What makes an original character? The answer is simple. An interesting character is one that nobody has thought of before. That or one that is so controversial nobody dared to make one (*coughDreamWeavercough*). There are several easy ways for someone to make an ordinary character original.
First lets begin with traits that you can use…
This is the most commonly used form of originality. A character can be bipolar, schizophrenic, or just plain twisted. But please heed my warning when I say: USE WITH CAUTION! Insanity can be overused, and gets old very quickly. Make it a hidden insanity that develops over time, or a dynamic insanity. If your character’s mental illness is static, never changing, so will be your character. Another tip: the insanity should fit the character. Let’s take my character Sabine as an example. She has a second personality that is her dead boyfriend. First it started as her pretending to be him to get into the army, then it slowly became her reality. This persona was created by her mind. After getting rid of Sakir, she could create more things with her mind, and make more of her thoughts a reality. The insanity became a power that makes sense. Further more, Sabine still has traces of a second personality. She’s bipolar, happy one second, then easily cast into depression by being called weak (which Sakir often did). Sakir then became a Persona, something that fights with her. The development of her insanity and powers make sense. She wouldn’t be very interesting if she was just a normal Prussian knight, would she? Finally, try and make whichever insanity you choose an interesting one. Maybe even a unique case, or just a total extreme. Caius Weaver has abandonment issues, which would cause him to act out. But I decided: Let’s take this and make it just that much more. So instead of seeking attention, he seeks lovers to no end. His insanity even matches his powers. He is able to bend people to his will, as he craves to be surrounded by people who love him.
The greatest regret I have about Sabine’s character is the fact that she isn’t as original as I would like her to be. I have high standards for originality, maybe that’s because I think up very strange and outlandish things. Caius, on the other hand, has the perfect amount of originality. To make him original as he is, I didn’t hold myself back. I regret not going all out on Sabine. My original plan was for her to be sexually confused, and sincerely believing she was a boy. I didn’t because I thought people would think I was weird. As I got more used to the Vice world I thought: “Hey. This is RPG, I can do what ever I want.” So, I barely held back whilst I created Caius. The first thing someone thinks when they hear: 12-year-old bisexual, is what the f*ck? That’s exactly what I was going for. One way to make an rpg character so original people are jealous is to make them as controversial as possible. This can get touchy though, which is why it is another one to tread on with caution. But don’t despair! For all the newbies I say this: Do not be afraid! Making a controversial character is not a bad idea, just as long as you are cautious. Stay away from offensive racial/religious stereotypes, and don’t make fun of serious/tragic events. It’s best to steer clear of minority hating Nazis, religiously crazed terrorists, and the like. That is where caution is necessary. It isn’t funny to go for the shock and awe. Nobody like that ass-hole who just wants to piss people off. Don't make a character that can be interpreted as offensive. Other than that, go wild. RPG is about being something you can’t, do what you want, and hold no boundaries, just be respectful.
Drama, tension and trouble can be ensued by a simple secret. Character having a secret makes them just that much more interesting, unique, and mysterious. Lets take Sabine. It would have been very lame if Mekix already knew she was a girl. That was half the plot of Isaz’s Prison! If Sabine was actually a boy, and wasn’t hiding her feminine parts, she would have been just that. A boy. But a cross dresser? I think anyone can say that a cross dresser would be immediately more interesting than a plain old boy. Some interesting examples of secrets: Doctor who kills his patients, young boy who eats human hearts, werewolf (classic!), or famous actor.
How about something odd a character likes to do, just to spice him/her up. Maybe in your character’s spare time they run an interior design studio, or they enjoy Highland dancing. For a creative pastime, you can go either way. One way is to make it relate to the character’s profession or powers. If you want a serious character this is the way to go. Lets say you have a character that is a black smith. In his spare time, he might be a horseshoe champion. It makes sense because a black smith makes horseshoes and would be used to its weight and dynamics. Option number two: make your character have the most outlandish pastime. What if Newdeath liked to river dance in his spare time? Or what if Keith enjoyed tiddlywinks? Of course, taking this route would cause people to be unable to take your character seriously. Just keep that in mind. It’s the little things that add up to make a fully original and unique character.
Let me explain this simply: Unique powers = unique character. It’s hard to expand on this, but I’ll try my best. Everybody wants super strength and super speed, why not something rarely used? Normals tend be some of the most original characters (see George). No powers at all tend to be a road less travelled. How about magnetism or teleportation? Those two are often overlooked. Also, mundane superpowers are fantastic, but rarely used. The only problem with mundane superpowers is that your character may not be taken seriously. They can still be great for a light character. Some examples of mundane superpowers can be: the ability to turn on and off lights, the ability to remove nails, or the ability to type extremely fast. In fact, these superpowers can be useful, depending on how you use them. Let’s say you have a character that can type extremely fast. Maybe then they pilot a mobile suit that they have to type in commands. There you made a mundane superpower into an original useful power. That character is much more interesting then a plain old pilot.
