Today we are going to look into character personality but if you are new to this series here’s the deal. From The Ground Up is a series of blog posts aimed at helping you create a roleplay character from the ground up. These guides are mostly geared towards creating characters for roleplay within the World of Warcraft, but the basic principals could likely be used for character creation for a variety of different games both online and on table-top, perhaps even for fiction writing. You can find the index for this series here for easy navigation of the other parts. FTGU Series Index
Character Personality Introduction
Last time we talked about backgrounds, and we did that first because it plays a lot into the character’s personality. Most people before they start role-playing a character have at least a very vague idea of how they want that character to act, be it bubbly and friends or stern and dour. So in this post, we are going to look into personalities in more detail, what causes them and what different traits can mean for your role-play.
Why is Character Personality So Important?
Spending some time to really think about your character’s personality is never a wasted effort. You might think you know your character already, he might be a cheerful easy going sort or a brooding silent type and that might be enough to get you started in RP, but if you plan on having the character around for the long ride it’s worth really thinking about his personality. Here’s why.
Personality is multifaceted, it affects how you act and move and speak and how people outwardly perceive you and it also affects how you inwardly deal with things which can entirely change your reaction things and ergo entire storylines and scenes. If you don’t know your characters personal personality well when an unexpected situation arises they will leave you guessing for reactions and perhaps substituting their reactions for what your own would be consciously or subconsciously. And that, in turn, will mean your character loses substance and consistency.
The Break Down
So broken down to the very basics you need to look at the core of your character. The mental systems that make them who they are whether they are born from nature or nurture. Ask yourself some fundamental questions about what motivates and steers them. Are they an optimist or a pessimist? Introvert or Extrovert? Are the logical or creative? A tactician or a dreamer? Were they born with that mindmap or did they develop it due to circumstance?
Once you know the core of your you character is, and why or how they came to be that way you can build from that into the more intricate details of personality. An optimist, for example, is more likely to be more trusting or new people and experiences. Logic based mind perhaps more prone to suspicion and caution.
Building By Layers
So you know your character’s core direction and outlook. You know their background and what they have been through that might have altered and affected their outlooks. Now it’s time to build up their personality. And don’t feel bound to cookie cutters here, your optimistic dreamer doesn’t have to be friendly and trusting if things in their lives have left them away from it, remember you can work flaws into their personality too for added tensions and conflicts.
The best way to build is with questions, ask yourself questions about your character while keeping their core in your mind. Do they enjoy being around people? How do they fare with crowds? Are they ambitious and self-motivated? Are they dependable and trustworthy? How differently do they act with friends to strangers and why? Do they find socializing easy or hard? How do they deal with stress, failure, loss, and grief?
Now you know how they feel and deal and process things internally let’s consider how their personality manifests outwardly. This is often the aspect overlooked by many roleplayers. They fall into the trap of thinking personality is an internal thing, and that it’s relevance is purely regulated to emotions and dialogue. This is not true. Your personality has a big effect on several visible factors about your person.
First of all things like clothing. What would your newly discovered character choose to wear? And think about the complexities here. What they might be comfortable in and prefer might differ from what they end up choosing for many reasons. How do they carry themselves? What is their posture like and how do they walk, do they stride or sulk, or swagger? How does their attitude and energy fuel their presence and aura, do they come across as warm and friendly or standoffish?
The Bow On Top
So you know how your character appears to others. How his personality fuels his actions and his choices and why and where it came from. Now you can fill in the rest with small details that it is likely only you will ever know but that may also play a part into how your character reacts and acts. Is how they are perceived by others how they want to be perceived? How strong is their self-perception?
How does your character communicate their needs? What would it take to inspire them to action?When they are inspired to act, how are they likely to go about it? Action? Talk? Influencing others? What are their vulnerabilities, strengths, and weaknesses emotionally and mentally? (Tell me in the comments below!)
We’d like to hear from you about your character’ s personality and how you worked it out. Get in touch in the comments below or via email!