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Character Depth

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Character Depth

Postby Taurgalas » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:10 am

Let's use the down time to talk about character depth.

But, Taaaaauuuur, my character's deep as a well! It's not my fault nobody takes the time to SEE that!

So let's make this a threefold conversation:
1. How do you find depth with your character?
2. How do you make your depth visible, if not actually accessible to others?
3. How do you engage others to encourage their character growth and your own?

No, I don't want anything exceedingly identifiable and it doesn't have to be this character, this game. Let's just talk generally.
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Songweaver » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:30 am

Taurgalas wrote:Let's use the down time to talk about character depth.

But, Taaaaauuuur, my character's deep as a well! It's not my fault nobody takes the time to SEE that!

So let's make this a threefold conversation:
1. How do you find depth with your character?
2. How do you make your depth visible, if not actually accessible to others?
3. How do you engage others to encourage their character growth and your own?

No, I don't want anything exceedingly identifiable and it doesn't have to be this character, this game. Let's just talk generally.


Depth, in this connotation, is such an esoteric word that it can be hard to really define. When people talk about character depth, to me, it conjures imagery of a vibrant and believable character. Believable's probably the key word there, for me, so that's going to be my approach to this subject.


1) I get specific. I get specific with my character's past, I get specific with my character's flaws, I get specific with my character's points-of-view. How does he feel about this type of character? How does he feel about this other type? Are there any exceptions to his prejudices (both positive and negative)? What motivates him? Why hasn't he left this area yet, with everything that's happened? What does he believe, and why? You can never ask enough questions. Really. I am constantly asking questions behind my keyboard.

Lack of specificity comes from lazy roleplaying, IMO, where you (the player) create a general idea of who your character is supposed to be and then just react to whatever happens in a casual, non-thinking way. We all do it, and some more than others. But the less lazy your play is, and the more specific your character's points-of-view are, the more believable and developed your character is going to be.


2) Use the tools that you have at your finger tips. Some people are able to say a lot with very little roleplay fluff (emotes/dmotes/pmotes/saymotes/travelmotes/etc), but most people are not masters of that style. If you're just typing say "Insert conversation here" every line, then you're giving me words without giving me any sense of subtext with your character. I don't believe that you need to do much more to show "depth" (again, what I'll call believability) other than to ask yourself tons of questions about your character, apply the answers to those questions to your play, and then use the roleplaying commands/tools at a reasonable, literate level of play.


3) This is another question with a million possible answers. Some players do this by creating inquisitive characters that like to ask probing, personal questions of other PCs in an effort to get their players to think more about the specifics of who their character is. For me, I try to find good opportunities (a nice, slow-paced scene) to write immersive prose in hopes that it will drag others into more fully imagining the gravity of a scene, or the atmosphere of its setting. I also try to give PCs difficult choices, when that opportunity presents itself to one of my PCs, as being forced to make difficult choices are often the best types of hook for character development.

For me, though, it all goes back to specificity. I don't have to tell everyone my PC's backstory, or share all of their most inner thoughts. I don't even have to share those thoughts with the staff if I don't feel like splitting my focus and slowing down a scene; I can know what he's thinking, and ask myself what he's thinking, without even using the 'think' command. But I never let my characters not have an opinion on a character or event, even if that opinion is that they really don't care much about that character or event. And, I think that's sort of the key to creating a believable character.
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Sabrelon » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:33 am

Believable characters are what I strive for above most when it comes to making personalities and backgrounds, and developing how a PC acts. I also have a tendency to go through and plan out potential development arcs with the character based on his background, but it's important to keep things flexible and change the way you play based on their interaction IG.

On that note, I think there a few things that are important to work through when it comes to character depth, and should at least be touched on when making a character. I know it's common to just write up a PC and then strive to develop them IG (and that's totally fine, most of the time), but it's extremely useful to go through and figure out a way to flesh out your character on the back end.

1) I prefer to tie my emoting style into my characters personality. I prefer to stick to naturalistic descriptions, and let the other person infer what my character is feeling based on their facial expressions/gestures/speech mannerisms. The easiest way I find to make a character feel real is to make them act like a real person. Real people stutter, and get nervous, and panic. It's easy to stay calm when there's a 1-2 minute gap between action>reaction, but your character probably isn't going to.

