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Grakor's Tips for Improving Your RP Game - Characters
#1
Another article from Grakor, and this time I am here to provide you with a myriad of tips and things to think about when constructing, conceptualizing, and actually roleplaying characters. First off, I'll point you to Qaza's thread on the subject, "Creating Characters That You'll Love." Qaza does a good job of creating warning signs and making sure that you'll make a character you can grow attached to. Instead, this thread is designed to help people make characters not only that they'll love, but also give these characters a greater level of depth when you are actually RPing them.

This post assumes that you already have a basic concept in mind. A concept, of course, is just a basic idea of what you want the character to be...race, class, and general alignment and temperment. Once you have that, you can go even more in depth.

Speech

The basics of this heading are obvious. Different races and people of different upbringings have different manners of speech. Trolls, Dwarves, and Draenei all of their specific accents, and naturally someone who has grown up in the slums would have more slang incorporated into his speech, while a noble would use less slang and more intellectual words. However, the consideration about a person's speech doesn't stop there.

Often, the way one talks can tell you something about that person, including how he was raised. It can, however, also tell you a bit about his personality. Though I hate to use my own characters as examples, I think it is appropriate in this case. Grakor, for example, uses a highly relaxed form of speech, constantly shaving off sounds he feels he doesn't need to make so long as he believes his point is being put across. This not only reflects his simple upbringing, but his general impatience and, to a degree, laziness, due to his unwillingness to put forth real effort into his words. Garrok, by stark contrast, is the opposite. He purposefully avoids the use of contractions and speaks in an unusually verbose manner. This speech distances him further from the common masses, as he does not use colloquial speech and can give off a "disconnected" or "off" feeling due to his unusual manner of speaking.

Do not just think about how the characters say what they do, but also think about what they do *while* they are talking, and why that is and what it can reflect about that character. A dramatic character may make pronounced hand gestures while speaking, while a perpetually nervous or paranoid character may rarely focus his gaze on his conversation partner as he wishes to constantly keep an eye on his surroundings.

Strengths and Weaknesses

This isn't just a topic on one's strengths and weaknesses in combat or in the nature of skills like crafting, but also out of combat, simply in the social world that we live in. We all have our weak points. Perhaps there is a particular type of food that you simply have a hard time resisting. Perhaps you get angry easily and hold a terrible grudge. Perhaps you are weak in resisting sexual advances and are easily seduced. One thing you want to do when creating a realistic character is ensuring that he has a weakness even outside of combat.

One thing that you may want to consider is looking up the "Seven Deadly Sins," and then picking one of those to embody your character's particular weakness, or the sin that character has a particularly hard time resisting. It is a simple solution that works well, and has been used in games such as White Wolf's "World of Darkness."

However, when you set up a weakness, also think of a particular strength. Perhaps your character is particularly unyielding in the face of adversity, or perhaps your character is adept at inspiring hope within himself and others. Think of a particular virtue or positive trait that your character is particularly strong with. Just as the Seven Sins are a good place to find inspiration for weaknesses, the Seven Virtues are a good place to find inspiration for strengths.

Goals and Motivations

Think for a moment about what your character wants in life. Does he want to become a powerful fighter? A charismatic leader? Does he want to be rich? Famous? Does he simply want to get by in the world, make a nice family and settle down? Or perhaps he wants to just have fun every day, and not worry about anything else?

Every person has a goal, and while not everything that character does has to revolve around this particular goal, this goal should reflect in many of the character's actions and motivations.

Speaking of motivations, it's good to think about *why* a character is doing what he is doing. A good example is an evil character who allows a monster to rampage through a town. Is he doing it because he hates the townsfolk, or is he doing it by some belief that he's doing good, that if the town survives the assault that it will become stronger as a result?

Symbolism

Symbolism often refers to a literary device, where a particular *thing* may represent another *thing.* This could be anything, and while this concept may be used in a narrow and specific manner in certain works, there are also cases where symbolism work in a larger audience.

Color symbolism is a good example. Many colors have many associations with them. Black and white are often colors associated with death, red is often associated with passion and anger, while blue is often associated with sadness. Characters may not make a conscious decision to incorporate these colors to create some underlying statement about themselves, but some symbols everyone recognizes, even on a subliminal level.

If you want to incorporate symbolism into your character design or roleplay, it requires a bit of thought, but also gives that character an extra layer of depth. Why does your character wear that particular color? What can that hint at about the character? What object does the character carry around, and what does it represent to himself? Does it also represent something else, something on a higher level?

Conclusion

I hope this article has inspired people to take a closer look at their characters and come up with ideas to deepen their personalities. As always, discussion is more than welcome, if you managed to actually wade through all of that text!

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[-] The following 1 user Likes Grakor456's post:
  • Spiralin
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#2
Thought-provoking stuff! I think this will be a really useful tool for character design. I had never thought of using the seven sins/virtues for weaknesses or strengths, but I do remember really liking White Wolf's requirement for balance in strengths and weaknesses. (ie, Your character picks up on different languages very quickly, but they also have mange. Ouch.)
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"We are here on earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different."
~Kurt Vonnegut
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#3
White Wolf is my favorite stuff, ever. Grakor, you are officially a hero to me. Woot for Grakor!
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#4
Thank you verry much for this guid it will help me RP many times better and this way i can really be my charter
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#5
Wow, I love that 7 sins / virtues idea... I might carry that one over to some D&D games...
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#6
I've been looking through lots of these guides on the forum in the hopes of learning things to better my play and the main thing that stuck out to me was "choose a strength and weakness" I'd really never thought about that before. Thanks :)
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