Character Creation Guide Introduction and Part I: Personality

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Character Creation Guide Introduction and Part I: Personality Empty Character Creation Guide Introduction and Part I: Personality

Post by ThePromiseIncarnate on Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:35 pm

Personality(You are here)
Appearance(To be added)
Backstory(To be added)

Hello, and welcome to this character guide.
With this “guide”, I'm intending to ramble on about what I've learned over the years about character design in a general sense while trying to apply it in context of the forum in hopes you'll learn something from the mess. Of course, even though I'm contextualizing it in Sonic fan characters for RP, you should be able to bring this knowledge outside of Sonic and/or roleplays.
With all that said, there will be three parts, focusing on Personality, Appearance, and Backstory/History. I'll be going as in depth as I can and will not be detailing RP-specifics as to why these are why they are simply because that'd be me speaking verbatim the rules of RP, and because I want this to not just be for RP characters.
We all clear? Without further ado…

PART I: Archetypes, Morality, and Personality
What are Archetypes?

Archetypes are not Personality. Archetypes are not necessarily Stereotypes either. Stereotypes are basically exaggerations of archetypes being treated as entire “characters”.
Let's take a step back for a moment. Now that we know what an Archetype isn't, what is an Archetype?
An Archetype is a perfect example of a person or thing to compare to, and in terms of personality, is what explains personality in terms of how and why. This how and why allows for six different archetypes, as I will explain soon.
Dominance-Submission is the how.
Drive is the why, it explains the choices that the character makes.

Dominance-Submission is the first part of an Archetype, and it splits characters into Dominant and Submissive.
A Dominant character tries to control its environment, and either nurtures or imposes their will on others. They are the ones who will usually try and take on the problems as opposed to running from them.
A Submissive character regresses from their environment and helps/serves others. They are the kinda people who instead of facing problems head on, they'll usually run instead.
Maybe go into the fetal position.
And cry.

Drive is the second part of an Archetype, and it splits characters into Moralistic, Realistic, and Hedonistic.
Characters with Moralistic Drive make decisions with their hearts. They tend to follow some moral code whether it be religious law, the government’s laws, their own beliefs, ect. and will tend to see most situations on a moral scale.
Characters with Realistic Drive make decisions with their heads. They are the ones who tend to be the most practical and pragmatic, and while they tend to be good at seeing situations from both sides, they don't tend to care much for feelings and emotions of others and aren't very good in social situations.
Characters with Hedonistic Drive make decisions with their bodies. They act on instinct and tend to be very fun-loving. They tend to be easy to please, just wanting good food, sleep, comfort, and to do as little work as possible.

Examples of the Six Archetypes
So, now we know of the two parts of Archetypes, let's put them together. The Six Archetypes are Dominant-Moralistic, Submissive-Moralistic, Dominant-Realistic, Submissive-Realistic, Dominant-Hedonistic, and Submissive-Hedonistic.
Instead of going into detail with each one of them, I'm going to give examples of each from the main series, with explanations.
Dominant-Moralistic: Knuckles is driven by his morals. He is very strict on himself - he has a job to do and he does it. Of course, in recent years he's stopped doing his job, but he still fights for what's right. And when I say fight, I mean fight. He's an aggressor, he tends to punch first and ask questions never.
Submissive-Moralistic: Elise could have been a good character, but even in her current state that we have her in I can place her as the best example of this archetype that I can think of. She provides emotional support(and… I guess A shield?) to Sonic and clearly makes decisions with her heart, doing what I guess is best for her people and the people she cares about, but when faced with threats she either doesn't fight it expects to be rescued. As an example of this archetype they fit rather cleanly into it, but they are a bad example of this character type since this kinda character can be good. It's just, in a game series about animals who go fast, it's hard to pinpoint submissive characters.
Dominant-Realistic: Blaze is similar to Knuckles and Sonic notably, but despite her stubbornness she is guided more by her common sense than what she wants or what she thinks is right. She's not laid-back, but calm and collected, and in ‘06 she acts as Silver’s voice of reason. Notably, she doesn't seem to understand social cues, friendship, and the ideas that others are willing to help her, which seems to be the only reason she comes off as stubborn.
Submissive-Realistic: Tails is submissive. Yes, he has fought and beaten Chaos and Eggman, but clearly without Sonic he has no confidence to act on his own, thus he covers in fear. But, he is the intelligence of Team Sonic, the creative and intelligent plan maker, who has access to many gadgets he himself has made to help his friends.
Dominant-Hedonistic: When people saw I chose Sonic here as I was making this, they seemed… confused, thinking he was moralistic. Hear me out. He is a hero, the founder of the Freedom Fighters, and does good because he can. Not because he feels he has to, but simply out of the goodness of his heart. I'll touch more on this in the next section dealing with morality, but Sonic is a Neutral Good character, he does good whether or not he adheres to laws or not. He isn't following a moral code he's being a good guy. That being said, he's fun loving, carefree, laid-back, and always looking to have a good time. Think back to the line Sonic says on ARK in response to Shadow asking who exactly he is, in a moment he's suppose to be saving the world, “I'm just a guy that loves adventure, I'm Sonic the Hedgehog!”
Submissive-Hedonistic: Chip, before he learns that he is Light Gaia, is amazed by food and just wants to have a fun adventure with Sonic, and is driven by the things he wants - he's a coward, if Sonic wasn't there(though yes he did cause Chip’s memory loss but ignore that for now) he wouldn't have even gotten to the first Gaia Temple on his own.

