https://www.flickr.com/photos/b-tal/210698762/in/album-72157594374125529/

Naked Lightbulbs, Brian Talbot – Flickr

We’ve all been there. We read a book or watch a movie and there is That Character. The one who captures your imagination. The reasons may vary – that amazing kill move, the weapons or powers, perhaps the grit they have to pull through the conflict and keep on going. Whatever it is that inspires you, it’s only natural to internalize it and bring it back up for re-examination when character creation comes around.

But how do you keep that character off your new character card? That’s the question that plagues a lot of newer players.

No Copyrighted Characters Allowed

This might seem basic to some. “How hard is it to make a new character?”

For some, apparently very hard.

You’ve seen them. (You may have blocked them out in the interest of self-preservation.) I know I have, as have your admins. Here are a few of our favorites:

Altair:

"I am a Medieval Rogue"

“I am a unique Medieval Rogue”

The utterly unique rogue walking around in a white cowl and red accents. With all of the fantastic Assassins’ Creed meshes out there, it’s no surprise that some quite a few Altair clones found their way onto sims. Admins agree that while many had backgrounds with a shadowy brotherhood, some at least were just going for the aesthetic.

Jadis:

Literally the White Witch. This admin swears they had someone literally apply to their sim as Jadis, with the backstory ripped right from Wikipedia. This one was most likely a case language barriers, new-to-SL, and a lack of understanding what RP sims were about all rolled into one.

Drizzt (and Drizzt’et.)

Drizzt Do'Urden, The Drow who spawned 1000 Gary Sues

The Drow who spawned 1000 Gary Sues

If you have read the R.A. Salvatore books or visited an SL Underdark you have met at least one Drizzt knock-off. He stealths in, dual scimitars in hand, to be the stoic-yet-broody, misunderstood outcast of the sim. One anonymous admin reported they had even had an application for a Drizzt’et (because adding “et” to the end makes it unique and feminine, as is the Drow naming convention.*)

Unique and Fresh.

Now, those are a little extreme, of course. They are one in a few hundred if you are lucky. But the principle behind creating a new, original character is still important.

How do you make your character idea fresh? Here’s a few tips:

  • Give them unique flaws to keep them from becoming a Mary or Gary Sue. Push that character concept past a flat, 2-D sketch and make it your own.
  • Don’t lean on the source material and avoid references. Repurpose what you love for your own use. If you love a certain Dwarven King, please don’t sully his good name with Thorvin Mapleshield from the Solo Mountain. Pick the aspect of his story (displaced from his homeland, raising a family member, has a grudge against dragons) and find how that works when put in the new context of your character. (Also – pick a better name.)
  • Remember to give your character unique motivation. If you want to make a good-aligned Drow, you absolutely should. But there are as many reasons to change and reach the surface as there are people and characters. Find a unique hook that can motivate their way forward.
  • Evolve the character from the inspiration. Your inspiration is a starting point to grow from. Don’t make your gritty Clint Eastwood-eque guardsman a static character. Find unique connections to the world around him and let him grow into your own creation.

What sparks of inspiration have gone into your characters? What cringe-worthy things have you seen? I’d love to hear your stories.

Until next time, may your Grid be Peaceful and your RP Epic,

– The Trailblazer

Part of the Crit Your Character Creation Series – Previously: 5 Essential Naming Rules

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Written by RP Trail