Character Development: Tips & Tricks - Ash's Guide to RPG Personality & Background Part I Continues
Welcome back to Character Development: Tips & Tricks.
Previously, we began working with Ash’s Guide to RPG Personality and Background, completing the first two steps of Part One – the Personality section of the Guide. It gave us a pretty solid core of a character personality, and the third step takes us into the secondary traits – the little things that sort of can give just the finishing touches on a character to really make them stand out above the crowd.
Step Three – Secondary Traits
The first aspect we look at in the secondary traits is what type of Sense of Humour a character has, and Ash provides us with ten basic types of humour to pick from. Again, every table here has been set up so that percentile dice can be used to select options randomly, so if you’re unsure about anything, feel free to roll the dice for now – you can always come back later and change things.
For Nritya, her sense of humour is a little Surreal, which makes it a bit difficult for some characters to follow, and she’ll often end up having to either let her jokes sail past people, or explain them, which ruins the joke anyway.
Moving right along, the Guide has a rather robust look at a character’s Sexuality. There are three primary aspects here, with the third being made up of individual five aspects. Only basic sexualities are listed here, so feel free to use whatever sexuality choices fit your character beyond those given.
Note: This covers just character sexuality, not character gender or gender expression; the Guide was written before non-binary genders and gender expression were normality and during a time it was dangerous to write about them/include them in writing, so please no one get upset at their exclusion, as it isn’t meant to hurt anyone. Feel free to add your own aspects here to reflect character gender and their gender expression!
The first Sexuality aspect is Orientation. Generically, this means the gender your character is attracted to, but the Guide suggests also figuring out what races in your world setting your character is attracted to by default.
Nritya has a non-standard sexuality of Demisexual, which means she doesn’t really develop any sort of romantic attraction to anyone until after she’s developed deep inter-personal connections with them as friends, and even then, there may not necessarily be any sort of sexual attraction right away for some time after that – it takes a very deep personal relationship for that to happen, if it happens at all.
The next aspect is the characters Libido. A lot of people may have heard of this word before, however many people may not know what this actually is. The libido is a person’s sex drive, meaning how much and how often they want to engage in sexual acts. The Guide breaks it into three tiers, which give a rather good set of average ranges – anaemic, meaning very little to not at all; healthy, meaning your average sex drive; and lascivious, meaning more than average to nymphomaniac levels of a sex drive.
Given that Nritya is a demisexual, she naturally falls under the category of Anaemic for her libido in general, however if she were to find a partner whom she became deeply involved with, she may have it switch to a Healthy libido.
The next aspect under Sexuality is called Sexual Demeanour, and this one actually covers five different traits that we’ll look at one by one.
The first trait is Expressiveness. This means how your character expresses their sexual and romantic desires, and it is broken into three rankings – modest, flirtatious, and brazen. A modest individual is very subtle about their desire for an individual while a flirtatious individual is expressive but not so overtly they are thought to be too forward while a brazen individual is quite forward about their desires.
On the rare occasion when Nritya becomes attracted to someone, she is quite Modest in her approach to expressing her interest, perhaps so much so that the other person may at first miss that she has become interested in them. Although confident in other arenas, she is quite shy when it comes to this sort of thing, so she isn’t very forward about her desires of attraction, and they always start out as being romantic, not sexual.
Speaking of, the next trait is Style. This is the style of Sexual Demeanour. This is also broke down into three rankings – crude, seductive, and romantic. A crude sexual demeanour is basically just all about the base desires and getting things on, a seductive sexual demeanour is rather much exactly as it sounds and is seductive about their approach to sexual encounters, while romantic sexual demeanours have the whole romantic package involved beforehand to whatever level and degree that may be.
Since Nritya requires a deep connection and relationship involvement before considering sexual relations, she is automatically in the Romantic ranking here.
The next trait is Openness to New Experiences. This is exactly what it means – how willing is your character to try new things in the bedroom. Whether you hand-wave erotic role play, or hand-wave just the actual act, it’s something to consider about your character, whether it actually comes into play or not. The rankings here are narrow, moderate, and adventurous which are all rather obvious.
