✷ 𝕊𝕥𝕒𝕪𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕋𝕣𝕦𝕖 𝕋𝕠 ℂ𝕙𝕒𝕣𝕒𝕔𝕥𝕖𝕣 ✷
We have all been there. We get an idea for a character in our mind and we break out a character sheet. We start typing it up. The ideas are swarming all around and we get so excited. Once it is done we cannot wait to break that baby out of the gate and do that debut post. Once it is up and you are going things are great. Then a week passes. A month. Maybe more. And suddenly that character is no longer what you wanted it to be. You have either steered so far off course you aren't Rping anything you intended and we aren't talking evolution or progression, we are talking shit storm. Or you have fallen into the "idolized me" trap. When your character is no longer a character, it's the ~Rper~. You know what I am talking about. When everyone that has ever been in more than one RP with you goes "yeah, same old shit different face claim."
You sit back and wonder... Where the hell did I go wrong? That moment you aren't Rping anymore really. You are just typing.I loved this character. I was so excited about it. Now, I'm just getting the post out. This isn't what I envisioned. Yeah, well snap out of it! It doesn't have to be like that! I'm going to show you how to stay true to character even when you are stressed or tired or just fallen into a rut. This tutorial is here to show you how to stay true to your character concept. Shall we begin? Let's.
✩ ══════════════════════════════════════════════════════════ ✩
Now, before you can worry about staying in character and true to your character concept you have to have a well worked out character to start with. This is one of the main reasons why I am such a strong advocate for detailed and structured Character Sheets. Without a fully thought out character you can't truly ever stay true to a character concept because frankly there isn't one.
Even if you have never Rped the character before it doesn't mean they haven't lived. Any character that is beyond a few minutes of being birthed has a history. How they came about, how they grew up, how they learned their skills, and how their personality developed. These are crucial factors for not only character creation but in having a character concept you can stick to and develop over time.
The Four Crucial Factors:
Each of these Four Crucial Factors can be further broken down into more specific items of reference. If you have covered these general items though you will have a much easier time staying within your characters concept than if you don't. Of course the deeper you delve into your characters original sheet, the easier it will over the long run. A good foundation is the key to long term character success.
I know many will go, "but I want to develop my character in RP!" Yeah, don't we all but you have to start somewhere. If you can sit and come up with enough skills to kill a god then you can take two minutes explaining why your character prefers to bite their bottom lip instead of rolling their eyes. Others might say they don't want everything revealed when they begin. That is fine. You can always present a less developed CS to the group as a whole but keep a fully detailed CS as your own personal reference sheet somewhere else: say a PM to yourself, a file saved on your computer, or a google document.
The first and easiest factor to reference to when posting for your character is their personal physical aspects. These are hard core things that are tougher to change than the other. They are your default go-to's when you are posting. Physical goes well beyond though just their height, weight, or face claim. There is a lot more you can use if you just think about it or, in the long term cases, reference back to on your character sheet. What do these include?
- Ethnicity/Skin Color
- Personal Styling/Grooming
Now we will want to take a moment to see why these are so important and how you can use them to keep your character your character. These are your foundation but also will be used in conjunction with other Crucial Factors down the line.
Gender: Depending on your gender will determine a lot right out of the gate about your character. The biggest thing is how they are treated around society in general. Sure we want everyone to be accepting and no one to be sexist but let's be real here. Most aren't even if they want to be. Thinking first on your characters gender will help you remain real when it comes to focusing on certain situations. There are somethings one gender can get away with that others might not. Use your gender to tread through different interactions with other PC's and NPC's. Think to why you chose the gender you did? And what you wanted to try to accomplish with them being that gender.
Age: Whether you like it or not, your characters age is going to determine a lot about them. The older, the longer the history. The more they have seen or lived through. If you are a newer Rper I always recommend just rping an age close to your own or younger. It is far easier to remain true to a character of an age your have gone through yourself than one that is older. Think back to yourself in situations even if your characters personality is vastly different than your own. How would you have truly reacted at that age? How did you really wished you had reacted? Trust me, you probably weren't or aren't as mature as you think. Why did you pick that age?
