Creating a character but strapped for ideas? Here’s one trick to figuring out personality traits and background information. Try placing your character into different situations he or she could experience during the role-play. Imagine him in a plethora of different situations, from ones in which he would naturally be to ones in which he would never find himself. For example, if the character is shy, place him in the cafeteria eating away from everyone. Now come up with a scenario for him to deal with. Perhaps a new student asks to sit with your character. How would your character react? Would he feel secretly glad that someone wanted to make friends with him or would he be nervous that someone was speaking to him?
Okay, so those sorts of situations are pretty typical – shy characters keep to themselves and only interact with a few others. Similarly, outgoing characters generally gravitate towards bigger, more ‘social’ threads. But that limits what a player and a character can do, and it can lead to rather underdeveloped characters. So what is the solution? Break out of the box. Whether you’ve already begun role-playing or you’re still in the character-creation process, placing characters into unusual or different situations will unquestionably help develop their personalities or backgrounds.
- Have a shy or quiet character? Have him invited to a popular classmate’s party, give an important presentation at work, or suddenly thrown into a leadership position. Will he be embarrassed or nervous? Will he realize he has no other choice and embrace the situation? How will these portray and affect his personality? What might his background have to do with the way he reacts to these situations?
- Can’t imagine an outgoing character in any situation other than being the center of attention in a huge crowd of people all adoring him? Give him some quiet, introspective time. Perhaps he has to stay home because his wife and two daughters are all ill and he has to take care of them. What will he be thinking? Will he like the peace and quiet or will he feel uncomfortable because hardly anyone else is around?
Dozens upon dozens upon dozens of different situations can be applied to any character, and every character is different, which means there’s no end to the possibilities, personalities, and backgrounds! All the options and variety is what makes role-playing and character creation so enjoyable. But be careful when imagining (or actually putting) characters into situations they wouldn’t normally be in because it can quickly lead to very OOC (out-of-character) posts. Make sure that the character has a good, logical reason for being put into [insert situation here] , and make sure he acts accordingly. A shy character wouldn’t suddenly and enthusiastically embrace his turn to spend an entire day teaching his classmates. He’d have to teach them because it would be a grade for his education class, but it’s more likely he would act nervous and would fret about it the entire week before. So, make sure to keep the situations real and the characters reactions, well, in-character. Done right, this character creation trick (which also doubles as a handy already-RPing tip) can be an extremely useful tool in developing and fleshing out characters.
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