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Thread: Writing Workshop: Making Your World (or Characters) More Connectable

  1. #1

    Default Writing Workshop: Making Your World (or Characters) More Connectable

    Hello, everyone! You might not know me too well. Or too well yet. I'm not too active on the site - just a single roleplay, which has gotten some very great writing behind it. I am, however, a roleplayer with ten years of varied experience. With eleven years of D&D, now, and about eight or nine years of solid writing, I've had highs, lows, and all kinds of in-betweens. I've even been banned, on one occasion, from a site because of too much "drama". So I've learned my ins and outs. I've played a great many characters, some of which have been put to rest, some of which have just become fond memories, and others which come back because of their legacy.

    Then I got an idea. I always get compliments that my writing is great. I wouldn't really think so - I'm just an average joe. And there's different little things I do to cheat. Very rarely do I plan things ahead of time, to a large degree. As any good DM knows, if you have a six-hour night laid out, someone's going to spend three hours wandering off in the other direction. Hell, most of my characters have about three paragraphs of backstory, and everything else goes mucho crazy in the course of a roleplay. And the funny thing is, it works for me!

    So. Not to be narcissistic or any such thing, I figure I'll try to give people tips who are struggling. Help them develop more human characters, to a level where you're just the typist, while the character writes themselves. To a point where people are concerned for the welfare of the world, assembling a group that has the potential for great side-stories per character as you work with them, and your characters make the DM want to see more of what you can do and write.

    Leave a comment or question below, and I'll do my absolute best to help you out. And, hopefully, help you figure out an easier way to write, and make it truly shine.
    Last edited by Theprettiestorc; 12-23-2013 at 11:31 PM.

  2. #2
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    As one of the many players in your current campaign, let me be the first to restate that which you've already covered. We love the depth of your character Modesty, guards-woman of Baron and indeed have said such on several occasions how her depth and palpable personality drive the rest of us to attain you're level of adeptness in character creation and role-play. With that I offer up my own character from the Lali-Ho campaign for your critique and insight:

    Marven Manastorm the Magnificent, the Demon Hunter, the Wise, the Powerful, and Wielder of the Master's Staff! He's a gnome of elderly age that has lived the past 100 years in a world where time and events proceeded differently than the current world portrays. Provided is a bit of his introduction roleplay. He was modeled off of Millhouse Manastorm a gnome mage from World of Warcraft.

    'The gnome opened his eyes. Was he back? Had it all been a dream? The waking pains of morning soreness followed by a century long charlie horse left the old gnome groaning in misery. "Baron ablaze and boiling blisters that hurts!" rubbing his sore legs he slowly stands and looks about the small camp and sighs. "How could this have happened?" he spoke to the winds hoping for a reply or answer to his plight.

    He was Marven Manastorm, once a great and powerful mage locked in a death struggle with a demon of immense power and after an uncertain turn of events, lost and drained of his awesome power to wonder and roam with no knowledge of how he'd gotten where he was. "I feel like an old man with the barely the magical capacity to light a fart let alone throw a fireball", Marven scoffs as he hobbles over to where a pony was tied up. "'Twas the crystal's favorable fortune that this puny pony was astray nearby or my weak and wobbly self might not of survived crawling out of that dark and dreadfully dilapidated domain."

    Marven looks back at the ruinous remains of a once grand mages tower. But, how he's gotten inside was a mystery to him. All the old gnome could remember was facing off against the demonic lord and waking up as if from a binding of some sort in that old tower with nothing but tattered robes, his staff, and the salvaged leftovers of some unfortunate apprentice. "Whatever malevolent misfortune took that tower, these old but fully functional trappings will provide me with some means of defense until I return to my former formidable firepower, " Marven spoke aloud in a slightly raspy voice. He slowly packs up camp and taking the pack pony's reins begins to hobble back to the road and on his quest for answers. "Come peddlefoot! We've a demon to hunt!" '


    Marven prefers to express himself via Alliteration and can be a little ill tempered such as this snippet of our campaign:

    'Marven cries out as the wall collapses, "Moddi! Nooo!" Marven stares dumbfounded at the flames and then looks down at his staff. "It's just a stupid stick if i can't use it!" Marven steps away from Melindra and the Dwarf Queen. "Melindra,..." he says as he walks off to the right, "Get her out of here,... I don't know what's gonna happen, but I can't continue to be powerless as warriors of light perish before me." He stands in front of the burning ship and begins pulling on the staff's power with all his might. Spell - (1d20+4) [8] (aww hell) Marven holds the master's staff aloft, willing it to unleash the power he knows to be locked inside. "If only I could remember the words!" he thinks.