Nritya is a creative sort of individual by nature, and since she has to have such a close bond with the person she’d be with anyway, I decided that she would be Moderately open to new experiences, all depending upon what they were.
The next trait in this aspect is Promiscuousness, or how openly sexual your character is. The wording here could be considered a little outdated, and might not sit well with some people; no one send hate mail over the labelling, please. The rankings are low/monogamous, moderate/polyamorous, and high/noncommittal. This is limited to just interpersonal sexual relationship, but you can add in your character’s dress style if you want to.
For Nritya, even though she is demisexual and has to have a close friendship before she can have a relationship and physically intimate relationship, she is actually open to Polyamoury (Moderate) because I as a person am polyamorous (polyfidelity type) and have a really hard time playing monogamous and noncommittal characters. Her dress style may be considered somewhat revealing because she wears a halter top, shorts, tall boots, and the Miqo’te racial gloves though they’re all fairly covering together.
A last additional trait in this aspect that may or may not be used is Tastes. This goes into places that may be uncomfortable for some people, or may just not fit every character – none of them fit Nritya, for example. The ten ranks here were bondage, cross-dressing, role-playing (the bedroom kind), spanking, massaging, masochism, exhibitionism, orgies, voyeurism, and thinking of your own. You can get lots of ideas from the internet about additional ranks.
The next aspect the Guide covers is Religion and Spirituality. This is broken down into five parts – Adherence, Tolerance, Religious Demeanour, Religious Association, and Religious Roles. Each part has its own smaller rankings, so let’s take a look at them one by one.
Adherence covers how closely to a religious philosophy a character believes. Are they an atheist, agnostic, a casual adherent, or an orthodox adherent (firm believer)? There’s wiggle room to all of these, but a general idea is always helpful. Of course, in some settings, there are more signs of divinity than others, so things like being an atheist or an agnostic are a lot harder – but can be fun to try and pull off.
Nritya is a Casual Adherent, as she was present six years ago when the avatars of the Twelve Gods were called to the Battle of Carteneau, even though she wasn’t a combatant, and it’s kind of hard to deny the presence of the Gods when you’ve seen their avatars in the heavens. Even though those who know of the Gods say they are silent, and their corresponding stones of worship no longer glow as they once did, she cannot deny their existence, so Nritya continues to worship them as she finds the time – usually when her travels take her near one of these ‘dead’ stones.
Tolerance speaks of a character’s willingness to accept differences in beliefs in others. A character is either inclusive, tolerant, or intolerant by the Guide’s rankings, which generally covers the way most people are about religion.
In the case of Nritya, she is fairly tolerant, however the Garlean’s insistence that the Twelve Gods are monsters and should be abandoned is something she cannot stand for. Essentially, if others are intolerant of her ways, she cannot be tolerant of theirs.
Religious Demeanour is broken down into three traits that explain how your character acts in regards to their spiritual beliefs. Let’s check these out individually.
The first trait is Expression of Beliefs, meaning how often your character talks about their beliefs. Is it something they don’t share at all, do they share it occasionally, or is it a constant subject of discussion?
Nritya only Occasionally talks about her beliefs, usually when she’s asked about them, or the subject of the events of the Battle of Carteneau, the Godstones, or the Twelve themselves are brought up. Otherwise, she’s generally quiet about them.
The second trait covers whether or not your character is up to Converting Others. The options are that they never do such, casually convert others, or aggressively convert others.
In the case of Nritya, she will Casually convert others through the course of conversation, if the topic of religion comes up. So it isn’t exactly never, but she’s not exactly going out of her way either.
Religious Association describes what kind of association your character is a part of. There are many types of associations, but the Guide lists five basic ones for us to use – general, cult, fellowship, solitary, and Indigenous.
While there is a Cathedral to the Twelve, there isn’t much of an organised religion that I’ve found that would interest Nritya, so she is a Solitary adherent at the moment, though like many, she does pray at the Godstones and converses with others who are there when she is.
