There are two important things to consider when talking about character creation in WoW, or any other MMORPG I imagine. We are going to call these things the Inside Picture and the Outside Picture, and we will take a look at each and break them down in time. As for which one you start with first, that is entirely down to you, some people prefer forming a character –then- looking at making it fit and some prefer looking at the world and taking their character inspiration from that. So either of these factors can be a start point. We are going to start with the Inside Picture, as I reckon that one may be the more useful if you want to dive right in to a –character-.
From The Ground Up (FTGU) is a series of posts based around character creation and roleplay, building from the ground up, obviously. In this post we’re going to talk about your characters story and their development and how to do that. But if you have missed any parts this far you can catch up with them here:
This is all to do with yourself and your character, obviously enough. These tend to be the finer points of character creation but also the most poignant and important. If you start here when creating a character chances are you have an idea; be it a scene, a phrase, an emotion, an attitude, or a theme of something that you want to role play. And this is the key, working out what it is that you want to role-play.
There is after all no point rolling a mage if you, like me, are terrified by the thought of role-playing magic. Do you enjoy military themed RP? Civilian themed RP? Shady/Criminal themed RP? Do you like role-playing one on one relationships? Do you enjoy the challenge of hard to get to know characters? Once you know where you are heading it will be vastly easier to get there and steer the character to do what you want it to. For example, I detest military RP, which is perhaps odd playing World of Warcraft, but military RP tends to entail lots of sparring/training with long emote fights, rolls systems, bickering. Hours of standing in lines, being talked –at- and other RP limiting and constricting things. It’s not for me, that said I am sure some people enjoy the guidance and structure and impression military RP can give. If you like to be out and about in the world for RP, for example, you need to aim for a character that has desire and reason to do just that.
Once you know what kind of RP you want, what basic genre or theme you have a loose area to work within and build from. There are two more crucial things to consider for the Inside Picture to make a character that works past the point of face value, at least in my opinions, and note, folks, this is ALL just my opinion. The first is drive, desire and motive. Even a character with the most intricate, interesting and well plotted backstory in history will fall on its face if it does not have motive; forward motion. This is where your unattainable goals come in, something your character is striving for that they will never reach or that in reaching discovers a new goal.
A character’s overarching goal can be utterly anything but keep in mind if they achieve it they will become content and completely content characters tend to get boring swiftly. When you are thinking about this as well, remember that this will influence the kinds of things your character will want to get involved in and the types of people he will want to meet and talk to and –not- meet and talk to. I have used my own main to give you some an example, not that I am any kind of expert but this is what works for me to give my character motive and steer him in the direction of the RP themes I enjoy;
Theolain: T’s public goal is a potent cocktail of coin, power and influence. This gave him drive, desire and reason to seek out many kinds of people with all manner of talents from thieves and spies to merchants and politicians. It offers me a blend of criminal, civilian, and personable RP that is tailored to what I enjoy and while Theo is not aiming to sit upon the Sun Throne himself, power and influence is one of those hazy subjects that you can never fully have enough of. Personally however Theo is also working on a book, more akin to a textbook than anything else; cataloging plants and horticulture. This is his personal passion, his hobby as it were, and that in itself gives me avenues to drive him outside the city from time to time around our other ventures to explore different kinds of RP and change the pace a bit. It also gives him something to idle and tinker with IC and adds a handful of small traits and quirks to the character.
The second important thing to consider is Hooks. Hooks are vital. So you have your character set within the general theme of role play you are going to enjoy. You have a background (mostly done with the Outside Picture) and you have drive, desire and motive. They know where they have been and they know where they are going. But they are still very 2D. We need to give them something more, something that is going to get other characters interested in –them-, like any good character in a novel they need to have hooks, hidden depths, secrets, and flaws. These can be simple and subtle, but they are vital to creating a character and story-line that is not flat and dry. Hooks can be anything from a defining trait to a quirk or plot twist. Some of the hooks I have seen used:
The military healer/medic apt at mixing poisons and using them as a mercy killing.
The exiled and embittered Knight warring with his moral core.
The PTSD ridden soldier adjusting to civilian life.
The mouthy street rat trying to run with the big boys.
The many-masked spy that just wants to drop them all.
So now you know your theme, and you know where your characters going and you know the very basic notion of what makes them –them- and makes them interesting. Next time we will delve into the realms of virtues, flaws and balancing the Mary Sue with the Dull Daniel. And again. I am –no- expert on any of this, it is all just my personal experience and opinions, and if you have suggestions, questions, complaints, drop a comment below and I shall defiantly try to address them all, we can work together and edit as we go, right?
If you are using this and trying to throw a character together and would like or want additional help, feedback or just to feed my nosy nature, you can always drop me a comment here or email me via our contact form!