    He tries with all his might to reform to the wall of ice, but instead he finds the staff and his arm suddenly encased in it, the weight causing him to topple forward, his pride being the only thing injured.
    Meanwhile in the burning airship, Erik in his giant form, throws the enlarged Moddi over his shoulder and with her hammer smashes their way out of the ship. As the fire grows, he scoops up the gnome that helped him and runs towards the others on the riverbank and the airship's structure finally gives way, collapsing in on itself and sending a giant plume of fire up into the sky above it.
    Marven thrashes in Eric's grip, arms frozen to his ice encased staff. "Blasted Magical Ailments! Free me from this debilitating debacle!" Marven continues to fume and kick as he hits the ground, "I was supposed to be the savior here, not become someone's carry-on, you long legged buffoon! Free me this instant!" Marven's pride being encased in his own rampant magic he quiets down and waits with red cheeks and a scowl on his face,... "
    please."

    That's about it for Marven. An old wizard with a century of out of place knowledge, power he can't use, a soft heart for the ladies, and a quick temper when his pride is at stake. Plus Aliteration is just too amusing sometimes! "Bring it you long legged lolly-lickers!" I welcome your thoughts as a member of the campaign and as a mentor to those that seek your help Thanks!
    Clay Baker of Dragonspear http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/....php?cid=67218
    Clay's Psicrystal http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/....php?cid=69396
    Maven Manastorm of Awakening http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/....php?cid=68099
    No matter what happens today, come tomorrow its just yesterday.
    But, if history is immortal,... what god would you be?

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I would also like to ask real help with another character of mine from Rathandal's Campaign "It takes a village."

    Clay Baker is the adopted son of Harold and Marie Baker, potters and clay workers. Clay is a gifted yet undisciplined psion. His mental abilities scared Marie to the point she avoids him and all Harold does to keep his wife happy is make Clay craft statues all day in his shop. Revealing his gift to his best friend Kalen, a wizard in secret, they set off together for adventure only to find their world turned upside down.

    Clay isn't played like a standard know it all Psion. He's a potter, and slowly grows towards the constructor/shaper build. But, there's a slight problem. The astral plane in which shaper's pull their building material from has been cut off. All Divine influence is severed and the very world itself seems fractured and jumbled with other worlds. However, a strange mist that engulfed their town held a similar element of spirit in it that Clay now uses for his constructs, only to find every so often, they ignore his commands and act of their own will. What makes matters worse. His eyes have now been turned pitch black. After a careless use of Astral Construct,... his eyes changed color to that of the skull of mist's pitch black eye sockets that appeared when he tried to pull on the mist without giving it form.

    Clay has grown increasingly aware that the mist he uses to protect his friends might be growing far too dangerous to use. I'm having trouble playing a 17 yr old boy with a stubborn psicrystal while he slowly becomes affected by the mist he tries to control. I've tried a leadership style role but can't see him having the proper knowledge to perfect this. He's been a shut-in and learned shaper abilities via his skill with pottery and avoiding town bullies. Kalen is his most trusted friend and is very shaken now that Kalen attacked him thinking his eyes meant him possessed. How should I proceed to roleplay out a degrading mind based on such emotional turmoil in order to bring out Clay's trials to the fullest?

    The Psicrystal is singleminded and only wants to continue with their journey,... so making new friends or crying over old friends is met with pushes to keep on trucking. However the psicrystal is played as able to be completely controllable when Clay exerts his will as it's master,... he just can't shut it up! A this level of development the crystal can only talk to him telepathically,... later on it'll get more amusing as the crystal learns to talk to everyone's mind.

    Clay value's the honor and integrity of Giles Traertean or "Sir Giles" as Clay calls him. He's a gnome paladin and has never failed to defend the young psion so he could utilize his contructs to engage enemies. Clay has an eye for a female elf druid named Vaalen but with eyes as black as night, just looking at him gives her the chills. "It's too horrid."

    This is my favorite campaign and has many more elements than I'm not used to playing and could really use any insight you might have on how to keep such a character, within lines of what is going on in his life. Thank you for your time in reading this.
    Clay Baker of Dragonspear http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/....php?cid=67218
    Clay's Psicrystal http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/....php?cid=69396
    Maven Manastorm of Awakening http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/....php?cid=68099
    No matter what happens today, come tomorrow its just yesterday.
    But, if history is immortal,... what god would you be?

  4. #4

    Default Maven Manastorm and Clay Baker: A Study On Characterization

    Well! Let's start from the beginning.

    Maven Manastorm

    Maven Manastorm is a very entertaining character. In a world such as this, you should think of the timeline, perhaps. He's 100, or over - this means he may have had a minor sighting of major protagonists. Perhaps meeting Palam or Porom gave him the inspiration to try his hand at magic. Or he was near a major battle, and decided he could help the world if they could. Enough to put up with what you've written of his master, certainly.

