When mods create games, they think of two things: the setting and the character. Without a good setting, the world lacks substance enough to hold interest for players. Without good chapters, the story can’t progress in an interesting way. But what do we do to insure a good story?
Let’s look at the players first. After all, the characters build the world and expand the boarders the mod originally set out. The game would be nothing without them.
Flawed, diverse, and dynamic characters are a must. When a character is flawless, we see the thing we, as humans, are not: perfect. An example would be Superman. He is invulnerable, can fly, is a smooth talker, and has great hair. He is everything a man wants to be. That’s why people also hate Superman.
But we don’t want a character to be Clark Kent either. Having too many flaws is just as bad. Unless you plan to have a Captain America-esque change, your character could be more of a hindrance than a help. In some cases, this is necessary. A flawless team of heroes is just as bad as a flawless character. Having a Clark Kent standing beside a Superman can be fun and interesting.
However, we don’t want to go heavily in one direction or the other. Finding a happy middle is better and makes the character believable. While one character is a perfect public speaker, they may have a fear of failure that drives them to being rather disagreeable when their friends are less then perfect. Another character may be optimistic, but they tend to be clumsy and gullible. These things make characters interesting, especially when teamed together.
2. Grouping Characters
You can’t have characters just appearing out of nowhere. Grouping them is necessary. A good name is essential. Look at this post on Group Names. The name is just as important as the character description and photos.
Without good group names, characters would be lumped by choices. If they kill and are generally nasty, they are antagonists; if they save and are generally kind, they are protagonists.
But reality isn’t so black and white, so your characters shouldn’t be either. The group they are placed in is essential. A hunter placed as an archer can be described as “using his/her arrows for food and self-defense.” But an archer as a hunter is said to “take money to hunt down criminals/priceless artifacts.” Choosing good names and the correct category is a must.
3. Behind the Name
Lastly, naming a character is fun and necessary. Names describe the character on another level. This site will tell you the sex, meaning, and country of origin of hundreds of names.
Evil characters tend to have somewhat menacing names. Dr. Octopus, Ultron, etc. are names meant to worry the audience. Lex Luther, Loki, etc. are names designed to confound because you know theythy are bad but their plans are well thought out and convoluted.
The heroes are designed to fill us with hope, so their names should do the same. Wonder Woman, Iron Man, etc. are used to bring the grand to the forefront of mind. The Hulk, Batman, etc. are heroes that are seen as villians (also known as anti-heroes) because their names are dark but inspiring.
And then there are people with normal names. A Brittany or a Joseph can save a life or take it as easily as any other narmal human. They can also ignore an event if so inclined. Names tell us a person’s personality, but not their core.
4. Describe Them
When creating a character, the biography tells players who the character is. History, job, nationality, etc. gives fellow players the tools needed to interact with other characters. If a character was abused in the past, then they will be more submissive than someone who had to fight to survive. Their job tells what a character is willing to put up with. A waitress is more tolerant of people than a police officer. And so on and so forth.
Putting very little in the character description with shows room for character development or lack of effort. Try to describe the characters as best as you can, as much as you can, but still allow for development. Just because a plauses use simple descriptors doesn’t mean it gives everything, putting a novel on the character could give others a little or a lot, but putting one or two words (or even nothing at all) could leave players wanting more.
The same could be said in reverse. Putting simple descriptors may give us basics but leave players at a loss, while putting in one or two words tells everything players need to know. It is all in what the mod deems necessary knowledge.
The world characters live in gives us an array of knowledge. Look at this post on the essentials of setting in the game. After all, characters can’t live in nothing.
1. What’s the Place?
Naming a town, country, Provence, or a world is just like naming a character. A strange name tells players that fantasy/science fiction is involved. Using recognized names tells us that it’s either historical/modern/ fandom fiction. It is a kind of trademark.
2. Era and Time
Just because the game is modern tims doesn’t mean that the tech will be. A steampunk game can be set in modern times, but it’s an alternate universe. A medieval type setting can take place in a world and time similar to this one. It is all in the presentation.
3. Technical Issues
The setting of the world also dictates the technology. If candles and fireplaces are the light source, players will know that this is an era before an industrial revolution and fantasy abounds. If steam is used, steampunk is most favorable for a power source. And, if people have hovor cars and use tubes to travel, the only limit is the players’ imaginations, because who can predict the future?
4. Destroying the World
But technological advancements don’t mean much when the apocalypse occurs. Tech tends to go back a few years, new discoveries are made, and strange beings run amuck. War, meteors, etc. are all ways to bring the world into the dark ages, or close to it. What is the worse out come for humans? Now, the world is full of it. Have fun!
Characters and worlds are both necessary. One can’t live without the other. But creating a dynamic world full of diverse characters is a challenge. At RPG players, it is a challenge faced every day. And every player loves the struggle. Don’t leave the others asking for more. Only your best will do.