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How To Write Playable Characters (A guide to not godmoding)

Looking for an art or writing tutorial? Or perhaps you have your own art or writing advice that you would like to share? If so, then this is the place.
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LittleWing
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How To Write Playable Characters (A guide to not godmoding)

Post by LittleWing » Fri May 21, 2010 10:36 am

Hello again!
Here I have another tutorial for you.
Due to some recent hitches in stories, I figured a write a little "how to" on having like-able characters.
Now, before we bring out the pitchforks, allow me to explain!
Firstly, I do know that whether a character is "likable" is certainly a matter of opinion. I believe I mean "likable" more as "easy to RP with." As some writers do not want their character to be liked by others. Some, may even want their character to be disliked or even hated! A villain, if you will.
But, let's keep in mind that just because your character is an antagonist, a villain, a vigilante, a mercenary, an assassin, a serial killer, a train robber, a baby-eater, a seal-clubber, a liar,a crook, the leader of a biker gang, a bad-ass, a cheater, or even a snobby, rich 12 year old with daddy's credit card, that doesn't mean that they can't be enjoyable to RP with.
So here I will give some little guide-lines on how to portray anything from the ultimate evil to the savior of the day, all in a pleasing and fair way to your fellow posters.


My first point here will be
Balance.

You can NOT have a good character without giving them a little bit of balance.
Sure, they can have awesome and astounding powers, they can be super smart, super fast, super strong or even have mind control. But lets not go overboard. Yes, it's cool to have really awesome powers, but too many can become confusing and frustrating to others.
My example from this is V from V for Vendetta.
He's smart, he's savvy, he's fast and he's skilled. He' practically a god. But, he's well balanced.
Notice, that throughout the movie, V is NOT picking up trains and throwing them across countries. Nor is he moving things with his mind. He's a human with no extraordinary powers, but he;s still bad-ass as all hell. And strangely enough (don't read if you haven't seen the movie)
Spoiler:
He wielded his weapons with power and grace, he was well spoken and intelligent. But, he wasn't super strong, he wasn't super fast. He didn't have an powers. When he got shot, he got hurt. He couldn't dodge every bullet. Also, a big thing about him, was he was given weakness by his past. He was bad-ass, but he had a heart too. He expressed sadness and pain. He was self conscious, he was polite. They gave his back story as to why he was this way. But it wasn't completely far fetched. This is something to keep in mind while creating a character. Yes, they're powerful, but they are by no means invincible.



Another important point is this: offensive of defensive
Is your character an awesome fighter? Or are they great at deflecting damage.
Keep this in mind.
In a game of soccer (or foot-ball), you have offensive and defensive players. Two separate. (Yes you have your wings, too, but Ill get to that.)
Your forward is not protecting the goal, and your goalie is not up front scoring. Its best to have one or the other. Not both in one character.

Here I am going to use Violet from the Incredibles as an example.
She has two powers; invisibility and force fields.
Both are great powers, both can be used in many, many different ways. But, both are more or less defensive powers. Sure, a force field can be used offensively now and then, as can invisibility, but when it comes down to it, they're both meant to keep the character safe.

So keep this in mind, if you plan on having a character that is going to fight, or get into fights.

Lastly, I am going to mention weaknesses.
This is EXTREMELY important.
You character MUST have a weakness. If they don't, this is called GODMODING*.
GODMODING IS BAD!!!!
I CANNOT emphasize this enough.
There is NOTHING on this planet that makes me not want to RP more than a godmoder.
Actually, here. Below is a small list of things I would rather do than RP with a godmoder, JUST to show how unfavorable it is. (and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one that feels this way)

  • Give Hitler a sponge bath
    Coat myself in honey then run through a field of bees
    Douse myself in petrol then have fireworks lit off my head
    Remove my skin slowly with a cheese grater then roll in lemon juice
    Rip my hair out then eat it all one strand at a time
    Have each of my toes broken one by one
    Go to a Nickleback concert
    Eat nothing but garlic** and fingernails for a month
    Shave an obese, sweaty man from head to toe.



