So you want some further guidance on how to make a character? Here's an informative guide to making a character, in the form of a character profile. Let's take a magical trip together! And, I may reiterate: Character Evaluation also has examples of good characters in the 'Passes' section.
Drawn by anonymous artist
Though it's optional, you can write something before you start your headings. Usually, people use it to say "(Character) is a character created by (user)." or something like that.
Also, to your right is the proper applied use of the Character Info Box. Cool, innit? Now, we go into the main body of the profile.
Here is where you will recount the character's backstory. It should be generally long and informative, because if you're going to allow people to write for your character, a proper backstory will usually add context to the character's personality and any decisions that the character makes. (If you're not allowing people to use your character and you want them to remain mysterious, it's alright to keep it short and mysterious, but you should still have your own private backstory for them to give them character depth). It should usually follow the character through their childhood, mentioning such things as family and education, for example, and people they knew in their youth. It should also describe how they met their first Pokémon and the beginning of their Pokémon adventure, or alternatively, their career path. If your character went on a Pokémon journey prior to the RP stuff, be sure to describe their adventure at least a little bit. Remember to touch on any important events that happened in their past that may relate to who they are as a person now. If your character started out in another region, the character has to come to Tatsu at some point, such as the end. This is a Tatsu RP. A well-written backstory can affect the believability and three-dimensionality of your character as they are today. A good length to shoot for is about two of this paragraph (and remember, multi-paragraph is easier to read than one unbroken one), but there is no upper limit and the more you write, the more defined your character is. Though tl;dr can certainly be a problem too; too long is generally better than too short.
This is where you tell of the character's general mindset and demeanor, and the way he or she perceives the world or comes across to others. Is your character cool and confident? Shy and introverted? Boisterous and silly? Kind and friendly? Distrustful and sociopathic? The character's interests will also fall under this section. Does this character like battling? Contests? Music? Dancing? Art? Sports? Also remember that the character's personality is generally partially derived from how his or her backstory affected her, and touching on that is a nice bonus too. The description should be about this long, but has some room for flexibility.
Attitudes towards things and peopleEdit
This is similar to the Personality heading, and can be merged with it, but the information still has to be there to flesh out their character. This deals with the character's attitudes towards things and people and how they speak and act in a social context - their opinions and feelings on certain subjects and how this affects how they present themselves to others. What behaviors and actions really bother this character? Or, does this character worry a lot about showing weakness in front of other people? This information is very important to the RP, because it provides a way to make people think: "What would this character do in this situation?"
Behaviors and HabitsEdit
This is another heading that can be merged under Personality if you deem it necessary, but the information still has to be there. This describes a character's quirks and intricacies. The character's interests can fall under this section, especially if they manifest in actual hobbies such as drawing. This also covers small habits the character has and all sorts of fun things like that.
Here is where you describe your character's appearance. If no image of the character exists, you should probably be pretty in-depth about it. A description may not be needed if you provide an image. Still, if you want to explain your character's appearance (maybe if some clothes articles seem confusing or if it's an uncolored image) you can still do so here.
- There are cases where this section can be optional, but Pokémon are an important part of this universe, and the Pokémon a character owns are usually important enough to need a section devoted to themselves.
- They're often arranged in bullet points, like this. You can give the Pokémon's nickname if it has one, and describe a little about how your character met it, and a little bit of their personality.
- Try to think about how powerful your character's Pokémon team would be, especially if they follow the traditional trainer route. A 15-year-old who's been at it for a year would decidedly not have a Garchomp, an Alakazam, a Torterra, a Darmanitan, a Pidgeot and an Ampharos. But a 25-year-old who's been at it for ten years might. (Even then, usually not.)
- If you want a shiny Pokémon, you may be allowed to have one if you show excellency in your profile. Just remember, they're supposed to be rare! Right now, 5 out of about 50 submitted characters gave themselves a Shiny Pokémon, and 3 of them were allowed to keep it. Could you be next? Maybe if you're good... but remember, they're supposed to be rare!
- Absolutely no legendaries. Got a legendary? You can't get in. That also goes for Unown, because they sort of live in their own separate dimension and are powerful in great numbers. Plus, we might have plans for the Unown in the future.
