POLL: Appearance descriptions

Assuming it’s weaved into the story appropriately, you:

  • Like having NPCs’ appearances described entirely
  • Like having NPCs’ appearances described only by noteworthy features
  • Dislike having NPCs’ appearances described

0 voters

And for PCs?

  • Prefer choosing appearance options
  • Prefer choosing appearance options only if they are relevant
  • Prefer not to make in-game appearance choices

0 voters


Is there any hint on how “noteworthy” the noteworthy features are? And also the PC’s appear. relevance.

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For noteworthy I’d just count it as the sort of thing that might be memorable or specific about someone’s appearance.

It might be like brightly dyed hair, a distinctly long nose, a strong jawline, etc

Also to clarify on the relevance thing if some people are unsure on it- I mean if it’s going to be referenced at some point later in the game.

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I tend to find long appearance descriptions of NPCs rather disruptive to the flow of the story. I want to know what they look like, of course, but if it’s presented as a list of attributes like ‘She has long black hair and a full figure. Her face is round’ then, like in any sort of story, that wouldn’t tell me much and just waste a bunch of words.

So I’d say I prefer mentions of noteworthy or unusual character traits. Slumped shoulders, a crooked nose that looks like it’s been broken a few times - those things add more to the character than a long-winded passage about their general appearance.


That’s a good point. Would you still be disrupted by it if the details were interspersed throughout a couple of paragraphs when you first meet the character? Assuming relevance, something like-

"The first thing you’re struck by is her imposing figure. Unsurprising- few people can boast knowing many women that stand well over six and a half feet tall. And that barely takes into account the muscles that strain at the seams of her uniform. One of the enforcers, of course she is.

‘My mother has told me a lot about you.’ She says, voice gravelly, and you know immediately she must be speaking about your supervisor. She may be wearing her black hair tied back much more severely, but she’s got the same strong nose and long chin.

You realize you’ve been staring at her. Her thick brows furrow over her piercing grey eyes, frustration clearly showing on her freckled face."

(Note: I shoved a lot in there for the sake of not writing too many more paragraphs)


For PCs, I prefer choosing outfits, or makeup to choosing physical appearance - basically, choosing aspects of appearance that the character could choose. I feel it’s more characterful. “I dress in plain grey, to blend in with the servants” vs “I have brown hair and brown eyes”. The former is active, whereas the latter is static. With games where the PC is visible onscreen and can be customised, I feel differently, but with text I prefer it to say more about the PC’s personality, aims, or state of mind.


I’d accept that on account of the details mostly being about rather unique traits. Her figure relates to her position as enforcer and a life of what I’d assume is hard training to be as muscular as she is, a low and gravely voice tells me she may have a harsh personality, the family resemblance to her mother makes me wonder about her background and her relationship with her parents and how it relates to them possibly working in the same field.

The only thing that did kinda throw me off was the freckles, possibly because that doesn’t relate to anything for me, but I don’t mind a ‘useless’ bit of description here and there. (Note that I don’t mean useless in a negative sense. More a description used as…window dressing?)


I’ll keep the ‘useful information description’ in mind. You’re right that they all kinda did inform to the idea of the story, now that I think about it.

The freckles part was tacked on at the end to try to hit all the appearance descriptors I could LOL (hair, skin, bone structure, etc)

Not mentioning appearance for the main character usually works like a charm. Leave it to my imagination to fill the blanks automatically :slight_smile:

Unless author will use these descriptors in an interesting way later down the line, that is (or use them at all, haha). I don’t believe I’ve seen it done yet.

I’ve seen references to appearance in Choice of Romance, but they were moreso just to make your outfits. I think ORPHEUS Ruse might have used it just because the choice affected stats, but I haven’t played the full game.

For NPCs, I think that descriptions can be quite useful, to give a quick general impression of the character or to provide a signature characteristic to make a character recognizable.

However, I think I prefer only noteworthy descriptions. I’ve seen many writers that give a lot of details about the appearance of a character, and although it can be fun, sometimes it becomes tedious and it distracts from the main plot.

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In the first poll, I meant to click the first option, that I like to have the NPC’s appearences described by noteworthy features.

As for the second voting, I’ll stand by it: I don’t really like it when the author describes my MC. I don’t think the writer could quite manage to have all the options all the readers use to describe their MCs physically, and the author doesn’t need ro worry about it.

