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 Character Creation - Proper Order

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Vanya's Devil
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Fri May 07, 2010 6:54 am

I do different things depending on what inspires me at a given moment, but this is my most common order:
Character Hook
Establishing Character Moment, which showcases:
-Morality
-Motivations
-Derangements/Degree of sanity
-Overall tone and aesthetic of the character
Qualities
Attributes
Spells/Powers
Signature Gear
Skills
Magical Gear
Other Gear
Tweak things to fit
Full Backstory

I don't always write down the establishing character moment, and it's not always a single moment. Frequently it's just a series of little vignettes that I compose in my mind, strung together like a movie trailer.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Fri May 07, 2010 6:58 am

I like that you could point your "Character Psychology" explanation to something short and concise, but still quite descriptive. I also have to heartily agree that a Character Psychology is a VERY important part of the end result, and I usually try to take care of my own Character Psychology early on in the character process. And by early, what I really mean is First.
What do you mean by Character Hook?
I notice that you put your qualities before attributes; is there any particular reason?
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Fri May 07, 2010 7:27 am

Character hook is kind of like a story hook except for a single character. For instance, my mage's hook is "fey shapechanger", while I had another character in third whose hook was "Mad Pathologist who could exhale opium".

I do Qualities first because Attributes define what a character can do, but Qualities sketch out the character's personality. A character with high logic and low intuition could be extremely cold and analytical, a sufficiently mad genius to not quite see the world right, or simply absent minded. Which one it is comes out much more clearly with Qualities. Also, I tend to define my characters via their flaws, so Qualities form a better base for the character for me.

I find Morality to be a major factor in my Character's background, as morality is defined by a person's upbringing, social environment, triumphs, and losses, so defining that very early can give you a great deal of material to work with.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Fri May 07, 2010 5:47 pm

Vanya's Devil wrote:

I do Qualities first because Attributes define what a character can do, but Qualities sketch out the character's personality. A character with high logic and low intuition could be extremely cold and analytical, a sufficiently mad genius to not quite see the world right, or simply absent minded. Which one it is comes out much more clearly with Qualities. Also, I tend to define my characters via their flaws, so Qualities form a better base for the character for me.

That's a good point. Sometimes I will choose qualities to help flesh out a character. E.g., the guy's a rigger, but Black Market Pipeline makes him a good smuggler, which in turn could imply a more-connected-than-normal Fixer contact. Or, the character's partially deaf - but from what? A bad encounter with a banshee in the Black Forest. And what was he doing there? etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Mon May 10, 2010 2:57 am

Quote :
I find Morality to be a major factor in my Character's background, as morality is defined by a person's upbringing, social environment, triumphs, and losses, so defining that very early can give you a great deal of material to work with.

And, it's a very large part of the Character Psychology. I agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Sat May 15, 2010 9:33 am

Personally I always start off with:

Concept, this directly ties into 'Archetype' though sometimes the latter is a much more loose fitting term.

Then I break it down to:
Race
Attributes
Skills
Qualities/Flaws
Contacts/Gear
Background.

I generally keep the background for last, in part because I'm not always certain what I'm going to make, and secondly because it gives me a better sense of how the character should have developed. It often comes off perhaps as a 'justify the skills' sort of way of doing things, but then I spent years RPing on places where you had to 'justify' every single skill yous tarted with and every single skill raise you made. I only really started getting into Play by Post games in the past few years given that MUSH/MUX RP can take hours to get anywhere in a single sitting, may not be done and thus drag out into days, and other times you'll go days/hours without anyone biting, especially now that many people just play MMO's. I used to be able to spare that kind of time when I was younger but these days work and other life issues get in the way.

Besides, I've found that basing a background off the finished character has lead to some of the best and longest running characters I've ever had. I've got one character in a PbP game that's going on 4+ years, and the actual concept behind the character has evolved and changed slightly but has actually been going on for about 10 as various games died out etc I'd recreate it or try to recreate it elsewhere.

Now and then by taking bits off that experience I'm able to build something I think has a lot of potential, such as the various versions of Mouser I was fiddling around with. Sadly every game I put him into died before it started but I'm hoping at some point to use some variation of that character so I can properly explore the potential in the specific mix of flaws and such.

Taurus also has some potential and I'm hoping to really get into that character as well in T-Hawk's game.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Sat May 15, 2010 2:16 pm

I generally start with a Concept/Idea.

Then work race, stats, qualities, gear etc to see if the Concept/Idea is viable. I have found with the different iterations of Shadowrun characters from earlier iterations are not possible with the build points. Some not even with 500+ build points.

