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So, I've been kind of curious guys. How do you start creating your characters. Foe me, sometimes I have a spontaneous burst of imagination, either from a book, movie, tv show, what have you, and build it based off of the one thing that caught my eye. So how do you guys create your characters? What do you start with? Do you start with their personality and work your way out? Or perhaps start with the looks and work your way in? I want to know your process when it comes to creating and developing your characters. let me pick your brains. And, if you'd like, tell me about your most developed character, or one you're just the most proud of! I'd love to hear from you guys soon!
I usually start with a snippet of personality + an apperance. Perhaps because I enjoy drawing my characters, I get really excited by the prospect of a new design! I tend to lay a backstory and the finer details of a personality on top of that.

Sparrow started as: cute, purple oni. Very good at machines. A little eccentric.

Roach started as: sick pink mohawk. Rides a sweet bike. Gonna steal your girlfriend.
Claine wrote:
I usually start with a snippet of personality + an apperance. Perhaps because I enjoy drawing my characters, I get really excited by the prospect of a new design! I tend to lay a backstory and the finer details of a personality on top of that.

Sparrow started as: cute, purple oni. Very good at machines. A little excentric.

Roach started as: sick pink mohawk. Rides a sweet bike. Gonna steal your girlfriend.

Nice, I can totally see it. Starting from that one most distinguishing feature and working from there. I love it.
This is going to sound totally cliche, but for me, it really varies by character. Sometimes, they start as a certain ability and are built out from there. Sometimes they start off as a picture that I feel neeeeeds to be a character, then gets fleshed out from there. Sometimes, my mind creates a backstory and history for someone and I turn that into a fully fleshed character. Sometimes I see a picture and a personality gets into my head, then it goes from there. Though, without fail, the hardest part for me in every character that I build is settling on a name. That's usually something that comes after a good portion of the character is built.

I'm really proud of all my characters that I've built, but my favorites recently have been:

Ruby - A super favorite of my recent creations mainly because she's a dream walker (literally walks into people's dreams) and so it opens up the really cool possibility of playing insane and crazy fun games that are off the wall which normally wouldn't happen due to serious character alterations...but hey, it's just a dream, so anything goes.

Mina - A vampire with a detailed back history and is super weird probably because of PTSD, but too busy being a vampire to deal with it.

Somniatis - A devil with an establishment that people come to willingly to have their souls corrupted. Super charming and smart and sneaky.
I start with a loose concept at first like.. do I want to make a thief? an angel? a demon? a cop? and I select a gender (since I play both) which usually has more to do with balancing my roster then anything else. I like to have an even amount to choose from. So If my last made character was a guy, i will make the next one a lady ect.

and then i jump on pinterest until i find something that pops with personality or a look that says "this is them"

I have a template I follow from there that i have saved in a word file. I copy paste it to RPR and start going to down the list using images and gifs as inspiration to fill in the gaps

Sometimes the images dont really supply a need.. so I will choose something that differs (I like verity) so for example, if I have mostly 'dark' characters that are right handed and broody, my new one will be left handed, extroverted and bubbly.
I like all my characters to be different. sometimes there is overlap but generally i try to avoid making the same character twice with a different class or look.

about halfway through the character just 'comes alive' and I often go back an re-edit things to flesh them out.

Sometimes a concept dosnt work out and I dont know until the first playtest. In those cases I kick characters back to the drawing board for more fleshing out to fix the 'problems' I had with them.


Otherdays? I drive o the airport for 2 hours and end up coming home qith 90% of a character built in my head xD so sometimes it just differs.
I am also inspired by very different things. Sometimes, it's just the visual, liking an image so much that pieces of a puzzle start floating into my head attaching themselves to it, so that a character may begin to live. Other times, the character comes to me almost fully formed, and I just spend a few hours typing it up, and then days agonizing over finding them proper visuals. All of them get a tiny sliver of soul, and a few personality traits of my own, or that I have personally seen or experienced. Since I am very new to roleplay (a little more than a year now), the entire process is fully intuitive. I tried reading articles about how to make the characters better, but they haven't helped as much - although some did, such as adding voice and tone details. Like sketches, some characters are barely formed, others grow and become very detailed. Others I have deleted after making them, and then they came back with a vengeance and wanted to be remade. I keep those I delete into a special folder, just in case.

I have noted that my characters have also ended being very different one from the other, and I play them anonymous (other than groups) because they need their space and their life independent of the writer and the other characters. I also hope they get judged by their own merits. Finally, I have both male and female characters, and I also try to maintain a balance between them.
I usually come at a new character through the lens of a story.

