Written by | Posted September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm Descent and Ascent

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

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Ask Anna – Help for a “boring” character
comment 6 Written by on July 22, 2010 – 9:51 am

Siouxie writes:

Dear Anna,

I have decided to get back into role playing. It has been about two years since I last role played. I will admit I am a bit rusty, slower to respond then I was, but I have been having a blast. I decided to roll a blood elf hunter. I love the blood elf lore, and feel the most comfortable rping one. (I love rping trolls, but they always end up comedic relief.)

My problem is this: Siouxsie is a complete bore. I didn’t want to create a character that is some sort of super hero, super villain, the most beautiful, smartest, ect. I wanted a normal girl, with a normal background. I am afraid though I may have made her too plain.

She is about 5’8, 147 pounds. She is a little round, and a lithe hunter. She loves to change her hair color, just so she can gossip with the goblin hairdressers. Her hair is short and choppy. It looks more like it was cut with a dagger then shears. She has a dark golden complexion, fell green eyes and friendly gap tooth smile.

Her history is, well I think it is mostly normal… (but too long for me to post in its entirety). She spends a lot of her time just watching and listening.

Personality wise she is pretty kindhearted with her own race, naive, a little on the dumb side, though more for lack of education then anything else. She has a sarcastic sense of humor, prefers to be more in the crowd the the center of attention. She is not at all comfortable around the other horde races, she isn’t rude, but she isn’t friendly to them either. She also loves bubblegum, and has a weak spot for anything sweet. She is a hopeless romantic, but she has learned everything about romance from a few of her mothers old romance novels. She isn’t quick to anger, but she will hold a grudge until her last breath.

And that is Siouxsie. I have tried to involve her in some role play, but the most I have gotten with her is some DK wanting to marry her after they spoke for 5 minutes. And a bit of a romantic intrigue with another blood elf. It is very nice, and cute role play and has some nice story potential. I just want more, and want to really make her more dimensional. I guess I just do not know how to do it, I want to involve her with more rp without making her seem to over the top, mary sueish (if she isn’t already), or a demon girl who does odd things with her tail. Though I will admit when I watched that RP it did make me laugh.

Can you help me? Advice, criticism, eyerolls anything would be great! Thank you, and take care.

I’ve opted to post most of your letter, since I think it gives a pretty good idea of how much time and thought you’ve put into developing Siouxie.

Here’s the thing. She doesn’t sound boring at all to me. She sounds like a character with some little quirks and flaws, and a healthy start towards a defined personality. It’s entirely possible to have a “normal” character that’s successful in RP – but it does take a bit of work, and it usually takes having other people around to help her develop a voice.

Her background is not the same as her personality and how she interacts with other people.

However – if the only RP you’ve found with her is someone wanting to marry her after 5 minutes and someone else wanting to be in a romance with her, you’re probably not seeing much of her personality! I think you need to give her a chance, and get her into situations that aren’t either awkward (“Why no, I don’t want to marry you, I’ve never seen you before and don’t even know your last name”) or floofy and sweet and sappy romantic (which is fun RP, but not exactly character illuminating).

As such, I think this is both a question of character and of finding solid RP experiences.

In all likelihood, you’ll run into lots of superficial stuff, which is totally fine – even the Riders have a good bit of “superficial” RP time each week, because everyone always being tied up in OMG DRAMA is exhausting.

As you’re just getting started, you’ll have a lot more “run ins” and a lot less consistent RP with the same people. Use those quick RP run ins to figure out who you might want to have extended RP with, of the not-romantic variety, again – romances are TONS of fun, but friendships, enemies, working relationships, and guilds/organizations are all much better ways to discover character development and personality, unless you’re willing to throw a lot of horrible obstacles into the romance, which can also be exhausting.  Also, if the only thing connecting two characters is a romance, when the romance fizzles or waxes and wanes and loses the high of “new RP”, things will go south pretty fast.

Consistent RP partners and friends will help Siouxie develop her own voice and her own mannerisms beyond what you’ve created, which is essentially her backstory.

