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Advice/Help character sheet advice?

cxrlyxo

carly!
hi, i don't have a character to get feedback on just yet, which is why it's not in that section, but i do need advice.

before joining this site i didn't do a whole lot of OC RP, and the OCs that i do have are two years old and cringeworthy. i'm redoing them as well as adding to my character 'collection' to have variety. i have a few questions that i hope some of you may be able to answer?

what are some basic things i should/need to include on a character sheet? i know some are more elaborate than others, but i want to start (or restart) off simple and work my way up. are there any good templates/lists out there that you recommend? what does and does not make a good character? what do you guys use as inspiration to come up with characters/personalities? i feel like the things i come up with are usually too cliche, lmao. is it appropriate for me to create and use a character with things i do not identify with (such as a different race or sexuality than i am)? i'm particularly concerned with that last question because i don't want to appropriate anything or portray anything incorrectly.

i hope this isn't too overwhelming! thank you!
 

Musician

🦚
Moderator
You can hop into the Character Feedback forum and take a look at what other people like to do. You can also snoop around the Extra Pages and do the same thing. There is no universal CS. Most people like to include names, ages, genders, heights, sexual orientation, personality, and history. There is a wide variety! Find what you like. 😄
 

Crayons

Iconoclast
Name:
Age:
Gender:
Race/Species (if non human):
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Relationships (optional):

Literally everything you'll ever need on a character sheet unless asked for other things by a GM.

is it appropriate for me to create and use a character with things i do not identify with (such as a different race or sexuality than i am
Yes, of course, this is roleplay, your character shouldn't be a carbon copy of yourself. With the caveat that you do appropriate research and don't portray them as a stereotype.
 

cxrlyxo

carly!
Name:
Age:
Gender:
Race/Species (if non human):
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Relationships (optional):

Literally everything you'll ever need on a character sheet unless asked for other things by a GM.



Yes, of course, this is roleplay, your character shouldn't be a carbon copy of yourself. With the caveat that you do appropriate research and don't portray them as a stereotype.
is it bad that i'm sort of..... scared to explore things like that? like it's not like i just wouldn't do the research; i'm just the type of person to do all the research possible and still be afraid that i might do something wrong, if that makes sense. i don't want to have a bunch of mary sues, of course, but i'm also a little scared to go out of my comfort zone and stuff.
 

Crayons

Iconoclast
is it bad that i'm sort of..... scared to explore things like that? like it's not like i just wouldn't do the research; i'm just the type of person to do all the research possible and still be afraid that i might do something wrong, if that makes sense. i don't want to have a bunch of mary sues, of course, but i'm also a little scared to go out of my comfort zone and stuff.
It's up to you if you want to step outside your comfort zone or not! The chances are that someone you roleplay with isn't going to look through your whole character list, they will only be interested in the character you bring to that roleplay, so they won't notice if all of them are pale-skinned Norwegian women with ginger hair. As long as your characters are all different from each other, it's up to you whether you want to explore other genders/ethnicities/cultures/sexualities.
 

cxrlyxo

carly!
It's up to you if you want to step outside your comfort zone or not! The chances are that someone you roleplay with isn't going to look through your whole character list, they will only be interested in the character you bring to that roleplay, so they won't notice if all of them are pale-skinned Norwegian women with ginger hair. As long as your characters are all different from each other, it's up to you whether you want to explore other genders/ethnicities/cultures/sexualities.
that makes me feel a lot better, thank you!
 

BoogieStreet

down to disco
what does and does not make a good character?
Everyone and their grandmother's said this before, so I'm sure this is not new to you, but make sure they have flaws to balance out their strengths. But much more important than that, you don't want them to stay stagnant as the RP goes on. Give them something to strive for, and make sure that it is something that is related (even if only tangentially) to the RP's main plot. Give them epiphanies that will make them question what they know, or how they view themselves.

