Don’t tell me about your character

I’m drafting out some notes for a roleplaying post next week, and a thought occurred to me.

How many people are actually interested in reading backgrounds and stories about someone else’s character?

Do you read other people’s character backgrounds (in a game that lets you do that)?

What makes you more likely to read them? Length? How good the writing is? Whether you know the player personally? Or do you switch off the way you do when people start talking about their kids or their cats?

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15 thoughts on “Don’t tell me about your character

  1. I do sometimes though I haven’t much in Champions yet. I did more in Eve, but that was more to see the character of the person who was approaching. Still it was fun to see what stories people came up with.

  2. It really depends on the game and the situation for me. The main problem in a superhero game is that everyone is just trying to explain “how they got their powers.” After a while they all blur together. In a fantasy game a lot of the backgrounds do too – “parents killed by orcs” gets old fast.

  3. Actually, in LotRO, someone actually complimented me on my character bio. I decided I’d take advantage of the space given and write up a little backstory. (No, my parents weren’t killed by orcs.) I figured it was the least I could do to fit in with the world and participate when I wanted to flag RP. (Any time I’ve been RP, though, nobody has engaged in any.)

    Although, the Elves of Lothl√≥rien seem to have forgotten that I came from that neck of the woods…. :P

      • Sometimes, but usually only if I’m checking a character out for other reasons (what class, etc.) 95% of the time there’s nothing or just some info that doesn’t relate to the character’s bio at all. Much of the rest of that 5% shows that not everyone is cut out for role-playing…. Not to cast stones, because M59 let you edit a bio and you could say the same thing.

        But, my point is: some people do read bios! :)

  4. In SWG you could read someone’s backstory by inspecting them. There were some seriously messed up ones as there are with any RP setting and as the roleplay hubs tended to be in Cantinas you could spend ages reading a story (if they actually had one in their profile). This was a good system and I did read stuff.

  5. I read other char bios.
    But most MMOs do not have any option for that, and in LOTRO only people on the dedicated roleplaying servers seem to have them.

    95% do not have a Bio, and the remaining 5% are mostly uninteresting! :(

    My char has a bio, of course. It tells you that he does not like elves, dwarves and hobbits for instance, but has a secret crush on hobbit minstrels. He is desperate to go back to Rohan, to mum and daddy, to apologize for running away from marriage. He is from a noble family of course, and learnt no proper job. So he now has to run foolish errants for fools in Breeland to make a living. So he is not on a quest against the darkness of Mordor but just wants to go back to Rohan. I also give hints about his age and that he suspects Lembas bread to cause flatulences.

    One must make sure that the whole bio does not become too cliche or too much of a joke.

    You also do not write this story for anyone else, but for yourself! How can you play a role if everything you know about your char is that he is this or that class from this or that region?

    My Guild Wars char do not have longish bios, they are inspired, mostly in their names, by characters that I liked a lot in (fantasy) literature.

    I think roleplaying is a reason why Horde and Alliance cannot talk and interact with each other.

    The arrogant, neverending zealous fervour of my Paladin would drive your undead abomination of a warrior into madness! I promise you eternal rest and peace in Duskwood, near the tomb of the fallen Paladin Morgan Ladimore aka Mor’Ladim. It is still the quest in WoW that excited me the most. You savage Horde scrubs probably never experienced it! :(

    Each of my higher level chars keeps a copy of his book containing the story of Morgan Ladimore and his sword Archeus.

    This should tell you how much I loved my Paladin and how disappointed I was by his endgame role as healbot. I turned into a selfish warlock. :(

  6. The typical RP character probably has some of the following characteristics:
    1) has no relatives (all killed by such and such monsters/evil people)
    2) has lost their memory (convenient for avoiding a background story)
    3) has numerous scars
    4) has a secret no-one else in the party must know (they are the emperor’s assassin or a king’s son/daughter etc)
    5) is searching for a lost relative/lover
    6) has a lost relative/lover that is now the most evil person ever to have served the Dark Lord ™

    If your character has none of these traits, then I’m interested!

  7. Yes, I do. As to what makes me likely to, if the first few sentences are interesting, I’ll continue. If I’m waiting around for a group to start, then I’ll probably read the whole thing, no matter how bad it is. You can learn a lot from bad writing, or so they tell me.

    In games that have books laying around, I read all those, too.

  8. I’m like Pete — I do try to read bios, and I try to craft at least a small one of my own. I’m ambivalent about them though: if I’m on an RP server, how the hell would I know this stuff about a complete stranger? And physical descriptions aren’t that much use — tell me all you like that you have green glowing eyes, your avatar still looks exactly the same as mine.

    Did I mention that I find online RP incredibly difficult and imagination-killing?

    I’m also really, really, REALLY tired of orphans who are princesses who were taken by slavers (who possibly had their evil way with them) who want their revenge on a cruel world but for now they’ll just sing for the nobles and look for a handsome and well-hung husband.

    Gah! (You saw a lot of those in SWG.) So yes, I read them, though a lot of the time I end up wishing I hadn’t.

  9. I always read bios if I am on a CoH pug. Gives you a better feel for the team than waiting for them to get into action and possibly screw up. Otherwise I’ll check the bio of anyone who catches my eye. Why not? They’ve put in the effort, least I could do is read it.

  10. Most of the people who play MMOs will not be able to come up with a character concept or bio worth reading. Even among D&D groups that do roleplay and take it somewhat seriously, the character bios are rarely worth reading for anyone beyond the DM. It’s always cliched nonsense or completely mundane and predictable.

    I don’t think public character bios are important for RPing.

  11. I love reading other player’s backstories. I’m the guy who inspects everyone I meet :) I think it’s a real shame that WoW has no backstory tab… it’s pretty much an indication that they don’t care at all about the “RP” element of the game.

    I always write a bio fro my character and I love reading other peoples. It’s like an easy way to introduce yourself.

  12. I do read it from time to time when I play CoX, often triggered by if they have some interesting/nice costume and name combination – or just waiting for all team members to gather for a mission.

    Most of the time I do not write a bio myself right away when a character is created. Instead I might do that a bit later if I have been a bit more inspired after playing the character for a while.

  13. Pingback: Improving Roleplaying: Sharing our Stories « Welcome to Spinksville!

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