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I kind of have a problem with character concepts.

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  • I kind of have a problem with character concepts.

    I'm not exactly sure where to put this, as it really applies to all White Wolf/Onyx Path games, so I guess I'll put here in the subforum that sees the most traffic. I'll move or repeat this later if necessary.

    I kind of have a problem with character concepts, specifically as the various Storytelling/Storyteller/whathaveyou systems use the term; ie a two-to-three word summation of what your character is and what they're about. Whenever I try to come up with some, I have difficulty wrapping my brain around them; whenever I try to make a character from a concept, I have to think really hard about making a viable character from it. From all the character creation systems in the books, the character concept is supposed to come first before you think about what they can do and what their personality is; I tend to do the exact opposite. I invariably have to start at the end, thinking about what I want this character to do and how they act, and work backwards to something approaching a reasonable summary of what I've made, which I don't think is the intention behind the system.

    I'll try to unpack my thinking here.

    Let's take a most likely well known example: Indiana Jones. Let's examine this character and try to figure out what his character concept is.

    The first thing to come to mind is "two-fisted pulp adventurer." The Indiana Jones movies are very Pulp action, and Indy is very much a pulp adventurer, but that description covers a lot of ground when it comes to characterization.

    Let's try "brilliant archaeologist." The movies make it clear that, in-universe, if there is something to know about the study of ancient history and religion, Indy either knows it, or knows someone who would know it. But that doesn't really fit either; it implies Indy is a bookworm who relies almost exclusively on his knowledge. We all know Indy is a whip-swinging gun-toting brawler when he needs to be.

    How about "jet-setter?" He travels all over the world, but it's not just for fun, it's for a purpose. "Treasure Hunter?" Certainly, but he's often interested in something bigger than fortune and glory.

    The closest and most accurate concept might be "adventurous scholar," or "scholarly adventurer," but that doesn't just describe Indy, now does it? If an Oxford English professor wishing for more excitement in his life got swept up in a series of daring exploits, is he really comparable to one of the most famous adventurers ever?

    I hope you see my problem here; it seems to crop up quite frequently. Does anyone here share this problem? Is it actually a problem to be addressed, or am I just weird?


    I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~

  • #2
    I would just avoid trying that method of character creation then. Personally, I never follow it. A lot of times I start with a skill set or Charm list or MA or whatnot I want to explore and go from there. Or a lot of times I see an image I love and build a character around it. Or I have a backstory in mind that is pages in length, not a few words. All of these work for me.

    Don't think that the 2-3 word summation is remotely necessary for character building. Try approaching it from another angle and maybe you'll find the block lifted. Frankly you cannot sum up living humans in two to three words without being so vague as to be completely nondescript and personally I think that'd be a terrible way to conceive of a character.



    "Chicanery-No: If a player uses this Charm in an abusive or exploitative manner, the ST may punch him right in the goddamn face." --TheDementedOne

    "Happiness is very brittle and short-lived in the Exalted community, because ressentiment is our cultural touchstone." --Gayo

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    • #3
      I find that most of the time, I'll come up with a character with a primary character concept that supports a few secondary concepts.

      For example, I've got an idea for a Dawn Caste Solar in Heaven's Reach. His primary concept is "Ace Pilot." He also has the "Charismatic Noble" secondary concept to represent his backstory and leadership skill, as well as the "Sorcerous Engineer" concept because any decent pilot should build his own machine. Both secondary concepts are direct products of the primary concept. I would use very different secondary concepts if I wanted to make an Ace Pilot more like Maniac than Char Aznable.



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      • #4
        I believe "Adeventurer Archeologist" is the accepted descriptor: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...rArchaeologist

        On the more general point: "People are not simple. They cannot be summarized for easy reference in the manner of: 'The elves are a lithe, pointy eared people who excel at poverty.'"

        Your actual process, what they are like and what they can do, is a form of concept. It just hasn't been distilled into a short descriptor. Some concepts don't have short descriptors.

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        • #5
          Think of character concept as a jumping-off point. For Indiana Jones, "heroic archaeologist" is probably a pretty good concept. From there, you start getting to things like him being a two-fisted hero when you're spending Attribute and Ability dots, and maybe think about him traveling the world for other Abilities and some Backgrounds.

          If this isn't useful to you, jettison it.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Exthalion View Post
            I believe "Adeventurer Archeologist" is the accepted descriptor: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...rArchaeologist
            That is an extraordinarily dangerous link. It goes to TV tropes, which in turn has a link to Cracked. Christ, warn a guy next time!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JayTee View Post
              Christ, warn a guy next time!
              What the talk are you Christing about?!?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                What the talk are you Christing about?!?

                TV Tropes and Cracked both have reputations for being horrific time-sinks. You start clicking links and you can't get out all day.


                Need some Tunes for your Exalted Game? http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...-exalted-tunes
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Arian Dynas View Post
                  TV Tropes and Cracked both have reputations for being horrific time-sinks. You start clicking links and you can't get out all day.
                  It's a reference to an old fan joke that I always forget about but absolutely adore.