If viable I then on the background, scanning thru my Shadowrun library for information for things what will add in the concept/idea/details.

After that I scan thru the Internet for information on the concept/idea ie like the Rhoma/Roma for one of my characters. Take information and see if I can blend/meld into the character background and or Idea. attempt to keep the background to less than 5 pages, leave hooks/plots for the GM to use/abuse.

Step back and take a long look at the character and see if it was what I was really trying to create if so,,,finalize it, if not rework until it does.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Thu May 20, 2010 2:52 pm

Quote :
"Concept, this directly ties into 'Archetype' though sometimes the latter is a much more loose fitting term."

I couldn't agree more. A lot of times, since I am putting together something to match a need-based position, Archetype is predetermined. Certainly that is not the rule, but it tends to be a reasonable pattern. So when I sit down for my concept, the Archetype has already been handed to me.


I like that I am seeing a general pattern of "Rework if the character doesn't fit the concept" among the responses. You start throwing the numbers down, and as you go, you compare against who you think you're building. If it doesn't match, scratch and start over!
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Thu May 20, 2010 3:37 pm

Sometimes, I find that characters have a certain "click" factor. For instance, I made an AI character recently. He's a badass hacker, has multiple personality disorder due to being a gestalt of three different AIs, and has a tragic background full of strong motivations. Yet, I don't really enjoy playing him because he doesn't really "click" with me. While not devoid of personality, he lacks that certain undefinable touch that makes me really enjoy stepping into his shoes. It's hard to really say why. Maybe I made his personality too inhuman, maybe he's a little too abstract as an entity, or maybe he's just so deeply flawed a character that I have no desire to be anything like him. Whatever the reasons, I never really enjoyed playing him nearly as much as I enjoy playing my other characters.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Thu May 20, 2010 3:44 pm

Same thing happened to me with Ten. He had a solid sheet, a good build, and arguably one of my favorite backstories for any of my characters.

And yet, when I tried to play him, I really couldn't. Just didn't click at all...
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Thu May 20, 2010 4:37 pm

I find sometimes when I dont click with a character it's not always because of the character being an ill fit for me, but because of it being more of an ill fit for the players I'm in a game with. I find in PBP games I've sometimes lost interest basically or never really got into it from the start if say, only one person is posting a good paragraph and others come up with a sentence or two at best.

Then again I suppose I've created enough characters in the past that I tend to build them to fit within my own tastes pretty much every time (With rare exception when I'm trying something that's actually new to me).

A good example is a game I'm in now on Explorersunlimited, I've had the same character there for a little over 3 years now, but at one point I wasn't really as into him as I am now, largely because only the GM in the group really got into RP. The rest never posed more than 2-4 lines at best so beyond the occasional interaction with NPCs there was honestly never anything of interest going on.

Eventually the group fell apart and I'm in a new one with the same character now. THe players take longer to post but almost all of them post a good paragraph minimum on average and a few often do more detailed one's than that. The characters also interact a lot more. There's a bit of a subtle love triangle going on between one group of characters, my character and another have taken up to filling downtime with philosophical debates over the nature of good and evil and so on.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:03 pm

Something I've recently been considering is having all players jot down some "character tags", 2-3 items such as Role, Handle, Race, an Equipment item, or a background element. Then put their initials in the corner. They can create as many as they like, and all of them are put into a virtual "hat".

Prior to creating a character, the players can optionally draw one or more sets of these "tags", and if they are able to work all listed elements into the character's background and build, both players earn some extra karma, one obviously for building a character with the relevant tags, and the other for suggesting a set of tags that was interesting/appealing/challenging enough to do it with.

Some tags, particularly ones that specify race, may be mutually exclusive... unless you want a group of runners that's entirely comprised of posers. So perhaps there should be a cap on how many you can collect karma for including. I figure there's probably someone in about every third player group that would say, "just hand me the rest of them", otherwise.

The upcoming Runner's Toolkit looks like it may have something similar in it, so maybe I'll just wait and see how they do it.
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PostSubject: 20 Questions (from WearzManySkins)   Fri Jun 11, 2010 8:34 pm

I came across this list of 20 questions in one of WearzManySkins' characters. Thought it might be useful for this thread - I haven't had a good list of "background-filling" questions before.

What is the character's name? (Please include given name, pseudonyms etc.)

What is the characters race; nationality, age, sex, height, weight, hair color, eye color, and skin color/tone, and build?