Backstories are great, but they’re not what make characters interesting or fun. The interesting and fun part comes out of the interactions you have with others.

Another way to bring out her personality is to throw trouble at her on your own, if you’re of the fic-writing persuasion (not all RPers are).

The best way I know of to find out how a character reacts to difficult situations is to just put them in one and see what happens. It can take a bit of “heartless” sort of writing – putting horrible things in your character’s path can be hard, especially if you know it’s going to cause them some heartache or pain – but it’s definitely worth it in the end. You also have to be strong and not let them take the “easy way out” (summoning in a Magic Dragon to take all the trouble away doesn’t count as problem solving!).

Don’t give up on Siouxie yet. She’s got a strong foundation to become a character that you love. Remember that RP happens WITH you, not TO you, and seek out some more consistent opportunities, whether that’s in guilds, through your server’s “open RP gatherings” (like pub nights and such), or just through running into random people and figuring out who you do and don’t want to keep RPing with. You might get frustrated, and you might not find the best opportunities right off the bat, but you can find a good group for her, or just a few other unaffiliated people that can help her find her voice.

As always, if any of you (my readers) have other comments or suggestions for Siouxie, please leave them in comments – whether those are character specific suggestions or ways to find quality RP environments. I’m not particularly well versed in Blood Elf lore or RP, so my Horde readers will likely have better suggestions on that front!

Good luck, and may the Loot-Fu be with you!


Note: I’m posting this because I think Siouxie has a common problem – lots of backstory but not a lot of interaction. Only she can actually “un-boring” the character, and her backstory isn’t really the way to do it. As such, these are hints that I think can help a lot of roleplayers. If you’ve got lore-specific or character specific questions, I can try to answer them, but this space isn’t generally for “PLZ FIX MY CHARACTER” advice (otherwise I’d totally bore all my readers!).

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6 Responses to “Ask Anna – Help for a “boring” character”

  1. I think a lot of my characters have this ‘affliction’ – lots of backstory but light on the ‘personality’ side. I know on my forum RPs, the personality section is only a few short sentences of vaguely non-committal statements about it, while the history can go on for paragraphs.

    This happens to me a lot because I really don’t ‘get’ their personality until I’ve RP’d with them for awhile. I mean, I work off my original ideas for their personality, but usually it morphs into something different (and uniquely their own) only after I RP’d with them (or have written them into stories). Of course, that usually takes time to happen.

    So as Anna says, don’t write your character off, and keep up with the RP. Maybe relate events from your past to situations you get into, and then try to imagine ‘how did she react back then, and would she act the same right now?’

    And if you’re into writing, I would totally recommend finding some writing prompts and seeing how your character evolves from there. I know there are some here, some on WTT:RP, and the Blog Azeroth Shared Topic sometimes has RP related ones too. Even if you don’t like writing whole stories, it would probably be a good exercise to think it through and imagine how your character would react.

  2. Here’s an old trick I learned from my tabletop role-playing days to get a head for a character and develop their voice.

    What angers your character more than anything?
    What frightens your character more than anything?
    What brings out your character’s most noble side?

    Be specific, not general. Choose well-defined triggers than can come up in gameplay. You want to USE these.

    By Sean Riley on Jul 22, 2010 | Reply
  3. Take a look at Anna’s Friday Five lists. It will take a lot of time, but you don’t have to do them all. They help a lot to get a feel for your character because they make you think about how your character would react -before- it happens ingame. Even something as simple as “What drink can I buy for you?” had me puzzled behind the keyboard once. What was my character’s favourite drink? Hurray for being a Draenei on Azeroth soil, which made a complete cluelessness about Azeroth foods and drinks believable.
    Siouxie’s background and personality sound absolutely fine for a character that is just starting on her path to adventure. She has a very solid template with lots of room to grow. Sure, she may not know much about the other races in the Horde yet, but when she learns more about them that may change a lot. My view of the Forsaken went all over the spectrum on my Horde toons as I did quests for them. She has her perks (hairdresser’s most favourite customer, sweet tooth) and it looks like you did your best to avoid Mary Sue City.
    Just a hint of advice: when someone comes along who talks about marriage or spending the night after barely getting to know your name… grab the nearest mage by his or her robes and ask for a portal to as far away as you can! Even mom’s romance novels should be better than that. *shudder*

