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I feel like a lot of my characters are very similar and even when I try to break away from that typical style I just gravitate towards the other characters more.

Do you have a “character type” and if so what do you think it says about yourself?

Also, suggestions for branching out.
Honestly, my advice is just write what you like. I don't think low character diversity is bad if you enjoy your characters and what you write.

But if you do, I recommend doing research about random things. Different cultures and hobbies from widely different places and people, trying to add new things that look at something from entirely different perspectives will natural make a character more diverse, or at least more contrasted against your other characters.

Personally, all my characters are fantasy characters. I also have no intention to change that.
I've been rping with you for a long time. I think you have great characters and you are a great writer. If you wanted to change, you could always use a character generator to get a beginning and you fill in the rest. However, I would say keep doing what make you happy.

Hello, there!

I completely understand, not only do I have only one style for all my characters, in fact, I have only character that I design for different plots! (it's Ayla, but I alter her based on the verse)

It's just that I'm someone that likes to add many of own traits into my OC, I'm Asian-Brown so I make her that. She's almost always a mage or scholar of some kind, which probably says a lot about me as a person. I tried making new OC's with different aesthetics or backgrounds, but I find myself feeling very, very detached from them.
itsjess Topic Starter

Do you ever find yourself going stale because of that lack of character diversity?

I don't have a particular character type because I'm not interested in partners whose characters are all carbon copies of each other. Really limits what you can write with them, because once you've seen one of their characters, you've seen all of them. Diversity is an important writing skill so you don't end up with 270 straight white blonde-haired female characters with subservient personalities.

The key is - and what drives most people away from diversity - is going outside your comfort zone. Write the unconventional. I started with writing characters that are "dumb", conventionally unattractive, or super old. The old ones are fun. Then I moved on to characters that have contrasting ideals and morals to my own. Morally grey scientist who is convinced that eradicating half the population through disease is the only way to save the planet? Sure. 53 year old soldier who's too much of a coward to go against the authoritarian pre-apocalypse government? Sure. Straight up villainous neurosurgeon who used several thousand cloning specimens as guinea pigs to secure the means to ensure that her own cloning to maintain eternal life would go well? Sure.

Venus is dumber than a box of rocks. Crowley is erratic and on the best days, bat shit crazy. Kizumashi is an extremely unreliable narrator and will piss both you and your characters off as a result. On paper, these things sound very hard to accomplish, but they're not. It's a matter of overcoming the little voice in the back of your brain going "BUT I DON'T KNOW HOOOOOW TO WRITE A CHARACTER THAT ISN'T EXACTLY LIKE MEEEE!!!" I am not a six foot tall raging behemoth with daddy issues. I am not a 65 year old man with lycanthropy. I am not a mastermind neurosurgeon. But I manage, regardless.

There are websites out there that generate a short synopsis of a character, which is a good place to start. I suggest forcing yourself to write whatever the generators spit out and not cherry picking something you're comfortable with. Being uncomfortable is paramount to improvement. Without risk, you will never get better. I know a lot of people on here have the mentality of "but if I don't want to write different characters, I don't HAVE to." And they're right, but these are probably the same people howling to the winds about how they can never find anyone to write with them. You can only get so far with the same characters. You will, eventually, run into something that requires you to either adapt to different things, or miss out as a result. Sarah from Accounting is not going to fit into a fantasy setting set in an Arabian Nights inspired world, and if you can't come up with a character that will fit, you're going to have to sit it out.

Obligatory warning to avoid getting stuck on a pyre: if you're going for ethnicities and cultures based off the real world, do your research. pls god do not make things like white, american skinwalkers from new york that have no connection to indigenous backgrounds. You don't need to be an expert, but you should at least skim wikipedia.


I don't really find it going stale or boring, because it's an OC after all, and if I'm only allowed one OC per role play, I feel absolutely satisfied and comfortable playing with it. It's about making yourself happy, making yourself feel confident and comfort, it's NOT about making another person happy. If someone finds it boring, that actually their problem, if I'm being entirely honest.

You're not obligated to change your character or your habits for someone else, you are the writer. Do you think Tolkien gave a pie what people care about Bilbo or Frodo?

When you're writing a story, it's entirely different, you need various characters that are different from each other for the story to work.

