Making a Character Too Interesting and Independent

When designing a character for a roleplay everyone runs a very odd and unique risk, making their character too interesting. A character made for a roleplay is dramatically different than a character in any other story. The most important thing for these characters is that they function within the group. A character that has their own full story can find it difficult to operate within a group. The more well thought out and thoroughly written a character’s story is the less room is available for them to grow with the party. Unless the character is written with a preexisting connection and history with another player’s character then it will be difficult to justify them staying with the group. If Alex is 23, is a chemist, has a group of close friends, and has a family that she struggles with then there isn’t really any room or reason for her to drop everything to go travel with a bunch of people she’s never met. All of the things written for her make her a really interesting and complex character which is great for writing a story about her but bad for giving her a reason to travel with the party. A roleplay character needs to be interesting enough to not be a flat character but open and unfinished enough that the story of their adventure with the party is what completes them and helps to develop their story.

Another trapping that can come with or without the complex character is the loner. This character type can give great contrast to a party, especially if another character is very overactive and expressive. However, this character can have similar issues to staying with the party as a fully developed character. Loners, by nature, are often dragged into the plot. But loners come in many shapes than the standard emo recluse or the gruff anti-hero. Some are simply too weird or crazy to stay with a party. Say the party is designed to be a group of teens in a small town in the woods. One of them, however, is a girl raised by raccoons, after being abandoned by her parents, that is scared of humans and has almost always dwelt within the forest. She’s very hyper and funny but doesn’t like crowds and her learned animal instincts has her running to safety when a threat appears. While all of this makes her an interesting character and can give some very interesting interactions between her and the rest of the party it also creates barriers between her and the party. If she’s afraid of crowds then why would she travel with them when they’re in town? If she runs when there’s danger then how do you create encounters that don’t end in her fleeing? Also, if she has her raccoon family and doesn’t trust humans why should she interact with the party at all? It doesn’t make sense for her character. This in no way means the character is not interesting as the ‘raised by wolves’ character is popular for a reason, but it does make it harder to serve the needs of the roleplay. In essence she is an interesting character to write as either a side character or a main character for a story focused on her, but she is not a good character for a roleplay party. She’s too much of a loner and her story is too interesting to allow flexibility in her character.

An easy bit of advice for making a character to avoid these pitfalls is to ask if the character would be willing to drop everything and go on a quest with people they don’t know very well. If the answer is no then it’s going to be a lot of extra work to tie them to the party. This isn’t to say it can’t be done. A story can be perfectly interesting and offer amazing group dynamics if the party is formed against their will and must learn to work together. But this requires prior planning on the GMs part and if a player fears their character won’t work well with the party then they should talk with their GM before the game begins to ensure that the character will fit in or at least have a good, and believable, reason to stay with them. As with most things these problems are easily avoidable with clear communication of wants and expectations between GMs and players.

Thank you all for reading and if you have any comments or additional advice please leave it below.

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