Beyond that, feeling out a characters thoughts and wants it's important. GOAL, THINK, and JOURNAL are the best, and keeping a physical line that can be changed to your characters motivations gives you a solid baseline for how they'd react. There have been multiple times as a player in the past where I've wanted to get involved in something dangerous, but didn't because of my characters internal motivations. This is how I play, but there's tons of room for improvisation and change on the fly.

2) Making my depth visible is probably the hardest part of playing a character. I try to be as inclusive as possible (and regularly fail on that regard), but sometimes certain characters aren't particularly able to draw other people into scenes. This makes it difficult to make it known to other PC's that there's depth there to be found.

The easiest way to get things going is to toss hooks out. Talk about previous stories in your background. Mention family members, and don't just say "My Sister". Drop a name. People will pick up and ask for more. Slip up and nearly give away secrets, I've found that nothing gets people more interested than suddenly trying to change the subject.

3) Engaging other players in character development, for me, is more passive than active. Personalities and opinions don't change over the course of a day, a week, or a month. They generally happen very gradually, and more often than not don't happen at all. The most important part of character growth is being open to actually changing your characters personalities. In RPI's, I've found, the most common change is from gruff, angry, and violent to even more gruff, angry, and violent, but there are a whole range of personalities that a character can shift towards.
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Rokof » Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:22 pm

I am new to this mud and not quite sure how all the emotes work (ie do to the start line my emote makes nill sense) or the past events that I could work into my character for well... character, I am shy to do anything to risky so I feel a little lacking in depth do to my unfamiliarity with the mud not to mention the confusing out of date or yet to be integrated things. Any advice for me?
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Re: Character Depth

Postby radioactivejesus » Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:47 pm

Rokof wrote:I am new to this mud and not quite sure how all the emotes work (ie do to the start line my emote makes nill sense) or the past events that I could work into my character for well... character, I am shy to do anything to risky so I feel a little lacking in depth do to my unfamiliarity with the mud not to mention the confusing out of date or yet to be integrated things. Any advice for me?

my advice is to focus on enjoying the game and not to worry too much about making mistakes, as a newbie you've got a lot of leeway while you get the hang of things. Your characters background is entirely down to your creativity, so long as you don't add anything that's too jarringly out of place in a Lord of the Rings setting. If you're unsure on any of your ideas, I'd just shoot staff or the forum guides a pm and get their input on it
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Taurgalas » Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:01 pm

Don't be afraid to try new things or to ask. We love newbies!
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Re: Character Depth

Postby MrDvAnt » Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:35 pm

Taurgalas wrote:Don't be afraid to try new things or to ask. We love newbies!


They're delicious.
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Sabrelon » Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:50 pm

Rokof wrote:I am new to this mud and not quite sure how all the emotes work (ie do to the start line my emote makes nill sense) or the past events that I could work into my character for well... character, I am shy to do anything to risky so I feel a little lacking in depth do to my unfamiliarity with the mud not to mention the confusing out of date or yet to be integrated things. Any advice for me?


And, if it's on the fly and it isn't used flippantly, make use of the OOC command to ask about that kind of thing. I have no problem IG helping out a newbie or answering questions at all!
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Justanothacivy » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:44 pm

Songweaver wrote:
1) I get specific. I get specific with my character's past, I get specific with my character's flaws, I get specific with my character's points-of-view. How does he feel about this type of character? How does he feel about this other type? Are there any exceptions to his prejudices (both positive and negative)? What motivates him? Why hasn't he left this area yet, with everything that's happened? What does he believe, and why? You can never ask enough questions. Really. I am constantly asking questions behind my keyboard.



This this this... I almost question other PC's to the point I start feeling like a pest. I don't do it to be bothersome but it gives me something to feed off of from a roleplay standpoint. How can I give a more meaningful response to someone's actions if I don't know anything about them? Creating an atmosphere from such simple dialogue is fun. I do love to hear stories from other characters about past or recent events and how they felt/feel about them. It just adds depth imo. :mrgreen:
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Hawkwind » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:22 pm

For the layman I find investing a certain amount of your own self in to your character as a good bedrock. It might make things flow a little easier for you instead of having to ask yourself is that right, is that how he would think? Go with the natural flow of what you want the character to think, but be careful of a mindset that is too modern!