Height/Weight/Build: The Simple Trinity as I like to refer to them. Your characters height can be used to note if they have to look up or down to another person while speaking. Their weight will affect how well they handle physical situations, anything from fighting to just getting dressed. Take it from a woman with thunder thighs. It is a much bigger work out getting into a pair of skinny jeans for me than it is for someone with slender legs. Use that! Their build will also play a part in how well they handle things such as running or lifting, or even tying their shoes. If you are built like a brick shit house, I promise you that your flexibility isn't as good as some and you could struggle to tie your shoes or zip up that dress in the back. Why this build?
Ethnicity/Skin Color: While there are tons of social factors that you can use to play up your characters ethnicity or skin color there are other things to take into account. Like how well they handle being out in the sun. Do they burn or tan? Get referred to as pasty or black as the ace of spades? Are they self conscious about these things? Think about these things when posting. If your character has dark skin and it is a low lit or dark room they might be able to get away with more than a person that is neon glowing white. Why this skin?
Eyes/Hair: They say the eyes are the window to the soul. Well do you want that soul wide open for the world to see or do you want it closed off? You will want to think about these things when you are posting. A simple glance of the eyes or looking down when being spoke to can tell a lot about what you want to reveal about your character. If you think about these things when you are creating your character you can default back to them in posts to make sure you are staying true. Same goes with hair. If might not be the window to the soul but it frames that soul. Do they play with their hair? Struggle to keep it under control? Is it still wet hours after taking a shower? Things many don't think about but you should. You can use these things throughout an Rp to keep things interesting and to help you maintain your foundation. Why these features?
Tattoo's/Scars/Piercings: This is one of my favorite things to use in an Rp. Are they wearing earrings? Do they tug on it? Oh, why did I give them that tattoo? What is it's meaning? Does it play into the scene with what they are wearing? Scars? Oh that is a physical map of their history! What scar is where? Where did it come from? Does it still cause them pain, physically or mentally? Why did you give them these markings?
Personal Styling/Grooming: What a character wears and how they groom themselves is a simple thing you can look back on to get into the mindset of your character. Everyone dresses a certain way for a reason and they take care of themselves for a reason. Maybe they dress in grunge and their hair is greasy. Are they poor? Just locked in the Nirvana Era? Perhaps they are battling depression? Are they dressed in suits and ties with perfectly manicured nails and styled hair? Are they uptight? Meticulous? Why did you give them this mode of dress. Sometimes just looking back on how they dress and if they brush their hair can remind you why you made them the way you did when you began. Why do they dress this way?
The second set of factors that you will want to reference and remember are the psychological. How your character thinks, how they act, and so forth. What goes on mentally and emotionally is what makes a character 'a character'. This is where most people start to drift first. They come up with a great complex character and after a few posts or more they stop using them and we fall into that dreaded 'idolized me' me trap. Or even worse... You are reacting off your own personal emotions instead of your characters. Or even the worst of the worst, you post just to throw shit out there even though your character would have never done. There is a lot to break down when it comes to psychological factors. What do these include?
- Main Traits
- Overall Personality
Let's delve more into why these are so important and how you can use them to keep your character 'your character'. These are your keystone factors, which tie to all others.
Main Traits: Now for every character you should have a list of main personality traits. Some positive and some negative. No one is fully evil and no one is perfect and no, a negative cannot be a positive or the reverse in certain situations. You use these are your ~locks~, the most fundamental of traits for your character and the ones least likely to change over months or even years. They are your check points. Would my character react this way? If you have to justify it on first glance to these main traits chances are they won't and it lets you know to look at it from another angle, from your characters mind and not your own.
