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Character Theory What Ruins a Character?

The Inquisitor

The Empress of the Pen
#1
Hello there RPN!

I am back with another inquiry! (Get ready, these jokes are going to be laid on thick throughout my reign)

So, one thing that I have noticed through my years of writing, reading, and roleplaying is that I have a limit when it comes to characters. There are certain elements that can be pushed so far before I break and immediately want to throw that character from a top story window.

One of the breaking points for myself is when I feel that they are slowly becoming disgustingly perfect. Good at everything. Somehow are better at something they did not even know existed until hours before than people who have trained their entire lives. And they are always right.

But that is only MY personal breaking point. And I have others, I have many others.

My question to you is, what is YOUR personal breaking point? What do you hate in a character the most? And to keep the positivity, feel free to include what you love as well!
 

Lord Iapetus

Lara Croft is 100% Gay
#2
Characters that are the trickster type that think it’s funny to be rude to my character or mess with them. They really grind my gears. Because they don’t take things seriously and are usually accompanied with an inexperienced writer.

My other is loner characters but that’s pretty obvious in and of itself. Why would I like a character that doesn’t want interact with mine?
 

Whisker

Damnation Dignified
#3
Hello there RPN!

I am back with another inquiry! (Get ready, these jokes are going to be laid on thick throughout my reign)

So, one thing that I have noticed through my years of writing, reading, and roleplaying is that I have a limit when it comes to characters. There are certain elements that can be pushed so far before I break and immediately want to throw that character from a top story window.

One of the breaking points for myself is when I feel that they are slowly becoming disgustingly perfect. Good at everything. Somehow are better at something they did not even know existed until hours before than people who have trained their entire lives. And they are always right.

But that is only MY personal breaking point. And I have others, I have many others.

My question to you is, what is YOUR personal breaking point? What do you hate in a character the most? And to keep the positivity, feel free to include what you love as well!

That's not an easy question to answer. If I had to pick, it is when a character or story around them exhibits a classic symptom of Mary Suedom: the universe revolves around THEM. To me, this trait, more than any other defines the Mary Sue. You can have OP characters without being a Mary Sue (see: OPM). You can have talented characters without being a Mary Sue. You can have characters who master things quickly without being a Mary Sue. It's when the universe just hands them everything they want on a Silver Platter that it crosses that line for me. If I start to notice that an ungodly amount of things start to go some character's way without any stakes, or driving force of purpose, I start to plot to have them killed off.

So, I guess that's kind of the same thing?

The reverse of this is also true where one character is always *wrong* and the Universe is out to take a big steaming dump on their life ALL THE TIME. Angst. Angst. Angst.

Both are equally nauseating.
 

ravenclawesome

Perpetually sleepy
#4
Probably going to see a lot of Mary Sues being described here and, frankly, that’s what annoys me the most as well. But what also bothers me is - and I am probably going to get a lot of hate for this - the presumed opposite, meaning characters that are forcefully ‘buffed’ to ‘break’ the norm. With the increasing popularity of feminism in the media (and not only), all I see is the typology of the strong female physical or social warrior who frowns upon classic femininity like it’s inherently bad or downgrading.

Now, I’m not saying strong female warriors don’t exist. I could list a few characters that portray that so well. It’s just this sort of caricature version of it that keeps being used as a protagonist and it’s become so bland to me. It’s... basically the Wattpad version of it, I’d say.


Edit: What I like in a character is honesty and genuineness. Weakness. A character that makes mistakes and comes to see them later on, that is not inherently perfect and has flaws that imply more than clumsiness and social anxiety. This sometimes comes down to the writer, however.
 
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Echopixel

Magical Tearoom
#5
Well I keep reading about mary sues, but honestly I fun one can be the best RP character to play beside.

What I truly do not like is pretentious male characters.
 

Echopixel

Magical Tearoom
#7
I am going to make a broad generalization here, and I want anyone reading to understand this is a broad generalization please don't jump on me to tell me "not all characters" because I know.

Well as it is defined by the dictionary, I don't like "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed. " types of characters.

Before anyone goes "well it's in character" I will say done right sure, but I guess there is the added person behind said character acting somewhat similarly as their character with a pretentious, pushy air about themselves OOC which adds to the distaste.