But when it's a role play, we're all unprofessionals, not one person here is a legitimate author (and don't like them try to convince you otherwise, if they are, they wouldn't be here). My opinion, is to create a character that makes YOU happy, and not to let other people shove their opinions down your throat. You want to create identical copies for all your character slots? That's your right. You want to create different characters? That's your right. If someone has a problem with that, they're not obligated to stay and write with you. Don't worry about them.
Aya wrote:
But when it's a role play, we're all unprofessionals, not one person here is a legitimate author (and don't like them try to convince you otherwise, if they are, they wouldn't be here).

How are you defining "legitimate author?" Because we do have members who have written and even published books, articles, etc. I have multiple poems in print (admittedly in anthologies alongside lots of other folks), and there's a writing website where I'm literally labelled not just as an author, but as a "preferred author." One of my housemates has written a number of articles for a couple different predominantly web-based magazines. I'm not sure why that would change whether or not someone enjoys forum-based roleplay, especially the way things have been the past few years.

'Course, I'm also not sure why it would matter in the first place. As you noted, RP and just writing a story oneself are different things. Authors also have very different ways of doing things even than each other, so advice would be just as mixed from a group comprised entirely of "legitimate authors."

That aside, regarding the original post: Others have already stated pretty clearly that you do you, so if you were feeling self-conscious about your characters seeming pretty similar, it's not really worth stressing over. :) If you want to expand anyway, hm... I kinda naturally gravitate toward variety in things, so I have no idea if I'll manage to suggest anything useful, but here goes!

Bunch of suggestions
  • Think about what it is about your characters that feels all the same to you, then try writing some little tidbits with different traits substituted into that spot (if it's hard to think of something, try going for some "opposite" aspect to start with). Not necessarily anything RP related - just some little scene to get a feel for things and if anything catches your interest.
  • Look through some character archetype lists. Make note of ones that seem interesting, and try to develop characters up from that foundation. Bonus points: see if you can flip an archetype on its head somehow while still at least technically qualifying as that archetype!
  • Think about (or even "interview") the characters you already have to find where they differ, and instead of creating a whole new character, see if you can simply emphasize those things that make them distinct from each other.
  • Think about some characters in media you enjoy. To dive into them deeper for what makes them unique, you could:
    • Write up mock profiles for them.
    • Write short interactions between them, or between them and your own characters.
    • Try to create a character with similar traits or themes, given your own twist.
    • Try to create a character that mixes two or more of those characters together.
  • Find some aspect of life that you don't usually think about, and see if filling in that blank would change a character. For example, characters with some types of diseases, phobias, disabilities, etc are going to have to sometimes adjust their lives around that.
  • Write up some sort of family member (whether for practice or for use) of one of your characters who has different tastes in things, handles issues and daily life differently, etc
  • Think about some trait you'd like to play with, and start building up from there.
  • Think about how a character might be adjusted to better suit a specific genre.
  • Embrace the fact that you might look like an idiot toddler fumbling with something new. We all have to go through that stage many times for all sorts of things, after all! (And if it helps, do it with an anonymous character.)

Personal examples
For me, that want for variety has resulted in me making a lot of characters with some form of shapeshifting aspect to them. I also easily fall into the "has past trauma that basically defines them" thing. In personalities, it's common for me to have to catch myself in making everyone too patient and reasonable - but even that can be a help, because then I can ask myself, "okay, so what do I think would be a bad/unhealthy/weird/etc way to handle this?"

I have a few characters who are prone to "mom-ing" everyone. But that's okay - they come from very different backgrounds and have very different means by which to accomplish things. I can also take that common trait and find ways to customize it further: The Alabaster Princess (who was inspired by a minor character in a comic, but only actually share a few traits) was born into a position of responsibility and taken on even more, adores her siblings and her people, and craves a little more freedom and adventure in her life; Shanique is a traveling performer who limits how much she'll give/take care of people she isn't really close to to what she considered to be basic decency (which is still more than most much of the time, but she does have her limits); Frost/Mia has a very "modern woman" vibe, is still very self-sacrificing and willing to take risks (to herself), but also will readily delegate tasks to others if that would be more efficient; and so on.

I have... three...? I think three characters that could easily fit under "feral child," and they are incredibly different from each other. The Wild Boy is definitely the most feral of them, having very wild-animal-like behavior and very little understanding of language. Willow is a lot more idealized; lack of proper schooling is an issue, but she socializes with people while being very at-home in the wilderness, and is a cheerful, playful ball of fluffy affection. The third, Taryn, kinda twists the concept around a bit: she generally lives like a street urchin, delights in making people uncomfortable, and is not the slightest bit human (despite appearances); feral children are commonly seen as victims of circumstance in need of help, but in Taryn's case, she's the antagonist 9 times out of 10.

