters can get involved with and their general popularity.) (Multiple Choice.)
    • I. Surprise me. (None of the above.)
     
    • Thank Thank x 1
  2. Question: How much depth do you load your characters with from the start of a role play?

    I just put in enough to give a basic idea of the character, for two reasons.

    1. I'm not that good at writing a story or something engaging if it's not collaborative.
    2. I like to give the room to have characters expand, grow, and simply have other players learn more about them in the RP itself. If you set everything in stone at the start, you haven't given yourself much if any room to expand in the RP itself. It all becomes predictable and expected, in which case you should really just be writing a book instead.

    Q. How long was the most detailed character you ever created?

    That'd probably be my very first RP Character, Duvnar Magnum. Though that was largely because it was in the Star Wars verse, a place I already have a lot of knowledge on that I could pull from.

    Q. How much value do you put into details at the beginning?

    Not too much. In fact I put less value into characters that went into too much detail (on creation). Mainly for the reasons I detailed in the first question, and the additional reasoning that typically (not always) I find the people who come in with that much detail are more interested in just making their own narrative than they are in engaging with and working with the other players.

    Q. Do you reveal all the details of your characters from the start, or keep some things secret but developed, or let your characters develop over time?

    I mostly just allow them to develop over time, helps with both growth and being adaptable for future settings.

    Q. How detailed do you like character sheets to be?

    Basic Personality, maybe a paragraph or two of history.

    Q. (Groups RP's): Would you say that detail in a character is a factor to whether or not they would be approved? Why or why not?


    Yes, most of the time I find when detail plays a role in character rejection though it never had to deal with the amount of detail but rather what the detail was and if it makes sense for the RP or not.
     
  3. I find it difficult to rate the complexity of my characters just by the length of their CS's. The option I voted for on the poll was "my bios are never shorter than a few paragraphs, but a few things can be added later" just because, well, I pretty much constantly add more details to my characters over time. o_o All my favorite characters, anyway. I couldn't choose the "fully fleshed out from the beginning" option just because I constantly add so much. Not to mention, there are also generally a lot of elements to my characters that aren't mentioned in their CS's (not most, but... a decent chunk of extra backstory), so, yeah.

    Getting back to what this question is asking -- I think the most complicated character I've ever created, weirdly enough, would be the Doctor Who fandom from Fandomstuck. O___O (For those confused, he's supposed to be a personification of the Doctor Who series and fanbase as a whole.) His CS isn't that long, though, only ~5 paragraphs if you combine all the info from each field. But, even though not all of it was in the CS, I still had a ton of backstory for him planned out in my head already. (And I realize the idea of having so much backstory planned out for a character like that may seem... weird, with a premise like this, but, I can go into further detail, if anyone is curious.)

    If I'm just going by the length of my CS's alone, then... eh. I just don't think it's a very good way to measure that sort of thing.

    Case in point, back in my Guild days, I had a bad habit of taking one important detail from a character's bio -- some really important moment in their life -- and going into way too much detail on that particular moment, basically re-telling the entire scene instead of just summarizing the event and explaining the impact it had on the character. For example, I had a character whose brother died, so I went into, say... 3-4 paragraphs? Just detailing how exactly that death played out, almost as if I were writing it as an IC post or something. >_> It certainly made my CS's longer, but, I wouldn't say that made the characters 'more detailed', as all that info could've very easily been condensed into only a few sentences without the reader missing anything important.

    So I guess if we're going purely off of length, it would probably be one of my old Guild CS's. But, again, I don't think they would be my 'most complex characters'. Regardless, though, said Guild CS's are lost anyway, so it's not like I can see exactly how long they were.

    I really like it. If we're talking about my own characters, then it makes me feel like I'm really inspired and I know what I want to do with the character. Not having enough ideas and details at the beginning is usually a sure sign that I'm not very inspired, and that I'll quickly get bored with the character or even the RP as a whole. :/ If we're talking about me reading other people's CS's, then it shows that they really put a lot of thought into their characters, too, and it gets me all excited to see what happens when those characters enter the IC. ^^

    "Secret but developed" would be the best way to describe what I do with my characters, for the most part. But there's also definitely a fair amount of development over time, as well.