Where did your character learn his/her skills?

What did your character do before becoming a Shadowrunner?

Where was your character born? Feel free to include any other places he/she may have lived.

Does your character have any family? If not, why. (Do they know where you are? Do they care? Etc)

What are your characters dreams/goals/aspirations?

What is the characters general appearance? (How do they stand? How do they dress? Are they attractive? Do they try to look intimidating or casual?)

Why did they choose to be a runner?

What is the characters personality? (This is apart from just basic psyche. Are you an idealist, radical, pessimist, militant, aloof etc?)

What skills does your character bring to this group? What makes them special? (Aside from whatever skills you have written down, is there anything else your character does well?)

What are some things your character cannot do? (Get close to people, work well with others, handle money, think clearly under stress etc.)

What does your character hate and why? (corps? Elves? dragons?)

What does your character love?

What does your character respect?

How was your character educated?

What is your characters moral code?

Does your character have any political beliefs? Religious?

What item(s) does your character treasure? (This is beyond monetary value. It could be a lucky coin, photograph, sock etc.)

Tell me at least one thing I (as the GM) should know about your character.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:34 pm

Chuckles

I have a list of 50 questions around somewhere. I just found 50 too many questions, I can usually do 20 though.

FYI I got the list of 20 questions from the Dumpshock Forums.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:30 pm

I've found that more often i find myself building characters that generally fit whatever the party needs/doesn't already have. I have yet to stick through one RPG for more than one character, but of the three characters i've used the one i like the most is Damian, the one i rebuilt for SRO. Not because he's more fun or more capable than the other characters that i've built, but because he has had something that the others lacked, a convincing goal in life.

I had a shifter in Ebberon, that i loved as a tool, but couldn't really stand as a character. He was out to make a name for himself and that was it. His goal was to become a legend, young strong skilled and all that garbage. I only stuck through that campaign because the DM was such a good story teller, and the other characters were so well written... For instance our bard used to be a pirate, then crossed a sorcerer who blasted his personality into a nearby cat. Throughout that campaign none of us knew that his cat was the 'house' of his personality, his very intelligence. It wasn't until after the campaign was over that we realized the importance of the pet.

In the shadowrun game that i have played (it ended up being aborted) Damian had just started as a concept of someone, who wasn't strong, who was probably too old to start 'running,' but the search for his Grandson in the game forced me to make some choices that were... extreme, but i had no problem in making them. I knew that he neede to rescue his grandson in order to find peace. That never happened in the game, but that clear and concise goal kept him much more interesting than anything i had written before.

For what its worth thats my two cents
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:02 pm

I had been reading "Wolf and Raven," one of the 1st gen Shadowrun novels, and the author talked about how he came up with the idea for Dr. Richard Raven. In that example, the inspiration came from a Rolls Royce, only the RR logo meant Richard Raven.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:19 pm

See, I'm not the best person to ask, when it comes to character generation, on how to properly build a character. There are people who believe that I very well might have slight autistic tendencies when it comes to gaming and such.

Usually, I have a storm of ideas floating in the back of my head. Some friends would say it's because of the rest of my roleplaying history, of which a large chunk has been Live Action Role Playing in the Camarilla Fan Club, and my involvement with their storytelling side, from a local, to a global level. However, after so many years of helping people create characters that are approximately as complex if not a little easier than SR characters, has apparently warped my mind.

Aside from Race, and any "special quality" I have no set pattern for how a character is built. Half the time, I have active and knowledge skills picked before I've even thought of what type of character I'm going to be playing, and it helps drive forward what I'm making.

Well, how did the mage get 4 levels of the Gunnery Skill? As soon as I wrote it on the character sheet, that part of the character's history manifested itself in my mind. He lived in a mana deprivd neighborhood, ran with a few gangs, and the first time he couldn't pull down a drive by fireballing, he nearly got killed, and lost a few friends... he needed to learn how to do things mundanely, too.

I don't think there's really any proper way to make a character. It really all depends on the way your mind works. If you're crazy, like me, you can probably just shake your computer, and watch the ideas stream out into the open. I can understand that some people need to have an order to the way that they build things, but when it all comes down to it, just remember: It's a game, and you should be having fun with it. Math, while vital to having an "I win" campaign, is not needed for the game. A sense of adventure, a need to explore, and an active imagination is all it really takes.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:28 pm

[spoiler="Quoted text from OP":5962][quote:5962="Gala"]No takers yet? Ok... I will get this started then.

