Concepting - What motivates your character?

  • An oft-overlooked detail in character creation (and one I always found pivotal to getting positive player response for NPCs as well).

    Why is this person/being doing what they're doing? What makes them different from the other cogs in machinery of the villains, good guys, whatever grouping applies. It goes hand in hand with creating your character before deciding class/race/alignment/faction choices, but even if you pick those first, its still a core element in creating an engaging story, and distinguishing yourself from the other Necromancers, Freedom Fighters, soliders, etc. Its why Batman or Spiderman usually trumps Superman in fan ratings, because the former have low-level motivations while the latter is (usually) portrayed as an inhumanly altruistic personification of good.

    I do find that this has gone a bit by the wayside in the wake of "Adventure and Intrigue" push, as more focus falls on what you do, rather than why you do it. If I can stretch out a controversial opinion, in the NPC side too, there seems to be (as a result possibly of pushing to PC initiative) less characterization of major NPCs, and more of a tendency to be a checkbox signature authorizing the PCs actions.

    There's certainly a time-equation in the works as well. A PC's personal level story will only affect a small grouping. Conversely, the wider story line of an army conquering Arabel, will affect damn near everyone there. Its more efficient in a raw quantity effect, but there's a reason even most war stories focus on a few soldiers, rather then the entire army. The player who wants to make their mark will often opt for the supervilain who threatens everyone, over the quirky sidekick whose story is largely unknown in the shadows of said supervillain.

  • Adventure & Intrigue ™ is what I consider the uninteresting man's way of pushing a story. You go out, scramble around some spawn-intensive area, acquire X needed item in Y quantity for Ritual Z, and then the story is over.

    This is -boring-. Yes, I understand that you're gathering reagents so that you can put up a force shield around your castle to protect against enemy attacks, but why the sudden interest? Why did you choose a ritual when you had the option of espionage and sabotaging your opponent's offensive? Why are you even in this conflict at all?

    Just a few days ago, I found something that made my heart flutter - it was a PC's written account of the Battle of Crag and the fall of the Slime Cult. Absolute golden acquisition, as it gave me the STORY behind why Castle Crag is the way it is now. I think the server could really use more of that - more historical context to better elaborate just how intricate the setting is.

    Moreover, I always try to give my characters some sort of deep, metaphysical purpose for why they chose this crappy, war-torn city above all the other splendid, marvelous places in the world. Some of them came here BECAUSE it's a crappy, war-torn city desperately in need of some good ol' evil-thwacking. Some of them came here because, well, they were already living here. Sometimes life blew them here on the winds of change, and their gold has run low enough that they decided to stay for a while, only to be swept up in the myriad of STORIES present in the city.

    Not plots. STORIES.

    I couldn't possibly care less about Jimbob's goal to become a weapon master simply because it's cool, or Judy's persistent powerquesting just to acquire the Holy 12th Level. What I care about is deep, powerful character development that is sufficiently rewarded by both the DMs and the playerbase so that such beautiful, elaborate roleplay can continue rather than Quest Train Group #3094 who just so happens to have a PC/DM faction tag on them.

  • My current character's goal is to win the love of a certain elf.

    Sorry for the non-paragraph.

  • Adventure & Intrigue ™ is what I consider the uninteresting man's way of pushing a story. You go out, scramble around some spawn-intensive area, acquire X needed item in Y quantity for Ritual Z, and then the story is over.

    The main misconception here is that people think scrambling around to acquire X is actually A&I.

  • Motives are key, especially when building objectives. With some of my recent characters, the motives were pretty simple really!

    Aisha, my paladin of At'ar, was drivien by a desire to save her people and the belief the At'ar was gilding her towards victory.

    Quiella, my evil halfling druidess of Sheela, was driven by a desire to earn her way in the halfling afterlife by being the sort of druidess that did all the horrible jobs for Shelia that needed doing, because she knew in her heart she was pretty dam far from Yondalla’s ideal.

