How to: Create a cast of characters that is interesting and will keep your plot moving
AKA: Q watched too much Whedon.
People are constantly asking me how I got my roleplay as much interest as it got, and how I got it to be successful. And while, in all reality, I have no idea, I think building the right cast is extremely important. Too often roleplays focus on the plot too much, or individual characters too much. So here’s my guide on how to create a cast of characters for your roleplay.
My whole life I’ve been a sucker for ensemble television shows. Give me a cast of 10 main characters over a cast of four main characters or one or two any day. I grew up with favorite shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, One Tree Hill, and Dollhouse. Something that all of these shows have in common is a large ensemble cast rather than a focal main character or two. Even if there is one that’s the focus, the other characters are just as important and all have really interesting stories. Think about when you watch television or movies. What is the thing that half of tumblr spends too much time talking about? Ships. Relationships are so important and in order to have those you need a cast. You also need both of those things in order to have a plot.
So often, when admins right bios, I think that we get too caught up in each individual character. Obviously, character is important, making your character interesting is the key. But I mean this to be as some what of a second step to bio writing, or perhaps even a first if done in a different way.
For starters, I think that every admin should sit down and think of different character “types” to start their game with. I’m going to use my roleplay The Compound as an example. (The link is just there in case you need to reference). Think about your setting and your plot. For the Compoound it’s obviously set in a building where all of these supernatural creatures are getting together. The first questions I ask myself is what sort of vampires would be there? From there make a sort of list. One who is rutheless, one who is sadistic, one who hates wolves, one who is sick, ect ect. Try to think of your environment and create characters that each react to it in a different way, however small.
Next, for some of the characters, try to think of a character that would provide a direct conflict for them. For example, if you have an elder vampire that forces everyone to obey the rules, create a younger vampire that has no regard for rules at all. That right there sets up plot, conversation, and conflict for your game and it hasn’t even started yet. We have a character named Gabriel. He’s an Angel which means that he was so ruthless and crazy that he was cursed with his soul. So now he’s mild mannered, broody, trying to make up for the things that he did. That alone could be an interesting character, yes. However, we tried to think of a way to take that one step further and created Jaquleine. Jaquleine is the human that Gabriel tortured for four years before turning her into a vampire as well. So even though Gabriel has his soul, and his sorry, he is still a constant remindered to jac of what she went through, and she is a constant reminder to him of what he did.
Try to think of characters in terms of tug of war. For every character that will give a certain pull, provide another one that will pull back. Better yet, provide a third that will push one in a particular direction.
Relationships are crucial. Obviously starting every character off with a heavy plot driven connection is difficult, but don’t be afraid to make some characters siblings, enemies, or whatever else you can think of. Those sorts of things will provide for relationships and conversations that will help drive plot and help keep your roleplay alive and your characters developing.
What I mean to say, in summary, is that it’s important to think of your game as a whole being. Think of the plot, then what sorts of characters would react in which ways to that plot, and from there what sort of characters would help or hurt them. The more the better. And voila, not only do you have some bios, it’ll help spark your inspiration for more, and help your players have directions to go in. As the admin, you start your game as the puppet master. Don’t give your players characters that don’t have strings.