In general, I have come to notice that most people build their character in the following order (Note, I consider this to be almost entirely backwards):

Race
Qualities
Attributes
Magic/Cyber
Skills
Gear
Contacts
Background Story
Knowledge Skills
Languages

Now that I have the ball rolling... Comments on the above order? Did I miss anything? Why is this "backwards"?

My 2ยข..

Character Creation checklist (in my opinion) should be.
  • Character Concept: As in what is your character all about? Combat? Skills? Magic? Technology? Etc.
  • Background Story: Fleshing this out first gets you thinking about the how and where and why and when questions about your character. You've already figured out the what now with the back story you can figure out the why and how. Why is your character what and how did your character learn to do what and so on. Can influence the rest of the character creation process.
  • Race: Always a first in my book.
  • Languages: I tend to do these right away to pick my native language as I tend to not spend Knowledge BP on languages since you can.. well, you know, buy linguasofts.... though if my back story includes multilingual then I at least jot down which languages here so I don't forget that those Knowledge BP are already spent when I'm picking out Knowledge skills later on.
  • Qualities: Remember there is a limit on positive and negative quality BPs so its good to get these done first. Also with your background fleshed out already you can pick the ones that fit with the characters story.
  • Skill Outline: I say outline here because you want to know what skills your character has or will have so you make sure to save enough BP but when building a character, because things like gear and cyberware and magic can alter your total dice pool, I find that its best to actually spend the points and buy the ranks later on when you can factor in the bonuses your character is receiving from magic/augmentation/equipment and so on.

    • a.) Magic: If your character uses it.
      or
    • b.) Gear/Cyberware: Gear and Cyberware have the ability to enhance a character so much that spending your points on Attributes/Skills before accounting for the modifiers your equipment grants could have you scratching your head looking for places to drop points to buy something else down the road. So doing this first and then hitting your Attributes will let you take into account that with all that fancy Cyberware you don't actually have to bone up 30 bp to get your rank 4 Agility. Wink

  • Attributes: From here out your wrapping things up.
  • Skills:
  • Knowledge Skills:
  • Contacts: I always do these last for some reason. Usually bites me in the rear too.. old habits die hard I guess.



Well there you have it.. that's how Gluttony builds eir characters.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:35 am

This is very much a question about writing and its only when I got to such full on story telling games like SR that it became so important.

Then the story creation technique depends on who you are as a player and a writer, I reckon. I really wish I could pick 'a concept' out of mid-air, just like that, but I can't. My brain don't work that way. I tend to need an inspiration to get me started. In DnD back in the day, I used to roll all the stats 'old stylee' and see what fell out, and use that for inspiration.
For me its that 'Edward De Bono' creativity thing: sometimes your subconscious needs an inspirational jump start. He's the guy who used letting a dictionary fall open and stabbing your finger in without looking - then force yourself to incorporate the word into your idea. E.g 'I fancy making a wizard'; dictionary says 'tangerine'. Does that mean that's how he dresses? Does he have an obsession with eating them? Or is that the colour his fireballs always turn out, despite his best efforts?

I notice further back in the thread, someone mentioned, 1st and 2nd passes through stuff too, editing down to sift out the stuff that doesn't fit and knead other stuff so it goes nicely.

The other thing that I wondered from a writing angle is: how do people feel about 'Heroic flaws'? Is that what people meant above by a character 'hook'? Writing 101 would say heroic character flaw = essential. Thesedays writing I'm not sure. But for a shorthand writing format like this where getting a character across quickly is everything I wonder if it isn't vital?
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:56 pm

If have two different approaches to character creation. The first is when I have an idea for a character that is interesting. This usually centers around a skill or quality that I think would be fun/challenging to play.

For example, my name-sake character Wr3ck. I started creating him when I saw the "paranoid" negative quality. I thought, what would be his reason for being paranoid? Then I stumbled across "Lost Loved One" and it all fell into place. His story unfolded in my head in minutes. The skills, positive qualities, attributes and gear were all about filling in the spaces that the story line developed. Basically like Gala's comment on background driving the choices, but starting from a different place.

The second is the character start point, and the one that I usually end up with is character role. A lot of players have borderline OCD tendencies for their character role choices. They Only play magicians, or they only play adepts. I'd love to actually try one of these character concepts one day, but I usually end up playing a hacker(decker)/rigger because that role needs to be filled and half the team is playing spell-slingers. Rolling Eyes The problem with that is if I don't already have a character I want to play, he becomes a "tool" (thank you Damien). I still have fun, but I hardly care about my character at all.