Having to go though and pick a whole heap of PC attributes that have zero effect on the rest of the story is actually a bit of a pet hate of mine. While I know some people love to do it and it adds to their game experience, for me picking eye, hair, skin, build, height, clothes, tattoos, scars etc and then never having them mentioned again and not affecting the stats kind of seems like a waste of time to me at least. (If they matter, or are used, even as flavour text I don’t mind.) I really like having a short and to the point character generation with the option of a skip or premade option for things that don’t matter to the story so if you’ve played it once, you don’t have to spend time on it again (but if you want to you can.)

I’m somewhere between noteworthy and entirely described for NPC’s, probably leaning towards noteworthy features. I like things described in detail, but only when it can be done without a large info dump about what each person you meet looks like when you first see them otherwise just go with noteworthy features. If it can be worked into the text it’s better :slight_smile:

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On the note of PC appearance, would it be better if the choices were more brief/only noteworthy or story relevant? (For example, choosing different traits that are socially important in the game, and therefore will lead to different interactions)

I was thinking about giving away the NPC’s appearance spread over the story, kinda like worldbuilding. But I reckon this is not a good thing since it can break your image of the NPC, no?

I suppose it should always be like that? :thinking:
Picking the appearance of my PC is fun, but I’m dying a little bit at the inside when my appearance never comes up, you know :laughing:

Oh yeah, sorry didn’t mean to introduce stuff through the entire book, but if done over a couple of pages much like someone earlier described where you get the basic notable features at first sight, then when they speak, you get a tone of voice, maybe they brush long hair over their shoulder as they walk away or lift up a tanned hand to shade their eyes from the sun etc, I just kind of find that looks better than hitting the reader with a single paragraph where you get everything about them kind of info dumped out of any context :slight_smile:

I personally prefer important only (or at least traits that are going to get some use with flavour texting within reason,) but some readers really do like to set everything about their PC even if it doesn’t change the story much I think. For sea maiden, I just had a couple of premade character builds for characteristics as it’s really only flavour text for most of the stuff these described, but I did get a number of requests not to do that. In the end I put both in and let the reader choose. I don’t think a lot of the published games do that though, Imprisoned does (you can skip setting non story relevant characteristics). There’s probably others I can’t think of off the top of my head. As an example of characteristic settings that I didn’t like: Gambling with eternity does allow you to set up a character at the very beginning right down to the type of laugh you have but as far as I can tell, apart from a single line about your laugh, nothing from it is mentioned again. Would have loved the ability to skip over it.

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Just give me the important stuff for NPCs. It not only helps me visualize them in my head, but should I want to doodle them or something (It’s rare but it happens), I’ll have an easier go of it.

For PCs? I dunno, I’m fine either way-- not like I can’t just imagine what they look like myself!

Not in response to any particular comment, but what about the idea of appearance tying into gameplay experience?

One of the games I’m sketching out right now has the following situation:

-It’s set in a fictional country that is predominantly inhabited by people of two different cultures/ethnicities/nations, and this is very plot relevant

-The PC can identify themself as resembling their mother (ethnicity #1) or not (ethnicity #2 and others, implying PC is mixed race/adopted/both)

-This will add flavor text/change some interactions but will not change stats or have overtly positive or negative effects

The tricky part here is that I was thinking of setting appearance traits associated with the different ethnicities (Light/medium/dark hair, eyes, skin, etc) so that it can be part of the flavor text for the PC and be used in descriptors for NPCs, but I feel like that might be annoying for some players.


I may be wrong but I think the general consensus is that if it changes the story you are definitely okay (so what you propose falls here). Where if it is flavor text you may find a few people who dislike it but also many who do. Finally, choices that make absolutely no difference to the story will find the biggest resistance but even then there are still those who will enjoy this. For PC development at least.

The premise of the whole CoG/HG thing is that your imagination was supposed to do most of the work so I think having NPCs’ appearances described in full detail according to the author’s vision, and not the players’, ruin the immersion

As for the MC, what’s the point of choosing your hair or eye colors if they won’t be implemented into to some story element or at least referenced later in the story?
And don’t say immersion because since it won’t ever be mentioned again, you might as well just imagine it in your head instead of answering a redundant question