Role Play: Questions for deeper character development
How well do you really know your character? How much thought have you given to their day to day life? Is it easy for you to slip into character? Or do you sometimes struggle with trying to imagine how your character would react to a given situation? This is where the term “character development” comes in for roleplayers.
Character development is essentially an exercise in taking a deeper look at a character, whether in the context of roleplay or written stories. It can be used to refer to the changes that happen to a character over the course of a story, or to refer to the process of hammering out who that character is in the first place.
To get a better grasp of who your character is, we’ve put together a series of questions to think about. You don’t have to write down all the answers, just think about how each one applies to your character. Giving some extended thought to how they apply should give you more insight into just who your character happens to be.
How does your character approach the world – are they an optimist or a pessimist? On any given day where nothing major happens, is your character mostly happy, or mostly unhappy? Why? How do they greet new people? Are they friendly, or wary? What about social situations – is your character apt to enjoy a party, or avoid it at all costs?
Would you say your character likes to be the center of attention? Do they have a lot of friends? Does your character make friends easily, or would they rather be alone? How do they react in situations where they might be in danger? What about if a friend is in danger – would they step in to help, or let their friend fend for themselves?
If your character is trying to tackle a difficult situation, how far will they go before they give up? Are they stubborn, or willing to take suggestions? Does your character tend to plan the details of the day, or just go where the wind takes them? Do they like structure in their lives, or do they change their mind at a moment’s notice?
Where was your character born? Do they have any siblings? Are their parents still alive, and if so, do they keep in contact? How did they grow up – did they have a normal childhood? Were they good in school – were there any subjects they excelled at? Were they well behaved, or a terror growing up? Did they have any pets when they were younger? How about best friends – do they still keep in touch?
Has your character ever lost a loved one? How do they handle grief? Is there anything about their past that they regret? Anything they’re exceptionally proud of? What would they consider their greatest accomplishment to date? What would they consider the worst thing that’s ever happened to them?
Does your character dwell in the past? Are they trying to forget something they’ve done, or something they’ve seen? Or are they trying to make up for a perceived error they made, however many years ago? What major events from the past tend to linger in your character’s memory? Would you say they have more good memories, or more unpleasant ones?
Does your character have big plans for their future? Is there a major goal they’re working towards? What’s keeping them from achieving that goal – is it a person, or circumstance? How do they plan to tackle that obstacle?
Is there a significant other in your character’s life? Do they want one? Why or why not? Would they like to settle down and have a family someday? Do they want children? What kind of parent would they be? How involved would they be in the lives of their children?
If your character were to die, how would it happen? Brought down in the glory of battle, fighting to their last breath, or simply old age? What would their last words be? What would they be remembered for – or would they be remembered at all?
What does your character’s closet look like? Do they have a lot of clothes and armor? How much value do they place on their appearance? Are they vain? Do they keep their armor and weapons in good shape, or are both well-worn from battle? Does your character tend to wear attention-getting outfits, or designs meant to blend into the scenery?
Does your character have any immediately notable physical characteristics? Do they stand out in a crowd, or blend in? Do they have any scars or tattoos? How did they get them? Do they show them off, or try and hide them? How old is your character? Do they look their age? If asked their age, do they tell the truth, or lie about it?
Is there a place your character currently calls home? If they could move anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why? If given a choice, where would they go on vacation? Do they have any hobbies? What’s the weirdest thing about your character?
Matters of opinion
How does your character feel about current events on Azeroth? Do they consider themselves well-informed about the latest news? Are they likely to partake in gossip, or do they ignore it? What do they think of people who do gossip and spread rumors?
What does your character think of magic? Is it something they practice? Are they proficient in it? Is it something they use on a regular basis, or something they avoid or distrust? Do they look at magic as a necessary part of life, or something that isn’t needed? Is it something they happily utilize, or view with suspicion?
What makes your character laugh? Do they appreciate a good joke or prank? Is there anything that automatically makes your character angry? Do they have any pet peeves, and if so, what are they? Is your character the type of person that cries easily? What makes them unhappy?
There is no right or wrong answers for any of the questions posed above. The object of the exercise is simply to get a clearer picture of your character as a person. It’s about taking a look at how and why your character reacts to certain situations, and figuring out why they react the way they do. Keep an eye out for any patterns in behavior, and think about the reasons your character acts a certain way. You may suddenly find it’s a little easier to slip into character when you’ve got a solid idea of where they’ve been. Once you’ve got that down, you can use all that material to shape where your character is going, why they’re making that journey, how they’re going to get there, and what they’re apt to do in the process.
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