- Also, TECHNICALLY, your character doesn't have to own Pokémon at all. They'd have to be pretty damned interesting, though, and probably related to another character who does.
When your character is evaluated, someone will put a special message at the bottom of his/her profile telling whether your character passes, needs work, or fails the test. You will be linked to the Character Evaluation page, where you can find your character and see why he/she was given the rating. If a work needed character is improved, someone will change it to Passes by themselves. Just don't remove the message; it helps identify and categorize your character too. (:
And that's it! But see below for the FAQ.
Q: Do you have to follow this to a T? That seems pretty restrictive!
Q: How do I get my character approved?
A: There are multiple ways you can do it. Usually, if someone sees that a new character is created, they will evaluate that character and give them a standing in the Character Evaluation page of either Passing (No Work Needed), Good (Needs Work) or Fails Completely. Eventually, someone will give your character a ranking in there with a reason as to why. But, if your character hasn't been evaluated yet or you want a second opinion, there are also ways to look for people to evaluate your character! You can make a thread for your character in the Character section of the forum and get help from people there. You can also ask in the Comments section of the Character Evaluation page for your character to be evaluated.
Q: How many characters can I make?
A: As many as you can keep track of! The only limit is yourself.
Q: Are there any age restrictions for my character(s)?
A: Nope! You can have a 3-year-old or a 93-year-old. Just remember that their age is a large part of what defines everything else! A small child will not be a Pokémon trainer, for example.
Q: Where can I start my character(s)?
A: Your character can be born or begin their adventures in any place they want, as long as it's somewhere in one of the main series Pokémon locations: Kanto, the Sevii Islands, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Unova. Your character can also start in Tatsu! Just remember that their backstory must be a reasonable backstory, and they have to come to Tatsu before or at the end of their backstory, because when people begin RPing or writing stories and comics, their adventures are going to be in Tatsu.
Q: Can you explain a little more clearly the limits on what Pokémon my character(s) can possess?
A: First of all, as explained earlier, you can't have any Legendaries or Unown. This still gives you 600 Pokémon to choose from, so be creative!
- You should try not to have a team consisting only of what those in the competitive business call UBERS or OUs. Strong Pokémon, like Tyranitar, can be allowable, but they should be hard for a more inexperienced trainer to control.
- This is something partially dependent on age. A teenager is NOT going to have that powerful team of Salamence, Volcarona, Gengar, Raichu, Absol and Metagross. An experienced man in his 40s has a greater likelihood of having such a team.
- Once again, shiny Pokémon might be allowed if you put hard work and heart into your character. Remember, 5 out of around 50 submitted characters gave themselves a Shiny Pokémon, and 3 of them were allowed to keep it. If you show that you've earned it, you may be allowed to keep yours. Just remember: they're meant to be rare!
- But generally, you should attempt to make your character normal. The best characters have small teams of Pokémon that are their friends and suit them the best. We run on the Karen principle here at the /tr/ainer's League Project.
Q: How many badges can my character(s) have gotten? How accomplished are they allowed to be?
A; You should try to abstain from giving them too many badges. Eight is a good number, and more may be allowable, but you have to keep it realistic. In the context of this project, it's rare that a person can just keep winning against every gym they challenge. For characters who do have 8 or more badges, it usually took hard work and dedication to get there. Badge numbers in the double digits should be avoided unless your character is an adult who's been at it for a long time and has a well-written profile.
- League competitions in this world are tournaments between trainers. Only the winner of such a tournament can take the Elite Four challenge of a respective region, and if they beat the Elite Four and the Champion (very hard to do), they can take their place as the new Champion. That's how it works in this world. So, in light of that, your character cannot have won any kind of league competition. Sorry.
- You should try to avoid the 'Ash Ketchum' archetype. In the Pokémon anime, Ash Ketchum travels from region to region, winning all the badges and battling in tournaments, before narrowly losing and moving on to the next region. He's done this for Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh and now Unova. It's ok to have a character who has been to several regions and moved around a lot, and of course it's okay to have had a previous Pokémon adventure, but watch yourself so your character doesn't start to look like the Ash archetype.