I think that in the end, character sheets are only meant to give glimpses into the character, so what really separates a good character from a bad one is how they're played in the RP.

what do you guys use as inspiration to come up with characters/personalities?
A mix of people I personally know, peoplewatching (having to take public transit certainly helps!), grabbing ideas from books/shows/movies, and going down the rabbit hole that is TVTropes.

is it appropriate for me to create and use a character with things i do not identify with (such as a different race or sexuality than i am)?
Why not? Is that not the point of RP? If you're afraid that you might end up accidentally writing something that offends someone, then so be it. Ask them why it's offensive, analyze if it's justified, and if it is, then apologize and treat it as a learning opportunity.
 

cxrlyxo

carly!
update: this is harder than i thought. feeling a little stressed. scared that all of it will be shit.
 

cxrlyxo

carly!
How long have you been roleplaying/writing for?
i've been roleplaying on and off since 2013 with my most recent startup being in like late 2016 or early-mid 2017. the majority of what i've done has been self-insert, which is probably one of the reasons coming up with good characters is so hard for me.
 

rae2nerdy

left site
If your used to self inserts a natural progression beyond that is to make characters based on the people in your life. I do it all the time, base my characters of my family, friends, etc.

It’s easy because you are basically starting out with a real person with flaws and strengths and all you have to do is change their backstory to fit your world.

As for different ethnicities, sexualities, etc. Remember to make them people. People are defined far more by their personality and surroundings than they are by their skin color, sexual orientation, etc. So again just picture them first as someone you know in real life then maybe change the skin color or sexual orientation.

Unless your roleplay is built around a society that notices such things (ie being gay is considered taboo, skin color is something people are discriminated for, etc) their differences aren’t going to change their personality

If you need some help writing asexual or aromantic character I am always happy to give tips. If you want to have something like that be a key part of your character.
 

cxrlyxo

carly!
If your used to self inserts a natural progression beyond that is to make characters based on the people in your life. I do it all the time, base my characters of my family, friends, etc.

It’s easy because you are basically starting out with a real person with flaws and strengths and all you have to do is change their backstory to fit your world.

As for different ethnicities, sexualities, etc. Remember to make them people. People are defined far more by their personality and surroundings than they are by their skin color, sexual orientation, etc. So again just picture them first as someone you know in real life then maybe change the skin color or sexual orientation.

Unless your roleplay is built around a society that notices such things (ie being gay is considered taboo, skin color is something people are discriminated for, etc) their differences aren’t going to change their personality

If you need some help writing asexual or aromantic character I am always happy to give tips. If you want to have something like that be a key part of your character.
thank you for your help!
 

Idea

The Pun Tyrant The Gif Hydra
what does and does not make a good character?
That is a very complex question which frankly is impossible to just answer like that. A character has many components to them, from backstory to personality to skills, and if applicable powers. Nonetheless, I think some basic advice would be "don't try to have your cake and eat it too". When you make a character, focus on what that character is about. Whenever someone doesn't, they tend to screw up the character. If they do, however, they can bring out some of the most fun and creative characters I've seen.

---> If you try to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to the character's personality, you end up with an inconsistent personality that middle-of-the-road about everything. This is a convenient personality to not break character, but they are very easy to make into mary sues, and since they don't have any particular direction to speak of 99% of the time they don't prompt ideas, they don't help you write your posts, and that remaining 1% usually leads to the most boring answer anyway. For instance, a character that "sometimes can have a bit of a temper when someone is hurting their friends for no reason, but knows how to hold back and be calculating" has a little personality but try applying this to anything but the exact situation and you'll have no idea what the character would do.

---> Trying to do this for your character's powers or skills results in a character made to be unbeatable or always be skilled in any given situation barred one specifically designed to counter them. This is both bad in that your character is probably too powerful for their own good, making challenges boring or forcing the GM to up them to ridiculous extents, and this is bad for your fellow players, who because of you feel like "their spot" is being taken, they no longer get the spotlight, they no longer get to feel special, and in your presence feel like their efforts are wasted.


