Building a Character

Created by Major Bobbi Jo Wichdt on Thu Jun 9th, 2016 @ 3:02pm

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 Name
To 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.

Suffix
Are you a junior or senior or monsieur the III? If not, don’t worry about it.

Position
This is the position that you want to play in a field team. If you want a position that you don’t see, contact the moderator and talk it out. Only field teams are available as player characters. All base staff are NPC or PNPC positions.

Gender
This one is pretty self-explanatory.

Species
Only humans are applicable as player characters at this point.

Age
How old is your character currently. The game year is on the front page, so do your math.

Nationality
What part of the global team are you playing for?

Birth Place
Where were you born?

Birth Date
What month/day/year were you born?

Height
The 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.

Weight
The 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 Color
If it were to appear on legal documents, it would say red, not vermillion. Go with the easy answer here.

Eye Color
If you say black with no iris or glowing red, it’s a typical GM red flag.

Physical Description
This 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, 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. Does 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.

Distinguishing Features
Tattoos? Scars? Missing toe? Tons of piercings? As odd as it sounds, there’s plenty of in character missions where you may need this kind of confirmation that you are really you.

Spouse
If you weren’t married, list an N/A. If you’re divorced, add the name with [divorced] following.

Children
No children? N/A. A deceased child or a stepson, add the name and then [stepson], [deceased], etc.

Father
If you have one, list him with a note on his condition if deceased. If you aren’t sure who he is, list ‘Unknown’.

Mother
Same as with ‘Father’.

Brother(s)
See above

Sister(s)
See above’s above.

Other Family
Don’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 Overview
This 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 & Weaknesses
At 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 require glasses. Are they horrid shots at long range?
Strengths – Are they musically inclined? Crack shots? Natural Linguists? Stunningly beautiful? Excellent cooks? Hardy as all get out?

Ambitions
What this section is asking is what do you want out of life? It could be long term or short term, but it gives the moderator an idea of your character’s positive intended evolution in your mind.

Hobbies & Interests
What does your character like to do in their off time? This could be on base, off ship. On leave, back home: it doesn’t matter. What are their interests outside of their careers? Do they like astronomy? Do they like to fish? Are they avid followers of a specific singer? Do they rebuild and race vintage motorcycles? Do they make trading cards of their fellow crew and kill them off in interesting random draws?

Training and Education
You don’t have to get all fancy and recount from high school to every bit of technical training, but the moderator and the rest of your team do need to know your skill set. Are you trained as a geologist but took first aid classes? Have you had extensive training in long distance runs and participated in many marathons? Did you go through EOD training? List as much as you can for your character for a clear picture. If you need help, tell the moderator.

Personal History
By 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 in the big city? Isolated on a farm in Siberia?? How did this shape your life?

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? What influenced you to move towards your profession? Were your parents intent on you being a microbiologist, but you ran off to join the Chinese army?

College/Military: Did you go to college? What was it like? What was enrolling in the military like (if you did)? Did you do good in school? Did you have trouble? 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 Career: Give me two paragraphs at least of what has been happening in your life since your training period has been over. Has the state of the goa’uld invasions/the virus changed your world view in any way? Did you lose friends and family? Are you accomplished in your career? Is everything smooth sailing? Bring us up to speed before your induction into the program. All in coming characters should be new.

Service Record
This is tricky for a lot of people. If you’re in the military, how long? Where were you stationed? Did you participate in any major operations? If you weren’t, think of this as a resume. Where have you practiced your career?

Character Notes
Anything that doesn’t fit in an above section that other players can know and use in story, put here.

Player Notes
This 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 in? Do they have a secret that needs to be spilled to the GM but isn’t known in character? Is this NPC to be played only by you? Stick it here.


Categories: Hero Up