Moving right along. If you do not know what godmoding is, please read the spoiler below. If you do know, I encourage you to read it anyway. t was just put in a spoiler tag to save a little bit of space.

Spoiler:

Hopefully that clears things up a little bit.
But continuing on with weakness in characters.
One of my favorite examples of this would actually be X-Men. For every character, there is a weakness and counterpart to that weakness.
Example:
Wolverine.
Wolverine's actual mutant power is the ability to heal. Handy, right? You get shot, it gets fixed. The end.
BUT.
One character that can really mess up Wolverine is Rogue. She just sucks the life right out of him before he gets the chance to heal.
BUT! (again!)
On top of being able to heal, Wolverine was surgically implanted with indestructible adamantium! (OH NO!)
Now, this is getting far fetched...but...wait! Who is that I see on the horizon?
ITS MAGNETO!
The super-villain that has the ability to control metal!

See what I'm getting at? Every character needs a weakness.
For Ice-man, there's Pyro
for Superman there's kryptonite
for vampires there is the sun
for werewolves there is silver.
Professor X has amazing mind-abilities, but he is confined to a wheelchair.

Basically, what I'm getting at is:
Everything has a weakness. Every character needs a weakness.
Your character needs a weakness.
Or else no one will want to play with you
you will have no friends
you will be alone for the rest of your life
living with a thousand cats
who won't like you either.
:)




So, to quickly summarize this, in order to have a well rounded, easily-play-with-able character, you need the following:

Balance
is your character fast, but not physically strong? Or at they strong but slow? Do they have super magical powers, but very few physical powers? if you answered "yes" to these questions, then you're doing it right!

What kind of character do you have?
Are they combat heavy, or are they intellectual? Do they fight defensively with spells or traps? Or do they rush into battle with swords drawn? Are they a mage or a warrior?

Weakness
Does your character have a weakness? Are they susceptible to pain?
Your character should not be able to dodge ever bullet, arrow or punch. When they get hit, it should do damage.
Also, what YOU know about the story and what your CHARACTER knows about the story needs to remain separate.
Lets keep fairness in check.



See? Very easy!
Follow these rules, and you will be well on your way to having a fun, awesome, fair, brilliant character that everyone will be happy to RP with! YAY!



And, just another little reference here is a list of overly-common character traits in Feila, written by James. It is very helpful, actually. So if you're looking to make a new character, I would highly recomment checking that out, so you can have a new, original character.




*These are taken from Urbandictionary.com. Since we're not allowed to link to external websites, I'm just going to leave that as a citation. Also, it is a mature website with a lot of adult content. So, visit at your own risk.
**I am deathly allergic to garlic (that's my weakness, see?)
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Rainwhisker
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Re: How To Write Playable Characters (A guide to not godmodi

Post by Rainwhisker » Fri May 21, 2010 7:45 pm

Yep - another well written guide.

My thoughts: Godmoding and Powerplaying is horrible.

On another note - this is also a form of respect to another player. Keep what's happening real - don't create some ridiculous super saiyan power when your character's about to be hit by a Megaton Explosion, especially if there's no indication or plan that your character's a Saiyan at all.

Also, does having a person that's good at everything automatically make you a Godmoder? Answer is no! Even people with adept skill at a wide variety of things also have that as their weakness - they're not as good as people who specialize in one particular skill.

Case in point: Jack-of-all-trades, a magician with control over all 8 elements - widely feared, a large array of skills at his disposal - he's still no match against 8 mages who are master in each element.

The ONLY time you're allowed to Godmode is usually a mix of the following conditions:
-The RP setting allows for ridiculously strong characters (usually incredible rare)
-The RP is such that there's your standard group of heroes/villains trying to defeat one 'big bad boss'. The Big bad boss in this case can godmode TO AN EXTENT.
-The other parties involved in the party gives you permission (This is possible the most important bit eveeeer.)
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LittleWing
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Re: How To Write Playable Characters (A guide to not godmodi

Post by LittleWing » Fri May 21, 2010 8:21 pm

Absolutely.

Just keep in mind the phrase "a jack of all trades is a master of none"
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