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Breaking Character

A series of articles on MMORPG roleplaying from an avid MUD player.

Author: lsomb

Character Building: Basic Decisions

Posted by lsomb Tuesday August 7 2012 at 1:09AM
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The very first thing that you have to do in every game, story, or roleplay session is to create your character, and that's exactly what we'll be starting with today for our very first article. Unfortunately, there's no quick, easy recipe for creating a compelling, interesting character. It's not as simple as that. However, what I can share with you are things that have personally worked for me based on my experience playing Iron Realms MUDs.

When fleshed out properly, the character you play in an MMORPG or MUD such as Achaea can be as complex and intriguing as any well-written book character. However, because of the nature of gaming, there are some differences in the creation process. With games, you have to pick a name, a gender, a race, and maybe a class or profession at the very start, while you might have time to fill in these basic details later for a story after you've already established the personality or background. This means that you might have a lot of preconceived ideas about your new character just from his or her name and physical attributes, which can be both good or bad. Today, we'll take a look at some of these basic starting traits and how each can affect where you can go with your character.

Selecting a name is probably simultaneously the easiest and most difficult of these starter decisions. A name has significantly less influence on a character's future personality and roleplay avenues than other traits, but it's also something that you'll be stuck with for the rest of that character's e-life, so make sure you pick something you like enough to keep as a permanent label. Remember that your character's name doesn't have to reflect the character itself, since 'in game' they likely wouldn't have picked it themselves. This doesn't mean that you can't pick a name because of how cool and fitting it is, but don't be surprised if you get a few eye rolls -- going over the top can take away from your credibility and make it seem like you're trying to be too special. Another important thing is to take into consideration that names come from the culture and background your character was born into. For example, it's unlikely that a poor peasant lad would be named something fancy and lordly. If your game has a history and lore you can look into, it's a good idea to see what names are common for certain demographics. You wouldn't want your dwarf to be named Daniel in a family of Ghuraksons and Narlstroms!

Next up is gender. How much this affects your character depends on several factors, both in-game and as a player. Since we're talking about MMOs here, some games may have problems with discrimination and harassment. Out of character aside, from an in-game perspective, the importance of your gender and/or sex is significantly reliant on how much difference there is between them in the game society. In a more egalitarian society, gender won't affect your character's options as much as opposed to one with strict roles for men and women. Remember also that while men and women share traits and many may have similar personalities, preconceived notions of gender from both players and characters will cause people to see a male and female character that are exactly the same in different lights.

Although name and gender are important parts of your character, you don't always have to ponder over these decisions over a great length of time. It's good to take these things into consideration when character building, but be wary of overthinking and preplanning too much. Sometimes it's fine to just let things go and see where you end up.

In the next installment, we'll delve into the details and considerations of race. Meanwhile, why not check out one of the top MUDs from Iron Realms Entertainment and join me on Achaea?