Making a new character, atleast for some of us, is a huge deal. It may take hours of research and planning to get prepared to play. For many, generating the initial concept and the first few hours of play is the most difficult part. While many have already created characters, some of the tips and concepts listed below can always be applied to existing ones, and as we all know, many of us tend to make new characters on a daily basis.
Use a combination of observation and imagination to create an interesting, yet believable character. Everyday we're exposed to many different types of people, and in each of these people rests a fragment that could possibly provide interesting material for a new character. Observe the interactions of people- either verbal conversations or body language- and interpret that to your character. When does someone smile? Laugh? Get angry or scared? Many of these reactions you can apply to many characters- of course depending upon the personality of the reference person, of course.
While it may be fun to have a "perfect" character- they quickly grow old. Real people have flaws, and so do our creations. No one is going to be completely fearless. Perhaps the tough, stonefaced fighter, has a fear of heights or spiders. Or the evil scheming mage is extremely uncomfortable around priests of a certain deity.
These quirks are what make us different from each other, propelling us from cookie cutter molds. However, they must be believable and have a basis. Why would a lich have a weakness for kittens? Maybe as a child his pet cat was his only companion. While far-fetched, it effectively provides interest to the character, and makes him different from any other lich we might come across.
Character flaws and quirks are essentially what set our characters, and ourselves, apart from each other and thus, are extremely important when fabricating a personality. These features are the essential different between "flat" 2-D characters, and "dynamic" 3-D ones.
Also, while our own personal feelings might guide the motivations of our characters, it is definitely important to remember that it is much better for you to become your character than your character to become you!
Allow the character to REACT!
Nearly every situation a character becomes involved in will effect him or her in some way, either insignificantly, or life changing. Seeing another human killed might fill the character with a since of loss, or elation, depending on the personality again.
Emotes are important. Never underestimate them. A character can reveal much about themselves through their emotes based on reactions to a particular scene or story. Even silent characters produce common signals via body language that tells us how they feel. Do they look away? Do they raise their eyebrows and look surprised? Do they grin maliciously?
Now would be a good time to introduce the use of adjectives. A particular part of speech that many of us fail to utilize effectively, leading to a certain stale feeling concerning emotes. An adjective is any word that further modifies a noun by describing, limiting, specifying, or distinguishing it from others. The emote *Smiles* is ofen overused and grows old quickly. I think we can all agree on that fact. Throwing a simple word in front, or behind, it helps to describe the smile better, and further illustrate your characters chosen personality.
However, *Smiles broadly* gives us the sense that your character is extremely happy with the situation. *Offers a grim smile* produces a feeling of empathy. Simple words, big results. The use of adjectives is a wonderful thing, and a great tool in developing your character and showing off your proud creation to others!
Where does your character come from? Why does he or she worship this particular deity? How did they come to Anphillia? How old are they? What languages do they speak? What did their parents do? Do they have any siblings? The questions are endless, and yet, each influences your character in some way or another. While it isn't necessary to have a fully fleshed out twenty-page short story for a background, it does help to answer a few basic questions and have a general idea when you start playing. Besides, if you don't know your character, how can you know what they'll do?
Consistency. Complexity. Change.
It is fairly simple being consistent with our characters, both physically and psychologically. Personalities, accents, height, weight and other static details do not change overnight. The details simply remain the same over extended periods of time, but they may possibly change.
Our characters are constantly changing through their deeds and interactions with others. Ironically, this contradicts the above paragraph. The changes you make to your character must also be consistent! If murdering a goblin one day does not effect him or her, two weeks from now it shouldn't either! In other words. Your character cannot do what they would not do, just as they cannot undergo changes they could not make. Think of it as a cause and effect relationship- though the causes must be believeable to get the desired effect! Staying away from farfetched ideas will generally invalidate this.
While we all might fit certain types- many of us are not stereotypes. Flaws and quirks, as mentioned, are the key ways to introduce depth to your character. A perfect character is boring and has no where to go, no reasonable goals- nothing. Everything is going for him. He cannot grow. These complexities can also generate fun subplots with your character and others! Be creative and have fun with them, in a reasonable fashion.
Provide Something for your Character to Stand for. What is meaningful to your character? Religion? Politics? Romance? Death? Nature? What does your character want to accomplish in the next "tenday?" In the next raid on the opposing fort? In the next trip? On their time on Anphillia?
Each and every character has a passion- something that they are willing to stand up and argue about. Perhaps these passions result from their quirks. These passions and goals can be used to interact with others and generate more subplots or "quests" between other players, not to mention the fact that they help provide depth to your character.
A Note on Names
While it may be fun to have symbolic names, be sure that you don't over do it. If they become too artsy, too cutesy, or too meaningful your character begins to become less of an individual. Besides, how a name sounds is much more important to most people.
Be careful using words from another language. Our playerbase has a wide variety of languages represented, so you need to be weary of choosing such a name.
Do try and abbreviate extremely long names (especially Elven ones). They tend to look nothing more than a jumble of letters and are extremely difficult to pronounce. And chances are you shall never use the full name on a regular basis.
When chosing a name, also remember that many players tend to abbreviate names of even moderate length. It's generally a good idea to stick to the three/four letter rule. In other words, chances are you're going to be called by just the first few letters of your name, so make sure you like those best!