The most fun I've ever had RPing was as a pixie thief. Why? because he filled a necessary role, but had a very unique way of doing it.

The next hacker I play will either be an A.I. or living via Full Immersion, because of some sort of horrible bodily weakness/illness. I like the idea of playing an A.I. that riggs a full chrome body... (Most of you are thinking GITS at this point, but you'd be wrong).

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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:34 am

Being fairly new to Shadowrun, but an old hack at DnD (classic as well as d20Modern,) I tend to 'picture' a character in my mind before I begin character generation.
My concept is usually based on an overall theme for which I gather as many skills/qualities/spells/powers as I can find that relate to that theme. Then I sift through that collection and choose those most vital to the theme and discard the ones that are less important based on BP restraints.
Spawn, for instance, started out as the sample 'Covert Ops Specialist' as a rough draft, but metamorphosed several times during the process. (Of course, the 600 BP cap opened up whole new areas for concept as well as some awesome abilities (such as jumping down from the top of a 50-foot building without a scratch.)

As for a set sequence of steps, I personally find that approach too rigid. Creation in itself is an abstract, fluid process and with the wealth of supplemental books available, as well as a limitless imagination, adhering too strongly to a particular archetype tends to restrict the possibility of producing a truly unique and memorable character...in my humble opinion, of course.


Also, I keep a stock of characters waiting for new games. I currently have 15 character concepts that I tinker with, tweaking here, adjusting there, as I grow more proficient with the creation process. I still make mistakes, but I am getting better with the practice.

And, last but most certainly not least, most of the more experienced members here at SRO will offer helpful suggestions and tips to anyone seeking advice on character generation. The 'Character Concepts' forum is for just that purpose. Its a great way to get good advice from someone who knows more of the hows and whys that you can't find in the books.
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:30 am

Hey all: I am delighted that you're all reading, considering, and responding to this post! I couldn't be more satisfied with the results!!

Wreck & Jagger: It sounds like you guys are "Background First" creators, falling in on the same thought sequence that I started with. While your descriptions of how you get there are using different words, I think our thoughts are in line. I, personally, really like to start out with a well-thought-out Background, something slightly more fleshed out than an Outline. You two, it sounds like, are satisfied with the "Bare-Bones" of the outline, and work from there. In both cases, your hook is something that works for you, like Arvo pointed out: It helps you solidify your ideas around a central theme. For me, that's a story (in fact, it's an auditory story, which I actually hear in my mind). For you, Wreck, you're using a hook quality, and building your story around that quality - and as you point out: Negative Qualities are most definitely good Story Hooks! For you, Jagger, it's a picture in your mind - I would still classify this as a background, though your story is something that centers on your picture. I find this, interestingly, to be a common theme among DND players - My Table-Top Group plays DND about 1/3 of the time (generally whenever I can't make it...).

Jagger: You bring up an extremely good and important point about the fine-tuning being a critical step in the process! "Peer Review" is becoming a buzz-word in the Business world these days. It's good to see that those of us on SRO are taking part in it as well!
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:10 am

I couldn't agree more, for me, a solid background is key. I have to understand the character's motivation for action before I can choose all of the skills, gear, etc necessary.

example: Is her personality the "in-your-face, "contemplative," or the "kill everything that moves!" type? This has a large bearing on which skills will be chosen.

Where she learned her skills is important too, as it helps decide which gear she is likely to be familiar with.

example: A UCAS Special Forces background means she's likely to have level 4 skills with certain weapons, and at least a level 3 Athletics skill. Weapons options would be things she would likely have dealt with in the military. Sure she could pick up that Rugger and use it, but it wouldn't be something she'd be familiar with. Now, let's say she was on a recon team, one designed not to leave a swath of death in their tracks, then she might know more about the Super Squirt than your average bear.

You're right though, Gala, I use hooks. I have a linear thought process, so I need directions on where to go. I do have a sense of where I want to be at the end though.

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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:50 am

Its kind of an odd combination of writing and film-making, I think. You're kind of writing a character's back story as a writer, but are we 'seeing' the character as a casting director would.

And on a slightly skewed point, do we think that all the characters we choose are in some way an aspect of ourselves?

Or am I taking character creation too fracking seriously and I should grab another tinnie from the fridge? Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Character Creation - Proper Order   Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:28 pm

Its a personal choice how much of yourself you put into your character, though it takes a player with a high level of ability to portray a completely 'self-less' character.

Of course, those of us who are chronically schizoid have an added advantage when playing various archetypes.

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