    I honestly love it when CS's have a ton of detail in them, but I don't require it of people. As a GM, I'm generally only looking for a couple of small paragraphs. The only things I really can't stand are bare-bones CS's that condense everything into a handful of bullet points.

    To an extent. If it's a bare-bones CS then, yeah, I'll probably tell people to elaborate a bit on things before it can be accepted, because I feel like I don't know anything about your character in a bare-bones CS, which is kind of the point of a CS to begin with. o_o Not to mention, it just kind of looks lazy to me. >_> Anything beyond that, though? I try not to be too controlling. A relatively simple CS might not match my personal tastes, but, it's functional, so I'll let it in.
     
  4. Seven years, five AUs, and many revisions.
    Certain details are high-value, and some not so much. Motivation is the biggest, though. Without motivations, a character is flat and can't grow easily.
    A bit of all three. It's a little more fun to have minor secrets people have to discover, and I always have more known than my partner does, but a lot of the time, they develop over time, too.
    I like to include the basics (age, name, height, build, coloration), then details (motivation, strengths and weaknesses), and then stuff I know but my partner doesn't (brief bio and personality tidbits).
    Usually it seems like mine have more depth, but that's just because I don't demand to know an awful lot about my partners' characters, cuz on Iwaku, I feel I can trust my partners not to fling stupid surprises at me.
    Probably to some extent.
     
  5. QUESTION!
    Are you referring to the info we give about the character before the rp starts (character bio) or does the very first IC post count if it's used as a character introduction? XD
     
  6. I know there was one time that I had a character sheet devoid of formatting, single spaced, that almost entirely filled 4 pages of a Word document. I'm not sure if that was the longest though, probably had a couple that would hit 5 pages. I have this habit of making huge biography/history sections that bloat the hell out of the length of my character sheets, so much so that I often throw them in spoilers as a courtesy to the scrolling speeds of other players, because I use them as a way to flesh out the character after I've got the basics down.
    It's hard to quantify value of character details from the start, but, uh... A lot I guess? Just going into things with a character archetype, a few personality traits, and a basic background outline feels kind of empty to me. The thing I always strive to do in roleplays is get some good character development going. When you start off with a mostly blank canvas it ends up feeling like you're going through the character creation process as new information pops up, rather than actual development of that character, and that feels pretty lame to me. I like having a firm starting portrait painted so that I can compare it to snapshots of the character down the road to see how much they've changed.
    I do a bit of it all, haha. I don't reveal all the details from the start, but I put a lot out there for others to see, biographical information especially. I also keep things secret but developed, ready to reveal at a relevant point in the future. There are always some things that I leave totally undeveloped and come up with them on the fly as needed (usually details about some point of their history, or the reason why they fear a particular thing, or similar), and I also do development in the way of changes occuring to what was previously established and entirely new interests/fears/skills being acquired as time passes. I don't like to pigeonhole myself into any one method so I do a bit of everything.
    Moderately to very detailed. I chose the second poll option, bios always at least a few paragraphs, and that is pretty much my baseline for length and detail. Sometimes I go ham and write short stories for bios and also give a lot of detail to their appearance and skills and whatnot. The one thing that I hate to write into a character sheet in great detail is personality stuff. Personality fields on character sheets irritate me because, thanks to my love of changing and evolving characters over time, I often end up with characters being quite a bit different in personality to how they're described on the sheet. Facts of their personal history don't change, but their personality certainly can. At most I now use those fields to give a very brief rundown of how they tick, just their major motivation(s) and a couple core aspects that are unlikely to ever change.
    In my somewhat limited 1x1 roleplaying experience, mine tend to start off with more depth than most of my partners. It doesn't matter to me so long as whatever they're starting with makes sense.
    Hard to say, depends a lot on the GM obviously. Some are gonna be okay with a jump-in style with zero prior detail required, others will want reams of information. Speaking personally, yeah, it's a somewhat important factor in whether or not I would approve a character. I need SOMETHING to work with from the start, some bits and pieces I can use to seed potentially interesting interactions into the roleplay for each player character. Something like "Ted is an adventurer who used to be a blacksmith, I'll develop them IC" doesn't work for me. I want to be able to have some ideas on standby to throw at characters as barriers or struggles, and barebones stuff like that means that I'm stuck with only generic things and waiting and hoping that the player will be able to weave interesting character development into their posts (which, spoilers, they usually aren't and end up being Captain Generic McBoring until they drop off the face of the earth). As long as a character has some motivation(s) and strengths and weaknesses and very basic background info on the table to start with I can tolerate it but won't be happy about it. In a fantasy setting, something like "Ted is an adventurer who used to be a blacksmith, he wants gold to build his own smithy and settle down to make a family, he's strong and durable but he isn't very smart and doesn't understand anything about magic" is enough for me to work with. I would like more because I like having a lot of character detail, but I wouldn't hold everyone to my personal standards because I know it doesn't fit all interests and roleplaying styles.
    I vote for C, F, and H.
     
