Character Development

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The Idea

“What is the Purpose of your character?”

Coming up with the idea is probably the hardest part of the character design. This can be remedied easily if you're willing to experiment with random ideas and possibilities. I find that once those creative juices start flowing, ideas come out well enough to start being put together. When it comes to personality you want to think about what purpose your character has. Every person has a purpose (even if its to FIND their purpose!) and to create a realistic character, they need to have one too!

Try some brainstorming exercises, write down words you like, either because they sound funny or because they inspire you. What kinds of words have you written, can you see these words being used to describe your future character? Still stuck? Here are some questions to get your creative ideas moving:

A purpose normally will go hand in hand with the occupation/trade/interests of the character. If your character is a warrior, what does he fight for? Does he think that fighting is something terrible?

If your character is a scholar of sorts, what does he study/research and why?

Treasure hunter? Is he looking for something in particular or just a hoarder of shiny things?

Maybe your character works in the fast food industry to make enough money to go to school.

If you ask why to just about everything, it will help viewers to better understand your character as well as make it easier for you to put together a history.

Remember: who, what, where, when, why, and how.

The Basics

Pendragons ('dragons) have quite a few subspecies and each one has its own attributes that you need to cater too. Make sure you read up!

An easy way of creating a first character is to LOOSELY base it off yourself. (This is good if you're just starting out in role playing or even just trying to create realistic character or practicing to do so.) If you look at yourself (or perhaps a friend if its easier to analyze someone else) and take qualities you like or find interesting, you will find some material to start from. Even personality wise, not just physical traits. Don't base it all off yourself, have some fun and experiment a little! (Think about eye color, hair color, height, personality, you could even go down to specifics like shoe size or the kind of underwear they happen to like... maybe they wear it on their head? Who knows!)

Try to think about what kinds of things interest you. Making characters interesting is important not just for you, but to other players as well. And finding quirks and traits can be as simple as looking in a cookie jar. (LITERALLY!) What kinds of games do you like? Do you love the outdoors? Are there things you wish you could do but for some reason, can't? Bungee jumping? Maybe you're too scared? What about hang gliding or surfing? Maybe you have an injury that prevents you from partaking in more vigorous activities? Things you may have tried but was never good at. If your going for a cool character, then what do you find cool and what do you think others think is cool? Try not to base too much of it on what you see in the media. In many cases it isn't very realistic to real living people but since this is fantasy, you can always indulge in some unrealistic tenancies. Tying it back into something relatable helps not only you understand your character better but to help others understand them better as well. If your creating is a non human species, where is their “world” set? What things do they have available to them? Take things you like and try catering it to their world and see what you can create!

Ramath-lehi is open to almost any era. There's rootin' tootin' gunners, futuristic armor, biochemical enhancements, and even swords, bows and arrows and all those crafty things from the days of old. Did your character grow up in a village? Town? Central city? Are they woodlanders or city goers? (Where they were born usually has something to do with their attitude, likes/dislikes, their abilities or defenses. If they were born in a colder climate, they would either have a larger coat of fur, thicker clothes, or some other way of keeping warm.)

Some characters are what some people “wish they could be.” From Temrin: My own characters are all a part of me in some sense. Not necessarily all by means of looks or personality but they are all my “brain children” and they all have meaning to me. My own “Persona/Fursona” (Temrin) is “cool” to me and who I wish I could be. She actually has become my inspiration (among other REAL people and events) that help me become a more confident and decisive person. She's somewhat, a side of me. Shes my baddass-ery that likes to show itself once and a while and she gives me the freedom to act in a way I probably couldn't in real life. When you make a close connection with a created character it makes them that more believable and realistic because you can write convincingly as well. It's not always about the descriptions but the writing as well. It all takes practice!

Appearance

For myself, I find it easiest to start with a list of features, some paper and coloured pencils or my laptop/drawing program and just try out different colours.

Here's a simple check list:

  • Eyes: (Colour/Shape/Size/Animal specifics)
  • Hair: (Colour/Length/Style)
  • Skin/Fur/Scales: (Colour/Length/Scale Style)
  • Height:
  • Markings/Tattoos/Scars: (Why they got them/How they got them)
  • Race Specifics:
  • Clothes: (Style/Preference)
  • Weapons: (Style/Preference)
  • Other things to think about are any enhancements, piercings, jewelry, etc.

Remember to keep things interesting for not only yourself, but for any viewers. Color schemes are an important aspect of a character. Weather it be for fantasy creatures with scales, fur, etc, or if colours for clothes, it's good to know a little bit about colour theory. To keep it simple, here are some simple colour scheme examples. (Remember that you can use these schemes with different colours then the ones in the example.)