I also have this thing I call "the golden rule of consistency". It's simply that things are better off if they are both internally consistent and their consequences are consistent. Internal consistency is having it's own stated rules remain consistent. If your character has a certain personality, they should act according to their personality, if the world you're in no one can jump, then characters shouldn't be leaping off into the sunset, etc... Consistency of consequences takes this idea and expands it: It states things have a cause and effect, and those causes and effects have to be as much consistent with the rules set out as any other aspect.

The golden rule of consistency can give you a ton of material to work with, plus generally improve and bring together your CS.

what do you guys use as inspiration to come up with characters/personalities?
For a character, I always start with something that excites me. Some core idea I really want to chase after. A lot of the time, I join RPs because they get my ideas going for potential characters within them.

If the idea is about personality, I will build a personality that allows me to show off that core trait as much as possible, while still being a viable character. I do something similar if the idea regards a power.

If the idea is about backstory though, then I will build a backstory that results and explores that idea I had. Then, I take the backstory and I see what personality would result from it.



i feel like the things i come up with are usually too cliche, lmao.
Let me tell you a secret: Every idea has been done before, except those ideas which come specifically from new technological developments never dreamed of by those that came before. Any idea you have, someone already had, someone already worked on, and if it's any good, it's likely someone saw at least some success with.

No, originality has nothing to do with cliches, or better said, nothing to do with tropes. It is not in the broad strokes you will find originality, but in your own unique way of exploring and going deep into those tropes and ideas, your take on those ideas.


is it appropriate for me to create and use a character with things i do not identify with (such as a different race or sexuality than i am)?
First, people are people. Individuals, first and foremost. As long as you keep that in mind, as long as your approach is I'm writing "[character name]" and not "I'm writing the woman" (for example) then I think any individual traits stand above any generalized ones.

Second, fiction is fiction. Sometimes fiction speaks of matters of the real world, and is intended as such. That fiction has to be held to a higher standard. But other than that, it's absurd to claim fiction has any duty to associate itself with reality.

Third, this is roleplay. Arguably, the whole POINT is to be someone you're not, to a greater or lesser extent for either part of that statement.

As far as I'm concerned, the "is it appropriate" thing is kind of a non-question. But, if it's something you're very worried about, then I will recommend maybe not roleplaying as real things, but perhaps sticking to fantasy or science fiction settings, where you aren't restricted to playing something real that you could run the risk of portraying poorly.


- - - - -

Hope this helps and happy roleplaying!
 

cxrlyxo

carly!
That is a very complex question which frankly is impossible to just answer like that. A character has many components to them, from backstory to personality to skills, and if applicable powers. Nonetheless, I think some basic advice would be "don't try to have your cake and eat it too". When you make a character, focus on what that character is about. Whenever someone doesn't, they tend to screw up the character. If they do, however, they can bring out some of the most fun and creative characters I've seen.

---> If you try to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to the character's personality, you end up with an inconsistent personality that middle-of-the-road about everything. This is a convenient personality to not break character, but they are very easy to make into mary sues, and since they don't have any particular direction to speak of 99% of the time they don't prompt ideas, they don't help you write your posts, and that remaining 1% usually leads to the most boring answer anyway. For instance, a character that "sometimes can have a bit of a temper when someone is hurting their friends for no reason, but knows how to hold back and be calculating" has a little personality but try applying this to anything but the exact situation and you'll have no idea what the character would do.

---> Trying to do this for your character's powers or skills results in a character made to be unbeatable or always be skilled in any given situation barred one specifically designed to counter them. This is both bad in that your character is probably too powerful for their own good, making challenges boring or forcing the GM to up them to ridiculous extents, and this is bad for your fellow players, who because of you feel like "their spot" is being taken, they no longer get the spotlight, they no longer get to feel special, and in your presence feel like their efforts are wasted.