  7. :ferret:
     
  8. I don't usually leave them so long. After editing the longest history/personality I ever wrote was probably something around 1500 words. Before editing, though, ha, that's another story. For me, if I haven't written it out (whether it later gets deleted or not so that other players don't know it) it doesn't exist. I really can't even think concretely about a character until I'm sitting in front of a pad of paper or the keyboard. There is no - I'll go think about it. Only beginning. ​

    Quite a lot, actually. Whether or not I tell anyone else about these details, mehhh, usually not. But for my personal use, it's important to understand these weird or minute things about my character before I write for him/her. And I can be pretty awful about writing in specific and important memories for my characters directly into the biography. Dialogue and all. That's usually the first of what get's edited out or condensed, but I enjoy writing it. ​

    I prefer to keep as much as possible to myself. It's more fun for the other this way and myself, too. The other doesn't get locked to one idea they maybe can see playing off of such detail in my character's history. I like to think it keeps the mind open.
    Of course, sometimes a group will have a massive skeleton already. It's quite difficult to leave things out in that case. ​


    If details means -how many categories?- then not so much. If I'm the one choosing, it's name, height, age, gender, occupation, history. Maybe there are some other things such as race that apply to different genres. My histories could easily stand alone, however. Those are detailed enough by themselves. And I'm not much for a separate personality field...because...history...and personality...they almost always overlap anyway.​

    It seems as if I certainly get carried away writing everything out, but whether or not that means others' characters are less in-depth, I don't think it's a good gauge. Anyway, in most of my one on one's, we don't exchange our character sheets. We'll talk about how they each fit into the story and then trust that the other has something good cooked up.​


    I don't think anyone would dispute me if I said yeah, length matters, but at the same time, I'm more inclined to say (hope) that it doesn't matter. I think honestly writing ability (including grammar and ideas) and attention to coding stands out more. Yes, even coding. That being said, I don't think length matters after maybe two or three paragraphs, because that's the amount, if you write concisely, you need to show that you've put good thought into your character.​


    C. Mechanics​
     
  9. I think that it was about three pages long, but that was also a legacy character, so it was mostly long because I had to summarize the events of the last story. Said story went on for a year.
    I think that there needs to be a lot of details already preloaded in the character, but I don't think these should be placed in the character sheet that people submit to the RP. Basically, I think that while things like how a character was raised, what they value, what they wish to achieve, who they respect, and other things are something a writer should know before IC launch, but they shouldn't let anyone know about these directly. The CS should really only show a superficial look at the character, and the other stuff can be revealed to us through their actions in the RP. So, details at the beginning are important, but the way these details are conveyed are also important.
    Oh, yeah. I think I accidentally answered this already. I rarely have characters that are totally open from the start. Static characters are sometimes interesting NPCs, especially for comic relief, but they rarely make fun long term interactions.
    I like them to show that someone is capable of writing and storytelling. The level of detail is very rarely relevant.
    I'd say that I tend to have more depth than the typical partner, and this rarely matters to me. I like characters with well thought out histories and personalities, but as long as they give them enough depth to begin with, since characters build depth over time, you might never notice they weren't fleshed out to begin with.
    I sort of alluded to this before, but the level detail is just loosely correlated to what is actually important. When I'm approving characters, I'm looking to make sure both the roleplayer and their character will work in my RP. If I'm running an advanced RP, I need to see good storytelling skills in the CS. If I'm running an RP based in realism, a demon lord is a hard sell. This is the essence of what GMs do when they are approving characters.
     