What is Morality?
If Archetypes are what explains your character’s personality, Morality is what governs personality, laying the groundwork for their moral code. While it's a lot more general than archetypes, [bAlignment[/b], or the morality your character aligns themselves with, is still important. Most people think of it in the broader terms of Hero, Antihero, and Villain, but here I'm going to be discussing the DND alignments, which there are nine of, made up in pairs just like before. Alignment is decided by two scales, Law vs. Chaos and Good vs. Evil.
Law vs. Chaos
Lawful characters are honest, responsible, and act of accordance to some law whether it be a religious law, government’s law, or their own moral code. Though they are honorable and reliable, it can just as well represent close-mindedness and lack of adaptability.
Chaotic characters are the opposite of lawful characters, preferring to do their own thing rather than take orders and acting on instinct. Though it represents freedom and adaptability, it can be random and refuse to accept genuine authority.
Neutral characters on the Law vs. Chaos scale don't try and rebel but don't strictly follow law either. They can be honest, but they can just as easily be swayed to steal.

Good vs. Evil
Good and Evil correspond to what we normally see as Heroes and Villains, however, there is no perfect “Antihero” option. That's even considering there's no clean “Antivillain” option, either - an “Antivillain” being a more noble villain or an antagonist with more heroic qualities. They don't cleanly fit into Neutral, which is by itself a person who doesn't fit well into Good or Evil. And Law vs. Chaos isn't a replacement for Good and Evil either. A good example as to why is that vigilante characters, like Batman, are chaotic good - the fabled “Evil-Good” alignment - yet in most iterations Batman is a paragon, the exact opposite!
This is why I am going with DND alignments - Antihero isn't a morality, it's a stereotype technically.
Take note, stereotypes alone aren't bad, it's when your character is the stereotype and that's all. You know how to write an Antihero, a girl, a jock, a nerd, but when that's all there is to your character’s personality, there is no personality and thus no character.
Good characters are altruistic and do their best to help others, even at the risk of themselves. Evil characters are malevolent, whether it be out of pure viciousness or to achieve some normally selfish goal that is being impeded in some fashion.

The Nine Alignments
Now, like before, we put the two parts together. We get Lawful Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, Neutral Neutral(AKA True Neutral), Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, and Chaotic Evil. Let's use the Sonic characters as examples again, because this is a Sonic forum so we might as well, right?
Lawful Good: Blaze is naturally good but tends to be driven by her duties as Princess and Guardian of the Sol Emeralds.
Neutral Good: Sonic is a good guy who does good whether or not it corresponds to authority, but he does not try to rebel.
Chaotic Good: Shadow was loosely placed into this position by the end of his own game and arc, as despite now working for the government it's clear he just does good by his own merit, whether a higher power agrees or not.
Lawful Neutral: Rouge, despite working for the government, is a thief who tends to help in saving the world. She respects her authority greatly and isn't evil by any real means, but does have her vices.
True Neutral: Vector only cares about money and his friends. Whether or not he's breaking the law or not, however he has to get his money, his only qualms is that it doesn't somehow hurt the team.
Chaotic Neutral: E-123 Omega cares only about rebelling against his creator, Dr. Eggman. He's tied to Shadow and Rouge, pretty close friends of his despite being a machine, but his sole motivation is destruction of Eggman whether it aligns with good or evil.
Lawful Evil: Black Doom may have ulterior motives, but he had a deal and he expected Dr. Gerald Robotnik to hold up on his end of the bargain. He is the leader of his own race and respects Shadow above all else due to seeing him as a son… until Shadow turns on him.
Neutral Evil: Dr. Eggman wants to take over the world, he is the authority. He's not rebelling really since his motives aren't related to anything other than personal want, but he clearly isn't following the laws.
Chaotic Evil: Dark Gaia is a creature made of dark emotions and only exists to destroy the world so that Light Gaia can bring it back.

