Character Introductions


#1

Character introductions can happen in many different ways: a pre-established best friend, approaching a stranger on the street, crashing into each other, and many more.

Which type of character introduction do you usually use in your game(s) and why? Many games start with characters in a pre-established friend relationship with the MC, and leave it to the reader to piece together the NPC’s personality.

How do you prefer characters to be introduced? Do you prefer characters to have some previous connection to the MC or be complete strangers?

What do you like seeing in character introductions? Do you prefer character’s appearances being described, extended conversations with the characters right off the bat, or something else?


#2

The way a character is introduced depends on the story, really. Story with element of slice-of-life usually involves friendship (be it childhood, classmates, neighborhood, etc.) while military involves “you’re an indifferent junior” until “celebrated rivalry”.


As for this one, I think we can talk about it in the PM thread? :yum:
Naa… JK

Characters in my game will be a complete “stranger” to the PC, reflecting that you as the player is also a stranger in this world (ofc there’re some exceptions, just like usual)


#3

What a complicated questionnaire. I will attempt to answer it but I’ll cover everything out of the order asked:

CS games are different then other types of games. As such, limiting my answers to CS games, I like there to be some connection to the MC for the major NPC’s involved in the story with pre-existing relationships. This provides structure to the relationships that pre-exist without forcing details. The types of connections can be professional or conditional personal in nature.

The characters that enter the game without any existing relationship I like to introduce as a normal novelist would introduce a stranger to the reader.

What is conveyed on the opening in any introduction depends on all the story variables present in the game setting I’m writing about. I like to leave some future discovery for any NPC being introduced, so I don’t do a bio-dump type of introduction.


#4

This is an important point. However, I feel like even through the many genres of CS games, there are always certain patterns that we take. I don’t know if there are more CoG games or Hosted games that stick to the format of “you already know this character,” but it’s something that has come up in most WIPs.

Character introductions as devices to help set the tone of the story, I haven’t previously considered. Would this mean, though, that pre-established relationships also establish the MC’s character (“Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are”-style) ?

I feel like I’m focusing a lot on the “pre-existing relationship” format, but one of the criticisms I’ve seen on the forum is that the pre-existing format means people whose playstyles don’t match with the pre-existing realtionship (e.g. an incredibly friendly MC has a cold rivalry when it is more likely for this-and-that to happen). Another is that they do not feel as connected, inducing the feeling of “I know nothing about this person, and now they’re my best friend/lover/enemy?”

One problem I encounter is the strangers typically have no reason to interact with the MC unless the MC pursues them. There are less characters, I think, who introduce themselves and try to form a relationship than the characters who wait for the MC to approach them.


#5

Concerning the first, a pre-existing relationship (speaking in general terms) should be nebulous enough to encompass all legitimate styles of play. This relates directly to the second concern via the relationship itself.

One example I have used is putting forth the NPC as a childhood friend - which is nebulous enough to mean what the PC decides to make of it (provided proper background is given). Proper background would be a adolescent crush, unrealized and stillborn. Such a conditional tie allows the choice bodies to define the relationship, provided the needed social mechanics are fashioned and implemented.

When the relationship itself is defined via the connection (ie. the NPC and the MC are teammates on a sports team) then the relationship can exist regardless of the feeling of being “friend/lover/rival/whatever”. This structure allows both the author and the MC to rebuild the relationship through the same relationship mechanics built and implemented as above.

Introduction of a NPC as if they were a stranger does not mean introducing them as a stranger only introducing them as if they were a stranger. @malinryden introduces their NPCs very well in the beginning of their WiP by describing them through the lens of a person being possessed by the MC. A superhero that is a stranger through the eyes of which the MC is looking through at the moment.

They are not strangers and as the story moves forward, @malinryden uses their wonderful social metric to help the MC define the relationships as the MC desires.

Putting the MC in a “wool-gathering” moment is another common way this is done. But there are more creative ways of doing this, then just the tried-and-true basics.


#6

It depends on the setting of the work, doesn’t it? Roughly: does the story focus on the MC arriving into a new situation, or do the events of the story happen to them in their habitual situation? In the first, logically most characters will also be new to the MC.

In my WiPs characters are either strangers (most commonly) or people the MC has heard about but not yet met. (And then there’s the character who knows you very well but is a stranger to you because of magical amnesia… :sweat_smile: ) There’s some childhood friends/acquaintances in Awoken, but they’re not main characters.

I think people like the pre-existing friend because it’s a quick and easy way of setting up an emotional attachment - say 'childhood friend’and the reader will do some of the work for you.

Introductions-wise, I ideally like a good establishing moment for a character, especially if they’re going to be important. Personally I tend to not be very descriptive in my writing when it comes to characters but I tried to be more so than usual for Aegis Project to emulate the genre style more.


#7

I don’t write so I can’t talk about how I would introduce them I can only talk about what I like to read. Maybe it’s just my personal experience but it’s really rare that I could relate to the childhood friend kinda character (actually the only game I was okey with the childhood friend is Psy High. I really liked Alisons/Andrews character there even to the point that I feelt sorry for them everytime when I rejected them bc I played a character who wouldn’t prefer them as RO. But normally I feel like I don’t know enough about the old time friend character to feel attached to them. Actually I wouldn’t even pick a favorite out of the thropes it all depends on how well a character is witten.


#8

I generally tend to prefer meeting characters in game, since that way you get to know their personality along with the character. To be fair though, that’s not always plausible, especially with characters that are family members.

When it comes to characters that the MC already knows, this can be done really well, when the writer takes the time to explain how they met and establish what their relationship is. Especially when they give the player choices relating to their relationships with the characters. For example:

Bob has been your best friend since childhood. What was it that first caused you to befriend him?

  • He was always so kind and considerate, and he stood up for me when I was being bullied.

  • He was really funny and we always played pranks on the other students together.

  • He shared his cookies with me… I like cookies. :blush:


#9

I personally despise (at least most of the time) when the author introduces a character as your best friend, because half the time I end up disliking them, and the other half of the time, it still feels weird. And it’s even more bizarre to have the MC decide the supporting character’s personality and whatnot.

In my WIP, The Magician’s Task, there are about a dozen main characters, and most of them begin as acquaintances or family members. From there, I just let the MC form their relationships with these various characters as they go. Even with your family, I don’t assume that your relationship with them is good, and I allow you to make that decision on your own as you get to know them through the chapters.

The only character who I made automatically have a very bad relationship with you is Killian, a guy who is basically the antagonist of the first three chapters, and who has been tormenting the MC for like 10 years. And even then, I’ll be giving you a chance to try to improve your relationship with him throughout the series (or let it alone, or be bitter towards him, etc.)

I do enjoy having good physical descriptions of the characters so that myself and my readers can picture them easily and create stronger connections to those characters. Although my favorite book series ever, Chaos Walking, has amazing characters, it has a gigantic flaw in that the author practically never describes any of the characters’ physical traits in any way and it’s super irritating.


#10

I’ve read, in traditional novel writing advice, that it is better to leave character description to newly introduced characters. For example, describing the hair color of a new classmate and not that of your best friend. The reasoning goes that if you already know someone well, you shouldn’t be thinking of their physical traits unless they recently changed it.

On the note of character descriptions, should newly introduced non-human characters be described and introduced the same way as human characters?


#11

Well, that’ll be problematic if the image set up by the reader before is conflicting with the description in the story, isn’t it? :thinking:


#12

Yes. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it sort of(?) makes sense. Or the author could just…never describe the character.