  10. Q. How long was the most detailed character you ever created?
    Twelve years and endless short stories, documents, character sheets, and even those stupid quizzes that were popular on Livejournal filled out from his perspective. Still goin' too.

    Q. How much value do you put into details at the beginning?
    I personally like to have a solid skeleton of a character. Even if I don't include everything on a character sheet, I like to know a good amount about my character. What I find most important is the character's motivations, internal and external, and how they interact with other people. You can go pretty far with just those two things in mind.

    Q. Do you reveal all the details of your characters from the start, or keep some things secret but developed, or let your characters develop over time?
    A mix between 'keep some things secret but developed' and 'let your characters develop over time.'

    Q. How detailed do you like character sheets to be?
    Decently detailed, but nothing insane. I really don't like filling out super detailed histories and sheets with 'strengths/weaknesses/likes/dislikes/blah blah blah.' A lot of that doesn't seem super relevant to me. It's kind of unnecessary. If I really get into a character, I'll fill that stuff out on my own time, but never before a role-play.

    Q. (1x1 RP's): Would you say that you make your characters with more or less depth in the beginning of RP's than most of your partners? Do you like this, dislike this, or does it matter at all to you?
    I almost always match what my partner does when it comes to character sheets. If it's just a picture, basic information and a short personality blurb, that's what I'll do. If it's a detailed character sheet with history and appearance and all that, I'll do that too. However, as previously mentioned I really dislike writing super detailed histories, so even if my partner writes one for their character, I'm probably not going to. Just basic shit. I don't really want to get into when they were born, how many siblings they have, their parents' back story, where they went to school... none of that is important for most role-plays. If it is, it can be revealed later.
     
    • Q. How long was the most detailed character you ever created?
      • Extremely detailed. Several pages of backstory followed by at least another page of quirks, personality traits, strengths weaknesses, etc.
    • Q. How much value do you put into details at the beginning?
      • I like detail in the beginning. All of the detail. All for me!
    • Q. Do you reveal all the details of your characters from the start, or keep some things secret but developed, or let your characters develop over time?
      • A little bit of all three. See I give some details from the get-go. Just nice basic stuff, but I also have a lot o the details down, and I keep them to myself and reveal them over time, and throughout the natural course of the roleplay. But I also allow my characters to grow on their own. What I have planned may or may not come to fruition. I use it more as a guideline than anything.
    • Q. How detailed do you like character sheets to be?
      • Depends on the character, roleplay and partner.
    • Q. (1x1 RP's): Would you say that you make your characters with more or less depth in the beginning of RP's than most of your partners? Do you like this, dislike this, or does it matter at all to you?
      • Everybody has their own style. As I keep a lot of my stuff to myself at the beginning of a roleplay, I can imagine that perhaps my partners do the same. I don't know if we have the same amount of detail or not if we're not sharing the sheets with each other.
    • Q. (Groups RP's): Would you say that detail in a character is a factor to whether or not they would be approved? Why or why not?
      • In groups, I think a fully fleshed out CS is important. Especially since the games are typically run by one person. That person needs to have at least a general idea of how a character (and player) will react to specific scenarios.

    Community Choice Poll:
    Surprise me.
     