                  Last edited by JayTee; 04-26-2015, 11:37 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Arian Dynas View Post
                    TV Tropes and Cracked both have reputations for being horrific time-sinks. You start clicking links and you can't get out all day.
                    That's because TVTropes Will Ruin Your Life. Don't believe me? Then just click here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...llRuinYourLife

                    Alternatively, you can click here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SchmuckBait



                    Complete Garou Gifts List, Fera Gifts List, Garou Totems List and other assorted OPP/White Wolf goodies

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                    • #11
                      I often make characters by thinking about what I want them to do. And then I generally discover that I find playing this character rather dull.
                      On the less common times that I can think of the concept in a short way, and then work out all their abilities (with a small a), cultural biases, intimacies, etc, from there, I enjoy the character far, far more.
                      That's not always something that can easily be summarised in words (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't), but picturing it in my head as a core concept leads to characters I most enjoy.

                      For example, I made a character for a long-running DB game (my previous character got stabbed in the chest by Walker in Darkness) so I thought "We're in the North, near Cherak, and I like Ferem... I like investigating stuff so he should be good at investigating things, so I guess he can be a water aspect? And he should be able to fight so I'll give him a martial art." And so on. But even though I liked the different parts of him, when put together I found him a little dull.
                      Then he died.
                      So then I played "Exiled Sovan fish-out-of-water". Everything came organically from that: his intimacies, his aspect (fire because Sova is hot), his backgrounds (steampunk trenchcoat, riding rat familiar), his attitudes to societies (what's slavery, and why is everyone so upset about it? Unpaid labour doesn't seem any different from being a prole), his attitude to the Immaculate Order (worshiping the 5 children of a Primordial, sounds good, and the Dragonblood should rule because they have the correct souls to be in charge, like the Tripartite), cannibal barbarians (what's wrong with eating people?), his abilities (lots of Craft from being a Sodalt, no survival because he's not from Creation, low war with a speciality in tunnel fighting because there are no open battlefields in Autocthon) etc. I enjoyed it far more.

                      So, while the short summary doesn't always work well, I find generally that I enjoy characters made this way more. That doesn't mean it's right for everyone though.


                      I play...
                      Kovan, actor, librarian, sorcerer, great bear, Lunar Elder from the First Age
                      Thutmose-Osiris, seventh son of a seventh son, descendant of the Supreme Deity Sukhmet, renegade demigod and bearer of the Ghoul-Banishing Bow. Also bright green.

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                      • #12
                        I have trouble making characters, too. When a GM hands me a pregenerated character that I think is interesting and at least somewhat relateable, I can really get into them and enjoy it a lot. But making my own is tough.

                        How do you come up with the initial idea/concept? Does it help to start with the "sample concepts" given for various castes in the books, or from "this general direction is where the game is, so they need a good reason to have gotten here" ?


                        I am extremely literal-minded and always write very literally. If I don't say something explicitly, please never assume I implied it. The only exception is if I try to joke.
                        Exalted and cWoD book list. Exalted name-generators, Infernal and 1E-2.5E homebrew from many authors.

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                        • #13
                          For me personally, sample concepts work better (though I find the ones in the book to often be too generic). I've made many a character to fit in with where a game is, or to fill a niche in the party, and I generally find myself unexcited by the character.
                          That may not be true for everyone though.


                          I play...
                          Kovan, actor, librarian, sorcerer, great bear, Lunar Elder from the First Age
                          Thutmose-Osiris, seventh son of a seventh son, descendant of the Supreme Deity Sukhmet, renegade demigod and bearer of the Ghoul-Banishing Bow. Also bright green.

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                          • #14
                            I don't like to start with a one or two word statement as a character concept, it might move others but it doesn't move me.

                            I like to start with a question. ...quite often it's 'how x can I make y'

                            "How adorable can I make the Autocthonian secret police?"
                            "How sympathetic can I make an Abyssal that is still completely unapologetic about being an Abyssal?"
                            "How epic can I make an outcaste DB at the bottom of the power curve?"
                            "How bad-ass of a paladin can I play in Exalted?"

                            I'll build the character around that, and then try my very best to ham it up along the lines I'm aiming at. (With the right ST and a sympathetic group, the answer tends to be "very")

                            (Inspiration for it was the million-HP question, "what can change the nature of a man?")
                            Last edited by Guancyto; 04-27-2015, 01:32 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Erinys View Post
                              I have trouble making characters, too. When a GM hands me a pregenerated character that I think is interesting and at least somewhat relateable, I can really get into them and enjoy it a lot. But making my own is tough.

                              How do you come up with the initial idea/concept? Does it help to start with the "sample concepts" given for various castes in the books, or from "this general direction is where the game is, so they need a good reason to have gotten here" ?
                              Glad to know I'm not alone!

                              This thread has made me think very differently about character concepts. I have been going through the sample concepts from the books, and I've realized that the concepts I've been trying to use have, in a lot of ways, lacked imagination. (I do agree the samples are a bit too general, I think their best use is as a base to refine.)

                              I shall endeavor to be more creative with my character concepts in the future! (And maybe use a sample character or concept the ST gives me in the meantime, when I get to play.)


                              I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~

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