Characterization

Half of creating a character is writing the character - determining their place in the world, where they came from, how they think, what they do.

Seed can't really tell you how to write a character you'll find interesting, but this section will briefly go into some considerations on various areas of the character.

CONCEPT

It's a good idea to decide, in one or two lines, what the character is about - the core thrust of why they're playing them. Zidane could be summed up as "a romantic, easy-going member of a band of airship-voyaging thief-actors." Fran's concept could have been "a taciturn, Viera-in-exile sky pirate". While the other three portions can be hit in any order, you'll probably want to decide on concept first and run it past your GM.

Play Something Fun: The character you write will be the character you'll be playing, so make sure it's something you'll enjoy. This game is a game about adventuring - don't write a character who won't do that.

Consider the Setting: Settings have certain characteristics - how bleakly or brightly they view the world, their visual trappings, how the supernatural functions, even the sound of the names. If you make a character that hews to the world you'll be playing in, you'll work better to establish a strong sense of world, and will have a better chance at achieving a fun dynamic with the rest of the party.

Someone Might Want to Think Big: Many characters in Final Fantasy begin in the every day, but just as many have strange and fantastic or powerful and prestigious backgrounds. Edgar Figaro was the king of a marvel of modern engineering, Tidus was a visitor from a strange otherworld, and the ranks of heroes are full of rebellious princesses and bizarre beings. If something strikes you about a cool place to be from in the setting, talk to your GM about bringing a character with a high station, either socially or mystically. Of course, it depends on the campaign, which may well have been designed with a strong idea about the origin of the characters already.

…Or, Should We Ask?: Depending on setting, the character may not be human. Many Final Fantasy settings have other species from which perfectly good adventurers could be drawn. If your game uses the Equipment System, they should probably be at least bipedal, but Moogles, Burmecians, Ronso, Seeq and Espers all have their place in the video-game tradition. If you're playing in a setting with well-known species, like Ivalice, consider how your concept hews to your choice - If you stick too close to the assumptions of the race, you aren't treading new ground, and if you ignore them entirely, what's the point?

On the Other Hand: Going "Pick Spot. Shut up. Wait." to your party will probably never get old.

Talk to your GM: The person with the best grasp of how closely your character hews to the concept of the game will be the person who designed the campaign. Feel free to talk to the GM about what you plan to bring, they'll help smooth out any rough corners and problem spots.

Talk to the other Players: If you write characters in a vacuum, the characters will all come from very different places, which might be a missed opportunity. People often stay with who they know, and Final Fantasy is full of siblings, childhood friends and longtime comrades. Communicating with the other players as you cook up your concepts can inspire you to spin your characters together, tying them tightly to one another before play even begins. I mean, maybe you all grew up in the same orphanage.

PERSONALITY

Briefly consider how your character thinks about and will react to the world, and outline it in a few lines or so. Just from cooking up the concept, you probably have a fairly good idea of how you want to play the character, and if you don't think about it now it'll come up in play, but it can be helpful to other players and the GM to have an idea about what to expect.

Err On the Side of Likable: Bringing a character who can be friendly towards the rest of the party can make things go smoother. A good set of players wants to work with each-other, and having characters who don't do that can be a drain. Bring a character as gruff as you like, but with regards to the fellow party - it might be best to bring someone who'll admit a grudging respect.

Consider the Setting: As the first information about the game is revealed, it'll soon become apparent what sort of personality the game has. Just as you should make sure the character will fit with the party, you should make sure the character will fit to the game. Pollyannas might not work well as bomb-planting freedom fighters, cold-hearted mercenaries might not be suited to playful, chaotic court intrigue, and so on. Can you imagine Barret having to deal with the slew of love letters in Final Fantasy 9?

Exactly.

Actually, That Would Be Kind of Funny: Well, alright. These are just suggestions, you know.

Match the Tone: Relm was "foulmouthed" in Final Fantasy 6 - Cid was foulmouthed in Final Fantasy 7. Transplant Cid to the World of Balance - or Ruin - and his style would be out of place. You should bring a character whose personality and approach to life mesh well with the flavor of the game, and sharpen the concept to match. Zidane was the sort of shameless philanderer that 9 got, Irvine was the one that 8 got, for example. Don't be more violent, brutal, evil, paranoid, naive, idealistic, silly, sensual or stupid than is appropriate for the game.