Okay, maybe this one is a little bit similar to powers, but this is less fighting, and more things a character can do. It’s always cool when someone says: Oh yeah! I can sheer sheep! This would mean that it would be so cool If your character could do something unique and new. Skills are generally picked up from the character’s past and origin. Let’s take Sabine as an example again. It’s interesting that she can speak English, German and Lithuanian. Random skills such as those make your character versatile and original. Like powers, these skills must make sense. This is where Skills and Origin cross paths. Why did I choose to make Sabine able to speak English, German and Lithuanian? German – because in Prussia, they spoke German. English – One of the most useful languages to know. Lithuanian – Because Sabine did lots of travel in Prussia. She came to really like Lithuania and often took missions there. I could have chosen Polish for that last language, but I didn't. Lithuanian is much more unique than Polish. Again, here we see that the little things do add up. Continuing to look at Sabine, we see that she grew up learning to smith swords. This would mean that Sabine is able to create swords. If we look at her past, every thing adds up to the skills that she has today.
When we think of superwomen we think of outrageously attractive girls with boobs so big they aught to have some serious back problems. Or large hips and huge hair. How about a really ugly superwoman, a superwoman that’s just average? Here is where I say: avoid stereotypes. A blond stereo type is stupid, why not guy-ish? What if your character constantly dyed their hair, or wore coloured contacts. Babaru has rainbow hair, I think that’s fairly original. Characteristics don't generally add much originality to your character, but it’s how you use them that makes an interesting character. Again, the little things add up. What if your character had cat ears and a tail, like Kaen? The only caution you should hold in this category is that the characteristics have to match the character. If said character is a warrior it would make sense for them to have a scar, but if he had a tramp stamp? No. Not only does that not make sense, it’s silly. Unless you are going for a silly character don't do this. Nobody would take that warrior seriously. Another thing to consider: Age. Most people go for a young hip 20 year old character. How about an old man? Or a young boy? You could go Pride on people’s asses. What about a little sister from Bioshock? Having a character like that would be very unique. Try mixing it up. Age can be a very important factor, especially when mixed with personality to make a juxtaposition.
Personality has to be one of the most important areas of originality. Everybody has a different personality. Personalities cannot be explained with a few words, which is why there is lots and lots of room for originality. Again, here I will say: NO STEREOTYPES!!! Stereotypes are over used, and unoriginal. Seriously, it’s why they are called stereotypes. Personality can be tied closely with controversy. A controversial personality tends to be the most original. See our amigo Caius, a 12-year-old rampant sexual genius. A nice combination between his characteristics and personality create a fairly original character. Bubbly personalities are, surprisingly, rarely used. Mesamia has an original character in that regard. The bubbly personality (I think) should be used a lot more. Often people go for the serious Sosuke type, or the blank slate. Do not use the blank slate. They never work. You’ll wind up with Bella Swan. Nobody likes a Bella Swan rp character. Trust me. Think of the strangest person you know, and bump their personality to the extreme. With personalities, and the majority of the other criteria, extreme is good. Extremes and exaggerations make things a lot more interesting. It will take the rpg into a new direction, and will be generally more fun to write. Personality is the most important aspect of your rpg character. Choose wisely. Split personality, bubbly, serious, violent, vulgar. it doesn't matter, as long as it's original.
Ticks:Whether it be a verbal or a physical mannerism, simple ticks tend to add something unique to your character. For example, maybe your character swears a lot. Everything he says would have a different tone just because a simple f*ck has been added to the end of his sentences. Not only would there be a possibility to add hilarity to your rpgs, but it would make your character stand out from the crowd. Maybe these verbal ticks can exaggerate the differences in your character, for example, Sakir swore in German all the time. It was one of his/her verbal ticks. Not only did it exaggerate his/her different nationality, it also served as a verbal indicator of his personality. A lot can be said about a person through how they speak and act. If someone tends to cry when they get scared, it obvious they aren't the bravest person on the planet. The ticks should fit the personality. A shy person would mumble a lot or blush often, a French person would kiss women on the cheek as a greeting, and an upbeat person would laugh and smile every chance they got. Ticks are more to exaggerate characterization, which is why they should fit your character. Ticks, although small, should not be ignored.
