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Write with RP partners in mind
First impressions matter, and most of our community members admit to making snap-judgements about whether they want to RP with someone based on their character profiles. These are some of the opinions that were expressed during our community discussion on this topic:
- Someone who does not put effort into creating and presenting a character is unlikely to then put effort into RPing with that character.
- A poorly written character profile means it is likely that the RP will be poorly written as well.
- A selfishly constructed profile (where no thought has been given to making it easy or useful for others) usually indicates a selfish RPer, who will not share the spotlight or pull their weight when it comes to moving the plot forward.
Whether you agree or disagree with these assumptions, the reality remains that you are subject to them. Luckily, it's not hard to create a profile that wows if you keep these tips in mind.
Put some thought into organizing your character information. It is always a good idea to make the first page of your profile an overview, that introduces the most essential information about your character that others are allowed to know on their first meeting with the character, formatted in a way that makes it easy to find all the different types of information. This usually includes at a minimum:
- a visual description of the character (two paragraphs at the most -- if you need more, put an 'extended description' on another page)
- a list of important statistics such as height and weight (these often need referencing on their own later in a game).
- Infomation about the sort of RP you like to do, or what others could expect from RPing with you
- Personal rules you follow and expect others to follow when RPing with you
- Images of the character
- Anything else other characters may be allowed to know when they first meet yours, such as rumors or reputations.
Don't include information that others are not allowed to know In Character on this first page, to reduce "clutter" that people have to wade through if they are simply looking for the basic facts that they ARE allowed to make use of when playing.
If you want to include more in-depth information, secrets, or social elements like guestbooks, it's often a good idea to place these on extra pages.
Make sure you label your pages in useful ways! It can be tempting to use your profile navigation as a form of self expression, such as by creating a sentence with the navigation, but most of our community members regard this as "going overboard" and a little inconsiderate as it makes it difficult for them to find the information they are looking for.
Before you put any information on your profile that other characters are not allowed to automatically know IC, think very carefully. Yes, it can be a good reference for you to gather your thoughts and remember the character concept. Yes, it might tantalize RPers who want to share similar dark secrets. Yes, it may even occasionally allow your group's storyteller to weave a plot that makes you central by including the secret as a "hook."
But in most cases, it will just create confusion and frustration as people forget what they know In Character and what they only learned about Out Of Character. It can turn people off from playing with you if they feel that the mystery is already gone.
Whether or not to share secrets is one of the most delicate decisions that you will make when creating your character's profile.
If you do decide to share character secrets - or indeed, any form of background info that other characters are not allowed to automatically know - make certain that it is clearly labeled as OOC knowledge only.
In consideration of other people who want to simplify their lives and not read info that their characters would not be allowed to know, there are a number of ways to hide text until someone requests to see it. You can use appropriately titled collapse tags, a spoiler tag, or even just change the font color for the secret so that it exactly matches the background and blends invisibly unless someone highlights the text with their mouse.
But not all secrets are secret from everyone! Consider the case of a character with magical runes tattoed on their skin. Those runes might be immediately recognizeable as something old and dangerous by a wizard, but just look pretty to the average non-magical character. Or consider the cases of a character that carries a particular meaningful scent only species with powerful noses could detect, or of a character whose aura is very telling, but only to those with special sight. It might make a great deal of sense to offer these secrets on your character profile using collapse tags! Then, people playing those special types of characters can get that extra information that makes the RP that much more nuanced, while other players can easily skip past the information that does not apply to their character's senses or knowledge.
Bringing a profile to life
Not all information is secret. If your character is a public figure, lives in a small town, or has done anything that may have made the paper, there may be a wealth of information that characters could know the very first time they meet your character.
A rumors and reputations section on a character profile can add wonderful depth to a RP encounter, as other characters have social information to help guide their initial reactions, not just visual information.
Consider filling a rumors and reputations section with all kinds of truths, untruths and partial truths that may have been spread about your character ICly. Update it any time there is a development in your character's story about which rumors might spread. Make it clear that others DO have permission to make use of this information ICly.
This can be a fantastic compromise between recording RP information in your profile, and only providing information that others are allowed to know IC.
If you really want to take the proliferation of rumors to the next level, consider allowing people to use your character's guestbook to post rumors that their character has spread.
Creating a mood
Even the most convenient and practical profiles can be more than just information. A well-crafted profile can offer a wealth of clues and insights into a character without coming out and saying any of it.
Consider using a presentation method that suits the character. You might write in the style of a government file with lots of redacted information. Imagine a minimalistic profile written in COLD, CALCULATING CAPS LOCK. Write in first person as if the profile were a character's own private journal. Use images and colors to create an impression. Embed youtube videos of songs that inspired the character. Place quotes by or about the character at the top of each page.
There are endless numbers of ways to take information and give it an emotional resonance without compromising its usefulness.
Get creative! Just never forget that a profile starts to fall down when it becomes difficult for others to understand or find essential information.
For some ideas about how to create a great look for your profiles, check out this tutorial on advanced use of BBCode.