REVAMPED! Character Guidelines

Joined: April 8th, 2011, 5:44 pm

May 8th, 2011, 5:05 am #1

Character Guidelines

Check it out! It's a handy-dandy little thread with lots of useful information on making a character at Peregrine! If you follow these guidelines, your admins will flail with joy at you and everything will be rainbows and ponies. If you break these guidelines, we will be sad. If you break our canon, we might actually have to PM you and ask you to change it. So it's in your best interest to know these.

First post is overall guidelines that apply to everyone. Second post is not rules, per se, but it is recommended reading for everyone.

  • Our Pern, while more technologically advanced than most Perns, is still a primarily agrarian society. No cars, no highways, no cell phones or Internet. Advances in medicine and recordkeeping and the like exist, but Pern is still Pern. For a more detailed look at what's changed since AIVAS, check out our Technology thread.
  • Please read this before making an offworlder character.
  • Remember that normal Pern humans are... normal Pern humans. That means natural hair and eye colors. The presence of offworlders means that hair dye is available in limited quantities, but no natural blue hair, please, this is not anime. Also please remember that Candidates with severe physical or mental disorders will not be permitted to Stand.
  • Candidates should be between the ages of 16 and 30.
  • Dragon names end in -th.
  • Wher names are based off their handler's name, with an -sk on the end (e.g. Wynna Impressed to Wynnsk). The longer the name, the stronger the bond (Wysk versus Wynnask).
  • Remember that dragons Impress based off two things: mental compatibility, and empathy. They want a rider who is a good match for them, but that person also needs to be open to the bond of Impression. If you make a sociopathic character, they will never Impress. Ever. You can still MAKE a sociopath... but consider this a heads-up that they would not be Searched.
  • We need to be able to read your profile. Please use the coding provided. Profiles with unnecessarily tiny or huge font, or with eye-raping colors, will not be read. They will simply be responded to with "OH GOD MY EYES."
  • Please follow the given title format: Human Name - Dragon/Wher name - Craft/Rank
  • We don't mind you posting WIP characters, but they need to be posted in the auditions forum and labeled clearly as WIP in the title. When a WIP form is completed, alert an admin and we will move it to the Residents forum for you.
  • Played-bys are not required. If you want to use them, that's fine, but bear in mind that most players likely will not be. There is no face claim.
  • A little note on pictures... If you have a picture that you drew or commissioned, that's fantastic! We would love for you to show it off here! Just... make sure that if you are using a picture, that it is actually a picture of your character. Not something you just found on the web. The admins are very familiar with the Pern art world, and trust us, we recognize the major names. Art theft is frowned upon. Severely.
  • Check here to see if the character you want to make requires an audition.
  • All character auditions must be posted in the Character Creation forum. If we find that you've posted an audition-only character without auditioning, you will be suspended. Try it again, and you will be banned.
  • Yes, we are going to hold audition character profiles to higher standards than we will other character profiles. That's why they're AUDITIONS. Don't like it? Don't make a shiny. For your average post-and-jump-in-the-deep-end non-audition role, the second post is just helpful suggestions. For audition characters, it's required reading.
[x] (8B814C) Weyrwoman R'ley of gold Nostromoth
[x] (9C661F) Wingrider I'saac of brown Wylath
[x] (8B4513) Weyrling K'irk of brown Aesclepiuth
[x] (5E2612) Ex-Colonel Miles Quaritch of brown Milesk
[x] (4D0000) Offworlder Jax of hybrid Elizabeth
[x] (64A33D) Apprentice Healer Lanakirene of green Isonth
[x] (483D8B) Weyrling A'non of blue Costoth
[x] (333333) Candidatemaster Valana

[x] (333333) WIP | Dragon Candidate Alianyi

Joined: April 28th, 2011, 12:54 am

June 9th, 2011, 4:24 pm #2

Character Creation Hints & Tips

So we don't have a particularly formal approval process. Most of this is just for the hell of it. But we're all RPers and writers here, and awesome engaging writing with awesome engaging characters is the true driving force behind a community.

That's right. Not the plot. Not the shinies we give out.