Sexuality: This is a great tool when interacting with other characters. Now your sexuality should be determined from birth, even if your character doesn't know it yet or hasn't accepted it. This will help be a driving force when it comes to romance and interpersonal relationships with other characters. Say someone is hitting on your character, depending on your characters sexuality they could respond in different ways.
Overall Personality: A characters personality overall changes over the course of the rp but you want a starting point. If you don't have one you can't grow. If you are just starting the rp you will want to stay as true to this as possible. If it is a year into the rp, think to why they are forking left when they normally would fork right. Once you start going off personality enough just request an update to your characters personality to show the long term change but make sure it makes sense. Remember if you are having to explain yourself or justify it, chances are you are way off course and not staying true to character.
Habits: Ticks and habits are things that are physical that are tied to long term mental conditions and expressions. Does your characters knee bounce when they are nervous and sitting down. Rub the back of their neck when they get shy? If you have these listed out and can check them, remember why you added them to the CS, it helps you stay within your characters mannerisms and mindset making long term game play a lot simpler.
Fears: Okay, let's get away from all that afraid to be alone bullshit. I am talking real fears, usually tied to a noun or a verb. Heights, spiders, drowning, falling, etc. Fears shouldn't be small things but big things. Ones that leave your characters heart rushing and them frozen in their place that require something epic to overcome. Having these in play that you can reference adds not only flavor to your text in those situation but also reminds you why you placed them there. Was it something in their history that brought these about? How do they tie to your characters main traits? Or a scar they carry. Fear is one of the biggest triggers in a character, the easiest to reference, and developer of psychological traits so it will be a good one for you to look back on to get back into your characters head.
Likes: Yeah, no matter how brooding or dark your character is your character has likes. Again, try to steer clear of things that are mental and focus more on nouns and verbs. Tea, coffee, sweets, warm days or rainy, etc. Why do they like these things? In a tense situation could these things set them more at ease? Caught in a post-apocalyptic world would they do something major to get a little comfort of their past? Be willing to trade more cash for a bottle of red wine than a bottle of white. Remember why they have their likes to use when you are posting. Especially when searching, they are more likely to get focused on something they like than something that holds no interest for them.
Dislikes: Just as likes, no matter how perfect a character is, they will have things they dislike and dislikes are usually more powerful in remaining in character than likes are. People tend to have a bigger reaction to things they hate over things they love. It is a survival thing, even if only mental or emotional survival. Perhaps they hate flowers? Why? Well they are allergic to bees and flowers attract them so when a flower garden pops up in Rp they would want to avoid it. Use their dislikes to drive which direction they go or what they are willing to do to get away or avoid something they dislike.
The third set of factors. These are where you character came from, what caused them to be who they are and why they react the way they do. Much of the time people either give far too much information on these or in reality they don't think long enough on their characters history. Why? Because they haven't Rped the character yet but the thing is your character has lived before their first post and so you have to develop a history that ties in everything above and below. Hell they have probably lived more before that first post than they ever will in RP. Much of the time I find it easiest to go to history first and build the rest of the character from there. It is also why I refer back to my characters history before each post. It reminds me why my character is the way they are and also is a reference point to perhaps other situations that are similar in the RP currently so I already know how they will react. What do these include?
- The Past
- The Present
- The Future
- The Family
- The Relations
Let's look more into why these are so important and how you can use them to keep your character 'your character'. These are your recipe factors, which lead to everything your character is.
The Past: Where your character came from is EVERYTHING for a character. How they grew up, where they were born, even down to what they ate while growing up all plays a part in every physical and psychological aspect of your character. More than that, this is your reference point to remind yourself why your character acts a certain way in different situations. Scar on the arm? Dog attacked them, they are fearful of dogs, sees a dog and takes a step back apprehensively. See where I am going with this? Each of those situations you reference in their history from their childhood home to where they went to school molded your character. Reference these to help get back into that mindset you were in when you typed up the character.