- Remember, your character is not you (though he/she can be inspired by you if that makes you feel more comfortable) and he/she is not an adaptation of your own experiences playing the Pokémon games.
- Here's a good example of what not to do.
Q: I've heard the term 'Mary Sue' being used. What is one, and how do I avoid making my character(s) one?
A: A 'Mary Sue' is an overly perfect fan-character. It used to refer to a girl, but it can be a man (sometimes, male ones are called Gary Stus or Marty Stus). A perfect character like a Mary Sue becomes the focus of attention, so it makes things no fun for anybody! A Mary Sue is marked by any of the following:
- A 'perfect', over-idealized character with no real character flaws that actually pose a detriment to the character
- Often a blatant avatar of their creator
- Often has some unwarranted importance in the story, using 'natural talents' to get into privileged positions or save the day
- Often is a young prodigy that is given some kind of honor or job (like professor) at a young age
- Gets what they want most of the time
- Has often unwarranted popularity; the author writes other characters, including canon characters, as being admiring or envious of the character
- Has special powers that nobody else has, a particularly unusual appearance, or other such standout traits
- May be related to a canon character in some way
- May have a name that sounds 'so kooooool!' like 'Zero' or 'Omega'. That said, it's fine to have somewhat unusual names. How many Shauntals do you see walking around?
It should be noted that moderation is the key. If your character has an unusual appearance and name, that might be alright. It's when multiple Mary Sue symptoms begin to pile up that the character turns into a blatant Sue. Here's the Mary Sue Litmus Test, if you want a comprehensive test you can take to tell if your character is a Mary Sue. (Since the world revolves around Pokémon, the 'animal companions' part probably doesn't count.)
Just remember that, above all, your character is supposed to be human, with flaws. And your character isn't an important character. The people who manage to be huge celebrities (politicians, gym leaders, champion) are not user-submitted characters; they are NPCs that are created/approved by all of us. That's the key difference.
Q: Can I include a character from another work of fiction? For example, can I make a Kamina character?
A: Characters like that may be acceptable, but you have to make sure that they tie into this project. They are allowed to be total walking references with the same name and appearance if you wish, but they HAVE to be constructs of the Pokémon world: born in the Pokémon world, own Pokémon, etc. Master Asia is one character who was allowed to pass. For the most part, though, you're encouraged to make original characters.
Q: Are there any other extra things you folks are looking for that are marks of a good character(s)?
A: Well, it's not necessary for the passing of your character as long as you fit most of the things above, but there are some nice bonuses.
- Some of the best characters are the ones where the creator obviously made effort in tying the character into the Tatsu region. Characters that are adapted into Tatsu will seem more seamlessly integrated and at home in this RP. It's especially good if your character actually started in or was born in Tatsu, though not necessary. Another bonus is when people have a career besides being just trainers. Let's look at a few.
- Loren Macek was born in Tatsu. As she became a young adult, she got a TV show where she investigated paranormal occurrences, but an accident led her to be admitted to Vouslich Asylum before she was discharged later. She's a very original character in the Pokémon universe who's not just a generic trainer.
- David Jetta is a computer geek who was born in Wattsburg, and through sheer geekery and climbing the internet social ladder and meeting Bebe, got involved in the Pokémon Box Project. It does involve interaction with a canon Pokémon character, but it is handled in a masterful way.
- Alice Xu has lived her whole life in Tatsu, in Jade City. She has a long and well-written backstory and is just beginning to spread her wings.
Of course, none of these traits are necessary to create a good trainer; they're just a plus. Let us turn to Sariel Echelon again, a trainer who is only just coming to Tatsu, but still has a very well-written profile. Characters like these should be looked up to as examples. Once more, you can always look at the previously-evaluated characters here on the Character Evaluation page.
Q: I feel intimidated after reading all of this! I don't know if I can do it.
A: No worries, friend. If you believe in yourself, you can arm yourself with the knowledge you've seen here and use it to create a developed and three-dimensional character bursting with genuine personality, unlike the contrived Mary Sue. It's not so hard to do! In fact, it's really quite fun. And that's what we're aiming for here! Fun. Good luck!