So it is mostly a combined IC/OOC, push, aggressive, haughty male RP with an equally if not worse IC character and it's a recipe for a ruined character-personality-type for me. I know an aggressive, pushy, haughty female RPer OOC would rub me the wrong way and their character certainly would too.

Again broad generalization here, completely based on my experiences.

What might ruin a character for one might delight another RPer.
 

Spoiled Bread

The Lord of the Uneaten
#8
For me, characters that lacks inner thought. They're just there for the fight but nothing else. They'll fade away when the fight end, then conveniently appear on another fight and join for no reason.
 

Onmyoji

Unyielding Resolve
Supporter
#9
I'm not going to add on Mary Sue types of characters because it's already been mentioned.

But inherently, the main thing that ruins a character is the player.
The character can be well done in character sheet, have very fun concept to play against, but when that concept is executed poorly by the player, it kills the character. Because the character ends up being nothing like their character sheet.

I'm not saying it's always bad, because a "new" character can be even better. But it will be a different character.
 

Swarx

The Freechoicer
Supporter
#10
I don't like it when someone's character doesn't act the way they normally would because of OOC factors. For example, not killing someone they ICly hate just because they are friends with the player, or feel guilty about it OOCly.

Subverted by one of my good buddies who stabbed my character and threw her out of a window as part of a loyalty test for a gang. Yeah, I liked my character, and didn't actually see it coming either, but I knew his character was a sociopath (not in an edgy way, he actually played it really well) so I was fine with getting defenestrated, lol
 
#11
But inherently, the main thing that ruins a character is the player.
The character can be well done in character sheet, have very fun concept to play against, but when that concept is executed poorly by the player, it kills the character. Because the character ends up being nothing like their character sheet.

I'm not saying it's always bad, because a "new" character can be even better. But it will be a different character.

This is the equivalent of saying " The main thing that ruins the food is the chef" or " The main thing that ruins a painting is the painter" or " The main thing that ruins a building is the architect."What I'm trying to say is that this is a pretty weird thing that gripe about and that it should be considered something that's obvious from the get-go for any piece of role-playing; heck, any piece of creative writing in fact. I mean, the only way that I see your issue becoming a huge problem is

1) Group RP's that have a set number of pre-ordained roles that they want their characters to fulfill.

2) Role-players that shifting radically to a character who is pretty much not suited for the setting or the style of the RP. Examples include: Suddenly writing your character as pulling out a fucking nuclear bomb out of his asshole in a medieval setting, suddenly revealing that their human body is the host of a collective hive of a thousand sentient maggots that control their every movement in a slice-of-life realistic high-school RP or suddenly giving their character radical abilities or personality traits that are exceptional and break your suspension of disbelief.

I mean, this issue is really rare that I don't really see it. CS's do in fact shape how the character evolves and changes over time and it's damned important that the character eventually escapes what the character sheet states. If a role-player executes a concept poorly, then, it will be reflected on the basis of their very CS. CS's do have a stake in how your character functions within the narrative of the RP. CS's serve as a means in which to explain and rationalise the concepts of your character.

(Unless you're one of those avant garde role-players who just do writing sample CS's or don't bother with CS's at all)

To expand on your point, in RP's that I've seen off-forum, I have seen characters that are able to become dynamic and radically change over time. I think the ability for a character to evolve from the confines of their CS and expand outwards is the true hall-mark of any great RP. The CS should be considered a starting point but not a cage.

TL;DR: Obvious complaint is kind of obvious but I get where you're coming from.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anyhoo, here are the main things that I think absolutely ruins a character.

1) Nihilistic edgy dark Nietzsche philosophy 101 characters who show no emotion whatsoever who wantonly murders and kills for no discernable reason whatsoever. Rarely, can anyone pull off the anti-hero successfully in both role-playing and literature, even in literature.

2) Re-iterating the above once more, characters that ass-pull something out of nowhere that breaks the setting and is completely out of character for them to do so.

3) Displaying classic health syndromes of depression, alcoholism, smoking, drugs, piercings etc for no reason whatsoever or worse; down-playing those issues and treating them unrealistically.