The Present: While the past developed the initial character, the present is still shaping them. Is your character aware of their sexuality, of their bad traits, of their grooming habits? If so, how are they trying to hold onto these, how is what is happening around them when the RP kicks off and how has that changed over months in RP? Also, remember even if you have been in an Rp for 6 months or even a year, which is a long time for you, how long has it actually been in RP? A day? A week? A month? A good rule of thumb - it takes 6 months of RP time to change something minor, it takes 2 years of RP time to change something major. So if it hasn't been much time over all in the actual rp, remember to get back to this!
The Future: We can't write the future but we can plan for it. This is also known as Goals. What does your character want as the time goes by years or decades down the road? They wanting to become stronger? Filter out one of those negative traits, hone one of those positive ones, get over a major fear? Referencing these are like weighting yourself when you are on a diet. It keeps you on track and working towards your goal - more than that it is making sure you do it at a realistic rate. Evil does not bloom in a second, neither goes good. So if it has only been 3 days in RP itself, your character is no where near reaching a goal. So they steps have to be small, minuet. Just like relations developing.
The Family: A family, or lack thereof, will influence a lot about the character. Their accent, skin color, body, how they react to others or how quickly they let others get close to them. It will help influence if they want a family of their own or if they want to avoid it. An absentee father might mean a man doesn't want kids or a girl has daddy issues. Think back to how they are or were with their family to help mold how they are handling the current situation.
The Relations: Outside of the family your character will have other relations and most of them will not be romantic. Teachers, mentors, bullies, friends, roommates, etc. Maybe a roommate had a cat that constantly pissed all over the place, would explain why your character hates cats. Maybe a teacher praised a paper and opened a love for writing, why your character keeps a journal. Relations are a powerful motivator for a characters actions or even lack of action in life.
The fourth and final set of factors is other or everything else that was not reviewed above. How while the ones above are all very important, to me these are the ones I go to first and above all others. Especially when I need to crank out a post quickly or if I want to make sure to fully embrace my character once again if I have gone off course. What do these include?
- Face Claim
- The RP
Let's go back and look more into why these are so important and how you can use them to keep your character 'your character'. These your building factors. Usually your first glimpse into your character or what gave you your initial inspiration. Let's see why these factors are so critical.
Skills: Now many Rps won't have a skills list but that doesn't mean your character doesn't have any. If your Rp does have skills or abilities then you have a set list for ease of reference. Everything from their fitness to their strength to their IQ or even the languages they speak and when they learned them. A character is more likely under stress to speak in their native tongue than one they learned along the way. A character who is based off strength is more likely to resort to a physical end than a logical one. A thinker will stay in the back during a fight and perhaps a track star will know it is better to run at the right time. You don't have to be in a fight to use your skills and in fact what you do outside of a fight with your characters skills tends to far more important than what they do in battle. How perceptive a character drives an Rp forward a lot more than a good shot will. Remember this and see how your character can stay in character and push the RP forward.
Possessions: Sometimes what your character carries on them is more than just for survival. Yes survival is important, especially in a life or death RP. So having weapons, and taking care of them will make your character want to take a few minutes before sleep to tend to those matters. But what about those little things? A necklace from your mom, a picture from the fair? Things like this can drive a character. Sentimental attachments can make a character do a lot of things to keep them. Remember why they have them and think to what they would do if they lost them.
Hobbies: Everyone needs down time, even characters. It helps them relax, perhaps even bond with other character over like hobbies. Maybe your character loves a certain football team and another character loves football as well but likes a rival team. The conversations you can get from that alone. Is your character hot headed? Yeah, they won't take to getting poked about their team losing the last game. Could lead to a fight! So remember the hobbies. Not only can they fill in down time they can link a characters past, present, and future together.
Residence: Do they have a home or not? Why? Is it decorated in a certain way? Do they keep things here that mean a lot to them? Did that home just burn to the ground? Was it the first time they had ever had a place to call home? These all play into how your character reacts to a situation and how they will move forward.
