How to Create a Roleplay Character
This guide was originally written by raey
To have fun while roleplaying it's important to roleplay with a character you feel connected with.
The following guide will help you create a complete, well-rounded roleplay character.
The amount of detail your character needs will vary depending on your roleplay style...
New roleplayers might prefer to write very basic character details so they can quickly join and try different roleplays. More experienced roleplayers and advanced writers might write more detail to provide extra depth or realism for their characters.
Overview of your character
Here we will take a look at what basics you need to include for your character (name, age, gender,…)
Choosing a name for your character is really important. A name helps define a character. Names can give you insight into the homes where the characters grew up. Parents from a traditional home are more likely to give their children traditional names like Charles or Elizabeth. Parents following a modern and open lifestyle are more likely to name their children more exotic names like Kora or Bradley. Furthermore, it is important to find a name that suits the setting. In a plot set in a fantasy world you will mostly likely not find an ordinary name like Edward. Nor you will find a modern name like Alexandra in a story set in the 15th century. The location of the roleplay is important too. While Harry is a common name in Britain, you're unlikely to meet a person from India with this name.
Most humans have both a first and last name (in fantasy roleplays this can be different). Last names can tell us about the heritage of a character as last names were often connected to a social status or occupation in the past. A last name might tell us something about a person's ethnic background or what country their ancestors came from. The last name Smith is a lot more common in English countries, while the name Morgenstern is a common Jewish name.
Take a look at the links below for help choosing a first or last name for your character. There you can search by origin, meaning of a name, or simply by gender.
- "normal" names: x x x
- last names: x x
- fantasy names: x x
Just like humans, animal characters need names too. Animal characters are more likely to have rather exotic/unusual names (at least I rarely heard of a dog called James ;) )
A family pet might have a fun/cutesy name like "Cuddles", but a wild animal might suit a name from nature (River, Brook, Willow, Storm…)
- Animal names: x x
Warrior Cat Names
"Warrior Cats" is the name of a popular book series. Since Warrior Cat fan roleplays are quite common here, we've got a few tips to help you name your Warrior character:
- Names are built out of two parts: a prefix and a suffix.
The prefix is the first half of the name and the suffix is the end part of the name.
The prefix stays the same throughout their entire life (unless they are being renamed for a special occasion) and holds a very important part of the cat’s character. It can be a something suiting their appearance (Tiger-, Grey-, Spot-) or suiting their character (Storm-, Fire-).
The suffix for cats aged 0-6 moons is always –kit. A cat aged over 6 moons will change to the suffix –paw and will become an apprentice warrior or medicine cat. They hold this suffix until they receive their final name in their warrior ceremony. The suffix holds a further attribute of the character (Tigerclaw received the prefix Tiger- for his tabby pelt and the suffix –claw for his long and dangerous claws).
Leaders receive the suffix –star once they are granted their 9 lives by the ancestors.
- Warrior Cats prefixes and suffixes: x x x
Age is important for the character’s personality. A character in the young teens will not act the same as an adult character. Therefore, you should choose your character's age wisely.
It's important that the age suits the roleplay. Characters in a high-school roleplay are often between 12-18 years old, while the characters in a college roleplay are most likely 17/18 and older.
The age may vary in fantasy roleplays – you will often find that the roleplay founder sets a rule about what age your characters should be.
In fandom roleplays the characters are often around the same age as the original characters of the book/series/show.
Animal characters tend to be much younger than humans, since most animals are fully grown within 1 or 2 years and may be elderly by the time they're 15.
For most animal roleplays it is usual to give the name in years (for example, 2 years old, 3 years , etc.). Warrior Cat Roleplays request that the name is stated in "moons". Moons represent around a months worth of time, so a 1-year-old cat would be around 12 moons. Try to keep the age realistic (for example 1 moon, 20 moons, 43 moons).
The importance of a character’s identification with his/her gender and sexuality has become more and more relevant over the years. Only a few years ago people would simply be parted into male and female. Your roleplay characters can be whoever you imagine them to be, they don't have to share the same gender/sexuality as yourself.
Here is a link to a wonderful thread which lists some of the different genders and sexualities people identify with:
- List of Genders and Sexualities: x
CS is a place of tolerance. We do not accept any kind of discrimination.
We do allow users to decide if they only want characters of a specific gender or sexual orientation in their roleplay, as this might be important for their storyline or for their comfort level.
We expect that everyone respect the comfort zone of other users and don't judge them if they are uncomfortable roleplaying a gay or heterosexual character.
The social background of a character is really important to consider as it will influence personality. A character who grew up in a wealthy home will behave differently than a character who grew up in a poor home. It also matters if they have siblings, and whether their parents are still alive.
If you are setting up your character it helps to make yourself an image of the family and people they had been surrounded by so far.
You can read more about how the social background affects personality in the details section under “Personality”.
