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Article - 'Improving Your Characters' by Zetamancer

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Nov 21, 2004


Zetamancer's good-portioned article about constructing good characters to use in your RPGs.


Most run of the mill games have stupid characters with unoriginal names, and unoriginal everything else. This article should help you make your own characters, completely original, completely your own. Enough of my incoherent mumbling, onto the meat of the article!

Naming: When naming your characters, try to be loyal to their backgrounds. You know, culture, what time they’re from, etc. For example, if you had a futile-age Japan character, his name would be something like Kaito Nakashima. Not Roland. Even if you’re inventing your own world, it’s good to follow this anyways. Though not all places have different languages, they do have different cultures, even if only the slightest bit.

Weapons: Add individuality to your characters man! For example, don’t let everyone get “Grime’s Chest Plate”. Limit your character’s equipment. For example, let’s say your main character is called Kal. Make him only be able to use a katana, bracers, sandals, bandanas, and chest plates. Now, your main heroine is Knella. Make it so she can only use a staff, rings, shin pads, circlets, and robes. Get the idea?

Another good thing to have with weapons on RM2K3 is different appearance. You don’t want you’re awesome “Sword of Ragnorok” looking like the same wooden stick that everything else resembles, do you? If it’s a katana, make it look like a katana. If it’s a light saber, make it look like a light saber.

General Spiffying: You may want to type up 2 to 3 paragraphs for each character, their physical traits, character traits, background, etc. Here’s an example for you guys,

Name: Kal Senlom
Age: 27
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black
Height: 6’2
Weight: 170 lbs
Clothing: Mage Robes (plus varied armor)
Weapon: Katana
Birthplace: Zorent, Welnam Continent.
Birth date: May 22, 1640

Background: Born in Zorent, to Shane Senlom and Celenia Senlom, Kal was gifted, even at a tender age. Having been known to have caused many problems, he was eventually thrown out, and banished from his hometown. He grew up as a nomad, from the age 8 to 27 he traveled village to village, town to town, stealing whatever he could to survive. Now 27, a threat has arisen. Childhood nemesis-turned-King of Welnam Continent, Jekhur, has been raising taxes in the land, ever since he started ruling. Kal ventures back to his home town, having not been seen for nearly 2 decades, and fights off Jekhur. Their battles and constant struggles last 3 years. Finally Jekhur is beheaded by Kal, and the continent is renamed to Senlom Continent, under Kal’s rule.

On The Map: When you have your characters all done, traits and all, it’s a good idea to actually incorporate them into the game (duh). Always follow what your character looks like- don’t be a pushover and go for something lame. Either find a character set that matches your character’s physical traits, or make your own. Our current hero Kal has black hair and blue eyes, so give him spiky black hair and make his eyes blue. Add his mage robes, and you’re done. It is that simple my friends, THAT simple.

In The Menu: Don’t you hate it when the face graphic looks nothing like the character sprite? Well, I don’t care if you don’t. Because I do. Once again, with Kal only showing his face this should be even simpler. Have a man with blue eyes, and spiky black hair. Changing hair colors is quite simple using IDraw.

In Battle: The battle sprites should look very similar to the character sprites on the map. Another thing that’s fun to do is color identification for elements or magic types. When they cast a spell, the default aura is yellow. Well, if your character has the element of Water, why not make it blue? If they have black magic make it black, or very dark purple. Same idea at the end- don’t have your character with long black hair, when he should have spiky black hair.

Relationships: Okay, so eventually in the game you run into the main heroine. The main character falls head over heels for her. You want to show this as one of his character traits. In speech, in game, make him seem more sympathetic with his loved one. He’d say this to everyone else: “Yes…but what if the guards see, we’ll get slaughtered!” And this to his loved one: “I suppose it's do or die; we’ll go through it together.” See the difference? And when portraying hatred, make it something like this “What a stupid idea, are you trying to get us killed?”

Likes and Dislikes: Good to have in a character, and can be brought up repeatedly. Try not to make them all clichés though. Have your main character hate all Democrats, and portray it in speech. You could also have him like collecting unicorn horns. It’s your character, make him perfect.

Allergies: Many games forget this, every living being has allergies. Animals, humans… I don’t know about insects, but they don’t matter. And don’t just make his eyes water whenever he’s near it. Make it have different effects on the character. Allergies aren’t objects that make you weak; an allergy is something that affects your physical being, unnaturally. You could have it so whenever he’s near metal, a constant deafening sound rings in his ears and he gets an unbelievable migraine, and it only gets worse as time passes. The only way to stop is to get far away from the metal. Another thing is an allergy that strengthens him. Say he got close to a microwave (Not the machine, the actual waves). This would super power him, making his reflexes 5 times better.

I hope this article helped you in making characters. If not give me constructive criticism. Thanks :)!