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Character Applications: Tips For Making Top-Notch Roleplaying Applications

Character Applications: Tips For Making Top-Notch Roleplaying Applications

If you love text-based role-play, then you’re probably familiar with filling out character applications. They can take hours of your time and then you have to worry that they may not even be accepted.

 

I have over six years of experience moderating and have read hundreds of applications. I know what I look for and have only been rejected from one game in my time (their Hermione was a mod and was looking for a more sexy, less-flawed, Ron Weasley). I have had to fill out revisions and have made requests for revisions to be submitted to me, in turn.

 

This check list won’t be fool-proof, but it will help to make sure that your application is thorough and leaves no room for question.

 

Character Application Checklist
Personality
Likes and Dislikes: It may seem simple, but I have seen players scramble to know what their character likes. Even if it’s just a meme you put in your journal behind a cut, have a clear list of hobbies, favorites, and things they dislike. It will help the simpler interaction later to know that Ron hates corned beef or that John is obsessed with Oreos.

History

Chronology: Make sure to put everything in chronological order and clearly label the flow of time. Statements like “When she was seven” or “Shortly after” give a sense of a timeline. I have received an application that had absolutely no sense of time or the order of events. I didn’t think it was possible to forget time in a history, but it happened. En media res is a trick you can save for your own fiction. In a straight character biography, make it simple and clear.
Mind the Gaps: Make sure that every span of time is accounted for. If three years pass between life-defining events, mention it. Even if all they did was live comfortably and work at a nice job, mention it. We need to know what happened between those years.
Format
Length: An application that can fit on a page with minimal scrolling is probably too short and will make a moderator think you half-assed it. An application that is more than four pages in 12 font will make a tired moderator skim it and miss the details of your character. If you have a novel to write, save some of it for in-game. Be thorough, but don’t make your application so much work that moderators will dread it. Length doesn’t guarantee it’s good, anyway.
Clarity: Html can help (bold form fields like Age: 17, Gender: Male) but it’s not needed. On the internet, two scientific facts prevail; Sans-serif fonts are easier to read on a monitor and text is more palatable broken up into smaller, narrow chunks.At the very least, without any Html, put headers in ALL CAPS and put return spaces between sections.Experts can put the whole application in a blockquote to make a more narrow column. Change the font-family to Sans-Serif (Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, etc). Bold headers and add return spaces between paragraphs. Indents are hard to do on the internet, and you shouldn’t combine paragraph indents with block spacing in a body of text anyway. Avoid scary color choices or white on black text. It’s hard to read. Use some design sense if you’re going to code it up.
Answer Everything and Then Put it Behind a Cut: Make sure every field is filled out. Proof-read it for silly grammar or spelling mistakes that will make mods want to nit-pick for more, and then make sure it’s behind a cut. Nobody wants to add you to their game and then have to scroll through your whole application on their friend page. MAKE SURE IT IS VISIBLE TO MODS. At least once a month I receive an application that the player forgot to unlock.

*NOTE* Since creating this post I have left text-based RP. Working on my own fiction and business endeavors has taken my time away, but mostly the decision was made based on the current climate of the community. For those still toughing it out and fighting through the drama, flakes, and word-count elitism to find good gaming, good luck!

6 Fatal Mistakes Commonly Made in RP Plot

6 Fatal Mistakes Commonly Made in RP Plot

Text-based RPGs were a passion of mine from 10th grade (2002) until very recently. Right now my life is too busy to commit to much gaming, but a break from the hobby can do wonders to renew passion.

Despite my distance I find myself ever-lurking, observing mistakes players make and acknowledging my own failures in the medium. With 8 years experience playing and 6 years modding, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two. So, here I pass on some wisdom and welcome comments supplementing my knowledge.

“All I know is that I know nothing.” -Socrates.

6 Fatal Mistakes Commonly Made in RP Plot



1. Blowing The Load

You heard me! So many great plots get rushed through. A story that could have beautifully, slowly developed over months takes two week and then it’s over and done with. This happens most commonly with relationships. Two players get so excited by a ship that they fall in love, get married, and consummate (usually not in that order). Any tension from a forbidden romance, any secret love, gets rushed and done with so that plots have to loop or fizzle out because they were over too quickly.

Worst of all, none of the other players care about these fast-developed ships because they see them as too little development with too much enthusiasm.

Credit Hannahtess on DeviantArt

2. Becoming Romantically Dependent

Too many players make their romantic plot their only plot. Then if their ship gets boring (because good relationships make bad TV) they end up in an endless loop of fluff/smut or fade away. Even worse, if their ship partner drops they have no friends or plot to fall back on while they NPC the ship and find a new player or adlib a breakup.

3. Isolating

Like becoming Romantically Dependent, if all your plot is with one other character, this spells doom. This is really specific to communities and not personal story lines, but it’s a boundary that is dangerous if confused. Other players will come to dislike you if they see you as a pair playing out a personal story line in a community and it will be hard to get involved in the community should your storyline partner fade away.

It’s easy to come up with an epic plot and barrel ahead, but it’s always a good idea to find little ways for others to play with you. I’m not saying that everyone has to cater to your plotlines, but that you should give others opportunities to fill slots in yours. Offer up roles that an NPC might play to the community for grabs or find a way someone else can complicate it.

Further, don’t just stick to plots you came up with. Volunteer to help others and even if you have an amazing plot running with plenty to do, tag open threads. Don’t get stuck in your own world. You are part of a community.

4. Hitting an Emotional Dead End

Sometimes plot is so epic that it breaks a character. If you are going to horribly scar your character for life you have to decide if you will be willing to realistically deal with the emotional fallout of certain traumatic events.

Killing a spouse, for instance, makes a character very unpleasant to play for quite a few months.

This is not to say that you’re a bad writer if you don’t want to deal with it. Writers in prose fiction generally have the luxury of summing up a character’s emotional breakdown in a literary montage or at least reflecting it off of a supporting cast of characters. You play one character in role-play and you really shouldn’t play anyone who interacts with them. You don’t have the luxury of summing it up because games are played in real time. You have to wallow in it.

Consider before you do it.

Credit altana on Deviant Art

5. Ignoring Plotholes and Flaws

If there is a simple way your character could solve all of their problems, but they aren’t, you’d better be ready to point out in your narrative what psychological reason your character has for ignoring that out or you will be seen as a Mary Sue player. 

Too proud to apologize to win her back? Make it clear that this is a flaw in your character and not just you being too attached. It’s admirable to make your character flawed, even stubborn. It’s annoying when we can’t tell if it’s the character or the player who thinks they are right.

6. Failure to Recognize the End of an Arch

If a plot has nowhere to go without going in a circle, end it. Sometimes you need to do this with characters, too. If you have a character you’ve played for years and you love their plot and arch too much to upset it with drama, retire the character. Nobody will fault you for saying that you have no more stories to tell with that character.

Only write the book if you have a story to tell.

How to Avoid RP Drama and Why

How to Avoid RP Drama and Why

This article is tailored specifically to the online, text-based gaming world, but I’m sure that it has many applications in other social or gaming environments. So here it is, How to Avoid RP Drama and Why.

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
-Dorothy Nevill