Keep this simple fact in mind: Your character(s) Profile may be your character(s) First Impression. You only get one of those.
There seem to be a lot of divergent ideas about what to add in one’s profile. This post isn’t about telling people what is right or wrong. My intent isn’t to infer how things *should* be. I am simply sharing my ideal and how I arrived at my conclusions.
I treat my characters profiles as “Public Papers”. The information I supply in them are just as much a reflection on the kind of character and storyline they are involved in as their stories are. Public papers doesn’t necessarily mean “what is filed with Rhy’Din’s Census Bureau” or city identification papers. Rather it is far more reaching for it implies what could be “public” knowledge; things others may be able to learn about the character whose profile they are reading.
Profiles are role-play tools to me. I want them to be short and sweet, because typically I am glancing over them while interacting with the character in the room. I don’t have time to read a book! Too much information and most often I am forced to skim rather than absorb. Hint at things, intrigue me, invite me to seek out your character’s posts! If I am intrigued by a profile, I am far more likely to pull up their posts and give them a look-through later when I am out of the room. If I am bored, overwhelmed, confused or given way too much *private* (read that as “useless to me“) information that I can’t play off of I am likely to close the window and move on.
Poems and song lyrics merely confuse me. I realize they may have inspired the character in some way… and obviously hold meaning to the player… but? How can I use them to enhance my interactions with the character? Ah??? I don’t know! Sometimes it’s the entirety of the poem or song, sometimes its one line that may have attracted the player. I don’t know what aspects they want me to play off of or use as a reference… if any. The only thing I get is that they like the poem or song and maybe that appeals to me the player too… But… where’s the beef as a popular commercial once asked. It gives me nothing to work with IC-wise.
I want to know the relevant things that will enhance my ability to interact with that character and I want it to be concise, quick and easy to glean.
What do they look like? (We are in a forum that relies on writing. We should all be able to write some kind of description that isn’t “See Pic”. I would prefer nothing in comparison to that. It’s one of my pet peeves!) What color is their hair, their eyes? What style of clothing do they lean towards? Are they gregarious or withdrawn? Are their expressions easy to read or stoic? Do they have any defining traits I can play to? Do they have any descriptors they use to identify their character in a unique and individual way that I can borrow and reflect back in play?
All these tidbits I can use to make our play together feel more intimate and flow more cohesively.
Looking into someone’s eyes is a fine way to establish an intimate connection. However, such an action becomes even more powerful when we include details like the color of their eyes, the tone of their skin, or the emotion the expression on their face conveys. These are typical tricks to lure in the readers, to give them the feeling they are there, witnessing the event first-hand. They are investing. I believe that is everyone’s goal in a forum such as ours… We want others to want to interact with us. We want others to want to make those kinds of connections to ours. We want to invest in each others characters and stories through our writing. (And no, I am not advocating making the other players in the room into one’s audience… Reader does not equate to audience, rather in this comparison, the readers are the other players one is hoping to entice in to playing with them.)
It’s a time tested trick I learned back on AOL. The more detail I can pick up and weave into my play about the others playing with me, the better the play is, the easier the story reads, and everyone is left satisfied and happy because they feel included. It becomes especially interrelated when we are able to blend terms and referrers’ taken from each others play across the board. It lends a cohesive element to the shared story telling. Content is king, for it is in the contents we learn the mark and merit of the player. Respectful players tend to offer power to those they are playing with, rather than pump up their own characters. (Commentary on content is best left for another thread however…)
Profiles are not character sheets! Where every detail, skill, whatever must be meticulously listed only to be accompanied with the (suddenly) necessary OOC disclaimer that tells of us that the information isn’t known… Ah? Hold on there Nelly!!!!
Best advice I EVER got on AOL’s PaP: Don’t offer up any information to the public you don’t want them playing off of. Because if its there someone is going to play off of it sooner or later and trouble will ensue.
The reason why this advice is so good is pretty simple really. People may “overlook” the OOC disclaimer and use what they’ve read. Not because they are being disrespectful, but because it’s a subconscious tendency. They read it on the profile, in their head they associate it to what their character could/might pick up. Most will tend to lean towards their character being oh-so-wise and able to sense it all. Its common sense; if you don’t want anyone to play off of it, then don’t put it in your character’s profile.
If it wasn’t in the profile they wouldn’t be able to play off of it by purpose or accident.
No need to defend this ideal with the “If it isn’t in the profile then the character can’t do it” because that is bunk. No one can tell me what my characters can or cannot do. Whether I list it in my characters profiles or not, I decide for my characters and stories, like you do for yours. Sure… folks can try to dominate this way, but I will call BS on that sort of behavior every time.
The OOC of the Profile…
Oh, wow. This one is a bit of a sticky wicket, ain’t it? So many like their OOC and they simply gotta have it in their prof…
For me? The only OOC I want to see on the profile is the image credit. Yeah, sure, the profile will talk to me OOC as much as it does IC. I’m getting a taste of the player’s writing style and a hint at the type of content they seem to be interested in. Hopefully I will also get a sense of their play-style. Will it be compatible to mine? Are they likely going to enjoy the kind of rp I lean towards? One can determine all of this by how a player has chosen to write their profile. I don’t need an OOC snippet to tell me a player is open to interactions as I assume that’s why we all participate in FFRP. Snippets about how old a player is? Well… if my only goal was cyber sex maybe that would be important, but since I want a lot more out of rp… that kind of thing puts me off to be perfectly blunt. And for those who must tell me how long the character has been in play or the player’s years of rp experience… That worries me. Why does one feel such a need to advertise that unless they feel they aren’t getting the deference they think they are due? And if that’s the case… what’s going on with them? I don’t care if you’ve been around since Moses. How you play, what you play and can we play compatibly is my primary concern. Years of experience doesn’t equate to compatible play styles and storylines. A well-written Profile can do what an OOC snippet cannot; convince me to play with that character.
The only OOC snippets I want to see on a profile is art credit, and yes, I do expect to see it. Those who use famous faces and no credit? Shame on you! Give credit where credit is due, even if you think it’s oh-so-obvious. Here’s why: We play in a forum where most of us care about our copyrights, our stories belong to us. To overlook copyrights in images infers a lack of respect for such things. If one can’t respect copyrights in one area, what makes me think they will get it in another? Please realize, I’ve had my creative licenses breached many times in FFRP where other players have stolen my work/play/writing and used it for their own creations, some even had the gall to threaten me for stealing from them! Its annoying people and it doesn’t endear. Screw anyone that says that creative theft is “imitation” and that somehow translates into flattery. It’s not flattering, it’s fucking theft.
We will be influenced by what we read. On the boards, in profiles, in rooms; it’s what we do! We write and interact and read one another… of course we will be influenced by what we read, its common sense and rather obvious. FFRP has no real rules, and only a handful of guidelines. We, the individual players, must determine what works for us. Yes, some could start screaming elitism here, but isn’t that an attempt to control and force play some of us don’t want upon us? Yes. Because the whole point is we get to choose what we play, how we play it and with whom we play it. I can decide not to play with someone based on my first impression of them just as easily as I can determine to play with them. Its my right and my choice just like it’s yours.
We only get one first impression… the first time someone reads a character’s profile is that first impression. Will it be memorable? Will it invite, intrigue, and inspire interaction? Or will it bewilder, confuse, confound or intimidate? A profile has the power to create magic and invite play… or not. How we choose to use it… that is in each of our individual hands.