Doing Stuff is Fun: If you bring a character that wants things out of the world - little things like money and being around cute people, big things like saving the world and changing society - you'll be able to push forward and go a little further, and you'll never be at a loss for something to do. On the flip side, personality flaws that cause you to do things - or to be able to be convinced into doing things - tend to be more fun than personality flaws that keep you from doing things.

APPEARANCE

Briefly consider how your character looks like to other people, what they wear. Their colors - of skin, hair, eyes and clothing - their accessories, how they carry themselves. Video-game characters tend to have striking fashion senses, and it's good to build a strong mental image. You might want to consider other ways they make their first impression - the expression that lays on their face, the sound of their voice, whether they wear expensive perfume or haven't been to town to bathe in months.

Look Good: Probably the first concern, when designing the appearance of a character, is to write something that'll give you and your fellow players a compelling mental image about the character as they adventure. So write something cool. Characters tend to look a little unique; they have looks.

What About Armor: One thing I've noticed is that during play in other systems, the appearance of characters can be strangely resilient to changes in equipment. Some of this could be inspired by video-games, and a lot of it can come from inertia: You already have a strong mental image of how the character looks, and gaining a few levels won't do much to change it. It doesn't really matter which way you go on this, unless the other players have preferences, but it's something to consider.

Costume Changes: If your character ever has a big event in their life, if they move from one chapter to another, try changing their outfit a little - or a lot. If you had fun writing an appearance, it can be fun writing another one, and having it come up in your descriptions can help polish up a bit of flair for your character.

Job Change: With the job system, your character will be changing from one role to another as they proceed through play. If this is your thing, it might be fun to think of what their outfits are for each job they move into. Haven't you always wanted to wear the Red Mage hat?

Match the Setting: Campaigns also have distinct visual looks, which it's good to play into. People in Spira dressed and looked very different from people in Midgar, and if you stray too far from these expectations, you can break some of the atmosphere of the game. On the other hand, playing it up can produce a character that's really of the world.

Have a Symbol: Characters in Final Fantasy occasionally have iconic symbolism - Squall and his lion, and Jecht and his emblem. By giving your character one, you'll be able to match the inspiration and have a character whose style is written a bit larger. Also, it means that you can symbolically fight a giant metaphorical version of yourself later on, which is always fun.

How They Move: A part of appearance that should be considered is the character in motion - how they carry themselves, whether they're graceful or hulking, easy-going or dainty. Deciding on this can help the flavor of your character flow through your descriptions.

BACKGROUND

Consider, in a paragraph or two, where your character comes from, what they're doing now, where they think they're going. You don't need to go into excessive detail - you can always flesh things out later if need be.

Leave Yourself Some Wiggle Room: You don't need to decide every aspect of your character's back-story at the beginning of play. It might be worthwhile to paint in broad strokes and leave room for other things to be filled in - as the game progresses, you or the GM might decide that it makes sense for you to have some event in your past which you can then flesh out. This allows the players to write backgrounds that are relevant - thematically and narratively - to what's happening in the game.

The Place You'll Return To Someday: Characters are from places, and your adventures may bring you back there some day. Discuss with your GM the nature of your origin - if you're from a location that hasn't been detailed yet in the setting, it'd be a good idea to give it a name and some sort of position in the world, and maybe a few traits. This makes your character's origin a place the story can one day visit, causing the background to come up in play.

Consider Having Parents: Most heroes in RPGs, admittedly, do not have parents. However, thinking a little bit about your family can bring NPCs into the world that shape the character's connection to the setting, give them contacts, history, a social station, and maybe a bit of a reputation.

Not Your First: Since the character you'll be writing will be adventuring, consider whether or not it's their first adventure. Maybe briefly go into some detail about what they've been up to before if it isn't - who did they work with, did they succeed or fail, who did they meet? It's generally rare in roleplaying games for two players to bring characters who already know each other well, but it can be a fun choice to have some or all of a party to already be friends and brothers in arms at the start of play.

Consider the Setting: A character's background probably shouldn't be darker than the game they're in. (You can have a character whose background is softer than the game they're in - that would be "All of Final Fantasy 6".) As you come up with it, try to get a feel for how the game is developing, where it's going. If you have a vague sense of where the storyline is going to be aimed - a hunch, if you will - writing a character that entwines with it will be rewarding to both you and the GM, since it ensures that the character will find the events in the game relevant and personal.

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