Are you called stubborn a lot? Be stubborn, but don't admit so IG!

Are you easy going and pretty chill? Do so, take all the giant angry monsters, body-snatching spiders in your stride. But secretly completely loose your crap!

Serious, stern and somber? Do so, but make it quite clear that the frown you're giving that young lady is by no means directed at her but is in fact a result of a child-hood dare wherein you licked pee of a stinging nettle and it just stuck.

What I am trying to get at ultimately you are the only one who can be a judge of your roleplay and the enjoyment you get from it. Those who have played with me for any length of time know the characters I tend to roll, likewise I can give a few descriptions of the tropes other people tend to enjoy.

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Re: Character Depth

Postby EltanimRas » Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:09 pm

Another trick is to think about your PC's outermost layer[s]: What image does your PC want to project; how does he or she want to be perceived by others? What difficulties is he or she likely to encounter in this endeavor?
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Eugene » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:18 pm

Taurgalas wrote:1. How do you find depth with your character?


By making it. In my opinion, the best players craft their characters by developing a rich background and a tangible thought process for their character. You start with that and then always keep modifying the existing base. This means knowing how your character thinks (e.g., how do they achieve goals? Do they set a goal and fill in the details or use details to reach the goal as a conclusion) and just having a lot of detail (e.g., what was their favorite food as a child? What is their most embarrassing memory?) You really do have to create an entire identity and then jump into it.

Taurgalas wrote:2. How do you make your depth visible, if not actually accessible to others?


You don't, and you're approaching this the wrong way. If your objective is to make an in-depth, dynamic character, you should be focused on the character and their interaction within the game world, and not what other people think of them.

You need to reach a point to where you're all giddy and saying to yourself, "this is totally something this character would do."

Taurgalas wrote:3. How do you engage others to encourage their character growth and your own?


The same way you do it in real life.
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Mavinero » Tue Oct 14, 2014 1:11 pm

Eugene wrote:
Taurgalas wrote:1. How do you find depth with your character?


By making it. In my opinion, the best players craft their characters by developing a rich background and a tangible thought process for their character. You start with that and then always keep modifying the existing base. This means knowing how your character thinks (e.g., how do they achieve goals? Do they set a goal and fill in the details or use details to reach the goal as a conclusion) and just having a lot of detail (e.g., what was their favorite food as a child? What is their most embarrassing memory?) You really do have to create an entire identity and then jump into it.

Taurgalas wrote:2. How do you make your depth visible, if not actually accessible to others?


You don't, and you're approaching this the wrong way. If your objective is to make an in-depth, dynamic character, you should be focused on the character and their interaction within the game world, and not what other people think of them.

You need to reach a point to where you're all giddy and saying to yourself, "this is totally something this character would do."

Taurgalas wrote:3. How do you engage others to encourage their character growth and your own?


The same way you do it in real life.



A lovely post. I agreed with all of the above.
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Re: Character Depth

Postby MrT2G » Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:22 pm

Eugene wrote:
Taurgalas wrote:1. How do you find depth with your character?


By making it. In my opinion, the best players craft their characters by developing a rich background and a tangible thought process for their character. You start with that and then always keep modifying the existing base. This means knowing how your character thinks (e.g., how do they achieve goals? Do they set a goal and fill in the details or use details to reach the goal as a conclusion) and just having a lot of detail (e.g., what was their favorite food as a child? What is their most embarrassing memory?) You really do have to create an entire identity and then jump into it.



I approach this very differently.

I like to set a general schema with my background some broad overarching theme that can be used as general guidelines. I then try to let the specifics of my character form IG through what feels natural while interacting with other players and the environment. These formed traits then become concrete and set aspects of the character. I've found doing it how you do (not saying it is incorrect, merely that I've a different approach) has led me to feel restricted or confined in what my character must become or be from the very beginning. This has lead me into playing characters I don't enjoy or have limited or no viably.
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Re: Character Depth

Postby Eugene » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:56 pm

MrT2G wrote:This has lead me into playing characters I don't enjoy or have limited or no viably.


I actually had a No Retire flag on my account several times. However, when I got a character I liked to play, I really enjoyed it.
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