So there's some of my own examples.

(Came back and edited to make things a little less... huge.)

Aya wrote:
It's about making yourself happy, making yourself feel confident and comfort, it's NOT about making another person happy. If someone finds it boring, that actually their problem, if I'm being entirely honest.

Uh, RP is a two person tango. ^^; There's definitely more to it than just doing what you want to do. As a GM, I don't just steamroll over my partner's desires to do whatever I want to do instead. If I wanted to do only the things I want with no regard to anyone else's input, I would write solo. As it is, RP is a social activity that relies on not forgetting there's another person that you're working with....whose opinions matter just as much as your own when you're going long-term. Should any of my partners provide critiques, I am apt to listen. I would not be anywhere near half the writer I am today if I didn't.

Nobody is shoving their opinion down your throat. All I did was post what I thought regarding the question presented in the topic. ;) Can't expect every single person to have a homogenous opinion about RP topics.
Zelphyr wrote:
How are you defining "legitimate author?" Because we do have members who have written and even published books, articles, etc. I have multiple poems in print

Yes. There are indeed multiple individuals that I can name off the top of my head here that are actual published authors. You can be a ""legitimate author"" without having to be J.K Rowling or whatever. :p Published books are published books.
Not to shove my opinion down anyone's throat.. 😏😏

..but in my opinion, it's really just dependent on how out of the box you're willing to think. Both camps are cool. One is just more adventurous than the other. Nothing bad about not being adventurous. Literally, nothing wrong about it. Stay at home if you wanna, eat the same food everyday if you wanna. No one's stopping ya. Shit, I sure as hell know how comfortable it is to sink away into the warm juicy bossom of ol' Mama Comfort Zone.

Though, y'know, the creative sucko's mind is a pretty thing. It can be very fun to use it for funkier things than self-inserts, to try and put yourself in the shoes of, say, a grumpy boomer automaton detective, or the fruitiest assassin furry that has ever lived, or whatever else suits your fancy.

I'm on team diverse & will always encourage everyone to be open-minded and fare outta your comfort zone any day, but if that ain't your thing? Stay comfy & wear that shit with pride, why be worried about not being something that you were never planning to be to begin with? If you wanted to be diverse, you would be diverse at this point, the moment you're forcing yourself to become diverse & are not creating diverse characters out of your own personal interest, you get those J.(TERF).K Rowling situations where diverse characters are created poorly and just for performative reasons.

Bottom line:

But hey, if you got the creative ability to, don't be afraid & make the most outta your writing 'n character-building talents by being adventurous!

⠀⠀-- Yours truly, a very legitimate author (I ain't even gonna fully comment on the 'there's no legitimate authors here' joke because I already lost too many IQ points at work yesterday guheuhehue).
itsjess wrote:
Do you ever find yourself going stale because of that lack of character diversity?
No, but then I do try to add some diversity to my characters. In the end, they all seem to land somewhere on the clock-face not too far away from my comfortable center. The RPs don't tend to get stale because of lack of diversity, but occasionally get stale from my lack of depth into the character psyche.
itsjess wrote:
I feel like a lot of my characters are very similar and even when I try to break away from that typical style I just gravitate towards the other characters more.

Do you have a “character type” and if so what do you think it says about yourself?

Also, suggestions for branching out.

What is diversity?

Learn to pronounce
the state of being diverse; variety.
"there was considerable diversity in the style of the reports"
the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.
"equality and diversity should be supported for their own sake"

The only way to EMBRACE diversity is through communication.

What is communication?

Learn to pronounce
the imparting or exchanging of information or news.
"at the moment I am in communication with London"
transmission, imparting, conveying, reporting, presenting, passing on, handing on, relay, conveyance, divulgence, divulgation, disclosure, spreading, dissemination, promulgation, broadcasting, circulation, circulating
means of sending or receiving information, such as phone lines or computers.
"satellite communications"

Looking at these two words and their definitions. I can only come to the logical conclusion through the practice of interpersonal communication to communicate with your writing partner about new storylines and plan out and explore new journeys in writing with them. Maybe even study a new topic with them, or new genre. Watch a movie together, or read a book together and then explore that new plot and journey together. Not only will it be a fantastic writing tool to improve your writing skills and embrace diversity of thought and creativity. It will also be a building activity between you and your partner to explore new creations in writing that will strengthen your love for the craft of writing, as well as strengthen your friendships and bonds with each other!
I feel this so much, that's why I have draft-moded the majority of my characters. They were all intended to be different but ended up similar personality-wise. I do try to have different backgrounds with regard to family, religion, social class, and major events. So I broke them back down to their basic ideas that are different and I'm building them back up so they remain different.