Which, I'll admit, tripped me up a little when I first started on this site since a player's collection of characters are so central to the culture of this community. Opposite of my previous RP experience that was a group of friends that loved to experiment with different table top games. We might have had a space marine game going on 1 week and be playing in ancient Greece the next, then doing some supers in WWII a few weeks later. Most were short lived campaigns, characters rarely featured in more than one story.

Those original habits have faded a little, but aren't quite gone. My first couple characters on this site were simply old characters ported over from older stories. Most of the follow-up ones started life as an NPC somewhere along the way. Oh, the story needs an evil witch? Let's make one. Would a sniveling coward help this story? Ok, add him in!

My favorite NPCs then tend to evolve into full-fledged characters.

With that said though, I do now enjoy keeping my characters around for multiple stories, building on them as I go!
I write my characters for narratives by giving them a concrete goal they need to achieve first and foremost (as the journey to achieve that goal will form the overarching story), followed by a few strong, defined traits that may work for/against themselves to generate opportunities for plot events and character development. Then I give them setting-appropriate details and flavour to taste depending on what’s been on my mind at the time.

My RP characters go through a quicker process since I don’t need to come up with the story/plotting parts, usually they emerge into existence once I have enough individual ideas/traits/design elements to turn into one person who then gets some time to ‘bake’ a while as I give them their quirks and motivations. Those ideas come from what’s already been said here; music, books, shows, other characters who I thought looked cool.
Most of my characters are created for a specific purpose. A dnd campaign/group, a specific fandom/game world, a specific rp idea. As such I tend to build them up in layers starting with what's necessary and moving on to what makes them fun and unique.

First thing's first, I identify the characteristics the character must have in order to function within the parameters of their intended purpose. I.e. the group needs a healer, Dragon Age only really has three classes which do I pick?, this person wants a demon to fall in love with their angel character, etc.

From there I'll move on to personality. I like to start with a base, almost cliched idea first.
-Healers should have good bedside manner therefore she should be friendly and helpful.
-I'm making a rogue type character but not the sneaky kind so let's make her confident but jaded.
-The best demons are the smooth talkers, handsome and charming so you don't see their darkness until it's too late.

From there it's a matter of fleshing them out from one dimensional cliche to actual person.
-She's friendly and helpful but almost to an extreme. She talks too fast and too much but she means well and believes in the good of everyone.
-She's confident and gorgeous but sick of being objectified which has made her jaded especially towards men.
-He's handsome and charming but there's a monster simmering just beneath the surface. Though he serves the Devil he doesn't worship him and tends to work solely for his own benefit.

Once I know what they're like, then I start filling in why they're like that. It may seem sort of backwards, but as it's still the creation process if I come up with a background that doesn't match one or more aspects of their personality, either can be edited at this point to still fit.
-She's a healer and a helper because she made a terrible mistake in her past and hurt someone she cared for deeply. She hurt them because she blamed them for something they didn't do and now she always gives people the benefit of the doubt so that she never has to feel that guilt or loss again. All of that pain caused her to turn to religion and gave her a desire to help others so they wouldn't feel her pain.
-Most suitors she's had in the past only saw her as a prize to be won. Everyone always underestimates her because not only is she a woman but she's pretty to boot so they lie to her and treat her like an idiot. Her father didn't approve of her grandmother teaching her to fight. She gets her free spirit from her mother who taught her to paint.
-He doesn't worship Satan because he's actually Indian and originally Hindi. Upon his death he was tricked into joining with the Christian Devil but his background gives him a unique view on the war between Heaven and Hell.

Throw in a few random add ons for spice.
-Dyes her hair rainbow colors.
-Wears a locket with her parents pictures in it, the last thing she has of them.
-Is super vain, especially when it comes to his hair.

Et voila!
-Effy
-Neriah
-Chanda

Of course, there have been a couple that were inspired more by aesthetic than purpose. But by and large I have found this particular model really works for me in building interesting, relatable and fun characters more or less from scratch.

Phew that got long.
A few options for starters:
  • I saw a pretty picture on pinterest (or several) and went "Yes, character, yeeeeees" and work on fleshing out the aesthetic / concept
  • I hear, usually via a youtube video I happen to be watching at the moment, a concept or set of words that sets off a concept in my head. My brain makes a few connections to things I already know, and tada, basic bones creation of a character concept!
  • I come up with some convoluted situation that my pre-existing characters get put in, realize I don't have any current characters I can add to give them company, end up making a new character that may disappear in a few weeks when my brain storyline moves on, may end up sticking around for whatever reason.

