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Article - 'Character Setting In Rpgs' by Angroth

An item about Graphics/Audio posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

Some character development for you all.

Body

CHARACTER SETTING IN RPG’S



It could be argued that the personalities of the characters in an RPG are part of the essential framework that makes it fun to play. When making an RPG it is important to write or make notes on the personalities of the game’s characters; this way they can be made consistent throughout the game. It is also important to keep notes, or at least bear in mind, how these characters, both good and evil, will interact with one another. The most compelling RPG storylines are usually based around good character interactions in much the same way as a popular television series. TV series such as ‘Friends’ and ‘Star Trek’ may at first appear to have little in common, but they do both share a well balanced, well established , character network and social interactions. People come to love these shows because they feel as if they ‘know’ the characters. This is easily achieved in these series; the characters are simply made predictable, and the same can be done in RPG’s. In Friends every week people wait for Joey to mention something about being hungry, in Star Trek Captain Picard always uses the same catch phrase when setting off on a mission; ‘engage’. This also happens in RPG’s, by the end of FF7 you know Cloud is gonna do his ‘falling over and grabbing his head’ routine and you know what situations are going to start Barret off swearing.

This leads me to my next point, as well as feeling as if they know the characters, the players will enjoy the RPG more if they can find characters they can relate to. People will relate to characters if they are more realistic. In order to achieve this it is important to write characters with both negative and positive qualities, this goes for both heroes and villains. The best heroes are the ones with a dark side or hidden secret, the best villains are the ones who were once heroes, or whose plans/philosophy almost make sense. This way the characters have more depth and therefore will be more like real life people. In real life no-one is perfectly good or bad and characters with a two-sided personality will be easier to relate to.

Also, to make sure that a wide audience appreciates the characters, it is important to make them diverse in terms of personality and appearance. With too many characters looking and acting similar, only a small proportion of people will be able to relate to them, namely those who look or act like that in real life! A range of characters will ensure that everyone will find something they like.

Finally, I would like to go into a little more depth about character interaction. The best RPG’s are ones in which the characters personalities blend and contrast, as do peoples personalities in real life. There should be both similarities and differences between the various characters. The differences should be made interesting and should allow the characters to ‘play off’ one another. For example in FF7 Barret calls Cloud a ‘spiky headed jerk’ on more than one occasion, he feels he should be the leader, but lacks real leadership ability, he puts on a loud, macho posture to make up for this. On the other hand, Cloud is more quiet and yet still confident, he is calm and level headed which lets him make more rational decisions, a good quality for a leader, but this just makes Barret jealous. As you can see from this simple demonstration, the characters have been written so that through their differences they ‘bounce’ off each other and are more interesting to watch.

To Summarise:

• Good RPG’s are based on well written characters.

• People like to get to ‘know’ characters: make them predictable.

• People like characters they can relate to: give them well rounded personalities.

• Good character interaction will make the most compelling RPG’s.