In the end, I assume they will end up with some similarities simply because I think I tend to insert just a touch of myself into them. Which is neither good nor bad, its just something I haven't been able to break away from since I first started rping.
Since I posted last in July 2022, I have taken a step outside my 'comfort zone' and am writing a rather detailed modern-historical story as a background for my OC Dana. It has been a challenge to get out of my 'headspace' but I am making progress! I also started a couple of my actor OCs down a 'historical' path with a TV show they will be in. It is s=a stretch in that I'm working to have the story more a screenplay. It's fun, but all this has cut into my active roleplaying.
Most of the time, I tailor my OCs for specific types of stories (not genres), and I feel like they're fairly diverse? I'm not bored anyway..?
I have taken aspects of a certain character that I enjoyed writing a lot, put it into another character with drastically different motivators or tendencies to see how that worked out. So like - yeah I have different genius characters, but they end up being different enough because they’re driven by different things? Or even just have different expertise/frame of reference?
They're all a little part of me and highly self-indulgent because why not?? The main thing all my characters share is my sense of humour (at varying levels) because..I like to make myself laugh. Also I don't know how to be funny in ways that I don't find funny.. I WISH I was better at puns though.....

I do get bored VERY EASILY, so I go out of my way to make sure I don’t get bored with my roster.
Anyway, insomnia is hitting HARD tonight, so I'll babble a bit in case anyone's interested in how I intentionally branch out.

My general approach to creating OCs is to start with these items (with some examples from my roster):
A core motivator: Pursuit of self-perfection, survival, knowledge, belonging, freedom, honor, beauty, etc.
Arc/themes/focus: a study of trauma and healing, an exploration of failure, a crisis in faith, subjective beauty, the impacts of bonds on temperament and dispositions, self-imposed isolation out of fear, etc.
A contradiction (inner conflict): Emotional temperament with learned self-control, brilliant with poor communication, peak physical fitness but dying of terminal illness, idealistic but cowardly, etc.
Physical demeanor: Imposing, calm, fidgety, spacey, in constant motion, etc.
Physical trait: distinctive size, disability, this one's obvious - the key thing here is that it's important to how the character interacts with the world around them.

Once I have that.. I may or may not do the following:
Casting: not just face claim, but I'd find a character that exists that has the vibe I'd like to capture (e.g. imagine.. Theoden, King of Rohan - you can't write him like you'd write Thane Krios) - because there’s no such thing as true originality and being able to capture the essence of Tom Hagen in my prose can only improve my writing.
Mental stats/personality dimensions: Don't let these be a restriction.. a weak character can get stronger, a strong character can lose their strengths, but it helps if you're not sure where to start.
A high Intelligence & low Wisdom character can have intricate understanding of mechanics, but misses the point of an innovation; a high Wisdom & Charisma, low Intelligence character could make a better leader because they can inspire the right advisors to support even though they're a himbo, etc.
5 factor personality model can help you decide how a new character would react to an inciting incident, if you decide on where they land on the scale first, then really commit and stick to it for a bit. See if the shoe fits, you know? And they're scales, they can shift over time too. Agreeableness and openness to experience have been most helpful to me.

then gender, ethnicity, age, etc. etc. everything else pretty much comes naturally because you probably already have a look in mind by then (e.g. are they wise because they only learn through experience? When did they get that experience if they're only 21? Make them older!)
(oh and give them family... found or blood.. no one exists in isolation, even if they're isolated - a lonely character is lonelier if their father is RIGHT THERE but doesn't care, sibling dynamics is the best way to instantly create 2 diametrically different characters, etc.)

OH - and then I write scenes between my characters because the best way to identify how one character differs from another is writing out how they'd react to the same thing differently.

And to previous points re: research.
I google half my words to make sure I'm using the right vocabulary.. lol So yeah, I'll research cultures and STEM topics, accessibility issues and time periods, etc. just for my own immersion. If you're bored with your roster, and want to try something new, then do it.. do some reading, write with partners that are comfortable enough to call out stereotypes, and challenge you, because you WON'T DO IT PERFECT, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to write a character that's missing a leg and how that might change the way he interacts with the world/how the world interacts with him. Just do it with care and empathy, and learn some cool new things in the process.
I typically play little kids, or in some situations, inexperienced teenagers needing to fill the shoes of an adult. Of the "little kid" type, I either play shy, broken kids with a lot of trauma to work through, or little gremlins with a very loose idea of what constitutes right and wrong. Both of those stem from a desire to play characters that are easily impressed upon by others, and it's why I gravitate toward found family stuff.