The origin of a character makes the character who they are. A character is only as original as their origin. There are many things to consider when formulating a character’s origin. First off is place of birth, or ethnicity. I think that it’s a lot more interesting if someone is born from an obscure country, or outer space. Again, here I will say: No stereotypes. But the ethnicity should some how match the character. A big burly Russian man is way too boring. Maybe an alien that is just like a human. Sure it’s a bit anti-climatic, but it is more unique then your classic Marsian. Yet again, here on the Vice we don’t have any Marsians, so that would be original. Most of these tips are designed for writing in general, but you also have to put it in perspective of the vice. Genies tend to be used very often in writing and movies, but on the Vice we had no genies. Then came Mesamia. Her character is original because it is something new to the Vice. Yet again, if you take a boring stereotype (and the Vice doesn’t have this stereotype) and use it as your character, there is no originality. Back on topic! Having a mysterious character is okay, but don’t just say his past is unknown. How about you make his past a bunch of rumours, or newspaper articles of his crimes? Not only would that add originality to you bio, it would keep your character’s mysterious feel. Origin originality leaves room for both bio creativity and character creativity. Take a look at Mekix’s bio. His character’s past is done like a journal entry. Instead of giving us a sort of general look at Victor Young’s past, it gives us a greater understanding of his thoughts and feelings by being set in first person. Another point to consider in this section: driving force. What makes your character do the things he/she does? Everybody has heard the story of the young boy who’s village is attacked and seeks revenge. Please, do something new.
This is seriously no joke, one of THE MOST important things to create originality. You can start with a blank slate, but your must colour that slate to the fullest of your extent. Draw a flower, or some unmentionables, I don't care, but you have to make your slate as full as possible. Stepping out of that cheesy metaphor, I am not joking. I can't count the amount of massive character changes Sabine went through. From a little girl, to a boy, to a woman, to a hero, and finally to a lover (which was the last thing I ever thought she would be). But let's not reminisce here. What I'm saying is that the most boring characters on the face of the earth are stoic. If nothing changes, everything stays the same. You don't have to have the IQ of NewDeath to figure that out. I have massive plans for HUGE character development in every single one of my characters. Harumi's gunna become boss, DreamWeaver.... Oh, I can't tell you that... Hal and Ryker are gunna develop some reactions to radiation, and Atlas... Oh Atlas... He may seem epicly stoic, but trust me, in a few months, hold onto your hats boys and girls. Another thing I'm getting at here is that it's extremely important for you to have a plan. I've had most of my character's development fixed out to the smallest detail, and that is what is going to make their expansion and development really freaking awesome. Sabine was my first ever RPG character, and I can tell you, I made a shit tonne of mistakes (sorry for the profanity and Canadian spelling). I can honestly say that I never originally planned for Sabine to be magical. I was fully expecting her to make her way through the Vice as a normal human (I use normal very lightly). In the end I though she was going to die she was so weak, so I jumped at the first chance I got for power. If anybody noticed, or remembered, she was super awkward around that time she learnt that Sakir allowed her to use all her mental power at once. I had no clue how I was going to work with her power, and that's why for a few months, Sabine was more of a roller coaster than she ever was. Basically develop your character, but plan the development, and make sure you know how to use any characteristic you give your character.
Where I Got My Characters: You may be asking, "But Superevil225, where do I get inspiration?" Children, I have no answer. Inspiration comes to you, you don't go to it. But I do suggest listening to music, watch movies, anime, or tv shows, and reading books. Dig deep into your wildest dreams and pull out a character. Here is where I got inspiration for my characters:
- Hetalia: Axis Powers
- Star Wars
- Fate/Stay Night
(Yes, this little guy. Most of these are not as bad as may be implied but I will put stars beside the ones that you should explore with caution due to sexual themes... and Caius stuff. Don't worry all of them are suitable for 15 years and older.)
- Shadow Magic by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett (See Caius Greylace)
- Havemercy* by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennet
- Kuroshitsuji* (AKA Black Butler)
- Pandora Hearts
- Humon on Deviant Art*
- Nightmare Inspector
(This one is a bit hard because I honestly cannot remember most of where I got my inspiration)
- Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt
- (any show with twins really)
- Mythology (Greek, Roman, est)
- The Legend Of Drizzt
(Again, * rule applies, this time two *'s means 18+)
- Togainu No Chi**
- Team Fortress 2
- Skrillex (it's a band)
(Aww, remember him for the short time I had him?)
- Princess Bride
- Game Of Thrones
(OMG, yes it's me)
- Ouran High School Host Club
- The Troubles (a thingy going on in Ireland)
- The Hulk
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- (really hate to say this) Naruto
- Bloodline (It's the name of a book I'm writing)
- Kendo class
- Geisha Assassin (Funny story, I saw the poster for this and I was like OMG, never saw the movie though. XD)
In conclusion (so far): Be as original as you can. Don’t hold back, you’ll regret it when you really get into rping. All the little things will add up to one great character. Be crazy, do what you want, but remember to be respectful. To be successful in an rpg, you need an original and functional character. But also make sure your character isn’t a munchkin. I hope this guide helped, and continues to help as I develop and finish it. :) Remember: have fun, be creative, and be respectful.
P.S. I have tried not to use any characters in a negative way, save my own. If you are offended, or do not want your character to be mentioned in this guide, please let me know. :)