I also have this thing I call "the golden rule of consistency". It's simply that things are better off if they are both internally consistent and their consequences are consistent. Internal consistency is having it's own stated rules remain consistent. If your character has a certain personality, they should act according to their personality, if the world you're in no one can jump, then characters shouldn't be leaping off into the sunset, etc... Consistency of consequences takes this idea and expands it: It states things have a cause and effect, and those causes and effects have to be as much consistent with the rules set out as any other aspect.

The golden rule of consistency can give you a ton of material to work with, plus generally improve and bring together your CS.


For a character, I always start with something that excites me. Some core idea I really want to chase after. A lot of the time, I join RPs because they get my ideas going for potential characters within them.

If the idea is about personality, I will build a personality that allows me to show off that core trait as much as possible, while still being a viable character. I do something similar if the idea regards a power.

If the idea is about backstory though, then I will build a backstory that results and explores that idea I had. Then, I take the backstory and I see what personality would result from it.





Let me tell you a secret: Every idea has been done before, except those ideas which come specifically from new technological developments never dreamed of by those that came before. Any idea you have, someone already had, someone already worked on, and if it's any good, it's likely someone saw at least some success with.

No, originality has nothing to do with cliches, or better said, nothing to do with tropes. It is not in the broad strokes you will find originality, but in your own unique way of exploring and going deep into those tropes and ideas, your take on those ideas.




First, people are people. Individuals, first and foremost. As long as you keep that in mind, as long as your approach is I'm writing "[character name]" and not "I'm writing the woman" (for example) then I think any individual traits stand above any generalized ones.

Second, fiction is fiction. Sometimes fiction speaks of matters of the real world, and is intended as such. That fiction has to be held to a higher standard. But other than that, it's absurd to claim fiction has any duty to associate itself with reality.

Third, this is roleplay. Arguably, the whole POINT is to be someone you're not, to a greater or lesser extent for either part of that statement.

As far as I'm concerned, the "is it appropriate" thing is kind of a non-question. But, if it's something you're very worried about, then I will recommend maybe not roleplaying as real things, but perhaps sticking to fantasy or science fiction settings, where you aren't restricted to playing something real that you could run the risk of portraying poorly.


- - - - -

Hope this helps and happy roleplaying!
it does, thank you!
 

BoogieStreet

down to disco
i've been roleplaying on and off since 2013 with my most recent startup being in like late 2016 or early-mid 2017. the majority of what i've done has been self-insert, which is probably one of the reasons coming up with good characters is so hard for me.
Sounds like you've already got a few years under your belt then. Even if you've mostly done self-inserts, you still likely have a solid understanding about the basics of RP -- along with what type of characters work for certain plots. Don't write that off; it's valuable experience.

Sure, you probably wouldn't make a character that will change the RP community forever, but that's why you're here, right? We're all learning here. I started roleplaying over a decade ago, and thinking back, the first OCs I made were full of cringe. But that's okay, because if I never made my slew of edgelords and Mary Sues, then I never would have learned how to make them better, and my characters today would be at the same level as the ones I made when I first started out.

What it all boils down is: Don't stress yourself out. There's nowhere to go but up.

If you still need help coming up with characters, try thinking of different fictional characters you like in AU settings. Use that as your starting point. Then you can change the little things about them (appearance, name, gender, etc.) so you can make them your own. Hope that helps!
 

cxrlyxo

carly!
Sounds like you've already got a few years under your belt then. Even if you've mostly done self-inserts, you still likely have a solid understanding about the basics of RP -- along with what type of characters work for certain plots. Don't write that off; it's valuable experience.

Sure, you probably wouldn't make a character that will change the RP community forever, but that's why you're here, right? We're all learning here. I started roleplaying over a decade ago, and thinking back, the first OCs I made were full of cringe. But that's okay, because if I never made my slew of edgelords and Mary Sues, then I never would have learned how to make them better, and my characters today would be at the same level as the ones I made when I first started out.

What it all boils down is: Don't stress yourself out. There's nowhere to go but up.