Lastly, Religious Roles covers whether or not your character has a specific role within their religion. This can make for some great RP, especially if there are others who are willing to acknowledge your character’s role; don’t be discouraged if people won’t, a lot of people are a bit weird about this subject, especially if there are NPCs with the same roles. The roles the guide suggests are Abbot/Abbess, Cult Leader, Disciple, Guru, Hermit, Inquisitor, Jihadist, Missionary, Monk/Nun, Patriarch/Matriarch, Pilgrim, Priest/Priestess, Prophet, Sacred Courtesan, and Shaman.
Because she will travel to the nearest Godstone to pray when they are nearby, Nritya could be considered a Pilgrim by many people, even though she herself never thinks about the fact that she is one. As she was one of the ones who prayed at them just before the Calamity, she truly is one, but does not draw attention to that fact.
The next aspect of this step of the Guide is Quirks, Habits, & Oddities. These are the little things that make your character unique, and they can be good things or bad things or neutral things. There is a huge table of things to select from, so be sure to take a really good look and if you’re unsure of what to select, percentile dice can help you pick a few things.
For Nritya, I selected Dancing, Talking in Sleep, Self-Inflicts Pain/Injury, Singing, Blade Sharpening, Insomnia, Sleeping in Odd Places, and Tree Climbing. Some of these work together and some of them stand alone. Some of them work with her primary aspects and secondary aspects, some of them are hidden secrets that work against her. They add deeper flavour to the character, and put the finishing touches on her personality.
The next aspect of this step of the guide is Hobbies & Enjoyments. While some of these are the same as the listings in the prior table, these are ones that have been cultivated into a hobby, or are done for enjoyment. Some of them may align with the above, while some may be completely new.
With Nritya, I selected Acrobatics, Dancing, Singing, Painting, Metalworking, and Weaponsmithing. While she isn’t a master at any of them, though she is swiftly moving towards becoming a master Weaponsmith, they are things she works on perfecting, and things she enjoys doing with her free time, and some of them work with her core concepts while the others are purely for relaxation and enjoyment.
There are a couple of somewhat optional pieces to delve into now. The first is Topics of Conversation, meaning what sort of things your character defaults to talking about when silence fills the room.
Nritya always tends to talk about weapons and weaponscraft when she has to be the one leading the conversation, since that is what she focuses on. She will try her best to speak in a manner that lets any who isn’t familiar with the subject join in, and explains anything they don’t understand. She doesn’t like people to feel left out, and enjoys sharing her work with even people who aren’t as into weaponry as she is.
Another optional component is Group Affiliation. This can be anything from NPC groups that exist in your world setting, to your PC group(s). Some games have room for multiple options for both types while others are more limiting.
Nritya is a member of the Blacksmiths’ Guild, the Alchemists’ Guild, and the Carpenters’ Guild because they are the three NPC guilds that cover weaponscrafting in XIV. She is also a registered member of the Adventurers’ Guild, like most player characters. Lastly, she recently was hired on as a member of the Dark Embers Free Company, which is the group I run in XIV; sort of a necessary thing since she’s an alternate character of mine, but we came up with IC reasons for her to be there too. Anyone who is a member of the Dark Embers Free Company is automatically a member of the Embers Alliance, which is our Alliance linkpearl.
Lastly, one can add Emotional Disorders, and the Guide has a table of well-known disorders, however one can always grab the DSM-V (which should be going to the DSM-VI soonish) and pick out any disorder they wish.
Given what happened to her six years ago, and her return to Eorzea a year ago, Nritya suffers a form of PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This isn’t on the Guide’s chart, but it’s the only disorder that really fits for her, and is very much so required given her past – which we’ll get into in the next article!
This concludes Part One of Ash’s Guide to RPG Personality & Background, and the third article in the series about the Guide. Our next article will start delving into the second part of the guide – Background! To see how Nritya’s character sheet has progressed, take a look at the copy we have here.