    And May Bella El-vin, my pragmatic wizardess, an insecurity complex the size of Russia mixed in with a little patriotic feeling towards Arabel.

    Motives are what define alignment IMHO, with a lot of characters I’ve played alignment gets pulled all over the place in character creation, but motives keep pretty much solid.

  • I keep it simple things like gold for a merc or revenge for others character based of course and can be changed if events effect them enough to force a change.
    I find Fear of "X" is a good one also.
    Once i get the basic drive i generate goals in game from that drive.

  • There is always something small, some personal story twist that gives my characters a human reason for behaving how they behave. I've never approached a character with a mind blowing or server changing goal in mind. I make up these personal stories mostly for myself so that I have some framework for my characters behavior. I can then insert them into the coa story line and have them feel more alive to me. Many times these personal character stories never get disclosed to the other characters. I try also to "react" to the coa events in a somewhat realistic way with my character. Events in RL often have life changing effects. If one of my characters experiences something significant I try to work it into the personality.

  • @Adventure:

    Adventure & Intrigue ™ is what I consider the uninteresting man's way of pushing a story. You go out, scramble around some spawn-intensive area, acquire X needed item in Y quantity for Ritual Z....

    This is not A&I. This is only Adventure.


    …you had the option of espionage and sabotaging your opponent's offensive? Why are you even in this conflict at all?

    This is not A&I. This is only Intrigue.

    IMHO, it's the balance that the DM's want. Scrambling through spawn intensive areas, felling villainous monsters and chasing artifacts of great renown is the adventure part. The sabotage, the spies, the disinformation, the bribery, the STORY.. that's the intrigue.

    Enough intrigue.. and then you need to do some adventuring to chase down what you learned. Enough adventuring, and you're out of options until you do some intrigue to learn about new things. They push each other in tandem. And the two together combine to create the STORY.

    The problem is when someone thinks that just the adventure side is all of it, and that's all they do so there is no story. Or when they think that intrigue is the only half and that's all they do so they get bored because they never leave the city. It's about both. Some people will lean more towards one than the other. Find your balance, and play how you enjoy to play.

  • Hack,slash,exp,hawt loot isn't that every adventurers reason? 😛

  • @confusedgamer:

    Hack,slash,exp,hawt loot isn't that every adventurers reason? 😛

    not mine…..boath have very fluid goals driven by events, one only wants to dance dance...though..come to think of it..that may have been a very poor choice since ..most people seek what you mentioned

  • What is this phenomenon that you call "concepting"?

  • It's mostly when players tell everyone they're bored with their two week old character, and have caused it to suicide in some meaningless PvP or PvM because the player was lost in how to progress the character further, and need folks to help them come up with another boring character.

    Occasionally, it happens when an awesome character that has built up Hero or Villain status over 6-12 months has finally met his end in a blaze of glory and accolades, and the player needs some space to move on from his last character.

  • I have decided all out, that "Concepting" and "builds" no longer are words I shall use. Concepting to me, is creating a general idea. "Im thinking a Robin Hoodish swashbuckler… Think he could be a Ilmaterian? Tabs chin a moment Yeah, Robin Hoodish Swashbuckler, seeking to become a champion of Ilmater, even if the alignments differ." The end.

    Character Building "Storylines, weaknesses, strengths, personality, portrait hunting. Picking stats, then transferring stats to some Class." The end.
    Personally... If you plan more than your first three levels before creation, you have a wrong perspective of what CoA is actually about.
    Someone told me yesterday on Irc... "Olouth, you are playing that Bard/Ranger Blackwood, right?!" I said "Yes". He responded "Yeah, I wouldnt want to log in with such a crappy BUILD!"
    "Builds" belong on WoW and Diablo II.

    As to the question in hand, in the hope of returning to the original topic. I try to find a "conceptual thought" that motivates my character.

    My Bhaliiran Senior Retainer had "Morally Flawed glory Seeker and Do Gooder". - Would do all the wrong things for all the almost good reasons.
    Sophia Silverscale was a Crusader of morals and Order.
    Darius Falex, a Gypsy, was something along the lines of "Family man & general Scoundrel with a need to belong."
    Amelia is... so more much simple yet far more complex... Yet the idea is similar.

