Hey guys, I’ve been working on a gamebook for a while now but ive been stumped in my progress. I am at a point where I am trying to create characters that will probably show up for most of the game but im javing a hard time making them seem real. I was hoping to get advuce or tips on how to create characters that aren’t to plastic.
A lot of the times, it’s useful to base your characters off of people you know in real life. Also, you should try to give them all different personalities and motives to make things interesting, and occasionally mention things about them outside of the plot, to give them some extra depth.
I would think knowing exactly who your characters are would be of the utmost importance. I am currently working on a story that I just started a week ago and have created a very detailed character chart for the main supporting characters. The supporting characters that don’t play a big role have a much less detailed chart.
My theory is that my characters will be believable because I have plotted out what has happened in their life making it a little easier for me to allow those characters to interact in the situations they are put in. Plus, it helps with remembering all of their quirks, appearance, why they act a certain way, etc.
One of the things I look to do when I’m really stuck coming up with new characters (especially when I’m DMing and need to fill out a whole cast quickly) is to go cruising on TVTropes and find character tropes that seem interesting to me. I pick one I find interesting, and then I start thinking about how I’d want to handle that trope as a writer. Then I think about how they’ll fit in the story world, their role in the plot, any interesting playing around I’d want to do with the trope, and then go off from there.
You must breath life in them. Before you start getting them down on paper you must first create them weather your using E features in game or not, Their name, age, likes, dislikes, pet peeves, favorite sayings , amongst other simple details. Then their life story ^•^ , of course this is just a general basic character development, we can get right down to the specifics over inbox if need be.
There are tons of things you can look at for characters to make them more realistic. If one isn’t your fancy you can do another, and if you really want to get tricky, you can focus on a different thing per character. Some of these things are:
The character’s personal history; where they’ve been, how was their family, what are some accomplishments they like.
The character’s personality; Are they sweet? Stoic? Do they talk with slang or not?
The character’s relationships with others; do they have a lot of friends? Have they ever been in love? Do they have a rival?
How do they see themselves?; What are they proud of? What are their goals? What superpower would they want if they could choose?
And so on. These are just a few things that can be starting points for creation of a character that feels real. Obviously, don’t stop at these things, use them to find somewhere to go deeper. For example: “Have they ever been in love?” can lead you to figuring out what personality traits they like (or don’t like) in others, a frustrating bit of their personal history (a break up that still makes them mad perhaps?), and how they act around people they like.
The possibilities are vast, you just have to spend time sussing it all out.
When creating a life like character, I find it best to try to get into their mind. once you can think like them, then you can act like them. picture a moment that character might have gone through and try to think about how they would act and how they would think in that moment. think about how they talk or how they act around others.
I don’t know how much this will help you, but I can tell you how I develop my characters. I make a lot of characters, and this method allows me to create deep and complex ones in a relatively short amount of time. I will give the steps and then give you an example with one of my side characters that I once developed.
Step 1: Create the shell. Encase your seed of a character in a basic skeletal frame. It doesn’t need to be complex because you will likely discard the shell by the end. The purpose of this is to give your character a very simple body so that you can place them into the story. It is the “what” of who your character is. In a sense, it is your character’s first impression. Ideally, the character will come to grow well beyond their initial shell and develop into complex and interesting people, but for now we will keep it simple.
My example: Kind character. Motherly nature.
Step 2: Plant the seed. Choose “where” it is within the story that you need this character to be. Obviously, this character is being included for a reason. Simply determine the spot you need this character to fill, and then stick your seedling into that role.
My example: Wife to a teacher of necromancy
Step 3: Let your seed take root. Ask your character “why”. Why are they here? Why are they doing the things they do? Then, like a curious five year old, keep asking why. One trick is to pretend that they are real people that have existed all along, and that you are merely discovering them. Step:1 was what my first impression of them was. Step:2 was what I saw them doing. Now, I’m sitting them down and trying to get inside their head by playing therapist. Think about it. At one point or another, we have all tried to play psychologist with the people around us. Sometimes we get it wrong, but in this case the answers you come up with will always be right. The goal of this is to create the characters back story bit by bit, while really getting a deep understanding of how your character thinks.
My example: Why marry a necromancer? Because she has come to love him. Why? Because he took her in gave her a decent life when she had nothing. Why? He needed a Guinea pig for his experiments. Why would she agree? Because she was alone, dying of poverty, and already unhappy with her life. Why? Parents and all belonging were lost in a fire several years ago. I could go on but I think you get the point. *disclaimer: your character background does not need to be incredibly tragic. Several modest low points will do just fine.
Step 4: Let your sapling grow. You know why your character has become what they are, and you know why they are where they are in the story. Now it is time to take a step back from your sapling and discover “who” they are. Let them interact with other characters and the world around them. Sit by passively as these characters you create act upon their own free will. If your plot and characters are as real as you believe, then these people will follow the path you wish without your intervention. Use your powers instead to test the characters. Create obstacles and difficulties that bite at the heart of the wounds you know they hide. Design their journey so that their weaknesses are exposed and their beliefs are challenged.
However, you must remember that you are a god of their universe and that this makes you are a separate being from them. Therefore, you should not infringe directly upon your character’s freewill. Try to control them indirectly, otherwise you risk making them act out of character or end up using them as your own personal soap box.
My example: Not easy to give an example here. The part that is important here is that at the end of the day, my own characters will often surprise me. I created this example character as kind and motherly, but it is only because she has come to terms with her past. This makes her act much differently from a woman who is kind/cheerful in order to hide their pain, especially during times of stress. That been said, there are still times when an event manages to strike just the right chord and her old wounds will show, sometimes catching even me off guard.
Thank you all so much for the advice, tips Nd tricks I hope to be able to make a gamebook yoy all will enjpy!