    • Q. How long was the most detailed character you ever created?
    I think the biography alone took up a full page or two. It took me a month just to sort out her abilities.
    • Q. How much value do you put into details at the beginning?
    I've been trying to shy away from locking my character into a ton of detail lately, mostly because it lets me make up shit on the fly. Much more fun that way.
    • Q. Do you reveal all the details of your characters from the start, or keep some things secret but developed, or let your characters develop over time?
    Again, I'm trying to be a little more secretive. Most RPs want everything out in the open, so I'll be as detailed as I can while still leaving a few open-ended plot points.
    • Q. How detailed do you like character sheets to be?
    Very, very detailed, just maybe not so heavy on revealing secrets or "true" character traits (one of my favorite character tropes is an innocent/ignorant character who turns out to be super dangerous/terrifying. The reveal is always better when the other PCs are surprised).
    • Q. (1x1 RP's): Would you say that you make your characters with more or less depth in the beginning of RP's than most of your partners? Do you like this, dislike this, or does it matter at all to you?
    Depends. Most of the RPs I go into are more advanced, so I generally fall in line with the other players, but when I enter more casual RPs my CS can stick out a little.
    • Q. (Groups RP's): Would you say that detail in a character is a factor to whether or not they would be approved? Why or why not?
    I think, so long as it's well-written, designed, and follows the rules and atmosphere of the RP, any CS can be approved. I will say, though, a super short CS can give the impression the player isn't all that invested.
     
  11. I voted for the second option. I prefer fleshing out most details of my character ahead of time. It makes writing easier later for me. I also do prefer doing bios/history, and I usually write that part first, because I find that my character's personality develops out of his/her background. Much like in reality :)

    Additional Questions
    • Q. How long was the most detailed character you ever created?
      • 5 pages
    • Q. How much value do you put into details at the beginning?
      • A lot. I refer back to my CS every time I post, so the more detail I put in there in the first place the better and more consistent my writing of that character will be.
    • Q. Do you reveal all the details of your characters from the start, or keep some things secret but developed, or let your characters develop over time?
      • Mostly all at the start. Because of above reason. If some detail that I missed while writing the CS comes up later I try to go back and add it, so I'll remember it again later.
    • Q. How detailed do you like character sheets to be?
      • As a writer, I prefer very detailed, because I'll forget to think of some details if not prompted about them. The more detailed the CS the more depth my character has. But as a GM I like to give people flexibility to write their own preferred style, not force everyone into my own preferences.
    • Q. (1x1 RP's): Would you say that you make your characters with more or less depth in the beginning of RP's than most of your partners? Do you like this, dislike this, or does it matter at all to you?
      • More, because I make them for my own sake and for my shit memory. Doesn't matter to me what the other person does. As long as they know their character they're fine, they don't need to prove it to me. If I have a question as I'm writing I'll ask; that's the beauty of 1X1s.
    • Q. (Groups RP's): Would you say that detail in a character is a factor to whether or not they would be approved? Why or why not?
      • No. Everyone has different styles of writing and planning out characters. Some people do very minimal CSs, but when they write their characters are very well done. As a GM all I care about is that people's characters make sense in the story, and however the players can prove that to me, in whatever style they like, that's fine. However, as a fellow player I might have a hard time making or planning relationships with other characters if they don't have enough detail in their CS. Usually if someone's CS is lacking or inconsistent or doesn't make sense I'll just pass them over for relationship potential. I ain't got time to ask everyone for clarification on their characters :P
    Community Choice Poll: Vote for the topic of the next poll! (You can choose multiple options. To vote, simply post in this thread which option(s) you want.) (Yes, this poll will shrink in size at some point. Some topics dead end after a while. :ferret:)
    • A. Pace. (How fast RP's go/how fast you and the rest of the community post on average.) (Single-choice poll.)
    • E. RP Completion. (As a follow up to "Longevity." Has to do with how many have successfully completed role plays, and/or how many completed role plays they have.) (Single choice poll.)
    • H. Relationship Types. (Follow up to "Character Depth." Has to do with the types of relationships characters can get involved with and their general popularity.) (Multiple Choice.)
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.