RPG Creations => AMA Section => Topic started by: Moth on May 20, 2018, 07:28:30 PM

Title: Designing Characters
Post by: Moth on May 20, 2018, 07:28:30 PM
How do you design your characters? What comes to mind first, and how do you build off of it? Everyone's process is different, so I'm curious how people approach them and what could be learned.

Mine either start with a physical image, or a single idea, and just build themselves off it. Azre's cocky personality happened first and Erza followed as a counterbalance, Jima was the question of what happened when a hunter was fascinated by Grimm instead of desiring to kill them, and Prism was the concept of a tragic but determined survivor.
Title: Re: Designing Characters
Post by: Kingnoname1 on May 21, 2018, 06:50:30 AM
Most of my characters are first a theme or personality traits and I build off from there. For example my first character Calen has a pretty consistent theme of a Shrike, a small bird probably best known impaling their prey on spikes. The white-black colour scheme is common in most sub species which Calen mirrors. Although not specifically 'territorial' the same sort of tenacity which has driven pairs of Shrikes to defend their territory against entire migrating flocks carries through Calen with a lot of what he does. Calen's favourite hobbies cooking and dancing are both implimented by the tiny birds although cooking perhaps needs pretty big quotation marks. The birds small statue but impressive speed is where I got Calen's general appearance as well as semblance. Then I tend to fill in the gaps with aspects of my own personality making Calen a 'in the mirror darkly' version of myself.

The only exception to this is Amarant, the Atlas headmaster, as we needed him for a thread.
Title: Re: Designing Characters
Post by: Walter on May 21, 2018, 07:12:47 AM
With RWBY characters, PCs and NPCs, I usually start with one of three things - a personality trait, a semblance or a theme song. For Razzy, it was mostly the first: I wanted my first character to possibly stand out with a constant smile of excitement on his face, someone who'd face any adversity with joy and hope and all that. I made Rufus similarly, a character who is defined by his stubborness as well as the whole 'only speaking through rap' thing - I believe Janus tossed that idea out in chat and I grabbed it.

I mostly based Reginald and Coconut on songs, though. For Reginald, I had two things I wanted to include - I'm So Humble and a pressure-manipulating semblance. I spent some time on that site that picks random RWBY name suggestions based on color, and stopped at 'Reggie' for 'regalia'. From there, I added onto the character, first his appearance, then personality, then history - with a name like 'Reginald', the snotty personality came to me on its own.

Meanwhile Coconut was even more straightforward - after listening to Plus Danshi a couple of times, I figured I should make a character based on the song, the fact that the character would be a pervert being obvious. I was drawing a blank on a semblance for him, and eventually decided I could just not give him a combat semblance at all, forcing him to improve strictly his own physical capabilities. After that, I based his appearance on Len Kagamine in Plus Danshi and Gigantic O.T.N., and built on from there.

Anza and Silica were also mostly based on personality traits at first - Anza is an anxious young girl constantly having to change the way she acts just to fit in, while Silica is there to keep Reginald in line by constantly reminding him that the way things stand, she is his superior until his father says otherwise. She's also kind of salty. Finally, Janna was me making a walking tank - no more, no less, and her personality came afterwards.
Title: Re: Designing Characters
Post by: Riven on June 12, 2018, 10:07:15 AM
RWBY or non-RWBY, what I've found best is to always build a character around one core concept, then take that concept and expand it out logically until I have the essential framework for a character.

Take, for example, Rory Vogel. Yes, he has an actual fairytale basis ('The Juniper Tree (' of Brothers Grimm fame), but I took from the story one central concept -- a child abused by their family -- as a basis to start with. Survivors of abusive home lives develop all sorts of unhealthy coping mechanisms, but one of the common ones is a heightened state of wariness and self-protection. It's easy to see how that might inform personality, but how to express it as a combat style? A shield, of course, but a warrior with a shield doesn't really convey dysfunction. A warrior with two shields, however...

For another example: Maria Vogel. The mythic inspiration is, of course, the urban legend of Bloody Mary -- in Maria's case I chose to make 'blood' the core focus. Making her a hemophiliac... well, that practically wrote itself, and having a Semblance that involved the use of blood seemed logical as well. But blood is more than just a red liquid. It contains our DNA, the blueprint of identity. In the case of women it also has strong implications, tied up in sexuality, maturity, and the "breaking of innocence". All these factors guided my thought process when it came to establishing her abilities and aptitudes, her personality and the underlying causes of her malevolence (and occasional beneficence), and even a few aspects of her appearance.

My advice is that it's always good to have one or two key ideas at a character's core, something that the rest of your design choices can play off of, reflect, and in certain carefully constructed cases even stand in contrast to. That last one is important -- having a theme is great, but every character needs unresolved conflicts to be truly interesting. Being in conflict with themself can most definitely fit the bill; despite not wanting to expose himself to more suffering Rory still aims to become a Huntsman and is the first to leap in and take hits so his allies don't have to, whereas Maria (despite being an overall cold and calculating person) is not cruel or senselessly malicious. Creating the potential for what I call "the unresolved why" is a big part of making characters that are not only interesting but genuinely seem to readers like they could be real people.
Title: Re: Designing Characters
Post by: ArosFarron on June 12, 2018, 10:36:09 AM
My rwby character have mostly been based around a theme or, in the case of Lily, a single image. When I made Merlettta, I had this idea of a solitary weaponsmith with a troubled past. I used that with some inspiration from horror and stealth games to create a smoke based hundreds with attachment issues. As I started to use her in threads I started to flesh her out more and more, kind of a character growth based around who she was at the core. For Blair, I wanted to do a more regal person but still wanted her to be down to earth and slightly inexperienced with the modem world. I always found fish out of water stories fasinating, it was using that and some Norse myth and culture that I centered around a character who was the daughter of someone important but knew little of the world outside her villiage. And with my current experiment, while still not fully accepted due to minor oversights in my part, I was thinking of someone who relies on nothing but tech. I think we all try to start from some basis but we end up in different places
Title: Re: Designing Characters
Post by: L-Money on June 13, 2018, 09:52:25 PM
I made Billy Bone out of spite. She's the most fun character I've ever had the pleasure of making!