Quotes/Mantra: Yeah, your character can have quotes before you Rp them for the first time and this is one of my favorite things to make an on going gag in RP. How many times can I get my character to say their quotes. More than that, my characters Mantra helps keep me on the straight and narrow when it comes to a characters actions in RP. Does this reaction or speech actually fit? Again, if I have to justify it or explain it I know I have gone off track and I can reel myself back into place.
Face Claim: Okay I know not everyone has a Face Claim but hey a picture is worth a thousand words and much of the time people will find a face claim before they ever start developing the character. The image gives them that initial idea, that spark and excitement to want to play the character. Look at that character picture and remember how you felt when you first looked at it. Are you still there? How far off course are you? Are you moving the way you want? At the right pace? Use that Face Claim as your first check factor before you post!
Music: Music isn't something that a lot of people use when creating a character but for me, after a Face Claim, it is the first thing I look for, much of the time it is found even before a Face Claim is. Why? Because, if I find a song that moves me and puts me in a certain mood I know I can put that song on down the line and it will help me get back in-touch with that original character concept and makes it so much easier to type. A song can move mountains when it comes to a character so always ensure the character song matches how you want to post.
The RP: This might not seem like a big thing but trust me it is. I have characters that have been RPed in multiple RP's but the thing is, depending on the RP depends on the character. Now basics remain but the small little details that turns a flat character into a fully developed one change. If you are in a life or death RP your character will react differently than if it is just a slice or life one. So remember the RP and what you are doing in the RP and how your character will react for this particular one. Some people play the same character in multiple Rps at the same time so you must make sure you are referencing the correct CS for the RP you are posting in because those little things can make or break a character concept.
✩ ══════════════════════════════════════════════════════════ ✩
Now we have gone down the list of things you can reference to make sure that you stay true to your character concept. Thing is that, you cannot realistically check each and every one of these every time you post. It is just too much but you will want to double check yourself regularly and try to work through them all at least once every couple of months.
I do recommend however that you at least check the following with every single post you make, especially if you have a hard time staying in character or wait to the last minute to post. Always check yourself before you wreck yourself. Or your character in this case.
The Check List:
- Age: A character reacts differently at every age.
- Main Traits: These are the hardest to change and the ones that will be with you the longest.
- The Past: It is why your character is they way they are, remember this. The past doesn't change.
- Music: If you don't have a song, get one. Music is one of the simplest things any Rper can use to get into the mood to type and if you are in the mood it will be easier to remember everything above.
If you go over these 4 basics before every post, it will become easier over time to remain in character and not fall off the Character Concept Wagon. I will recommend that you add in 1-2 more to check each post that you rotate through until you know your character better than you know yourself so when you type for them there is little effort to remain in character. The longer you Rp a character the better but that is only IF you are staying in character. The longer you are out of character when you post the harder it will be to get back onto the path.
✩ ══════════════════════════════════════════════════════════ ✩
Now, I went over a lot of things above and many people do not include everything above in a character sheet. I just went off my own personal CS's that I use in Rp's that I GM. Not every Cs has all these, I do change a few things here and there depending on the RP but many things like Physical and Psychological are always the same because I want people to have a good base for a character concept no matter the RP.
As with any of my tutorials, what I have here might not work for you and there is nothing wrong with that. This is just the process I go through when I am posting for a PC or even an NPC. When you are a Gm I find it helpful to have a list of things so that every PC and NPC isn't the same. I want them to each stand on their own. As an Rper that is just as important because you don't ever want to be known as the Rper who plays the same damn thing no matter what. It gets boring. For the reader and for your to write for them. If you are in six Rps and are typing the same thing out over and over again, chances are you are going to flake out. The more invested you are, the more work you have put in, the more likely you are going to stick it out, and more likely you are to remain true to your Character Concept.
✩ ══════════════════════════════════════════════════════════ ✩