Full colour scheme list.jpg

Try to work with a few different schemes. You may find schemes you like for future characters or ideas. Remember that colours can also represent emotions and feelings. Also, depending on what audience you're looking to please, different colours mean different things to different cultures. (If you have a certain audience to cater too, keep some of these in mind, and do some research~)

(More expansive colour chart: http://hubpages.com/hub/Color-and-Emotion-Association)

RED: Excitement, energy, passion, desire, speed, strength, power, heat, love, aggression, danger, fire, blood, ware, violence

  • China: Good luck and celebration
  • Cherokees: Success, triumph
  • India: Purity
  • South Africa: Mourning
  • Russia: Bolsheviks & Communism
  • Western: Christmas (with green)

YELLOW: Joy, happiness, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold, philosophy, dishonesty, cowardice, betrayal, jealousy, covetousness, deceit, illness, hazard

  • China: Nourishing
  • Egypt: Mourning
  • Japan: courage
  • India: Merchants

BLUE: Peace, tranquility, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, sky, water, cold, technology, depression, “Appetite Suppressant”

  • Cherokee: Defeat and trouble
  • Iran: Heaven and spirituality
  • Western: Corporate, “Something blue” bridal tradition

ORANGE: Energy, balance, warmth, enthusiasm, vibrant, expansive, flamboyant, demanding of attention

  • Ireland: Religious (protestants)
  • Western: Autumn, Halloween (with black)

GREEN: Nature, environment, health, good luck, renewal, youth, vigor, spring, generosity, fertility, jealousy, inexperience, envy, misfortune

  • India: Islam
  • Ireland: symbol of entire country
  • Western: St Patrick's day, Christmas (with red)

PURPLE: Royalty, spirituality, nobility, ceremony, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, arrogance, mourning.

  • Thailand: Mourning (widows)
  • Western: Royalty

GRAY: Security, reliability, intelligence, staid, modesty, dignity, maturity, solid, conservative, practical, old age, sadness, boring

BROWN: Earth, health, home, outdoors, reliability, endurance, stability, simplicity, and comfort.

WHITE: Reverence, purity, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, humility, precision, innocence, youth, birth, winter, snow, good, sterility, marriage(Western Cultures), death (eastern cultures), cold, clinical, sterile

  • Japan: White carnations symbolize death
  • Eastern: Funerals

BLACK: Power, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, fear, evil, anonymity, unhappiness, depth, style, sadness, remorse, anger, underground, good technical colour, mourning death (western cultures)

Personality

Personality is something hard to describe but the character cannot just be “nice.” Why are they nice? How are they nice? Do they get angry easily? Perhaps at specific things? Do they have habits? (Do they bite their nails, crack their knuckles? Why? Do they talk to themselves? Why? Do they themselves continuously ask 'Why?' while staring aimlessly up at the clouds?)

DO NOT FORGET “WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW!

Its okay to take quirks and habits based off yourself or others around you. Just be careful if you take traits from another persons character. If its something very specific to that character, you may get in trouble of sorts, specially if its a copyrighted character. It's great to look at others for inspiration, but if you want your character to be looked at with that same kind of admiration, it's good to come up with your own or add a twist!

History

If you've been asking why to all of your decisions about your character, the history should be a basis to start working towards answers.

It's not always easy to think up a good, convincing back story. This usually takes the longest and many put it off or don't bother. (I'm guilty!) People like to cop-out with histories. Someone may be too lazy and decide to just pick something cliche and hugely overdone or just not write anything at all. (I've been guilty for this too!)

“Parents died or they were Orphaned/Abandoned”

If your going to base a storyline off that, then why did they die, why was he/she orphaned or abandoned? And don't just say “Parents didn't care” you need to dig deep and describe something like that excessively or people are going to roll their eyes. Drama is okay and NEEDED but widely overdone in many cases. Make it interesting!

Remember that on Ramath-lehi, your character can have no relation to humans, know of earth, etc. They cannot have anything that was on earth, or even know of it. Earth does not exist!

If you are basing a character off yourself, you can look at why you are the way you are today. Why do you think you act the way you do about certain things? Or why someone else would. What would a person go through to cause this reaction to a certain subject? Remember, there is never one right answer to these.

If a kid is bullied in school or by family, there are different ways someone may react to it. They could feel oppressed and turn to treat others the way they've been treated. They could feel self conscious or worthless and become silent, shy, and hide from conflict or social contact. They could feel the need for justice and stand up for themselves (which could be telling an adult, trying to fight the bully themselves, etc. These can both have positive or negative effects on the character for the rest of their life.)

It just takes a little imagination to delve into the mind and come up with realistic reactions. You don't have to explain EVERYTHING, but make sure you at least explain important parts about your character. Also keep in mind that depending on the species, they may also act different by instinct. Try and do some research on the history of a race/species, it will definitely help you get a better idea of what will work and what won't.

It all takes a little patience! (I find bouncing ideas of other people give me a better understanding of how people will react to my ideas/characters and helps me create more well rounded creatures to write about.)

Elaborating