    By Tsani on Jul 22, 2010 | Reply
  4. My favourite character that I never RP (*sobs* Why must she be on a non-RP server? I should roll her on my RP server…) is my holy paladin, Lisan. The most notable part of her history is that she was raised by the church. Not because her parents were killed in some horrible tragedy, but because her family was just too poorly off for another child, and their local priest offered to take her to be raised in Stormwind. Other than that… she became a paladin because she wanted to be able to protect people, and a healer because that seems to be her strength. Her backstory is short, plain, and simple. And VERY boring.

    But her personality is just so amazing and fun. She can be really cranky sometimes, and she’ll often complain about the idiocy of the people she’s keeping alive, and threaten to stop healing them if they don’t stop being idiotic, but she never does. She comes across, while working, as a crabby, humourless person, but you get her at the pub or relaxing and she’s snarky, fun, and loves to laugh.

    Basically, if I were judging my RP quality by how interesting the BACKSTORY for Lisan is, I would be a seriously crappy RPer. But she really is an interesting, fun, layered character – it’s just in the playing of her, not in her history. So take heart! Siouxie sounds like she’d be a fun, interesting character to get to RP with.

  5. You have a great character so far with a unique personality that would interest any role player with a bit of interaction. As Anna already said, many times you have to take the initiative of approaching them instead of waiting for them to approach you. If you wait, you’ll end up in situations like the Death Knight and other awkward moments.

    Have your character roam various cities where role players are known for hanging and ‘come across’ various scenarios. Join in or watch while offering background commentary. I know a character on my server that receives a ton of role play just by walking around the fountain all day. People approach her wondering if she’s insane and RP starts from there. Role playing by yourself also has a large advantage, too. It shows your character is there and ‘Hey, if you happen to be nearby, feel free to say something!’

    If you’re as shy as me, it won’t be easy, but the benefits are worth it in the end.

  6. Siouxsie sounds like a great character! She just needs a little bit more mileage. As has been suggested, try to seek out other RPers and events to just interact with other people. Check your realm forums and also WoW roleplaying sites such as http://dramatis-personae.com to track stuff down.

    Another thing you might try is latching onto a particular quest line and get REALLY into it. Maybe your character was REALLY affected by the Wrathgate. Maybe Siouxsie is questing on the Isle of Quel’Danas and discovers that one of the Wretched she has to kill is a childhood friend. Maybe she is so awed by being in the presence of Alexstrasza that she decides to become a servitor of the Wyrmrest Accord. Maybe when she reaches the end of a Nesingwary chain, instead of feeling relieved, maybe she feels proud of her accomplishments as a hunter. WoW’s lore is incredibly rich and you should be able to find something that piques your interest.

    Here’s my example, maybe to get you thinking: My druid was kind of bland, and then I decided that she was really affected by AQ40. She really DID start believing all those things that C’thun whispers to you while you’re in there. This led her to grow discontent and mistrustful of her friends and colleagues, and she eventually ran off to join the Twilight’s Hammer. While among them, she learned arcane magic and was so enthralled with it that she had a hard time letting it go when she came to her senses. What does a pre-Cataclysm aspiring night elf mage do? She decided to go hang out with the Shen’Dralar. Some RP with friends convinced her to return to druidism and rejoin the Alliance. Now she harbors a deep sense of guilt for everything that she did, and she kinda freaks out in Old Kingdom and the end of Ulduar. With the exception of the ending, all of that was solo RP based on in-game content. 🙂

    Sean’s suggestion of answering basic questions about your character is a good one too. I like using the questionnaire at http://www.roleplayingtips.com/articles/character_questionnaire.php – it’s retardedly long (ie, 300+ questions), but it asks pretty much anything you might need to know about a character. Scan it over and see if it gets your mind going!

    By Duerma on Jul 25, 2010 | Reply

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