4) Intelligent characters or rather where the role-player thinks that characters who display intelligent traits are cold-hearted, narcissitic, emotionless wizards rather than human beings.

There's probably a few more that I could think about but I hate negativity. Instead, here are the things that I think elevate a character and that I'm a sucker for.

1) I'm re-iterating the point from above but I love dynamic character arcs. Character arcs are just something that needs to occur in every role-play. You can't keep a character static forever throughout their 10 pages. No thematic progression is made and the character is forever boring. Characters have to radically develop and change in their personality. I love seeing that happen.

2) The under-dog archetype. This one really appeals to me since it's just so gratifying to see someone who is humble, self-depreciating or just has the odds stacked against them in general succeed no matter what. The character is not a bad-ass. They're just a normal person who's put in an extraordinary situation.

3) Characters that display elements of altruism and generally saving people for the sake of saving people. It just niggles that 10 year old inside me who put on their Spider-Man costume every Halloween.

4) Characters that are positive, optimistic, chummy and just downright friendly to interact with. Essentially; the opposite of edge-bro.

5) Characters who show moments of irrationality and are prone to making mistakes on multiple occasions.
 

ravenclawesome

Perpetually sleepy
#12
5) Characters who show moments of irrationality and are prone to making mistakes on multiple occasions.
This exactly what I listed as one of the things I love seeing in characters every now and then. I think that this is what makes a character human. Take latest season’s Daenerys (GoT) whose character got a lot of backlash for stepping over the line and making a mistake of judgement when the thirst for power got the better of her.

It’s highly preferential I suppose, but I would rather see characters that are imperfect and show vulnerability - either by being wrongly swayed or making hasty decisions with terrible repercussions.

On the other side of things - it’s roleplayers/writers that can’t admit their characters are flawed and/or irrational that irk me, when the mistake was obviously not made as a part of the character’s development arc.
 

The Inquisitor

The Empress of the Pen
#13
3) Characters that display elements of altruism and generally saving people for the sake of saving people. It just niggles that 10 year old inside me who put on their Spider-Man costume every Halloween
I have to say that I am the same way. Something about that all around good guy vibe I get from those characters always puts a smile on my face. Even when they are wrong or fail, gosh darn, they're just trying their best and I love them.

---------------------------

Another thing I have to add is actually
Now on to something that I think makes a character better:

While I love flaws, weaknesses, irrational decision making, and mistakes, there is one specific thing in those groups that I love above all. That is the character that is trying to be good, but finds themselves to be morally in the wrong. Not just that they made a mistake and now have to deal with the consequence, but that they made a decision that put them in the moral low-ground, if that is even a thing.

Now I see characters not having the moral high ground all the time when they are supposed to be the villains, or the anti-hero, or the power-hungry warlord or such, but I like to see it in the hero character the most, because I think that is where it is the most interesting.

While I love the person that started out as good but through their greed, hunger for power, etc. they slowly turned into a loose moralled tyrant, I also really love the character that is still good and still tries to remain good but happens to have had a moment where they are just wrong.

TL ; DR: Bunch of me gushing about how much I like it when a character is not always making Lawful Good decisions and sometimes is not morally right.
 
#14
I hate it when characters are forced to suffer by their player’s partner for no good reason but to add more drama to a story. I was once in an RP where my character had to endure a ton of trauma for "plot" and the RP eventually went from just a little dark to making me almost cry in one of my blowoff classes. And by the end of the RP my character had literally been crying for 85% of the time and was devoid of any personality besides, y’know, being in constant despair.
 
#16
Probably going to see a lot of Mary Sues being described here and, frankly, that’s what annoys me the most as well. But what also bothers me is - and I am probably going to get a lot of hate for this - the presumed opposite, meaning characters that are forcefully ‘buffed’ to ‘break’ the norm. With the increasing popularity of feminism in the media (and not only), all I see is the typology of the strong female physical or social warrior who frowns upon classic femininity like it’s inherently bad or downgrading.

Now, I’m not saying strong female warriors don’t exist. I could list a few characters that portray that so well. It’s just this sort of caricature version of it that keeps being used as a protagonist and it’s become so bland to me. It’s... basically the Wattpad version of it, I’d say.