That's kind of a big responsibility, so Gift and Tua are making this little list to help you out. It is by no means comprehensive, or the Infallible Guide to Good Writing. It's just stuff to think about that we have found helpful in the past, and want to pass on to others.

AKA 'even Darth Vader has hobbies'
    A thorough personality section is important, especially for Candidates. We match dragons to riders based on these profiles. If all you have is a two-sentence blurb that says "he likes his friends and wants to be a dragonrider" that tells us... absolutely nada. There's no need to pad excessively, but detail is your friend! Bear in mind though, that we're talking about complexity, not length. It's totally possible to have a 10-paragraph personality section that simply repeats synonyms over and over, and can be effectively summarized in... one sentence. (Trust us. We've seen it before.)

    If you find that you've run out of things to say, think about your character as a complete person. What do they do on their rest days, for fun? Do they have family? What do they think about said family? What are their bad habits? (Everyone has bad habits. Don't lie.) What are their hopes for the future and regrets about the past? Do they have an embarrassing secret, like the footie pajamas in their closet? No one is 100% in control and confident all the time, or 100% nice, or really 100% anything.
AKA 'godmodding other people's characters is bad even if it's not in an RP post'
    When people hear "godmodding" or "metagaming," they usually think of in-character interaction. But it applies equally well outside of interaction. In a profile, it is considered good form not to assume how other people are going to react to your character. In particular, if your profile contains the words "stuns men with her beauty," "people instinctively flock to her," or any variant of that kind of phrase, we will laugh. And then smack you. And then laugh again.

    It all comes down to the most basic of writing guidelines: show, don't tell.

    Granted, in a profile, a certain amount of telling is inevitable. It's a profile, not a scene. You are telling us what your character is like. But there is a difference between, for instance, saying that your character is popular with his peers (not up to you to decide) versus saying that he's a smooth operator with a good sense of humor and a charming smile (better! this tells us WHY he would be well-liked!) Whenever possible, lean more towards the latter than the former.
AKA 'how to strike a balance between 2D and all over the place'
    Okay, this is going to sound contradictory to the above, but... there is such a thing as too much personality. And I'm not talking about "larger than life," I'm talking about they have every characteristic under the sun. We all get overenthusiastic sometimes and want to make a character who works well in every possible situation... But that just doesn't really work in RP or in real life.

    Let's take a look at two hypothetical characters, Jane and Martha, for a quick rundown of what I mean.

    "Jane" is an apprentice Weaver, a Holdborn girl who loves her work but came to the Weyr in hopes of something more exciting in her life. She is naturally easygoing and soft-spoken, and tends to be easily intimidated by dragonriders and offworlders, who represent something entirely outside her experience. With her fellow apprentices, she is a social butterfly, trying earnestly to be friends with everyone - though she doesn't always succeed! Whenever possible, she takes the Harper approach to conflicts, mediating and compromising, although sometimes she gives ground too much when she ought to dig her heels in, out of desire to please. There is one situation in which she will defend herself verbally, and that is if someone is harassing her or being deliberately confrontational when she's with friends whom she knows will defend her. Jane alone is meek and easily steamrollered by a stronger personality, but Jane with backup is loud and unafraid of expressing her opinions. Strength in numbers! When she's not busy with Candidate chores, Jane is an expert at sewing, and enjoys making small gifts for people. She also collects a small piece of eggshell from every Hatching she's attended, as good luck charms.

    Martha is a strong-willed and boisterous girl. She only respects authority if they earn her respect first, and no matter who she's talking to she is bluntly honest and calls things exactly like she sees them. She also has a way with words, something she learned from her Lord Holder father, so everything is always worded carefully and politely. The only people who are offended by her observations are the people who don't want to see the truth about themselves. She is quiet and demure, a perfect Lord Holder's daughter, but she resented her position and ran off to the Weyr because she dreams of Impressing a queen. Martha is ruthlessly ambitious and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. But she secretly has a heart of gold, and she selflessly offers her time, money, and marks to anyone who is truly in needs. Her generosity and fairness along with her honesty make her a natural leader, and people are drawn to her magnetic personality.

