This is written for those who want to develop storylines for their characters. If that’s not how you play, feel free to ignore this post. Thanks.
Every character needs a concept. You don’t need to know everything about your character/s to play your character/s; you just need to know some basics. (See “Flushing Out Your Character/s” below for details.)
Your character needs motivation, without it they have no direction, no drive, no ambitions. You leave yourself with nothing to work with.
All characters should grow and evolve if you want them to be interesting.
Storyline/s should offer growth for the character/s involved; otherwise it is a rather pointless story to tell. Conflict and resolution are key ingredients in setting the pace for your stories while opening venues for character/s growth. Playing off character weaknesses or flaws allows them a chance towards resolution of the same or, if you wish otherwise, creation of new ones that can add nuance to the stories and add depth to your character/s.
In free form role-play there are no points assigned, no levels to move up, the only way our character/s advance in any way is if we create it. Challenging storylines are great for accomplishing character growth and advancement. The meat of the story confronts the character/s in ways that allow them to overcome their own fears, opening the character/s to change and/or evolution. When designing your stories keep in mind that you want to create these opportunities for growth.
Be careful not to over structure your stories. If your sl is so rigorously structured down to what scenes are required to advance the story, then you may find your sl stalling quite frequently and any IC interactions can derail your original concepts. Leave your sl open for random encounters, let others help and inspire you in the telling of your character/s stories.
There are many tools available that can inspire you towards awesome storylines. Pick something of interest to you and run with it. You don’t have to research every detail, (but if you want to that’s not a crime either.) How rich or detailed your character/s are really is up to you. However a strong foundation and a good sense of direction will go far; it gives you something to play off of and it gives others something to play back to.
If you have no idea what drives your character/s, the rest of us can’t help you. It is crossing the line to dictate to others what their stories should be therefore it really falls on you to make your own.
Preexisting storylines are not there for you to hijack. Time and effort went into the building of others stories. If you want to play in them, work it out with the other players. Do not presume that your character/s can steal the starring role/s, simply because you think it would be fun.
Most players online who participate in interactive free-form roleplay have few qualms in letting others join in on their ongoing stories. The key here is to communicate. It helps if you can introduce to the other players a way your character might help or fit in to the stories. Only you know your character/s, only you know what they can and can’t do, or what they want or don’t want to do. A good IC idea on how your character/s can benefit the ongoing stories based upon the needs of your character/s will go a long way in getting you what you want. In fact, this is the only way to gain starring role/s for your character/s in ongoing stories.
I reiterate, we can’t tell your character/s stories for you, only you have that right.
Flushing Out Your Character/s: (Even if it is only in your own head.)
- What flaws, weaknesses do they have?
- What are their strong points? (What can they do well?)
- What do they want out of life?
- Any special goals?
- Any longing desires?
- What is it they think will make them happy?
- What kind of future do they envision?
- How do they accomplish these things they want/need/desire?
Can’t think of a single thing? Work on it. This is the most important and challenging step in story line creation: Knowing your character. This is where all the roads lead and end, ok? If you don’t have a direction for your character then trying to help you gain growth and achieve things for them is somewhat pointless, as we have nowhere to go unless you give it to us.
Please notice that nothing about their past needs to be firmed at time of creation. You don’t need to know everything about your new character/s, you just need to know what motivates them.
Your character/s are your creations, their stories are yours to tell. If you don’t have a story, it’s high time you thought of something. Having even the most simple of IC goals or objectives will give your character/s enough depth to invite others to interact with them. Shared storylines are what FFRP is really all about so learn the art of interaction.
Interaction isn’t a naughty word; it is what we do when we play with each other. It holds the key to your success or downfall. The more you put out that others can play off of, the more you will get back in the long run. You keep it all to yourself? No one can catch a clue; therefore they are less likely to play with you. Write it too abstractly? They are likely to overlook you rather than take up the thesaurus in hopes of figuring it out.
The art of interaction happens on a multitude of levels. There are no sure fire guides on what it is you should do to be the best you can be. It really is built over experience in our genre.
Keep in mind that we can’t know it, IC or OOC, unless you put it out there. If you put it out in thoughts? That is considered writing to the player, the character, (unless stated they are psychic), will not know what is being thought at them. Actions are a great way to infer emotional states, frame of mind, what the character is thinking. Actions really do speak louder than thoughts and open the door for further IC interactions.
Play respectfully, be courtesy, play for yourself, and remember above all else, PLAY TO HAVE FUN!