Edit: What I like in a character is honesty and genuineness. Weakness. A character that makes mistakes and comes to see them later on, that is not inherently perfect and has flaws that imply more than clumsiness and social anxiety. This sometimes comes down to the writer, however.
I think people forget that girly feminine characters can be just as strong as a butch hardy character. It's seen as stereotypical to have a girl love dresses or fashion, but what's so wrong with that? It's like having a boy who loves make-up. It's good to see diversity in characters like that, but you can equally portray a jocky-type dude as an emotional person. (Or a douche, if that's the character you want to play.) It's weird how the stereotype breaker is becoming the stereotype.
 

middleagedgeek

Two Thousand Club
#17
Things that kill characters for me (in no particular order) :

1. Characters that are obvious self inserts of the payer to the point that it’s basically just your character interacting directly with the player.

2. Characters that don’t follow the logic of the setting (ex. A witch in a magical world acting like magic makes them a freak.)

3. Characters that have contradictory personalities. Shy but also outgoing. Caring but also selfish. It usually comes from being unable to let your character be flawed.

4. Characters who have a personality weakness to a physical power. Ex. Power is super strength, weakness is being antisocial. The two have nothing to do with one another. Unless being sociable gives you super strength.

5. This is more of a pet peeve but telepaths. They just come across as obnoxious attempts to make the character all knowing.
 
#18
Things that kill characters for me (in no particular order) :

1. Characters that are obvious self inserts of the payer to the point that it’s basically just your character interacting directly with the player.

2. Characters that don’t follow the logic of the setting (ex. A witch in a magical world acting like magic makes them a freak.)

3. Characters that have contradictory personalities. Shy but also outgoing. Caring but also selfish. It usually comes from being unable to let your character be flawed.

4. Characters who have a personality weakness to a physical power. Ex. Power is super strength, weakness is being antisocial. The two have nothing to do with one another. Unless being sociable gives you super strength.

5. This is more of a pet peeve but telepaths. They just come across as obnoxious attempts to make the character all knowing.
I think telepaths can be useful, within reason. There's a few ways it can be worked . . .

The person is limited in some fashion. Maybe they can only send thoughts (Output only) or they can only read thoughts (Receiver only). With the latter, it is easily taken over the lines of OP, so make the person in question only able to link with one at a time, and maybe make the ability cause some sort of harm if it's used for too long, like a coma or delirium. Just an idea. I find it fun to take a commonly OP ability and adding dampers to them. Makes things interesting.
 

Hex3

almighty king of degenerates
#19
I think overpowered characters, self inserts, or even ones with Mary Sue/Stu qualities can be made fun with the right player. I do have a few little things that annoy me though:

- When they try too hard to be like a canon character
- When they're a blatant power fantasy for the player
- Overly romantic types that become melodramatic when you reject them (or they just don't listen to you)
- Characters with no personality or defining features. This happens a lot when you get self inserts because, lbr, your real self is probably going to be boring in RP settings.
 

middleagedgeek

Two Thousand Club
#20
I think telepaths can be useful, within reason. There's a few ways it can be worked . . .

The person is limited in some fashion. Maybe they can only send thoughts (Output only) or they can only read thoughts (Receiver only). With the latter, it is easily taken over the lines of OP, so make the person in question only able to link with one at a time, and maybe make the ability cause some sort of harm if it's used for too long, like a coma or delirium. Just an idea. I find it fun to take a commonly OP ability and adding dampers to them. Makes things interesting.
As I said it's just a pet peeve, I've never liked them in any of the roleplays I have been in. That said if you want to make them (or my partner wants to make them for that matter) than I'm not going to pitch a fit or anything. It will just make me like the character significantly less than I might have otherwise.
 

Zeev

thinking is itself struggle
#21
Characters that are the trickster type that think it’s funny to be rude to my character or mess with them. They really grind my gears. Because they don’t take things seriously and are usually accompanied with an inexperienced writer.