    Okay, so most of you can probably see how one of these characters is a failsue. But what, exactly, is the problematic characteristic? Well, there's a couple (including some violations of the godmodding rule) but look at their respective traits. Notice how Jane's traits work together logically and build off one another. Martha, on the other hand, is everything to everyone. Yes, everyone is loud sometimes and quiet sometimes and happy sometimes and sad sometimes. That is what makes us people. But you can't be simultaneously perfectly polite and bluntly honest both all the time. You can't be both ruthlessly ambitious and selflessly fair. There is no single character trait that makes any particular character falter - so don't worry about making a character who is beautiful, or strong-willed, or even one who dreams of Impressing a particular color! What you have to look at is the whole. Do they make sense all together? Is this a character who has a cohesive 'self', or are they just a list of traits thrown together because they seem like good ones for a character to have?
AKA 'how much bawww is too much bawww?'
    "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Leo Tolstoy said that. We're not going to argue with Tolstoy. Conflict is the ingredient that makes RP compelling; a story about someone who never has anything bad happen to them ever is not a story with any particular suspense or character development to it. But to use an analogy, tragedy should be a flavoring, not the main course. Much like salt, a sparing dash makes everything tasty but a whole cupful will wreck your entire dish.

    We encourage avoidance of unnecessarily tragic pasts. People do die on Pern, yes. But remember that orphans tend to be fostered quickly, runaways and Holdless are extremely rare, and... well, rape/abuse for the sake of character tragedy are just kind of overused.

    Here is a simple rule of thumb: look at your character. Now, just for a moment, take away any reference to tragic events in your character's history. Have they changed as a person? Probably, yes. Have you essentially taken out their entire personality? If the answer is still yes, you have a problem. A character should not be defined solely by abuse or trauma. It can be a significant impact on their life, yes, and it can drastically change them. But the whole of their existence should not boil down to a single event.
AKA 'there are other flaws besides stubborn and fiery temper'
    OOC drama is bad. IC drama, however, is AWESOME. Don't be scared to make a character who you think other characters will dislike! Conflict is good! However, this can go too far in the opposite direction as well. A character who can do no wrong and invariably gets along with everyone is dull, but so is a character who doesn't get along with anyone and sits around drowning in self-pity all day.

    Really, it all comes down to making balanced characters who are neither perfect nor complete failures as human beings. We hesitate to default to the old "strengths and weaknesses" trope, since well-rounded characters are more than a randomly picked list of pros and cons. But it helps to make sure they have a few bad traits in the mix. "Strong-willed" isn't a flaw. "Too loyal" or "too kind" or "too beautiful" aren't flaws. "Endearingly clumsy except when she is inexplicably graceful" is not a flaw (and I am LOOKING at you, Mrs. Meyer). Here is a list of some potentially useful, realistic traits that can spice up an otherwise saccharine character. No need to go overboard, but a little sprinkling of bad in with the good can be great:
  • Lazy
  • Cowardly
  • Greedy
  • No impulse control/no restraint
  • Shallow
  • Self-absorbed
  • Bad/no sense of humor
  • Bigoted
  • Too concerned with other people's opinions
  • Indecisive
  • Socially awkward
  • Low self-esteem/plagued by self-doubt
  • Gullible
  • Moody
  • Habitual liar
  • Selfish/stingy
  • Immature
  • Fickle
  • Victim complex
  • Addicted to something (from booze to fellis to adrenaline to gambling)
  • Cannot keep a secret
    Keep in mind that there are certain tropes and flaws that are often overused for characters - the brilliant but manipulative bitch, the fiery strong-willed rebel with a heart of gold, the tragic loner needing to be healed by the power of ~love~... Try to mix it up a little.
[x] (969696) Weyrleader Sh'ard of silver Normandith
[x] (595A80) Jr. Queenrider C'ross of pearl Iassenth
[x] (0A116E) Sr. Weyrling L'ir of blue Dolosventh
[x] (00AAFF) Rover/AI "Sam"
[x] (AAB574) Journeyman Seacrafter Rodana of green Rodansk
[x] (C4A55A) Wherhandler Matthew Grayson of brown Graysk
[x] (4D0000) Prototype Hybrid Alex
[x] (oooooo) Candidate/Glasscrafter Miskael
[x] (oooooo) Apprentice Dragonhealer Thomas Sinclair %mh%-195%mh%