What is left to discuss about Personality?
Ok, so here's the ironic twist you probably didn't see coming. In this first section discussing Personality, I haven't actually talked about character personality. I've said the how, the why, I've explained it and described its governing rules, I've even gone over what isn't a personality, but I have not explained what a personality is and why it's so important.
So, there are a few ways to get across what personality is, primarily you can think of it as the “programming” of a character, where when something happens they will react in a certain way and defining how they react to others. Another way to treat it is as a base description. Personality is what your character is like, a base description separate from backstory, appearance, powers, ect. If I asked you what this character was like, could you answer me with at least a paragraph.
A personality is not a single sentence, it is not a list of traits, it's how those traits define how they act around others and in certain situations. If you character is a pacifist, is there any situation where they will have to fight? If they are just “a pacifist”, are we to assume that this mother would let her children be murdered because she didn't want to fight to protect them? That's what I'm talking here - specifics. And it starts with something broad, the base description.
Other things are there motives/aspirations, the things they like, the things they dislike, ect. all parts that separately won't tell me anything about your character but together tell me everything about them.
Note that I could talk about personality types, but I don't know enough about that stuff to discuss it, and that'd be me applying Sonic characters to 16 as opposed to nine or six divisions to use as examples.
I'll mention here that some may argue that history is more important, and that does make sense - but looking at Sonic, he literally has no backstory and he's still a serviceable character in the games. Of course, in RP that becomes a problem, but I mean, even a character who wakes from a coma with amnesia will have a personality. Backstory may help define the personality, and this is by no means saying you can just leave the backstory blank - especially on your first character - but regardless, without a personality you don't have a character.
Since most of it is self-explanatory(what a character likes and dislikes, I wonder what that is), I'll detail motives/aspirations before I finish this off. I'm only covering this specifically because it's something I see a lot of people, including myself, forget about.

Motives/Aspirations, and the big But
So, you've got your character. You know whether they are good or evil, dominant over their environment or submissive to it, and you have a basic description beyond the stereotypes, not a few words or a single single, but a few paragraphs.
Well now what, is your character just gonna smile and wave or look grumpy all day? Are they just there to look pretty?
What does your character want?
Motive is a statement answering that question, it's what your character wants. Even if it's just “food, drink, and sleep”, it's something. With no purpose in life, what pushes them to make any decisions? Without their “drive”, their Drive is worthless! A character with no motive literally has no purpose and effectively can't do anything worthwhile. Every character that does something has a motive, whether you defined it or not. If they don't have a motive, you're character doesn't make interesting choices, they just sit there looking pretty. It's best to define what your character’s motive is.
But that's not all! Yes, if your character has a motive, that's great, but what's so special if they just… achieve their motive with nothing in their way? A character can aspire for anything, but what gives that aspiration meaning is the major challenges they had to overcome in getting there.
So let's make an addendum to that nice, neat little character motive statement, and put a “but” at the end.
Your character’s but is the most prominent challenge they have to overcome to get to their overall character goal. There are two kinds of buts, intrinsic and extrinsic buts. To explain it better, I'm going to give an example of a motive to add a but to: “They want to get the girl, but…” Simple enough example? Alright.
An intrinsic but is an internal problem, such as a personality flaw or a weakness. “They want to get the girl, but they lack the confidence to talk to her.”
An extrinsic but is an external problem, such as the society a person is born into or a literal external antagonist. One example is Eggman wants to take over the world, but Sonic keeps stopping him. In our example, “She wants to get the girl, but they are a girl in a society where same-sex relationships are frowned upon.” They tend to take more creativity to accomplish a motive with an extrinsic but.

Sheeply's Character Creation Guide
Easydamus Alignments

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