My other is loner characters but that’s pretty obvious in and of itself. Why would I like a character that doesn’t want interact with mine?
or you don't get the reason why someone would do a trickster that which is more a show of your shortsightedness rather than their dickishness.

no! its not like trickster's are a cultural archetype found from Asian to Western culture and myth or anything... like its one thing to say you don't like bad writers, but bad writers fuck up everything so that doesn't apply to trickster archetypes.
 
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Zeev

thinking is itself struggle
#23
As for characters traits that people male or twisted/fake/perverted archetypes I hate.


Mary Sues are an easy one to rag on, but I've noticed they are becoming phased out more another more toxic shit show of an archetype.

Shy butterfly types that are "misunderstood" and "unstable" even though they are just written like flutterass from My little degenerate, or some other useless character that is more there to be a drag than anything, I'm own to see people not as their weakness but just having weakness, but Shy butterfly's are just self loathing enough for me to despise them entirely.

Anime Edgelords, I can deal with edgelords, that's solved by giving them a cold dose of reality. all that angst, fury, and edge isn't going to save them from getting their head smashed in.

but Anime Edgelord types are just OP enough to have that little problem solver thrown out the window, as their soul sucking demon mega revival powers prevent them from ever suffering failure to any degree outside their own **deeply tragic backstory**
 
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#24
I love tricksters. And in some stories they're a great additive, depending on the personality. One of the things I've recently done is a genie.
Now I know, a Genie by it's very nature is very OP. I mean, the bastard can make any wish come true with the snap of a finger right? Well, you're probably thinking about the Alladin Genie, with has a very adorable showbiz friendly personality that makes him understanding. But what if the personality made this OP ability a diffficult thing to use?

Some people have seen Once Upon a Time. (an Ok show. the plot is a bit shallow--but then again, I'm used to Stephen King) In it is Rumpeltstiltskin. He is a complete trickster who can make any wish come true and he usually picks out the needy and naive for his dastardly deals. He doesn't value gold, no, so his price for fulfilled wishes tends to be something non-currency based that the person in question is not gonna like.

I decided to derive a little inspiration from him, and apply what I know about credit cards to these Genie. And to make it more unpleasant, they'll pick your words apart so you have to be really specific and carefull with your wording or you might get the wrong wish granted. But the Genie never uses his/her power unless a wish is made. I figure these guys are immortal and can make anything happen, so how are they gonna bring any sort of meaning to their lives? SO they fuck with people to entertain themselves.

I like to think of this as yet another example of a potentially OP character getting a few dampers put in place. In some cases, a well thought out personality can be a damper itself. And as @Zeev has pointed out, it takes a good writer to portray a good character no matter what.

What are other people's thoughts?
 
#25
Hello there RPN!

I am back with another inquiry! (Get ready, these jokes are going to be laid on thick throughout my reign)

So, one thing that I have noticed through my years of writing, reading, and roleplaying is that I have a limit when it comes to characters. There are certain elements that can be pushed so far before I break and immediately want to throw that character from a top story window.

One of the breaking points for myself is when I feel that they are slowly becoming disgustingly perfect. Good at everything. Somehow are better at something they did not even know existed until hours before than people who have trained their entire lives. And they are always right.

But that is only MY personal breaking point. And I have others, I have many others.

My question to you is, what is YOUR personal breaking point? What do you hate in a character the most? And to keep the positivity, feel free to include what you love as well!
*cough* Rey from Star Wars described perfectly well in the bold *cough*

I honestly hate the 'forced connection to a canon' type for one. Like for example if we're doing a fandom RP and you want to include OCs, that's fine and all so long as the canons get their spotlight..but when you make it out like 'Oh I'm Edward Elric's long lost cousin's uncle'. It's a hard pass for me.

I've yet to ever see that type of OC done well where they're related to a canon. It ALWAYS is a disaster from my experience.

Another one I hate is the 'edgy tragic backstory just for edginess sake'. We get it, you're angsty...but making a character mopey and traumatized just for the sake of it has always been annoying to me. Tragic backstories are sooo overdone imo.

Granted I've just lately got up the courage to forge my own OCs and feel like they're my own and not just knockoffs of some canon I like. Constantly comparing my OCs to canons and thinking I'm ripping them off was preventing me from flourishing as an RPer I feel.
 

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