I usually end up starting with the visual design, even if bare bones basic (anything from a deep description to "Android with a blue theme) and then their personality just sort of forms based on... music, what I'm feeling, how my current characters feel about them, etc. etc., stuff like that :>
Wow, you guys really have interesting ways to make characters. It's very interesting to see how you all go about it!! I can definitely relate to a lot of the ways you guys do it!
I have been told by many people that I go the long, difficult way of doing things? Though I really don't think that's true, at least not for me, anyway.

Most people I know personally and irl have a basic idea in mind: a gender, a race, and an age. then they work on personality, family, and backstory. appearance usually comes last for them.

I'm...the opposite.

I design a character FIRST. I get a word or a phrase, design a character from that; appearance, clothing, and their inventory. Then I build the personality from that, a family, and possibly backstory ideas.

Example:

Word: Purple

Using a purple pencil, because organisation, I immediately turn to my sketchbook and design a base for the character, before colouring it with flats. Then I design some clothing. So for purple, maybe a dress; a gown. Then it's inventory: perhaps a couple of jewels, a bit of money, a pair of sunglasses. Personality would come next. Purple is associated with royalty; perhaps she's quite snobby and posh, rich; therefore her family might be the king, queen....and etc.
1:Idea appears
2: Writes/Imagines how character looks
3: Applies personality and other details.
4: Character draft v1 done
...
5: Editing whole character.
Quite a few of my characters from over the years were based on inspiration from anime's, movie's, shows.. there are tie ins such as being related to a character originally from the point of inspiration or at least integrated into their close group or something.

As for something not based on a fandom or anything of the like, it just has to have inspiration hit. My vampiric character, my space character, my mafia character were all because of some form of inspiration that hit me at some point in time. Or, rarely, it is because I was up for playing out someone elses idea and from there a character was created that, once the story ended, I wanted to take on for myself and see about creating new stories for.
I make characters depending on what I need. Right now and before then, I needed a knight. But I wanted him to have a personality because no one is black and white, but all shades of grey. So I kept in mind and wrote down his strengths and weaknesses. Not in the way of physical combat per se, more so in personality. Like for example, my character, Hadrian, whilst calm and quiet at times, he can get furious and angry at some slight insults to him, such as calling him by his 'title', Mauritius.

But yeah, when creating a character, keep their personality strengths and weaknesses in mind because you don't want to create a Gary Stu or a Mary Sue. That is my rule number 1 in character creation: Balance out strengths with weaknesses.
Sooo, how long does it take you guys to do all of the above and ‘finish’ your characters? When I say finished, I mean when they’re RP ready and playable. It would be interesting to know how long it takes people to prepare.

Semi related, it bugs me when I want to RP as a character on the rare occasion their muse is strong, but their profile feels half empty because I have no pictures. I hate to give off the impression that I’m lazy about things but so far all the people I’ve messaged don’t seem to mind I’ve got WIP warnings everywhere.
SunnyD wrote:
Sooo, how long does it take you guys to do all of the above and ‘finish’ your characters?

Anywhere from two days to three months. Depends how inspired im feeling, or how excited I am for the character concept.
SunnyD wrote:
Sooo, how long does it take you guys to do all of the above and ‘finish’ your characters? When I say finished, I mean when they’re RP ready and playable. It would be interesting to know how long it takes people to prepare.

Semi related, it bugs me when I want to RP as a character on the rare occasion their muse is strong, but their profile feels half empty because I have no pictures. I hate to give off the impression that I’m lazy about things but so far all the people I’ve messaged don’t seem to mind I’ve got WIP warnings everywhere.

Anywhere from hour to several months
Yea, the time depends on the amount of material available both online and in my head as well as general time constraints. Usual time to get something workable if not fully completed? 4 days to a week. Though I still have a couple of characters that don't have much more than a couple of pics and a face claim on their pages and it's been months.
SunnyD wrote:
Sooo, how long does it take you guys to do all of the above and ‘finish’ your characters? When I say finished, I mean when they’re RP ready and playable. It would be interesting to know how long it takes people to prepare.

Semi related, it bugs me when I want to RP as a character on the rare occasion their muse is strong, but their profile feels half empty because I have no pictures. I hate to give off the impression that I’m lazy about things but so far all the people I’ve messaged don’t seem to mind I’ve got WIP warnings everywhere.

For me, as long as I have the basics of the char for people to see and get a general feel of the character, I consider them good to play. But if I have more things I want to add to the character, such as a history for my own reference or if someone wants to know but it doesn’t pertain to their IC knowledge, I’ll toss up a WIP disclaimer to remind me to get that on there when I can. As for time, it depends on the character. Sometimes it takes a day, two days, maybe even a week. The longest it’s taken for me to get a character from conception to play was about two weeks.

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