Honestly what this is likely to say about me is that I use RP to reclaim a lost childhood, which I do. In my case, it was stolen from me, and taking characters from bad situations or broken homes and watching them slowly acclimate to a new, better life while they still have a childhood to reclaim grants me a therapeutic catharsis. But it also, more broadly, puts a fine point on aspects of other characters which are often assumed or ignored, such as how they might themselves define right from wrong, and how they perceive the world, because they have to think about their own biases while trying to teach someone else about the world. This inherently means confronting their own shortcomings, which makes the role of child characters in ensemble casts an inherent challenge to the status quo while also offering the adults a way to grow as people in ways other kinds of conflict cannot.

I'm also just apparently really good at playing cute characters and I do crave that kind of validation haha. It feels good to be told that I can portray something often difficult to do well in a way that other people enjoy, and I like to play characters that can give people Good Vibes.

I used to be insecure about this until last year when I found some groups which indulged and encouraged me. Now my advice is to just write whatever interests you and experiment as you like. Time spent trying new things is not wasted time even if you didn't get much out of it because it teaches you more about what you're looking for, and time spent doing what you're used to isn't wasted either because you spent it doing something you enjoy.
An important stepping stone here that helped me was recognizing the places where, irl, cultures, races, religions, abilities, body types, et c mixed. You don't need a background in anthropology to diversify your character roster, and you don't even have to stray that far from your comfortable norm to add diversity to that roster and help the characters better distinguish themselves.

Pick one of your characters at random, add about 20 years to their age and about 40 lbs to their weight. You don't actually have to make these changes, just imagine the differences.

Now choose another character, and change their sex or gender. What else changes with that, if nothing?

The further down the anthropological rabbit hole we travel, the more we realize that all peoples are more alike than different. Did the age and weight change have an effect on any other aspect of your character? Why or why not? Should there be further changes in personality with the genderswap, and why do you think those changes might appear (or why the swap wouldn't matter at all, if that's what speaks to you).

Now, look at a cultural diversity -- let's play by borders. You know what's fun about borders? THEY CAN BE CROSSED. Any character of yours can be from any mix of backgrounds; even more than two at a time (I've got... chinese german and tribal american on one set of grandparents, for instance, and that's only politically; the religious histories end up nnnnuts).

So you don't have to do a complete overhaul of culture or background on your characters, just sprinkle some differences in for each, change the race of a parent or grandparent, then sign that character up for a college major you chose with a dartboard, haha!

There is a benefit in doing this, but there is also no loss of benefit in sticking to what you know and love. I explore character diversity in fanfiction blurbs, mostly, but for roleplay I know exactly what I like to write and that's the thing that I'm offering and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with maintaining those boundaries (esp in regards to romance rp and the like; absolutely nobody is a villain for just cultivating their own roleplay experience to their own preferences, the end, fullstop.)

alzo, be careful what we call 'diverse', please. skinny cishet white *people* are not actually the average, they're only the archetype that entertainment media has shoehorned into an average; and those *people*, in real life, are just as varied and diverse in their backgrounds, religions, abilities, class strata, and on and on -- so just because your *character* aligns with a perceived *average* or *trope* does not invalidate their complexity.

The whole point of complexity is that it can't be boiled down to a few catch-all traits like skin color or what's in their pants or what their grandma ate for dinner when she was a kid. The unfortunate nature of the internet, though, is that we want to distill information down to its simplest and more easily digested parts, which tends to flatten complexity and polarizes representations of personhood to put groups at odds in places they better fit as a cooperative spectrum.

and that's the only thing that'sbad, mkay?
itsjess wrote:
I feel like a lot of my characters are very similar and even when I try to break away from that typical style I just gravitate towards the other characters more.

Do you have a “character type” and if so what do you think it says about yourself?

Also, suggestions for branching out.


Mine is the "loveable and charming swaggering idiot" in table top lol. The thing is: So long as you do wjat you love, and make it make sense, it's entirely fine to have a comfortable personality
I only play women, wlw more specifically, and they always have some previous trauma that leads them to drink excessively and/or use drugs. I try to branch out sometimes, but I can’t play a convincing male or heterosexual character. It is what it is 🤷🏻‍♀️ and it’s what I’m known for, so I’ll own it hahah.

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