Build A Better Character
Created by Captain Rohana O'Touvelli on Sun Mar 13th, 2016 @ 1:24am
I’ve sat through many a tabletop game where a person will tell me that they have no character story- that it doesn’t come to them until they play it for a few sessions. In writing rpgs that kind of mentality just doesn’t work. To join a game you have to have a character. Plain and simple.
So what do you do when you have to make a person out of thin air? The first thing in my mind would be to change the way that you’re thinking. You already know what the environment is and the background of the simm from reading old posts and site content. In your mind, picture that as the scene and this character is the new walk-on actor or actress appearing for the first time in uniform. Though you aren’t playing that role physically, you are writing it for them to play. You’re writing their script. So who are you writing for?
I’m going to tear through the character application for you and give you ideas for questions that you can ask yourself about the character in order to fill it out. Remember: the more details and hooks that you give a game master, the more that they can use your character in a story. Give them too little and they have to go through a lot more effort to craft story that surrounds your character.
First Name, Middle Name, Last NameTo be completely honest, I am an avid searcher of baby names site. I pick a nationality and hit the baby name sites. For surnames I do the same and search the nationality and surname on google. This usually pulls up a ton of sites that will give you 100-500 suggestions at a time.
SuffixAre you a junior or senior or monsieur the III? If not, don’t worry about it.
PositionThe best way to acquaint yourself quickly with the roles as they appear on this ship is to look in Memory Core>Department Handbook and make sure that you are prepared and able to write the position that you’re looking to play. I have a TON of suggestions and descriptive pieces for each of the departments playable aboard the USS Kingdom. Read up and then choose.
GenderThis one is pretty self-explanatory. Are you biologically born a male, a female or a hermaphrodite (meaning that you are born with the organs of both sexes). Whether you identify as a male or female regardless of birth can be listed under personality and description. Asexual beings are not currently playable.
SpeciesIf you are not intending to play a species that is premade, you will need to contact the captain and go through a creation process with her if it is not detailed to the extreme in your bio. You can check the Xenopedia in the memory core to have a very wide set of choices that are known to the Federation at this point.
AgeHow old is your character currently. The game year is on the front page, so do your math.
HeightThe average human male stands at 5’10” tall. Women at 5’3” tall. Remember to include the measurement that you use whether it’s inches, centimeters, meters or feet.
WeightThe average human female weight is 166 lbs. The average male is 180 lbs. This is a current polling of the entire world and factors in our tendency to be a bit obese. But please, people.. A 6’4” woman does not typically weigh 120 lbs. Make sure to list stone or kilogram or pounds.
Hair ColorIf it were to appear on legal documents, it would say red, not vermillion. Go with the easy answer here.
Eye ColorIf you say black with no iris or glowing red, it’s a typical GM red flag.
Physical DescriptionThis section isn’t just for statistics, it’s for a general overview of how you appear to others. Go into depth about your appearance (you can pull out that vermillion now), including whether they’re slender or overweight, high cheekbones, freckles, almond shaped eyes, tons of tattoos, piercings, missing a hand, requires the use of glasses, etc
You can also add in notes about how they tend to dress on and off duty as these are observations that others could casually make. Do es your person limp? Do they always seem excited? Do they mope or slouch or tend to wear mismatched socks? Are they never seen without a jacket on? This is where you note that.
SpouseIf you weren’t married, list an N/A. If you’re divorced, add the name with [divorced] following.
ChildrenNo children? N/A. A deceased child or a step son, add the name and then [stepson], [deceased], etc.
FatherIf you have one, list him with a note on his condition if deceased. If you aren’t sure who he is, list ‘Unknown’.
MotherSame as with ‘Father’.
Sister(s)See above’s above.
Other FamilyDon’t just think of aunts and uncles (this can get ridiculous). Are there any special people in your character’s life that they consider family? If so, list them here with an [X] filed with info on who they are.
General OverviewThis section is devoted to what goes on inside your noggin. It’s a lot to encompass, so I always ask that my players put a lot of time into it. If it helps, write it in the form of an excerpt from a psychologist’s notes. Please remember that in order to serve aboard a starship, your character must have passed a recent psych eval and submit to quarterly evaluations.
These are some of the questions that I try to answer with what I put into this section:
-How do others perceive them to be? How different is that from the way that they truly are inside?
-Do they get along with their family?
-Have they had any truly life-changing events happen to them? How does this still affect them?
-Do they have any psychological tics? Mental scars? Traumatic incidents?
-What kind of outlook do they have on the world?
Strengths & WeaknessesAt least three of each is a good number to start with. The more you give, the happier your GM is. Suggestions are:
Weaknesses – Phobias? Bad habits? Harmful tendencies? Notes on physical limitations such as they rely on a cane or are typically bad shots with a phaser.
Strengths – Are they musically inclined? Crack shots? Natural Linguists? Stunningly beautiful? Excellent cooks? Hardy as all get out?
AmbitionsWhat this section is asking is what do you want out of life? It could be long term or short term, but it gives the GM an idea of your character’s positive intended evolution in your mind.
Hobbies & InterestsWhat does your character like to do in their off time? This could be on ship, off ship. On shoreleave, back home: it doesn’t matter. What are their interests outside of their careers in Starfleet? Do they like astronomy? Do they like to fish? Are they avid followers of a specific singer? Do they rebuild and race vintage terran motorcycles? Do they make trading cards of their fellow crewmen and kill them off in interesting random draws?
Personal HistoryBy far the largest section of the character sheet should be your bio. You need to devote at least one paragraph each to the following sections. The more, the happier that your GM is.
Early Life: Where were you born? What were your parents like? How was your early childhood? Did anything important happen? Were you a happy child? Sickly? Did you grow up on a colony or Earth or a space station? How did this shape your life? Were they Starfleet as well? Did they die in battle, leaving you in the care of an odd duck uncle who gambled away your inheritance?
Mid/Late Childhood: What remarkable things happened in your life during this time period? What were you like as a child/teen? Were your parents still around? Did anything influence you/move you to start looking into Starfleet? Was it because you couldn’t stand colony life? Were your parents intent on you being a microbiologist, but you simply had to see the stars?
College/Starfleet Years: Did you go to college before Starfleet? What was it like? How was enrolling in Starfleet like for you? Did you do good in school? Did you have trouble at the Academy? Were you top of the class or did you eek by? What was your focus? Did you fall in love? Did you play for the baseball team? This is a 2-4 year period to fill, so put stuff in here.
Early Starfleet Career: Give me two paragraphs at least of what has been happening in your life since you left the Academy. Has the state of the universe changed you in any way? Are you accomplished in your career? Is everything smooth sailing? Did you get captured by Klingons at one point? Bring us up to speed with the transfer to the USS Kingdom. If you’re a cadet fresh out of the Academy, really give me a large section on Academy life.
Service RecordThis is tricky for a lot of people. The average length of a person serves on a ship is 2-4 years depending on transfer rates. If the dates are really messing with your head, just list the ships that you served on and what rank you held on them.
NotesThis section is for anything else that you want to tell other players. Can you write on messenger Wednesday nights after 6 EST? Does your character have a pet that they snuck on board? Do they have a secret that needs to be spilled to the GM but isn’t known in character? Stick it here.
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