Friendships are normally something that develops in the roleplay as your character begins to meet others. However some roleplays request that before starting you say which characters you would like to befriend or who you'd like your character to form a romantic relationship with.
In nearly every roleplay characters take on a special rank or role. In a Warrior Cats roleplay those might be ranks like apprentice, warrior, deputy. In a pirate roleplay the ranks might be Captain, Quartermaster or Boatswain. High-School or College Roleplays might have pre-made roles like “The Nerd” or “The Queen”. The rank/role might relate to their personality, but it doesn't have to.
Most roleplays allow reserving an open position for a specific amount of time.
This part talks about the appearance, personality and history of your character.
Now that you have a basic outline of your character, the next step is to go into detail. The appearance, personality and history are linked and cannot be separated completely.
The appearance of your roleplay character is very important and often connected to the character’s personality.
A small, scrawny character wearing big glasses is often considered as an outsider, while the girl with the long blonde hair and perfect body is likely to be famous or well-liked.
These are stereotypes and not always accurate, so you can play around and create contrasts within your character between their appearance and the personality.
Yet you should keep in mind which position your character is in and what they're realistically capable of. A leader of a wolf pack won’t be small and weak; neither will be the leader of the local football team.
Because of the chance to reflect your character’s personality in his/her appearance it is important that you get a clear image of how your character looks.
A focus should lay on two things: color and shape.
Colors includes hair color (or fur/scale color), eye color and skin color. Shape does not only include body-shape like broad shoulders or lean legs but also delicate hands or maybe a broken nose. Does your character have thin and pale or rather round, thick and red lips? Does your character have any physical flaws like a scar, do they have tattoos, or does he/she limp?
All this plays a huge part in how your roleplay partners view your character. The more details you add to your description, the better everyone else can imagine how your character looks like.
How detailed you describe your character in the end might depend on the writing level. In the Beginner Roleplays it is typical to write a few words and a rather basic outline of the character’s appearance, while Advanced Roleplays request several paragraphs and details.
Keep in mind that every character can be beautiful in a lot of ways and does not have to be beautiful in the traditional way. It might sound like a cliché, but there is a lot more to beauty than appearance. Besides it can get a little boring if your roleplay is full of traditionally beautiful, flawless characters. Give your character some flaws or differences.
Additionally I want to point out that while you are free to use a reference image to depict your character, I recommend you try going without (or make your own). From my own experience as a writer I have learned that it is often easier to find a connection with your character when you free yourself from pre-existing faces. The main advantage is that you have every freedom and are not limited in your imagination.
If you want to use a reference image please check back with our Image rules and the Guide to Roleplay Reference Images which will show you how to find pictures free to use.
Furthermore, keep in mind that your character is allowed one reference picture only (shape shifters are allowed two pictures)!
- Guide to Roleplay Reference Images
- Image Guide and Rules for the Roleplay Forums
- General Image Rules
The personality is the most important part of your character as it determines the way you write your character, how you reply to others. Do you have a straight forward character who actively interacts with others, or do you have a rather shy and observing character who stays in the background and only interacts on a minimal basis.
The first step to create your character’s personality would be to find a few words (three or four) which briefly describe your character.
1. out-going, independent, ambitious
2. shy, dreamer, creative
Once you choose a few words you can go into detail.
What exactly makes your character out-going? Is he/she cheeky, flirtatious, or simply open to everyone they meet and talk a lot.
What does independent mean for you character?
What is your character ambitious about?
What makes your character a dreamer: a lot of daydreams? About what?
Those are questions you have to ask yourself when working out a personality. Imagine how they would interact with others, how they would act in certain situations. Will the independent character follow orders? Will the daydreamer lead other characters into action, or will they prefer to stay in the background? How would your character speak (loud and full of self-esteem, or in a low voice?) and what would he/she say? How would they act in general?
What does your character like, what do they dislike?
What makes your character special to you?
A lot of (especially new) writers struggle to make their character “interesting”. As I already mentioned before, it is the little flaws and quirks which make a character interesting and attractive to your fellow writers to interact with. Maybe your character has some kind of disorder, which challenges them or affects their interactions with others. Maybe your character has a fear anchored deeply in their mind, which prevents them from acting the way they want to. Or maybe it is just a little habit like cracking their knuckles when they're nervous. The way they giggle out loud, or can’t pass a dog without squealing. The way they still carry a teddy around with them everywhere.
Using these types of details adds depth to both your character and your writing, but it can be insensitive or hurtful if you're not careful. Do some research about conditions or illnesses you give your character, and find out what sorts of problems or personality traits are realistic for those affected. Mental illnesses and anxieties are real and can be very challenging for those affected. You may like to explore these issues through roleplay, but remember to always handle these topics with respect.
Very tightly connected to personality is the history of a character. The past experiences they went through shapes their personality.