If you still need help coming up with characters, try thinking of different fictional characters you like in AU settings. Use that as your starting point. Then you can change the little things about them (appearance, name, gender, etc.) so you can make them your own. Hope that helps!
yes it does, thank you!
 

laceanddoodles

Your run of the mill Victorian lady
Hey, I’ve given this exact piece of advice on RPN, before, but I think it applies here. One of my favorite writing professors said this: we all have that little voice that tells us our writing isn’t good enough, that you’re not really a writer, and there’s only one way to make it go away. Keep writing. Keep showing up, keep doing the work, keep making characters and putting words on the page. And your writing still won’t be perfect, but when the little voice comes and says “you’re not really a writer” you can say “yes I am.” Writing isn’t always fun. Learning new skills and techniques for improving character creation, and every other facet of telling a story, can be frustrating, scary, tedious, all of the above and more. But you have to keep going, if you want to get better, and if you want that little voice to shut up.

And now a bit of my own advice. Art, from drawing to playing the violin to creative writing (as we’re doing here), has more in common with athletic prowess than actual talent. Sure, some people are born with certain advantages, but if they don’t work at it and practice as hard as they can, they will soon be surpassed by those who started with no “talent,” other than a drive to improve and relentless determination. The person who has drawn every day since they could hold a pen is going to be a better artist than the kid who could draw really well in 2nd grade and then stopped practicing. Put in the work. Test your boundaries. Do the scary things. And if it doesn’t go well, scrap the character and try again. Revise frequently, kill your darlings— and by that I mean erase characters who add nothing from existence and start from scratch —and keep writing.
 

cxrlyxo

carly!
Hey, I’ve given this exact piece of advice on RPN, before, but I think it applies here. One of my favorite writing professors said this: we all have that little voice that tells us our writing isn’t good enough, that you’re not really a writer, and there’s only one way to make it go away. Keep writing. Keep showing up, keep doing the work, keep making characters and putting words on the page. And your writing still won’t be perfect, but when the little voice comes and says “you’re not really a writer” you can say “yes I am.” Writing isn’t always fun. Learning new skills and techniques for improving character creation, and every other facet of telling a story, can be frustrating, scary, tedious, all of the above and more. But you have to keep going, if you want to get better, and if you want that little voice to shut up.

And now a bit of my own advice. Art, from drawing to playing the violin to creative writing (as we’re doing here), has more in common with athletic prowess than actual talent. Sure, some people are born with certain advantages, but if they don’t work at it and practice as hard as they can, they will soon be surpassed by those who started with no “talent,” other than a drive to improve and relentless determination. The person who has drawn every day since they could hold a pen is going to be a better artist than the kid who could draw really well in 2nd grade and then stopped practicing. Put in the work. Test your boundaries. Do the scary things. And if it doesn’t go well, scrap the character and try again. Revise frequently, kill your darlings— and by that I mean erase characters who add nothing from existence and start from scratch —and keep writing.
i know that a lot of people want a lot of info on those character sheets and i don't know why but i just like... can't. maybe i just lack inspiration or motivation right now?
 

Musician

🦚
Moderator
Writing about a character is different than writing as a character. It can be two completely different playing fields sometimes. It's a shame that some roleplayers get hung up on the creation of the character SO MUCH that they can't enjoy the story. Do not discourage yourself if you cannot produce elaborate CS. They do not define your ability as a roleplayer.
 

cxrlyxo

carly!
Writing about a character is different than writing as a character. It can be two completely different playing fields sometimes. It's a shame that some roleplayers get hung up on the creation of the character SO MUCH that they can't enjoy the story. Do not discourage yourself if you cannot produce elaborate CS. They do not define your ability as a roleplayer.
thank you! i'm one of those people that would much rather develop a character during the RP than give every single thing about them right off the bat.
 

Crayons

Iconoclast
thank you! i'm one of those people that would much rather develop a character during the RP than give every single thing about them right off the bat.
There are plenty of RPers in 1x1 who don't use or don't require character sheets. If you'd rather play that way, it's fine - find an RP that matches what you want.
 

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