    Sometimes, I find my idea just does not fit the server at its current time. Jacob Everwood was one such character.

  • You do not need to know anything of current politics to develop a character that is interesting. The character comes to the city having developed some aspects of his or her character in youth. Nurture/Nature from parents, carers, mentors, events in the child's history. These things can be decided before creation or even after you have played the character for some time. These character facets will help you decide your character's recation to the events and politics of the city as it ebbs and flows through it's own life.

    Your character lived in a village haunted by vampires. You saw their power and was facinated or turned to horror by them. You react to vampires that may appear in the city based on this.

    Undead haunted a cemetary near the place you lived and zombies dug up your grandparents grave. You fight for the destruction of all that is undead, but are turned to horror and flee from Zombies, even though you could destroy them with one flick of your sword, because they could be your grandmother.

    Your sister poked fun at you in public when you tried to date one of the local girls. You are now bashful and reluctant to put yourself forward if there are women in the party. Yet, ultimately, you wish to win the heart of a woman of power - perhaps Venieth?

    None of these have anything to do with the local politics, but could be used to influence your integration into the local politics.

  • Dont listen to me though. I play a freaking werewolf, and it has taken me 2,5 months to reach lvl 7. Characters have been created, reached lvl 10 and retired of old age during this process.

    That said… The characters who have made an inpact on me during my many years here, have been characters who while they rocked the boat, also were able to portray the WHY properly.

    Pyatt Pree's search for immortality. Thorkms' weretiger and his search for lost love. Rabbit and his utter devotion to Tymora.

    Tell the story. Mechanically, 14, 16 or 18 strength arent that different at lvl 10, with Bulls strength, Bless and Divine favor. 16 or 18 wisdom... DC 22, or DC 24 fireballs... AC 24, or 25...

    Because for some reason, the better the story you tell, the more look you somehow end up with.

  • I personally never look at builds. They don't belong here.

    You want to play a gimp or a powerhouse, it depends on your concept. I never really care about that either way! It's about what you do. It's a misconception that DMs want to see "RP builds" or "gimps". It's simply not true. We've supported plenty of mechanically optimized PCs over less interesting "Gimped" builds. We've also supported plenty of Gimped builds over less interesting mechanically optimized PCs.

    Your character sheet numbers have absolutely nothing that interests us.

  • Poon.

    And I'm not kidding. That motivation has worked wonders for all my characters and put them in some very sticky situations.

  • @Polaris:

    ….. It's about what you do.....

    Right there.
    As the DM says. Its not your build, it's not your backstory.
    Its what you DO! and if I may stretch to expand this…. Its what you DO WITH OTHERS

    Take the time you spend when not playing that you spend on thinking of builds -or alternate concepts/characters - or what have you
    and instead spend it thinking on how your character could convice/force/sway/blackmial/seduce others into either doing something
    THEY would desire or hate. By THEY, I mean the other people, NOT your character.

    That is how you can get engagement and giving-a-sh*t by others. Make your goals/actions/? be things that others care about, either for or against.
    Its a area I'm not particularly good at, because it takes some time thinking about it while not immersed, and I find I dont have the time.

  • Yeah, having other people reacting to you (either positively or negatively) is best way to get attention. We usually tend to hear about such people because their names are plastered all over the IC forums and everyone is always talking about them IG. Even if they are low-key in those respects, their actions send out waves that affect a ton of other players, forcing them to react to the action.

    "I wonder what nefarious plot X is up to now"
    "Did you hear X just tried to kill Y?"
    "Y is such a great crusader, I want to part of his stuff"
    "Oh crap, someone conducted a diabolical ritual to open a gate to the 7238th layer of the Abyss! It must be closed!"

    When you get people reacting to you like that, you can be sure you're reaching for the stars.

  • Conflict motivates me, so I pick something that'll cause the most of it.

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