You should ask yourself, what happened to make your character the way they are now?
How did they grow up? Did they go through a tragic loss or some kind of rejection?
If your character has a special talent you might want to include when the talent showed up first. Where they born with it, or trained for it?
To keep your character “interesting” but still relatable and realistic, you should try to find a good balance. A lot of people tend to let their characters suffer a lot (I often see character histories where both their parents died, for example). While I know you want your character to be really special it can be a bit too much. Besides there's nothing wrong with a character growing up in a home with two parents both happy and alive, they can still have an interesting personality. Look around you. How many of the people you know in school or university have lost their parents? Of course there are some sad situations, but thankfully those are not the majority. It is far more likely that your character's parents have divorced or that parts of the family are not speaking to each other (mostly because of stupid arguments).
Even if you look at famous TV series, most characters have a rather normal life (before something happens changing their life forever, but that is not the point). Allow your characters to taste “normality”. Your characters can have interesting lives without involving endless tragedies and heartache.
Additional Tips and Tricks
A few links and tips on how to code your form, and a few do's and don’ts of roleplaying
While roleplay should theoretically focus on the writing, the design of your character form has become highly important for many users and writers.
How you code your form in the end is up to you. But here you can read how a basic form is built:
- Header: The header is in most cases the character name. It’s prominent and in most cases in a large font (you can use the “size”-tool of the BBCode or you can use a pre-made font (link below)).
- Reference Image: in case you want to use a reference image it is recommended to re-size it to a small picture, as huge pictures not only slow down the site, but are also inconvenient for coding.
You can position the image wherever you want (center, right, left).
- Basics: To give the reader a first look at your character it is important that you write down the basics (name, age, gender, sexuality). Additionally you might add things like family, main traits of appearance and personality (not more than three to four words).
In most character forms you find a break here, separating the basics from the details.
- Details: The details include descriptions of the appearance, personality and the history of a character. Depending on the roleplay-level (beginner or literate) those can vary in length from a few words up to several hundred words.
To get an idea of how to code character forms it is the easiest to look at the forms from other users and see how they are doing it and what you like. Some might prefer very complex coding with a lot of extra symbols, quotes, lyrics,… while others prefer a simple layout.
Here are some links to help you write the code for your forms:
- Colours & Symbols
- BBCode Guide
- Signature Tutorial
- Coding Shops
Important note: BBCode cannot be copyrighted!
BBCode is a rather simple markup language which provides only limited ways of coding/formatting a form. Therefore, all BBcode is easily reproduced. While we encourage everyone to think of a layout on their own, it can happen that another user has a form which looks really similar to yours by coincidence. Please do not get upset if that happens, as it's quite possible that they thought of the same design on their own.
Character is created - now what?
Creating a character is one thing – writing is a whole other story.
Users who are new to roleplaying and who don't have a lot of experience might have some difficulties writing the character as they imagined them to be. Don’t give up if that happens. Instead try to find the problem. What is it you don't like about your character? What's making you struggle?
If you can determine the source you can work on that point and change it if necessary.
You should always only play a character you feel comfortable with.
Creating a character is a skill which can be learned, and with practice you'll get a better feeling of what works and what doesn't. Don’t be discouraged just because one character did not work out the way you imagined it in the first way. This can happen to everyone, even the most experienced writers as you always have to get a feeling for your character.
Sometimes it helps to change a few attributes, modify the personality for example. If nothing helps it might be good to drop that character and start with a completely new one.
As for everything else, creating characters gets easier with time and practice.
In the end here are some final tips about how to keep your character interesting. An interesting character is not only fun for you, but for the other members of the roleplay too!
- No perfect characters:
I am aware that everyone wants to create the best character. But please keep in mind that no character is perfect. Just like every human being (or animal), characters should have flaws. It makes them a lot more interesting. From my own experience I can tell that roleplaying with a perfect character becomes boring really fast, while it keeps your own motivation up if you have an imperfect character and you can “play” around with the flaws.
In addition to that try to keep your character in balance. It is human nature to feel differently at different times. No one is only sad or only happy. Everyone has ups and downs.
Besides, other roleplayers might be deterred by a character who is always sad and negative. If you keep your character balanced it is not only more fun for yourself to write, but it is also more likely that others enjoy interacting with your character.
This might sound unusual but some silly little details can cause a lot of fun through roleplaying. Whether it's a coffee-addiction, a huge dislike of broccoli, or hoarding stuffed animals. These details might not be really important for the overall personality but it will ensure a lot of fun through roleplaying.
Something often overlooked is the fact that a character develops. You might have set up your character in a specific way at the beginning of the roleplay, but as the plot continues your character might develop in a different way you might not have planned. Allow your character to change and improve, and to be influenced/affected by other characters.
In addition I recommend to read the guide about Power Playing and God Moding, two things you should avoid while writing with your character.