    Maven has a very strong will, in essence. It takes that to face off against a demon, or even control magical artifacts. Or put up with the master, again, XD. But that's something you've never really gotten the chance to pick up on. And the easiest way is to connect with a flashback, once in a while. Or, in your case, a memory. Something you remember that you confide in one of the party members. It develops a relationship between you and someone else, makes the party more comfortable, and all around unites the gaming table. I know for a fact that he's prideful, but quite intelligent, and I've paid respect to that.

    The other note about him is that you, sir, are about the only gnome we've seen so far, or have ever likely seen entirely. So within the campaign, you define gnomes as a race. We're inclined to think more of gnomes by what we see of you. And that's something you can talk to the DM about - I'm certain that any good DM appreciates the help when you toss ideas back and forth to define the race, and that gives you, the player, a cool responsibility, and involves you even more in the game. Much more than if we had a party full of humans. Brennus, as our druid, is our only link to what druids are like, and he'll influence our opinion on them. I'll tell you now that Dhurd probably pulls from things we say and do to build upon. Like a group around a table, making a Lego castle. "Oh, maybe a gate!" "And we can put towers about it!" "But we'll need a taller building to see over them, to the fields." And what could be a dinky effort becomes something grand.

    Clay Baker

    From what you say, Clay is just as any teenager. He's developing, still. Making mistakes. And he thinks he can take on the world. The best way of feeling a character, sometimes, is putting yourself in his shoes.

    So, let me think as Clay Baker. When I was seventeen, I was taking care of my stepfather. I was a bit scared of him, sometimes, but we were like best friends, too. I was socially-awkward, and shut-in. Much like Clay, I had a hobby. And that, for me, was writing - shaping my stories. I had a couple good friends to talk to, but never tell my darkest secrets. I never had a psicrystal, but I had my conscience. Telling me right, wrong, and to keep going. I had someone I would yearn for, but never got noticed. I never really had an honorable paladin, but I had friends online who would listen, and guide me the right way. I still do.

    The thing you have to remember is that the easiest way to feel a character is to put a little of yourself into them. It's unavoidable. He's an angsty, growing teenager. He's not really a leader, but he tries to do the right thing. He's slowly losing his grip, and he's keeping it a secret to himself. I suppose at this point, you could go with the classic Id, Ego, Superego. He is Ego. The Psicrystal is Superego, telling him to keep going, and stick to his purpose. The Id would be the Mist, perhaps. The inner, selfish voice, as he slowly corrupts. He wants friends, he wants the girl. And the corruption will pick up from there. He has power - can't he just take what he wants? Why doesn't she like him?

    The balance, of course, is Clay, like I mentioned. Perhaps as a separate voice. Or, perhaps, a voice of conscience. Maybe Harold had some good lessons he taught, while Clay was making pottery. Shaping the clay, just as you would shape your life. Teaching right from wrong, how to earn a living. How to be good to the ones you love. How the small things count - just a finger in the right place is a difference between a jar, and a vase.

    Of course, I'd suggest looking somewhat into pottery to make corny life connections to it. =P. But there's wisdom to be found, as long as you can write it. And shape him. He keeps going because he thinks of the future, and he has to press on. And like any rebellious teen, maybe he's going to have an outburst or two. Or, instead, try to silently impress her. Put on goggles, so they can't see his eyes. Shape a rose, when you're playing idly by the campfire, and try to justify that, perhaps, if something so beautiful can come out of the mist, then perhaps it's not all bad.

    Eventually, he may accept the corruption. Use it as strength, to defend what he loves. "Corruption" may not necessarily be evil - maybe it's impulse. The impulse to suddenly kiss her, to be bold and lead. "Someone has to be in charge! Dammit, the world's hell, and I'm not waiting around for it to get worse. I'll lead because someone has to!" You might recognize that attitude from Moddi - it's a front, and a strength. Whoever said impulse can't be noble, if you embrace it? Make it your own.

    And that's when Clay Baker stops being the kid in the shadows, and becomes the man that has to do what's right. He might not always do it well, but he'll try like hell, and that's admirable.

    Conclusion

    Both of these are great examples. And two very different attitudes - one whimsical, the other angsty. It's good to write a variety of characters! And if they're not feeling right to you, always put some more of yourself into them. That's what makes them "human", so to speak. Some characters can be quite good, and others need rescuing. Then there's ones that you just can't write anymore, because you've lost them. I've had that happen to me plenty of times, and it's been a long time since I could write a good male character, to be honest.

    When they're a part of you, it's much easier for you to feel them, and for everyone else to connect to them. And, eventually, the writing becomes nearly effortless - you already know the reactions because you're that deep with the character. That's the feeling that I equate to the characters writing themselves - that's when they've truly become great. And you're very much on the road to it.

    Thanks for sharing, Scryer!
    Last edited by Theprettiestorc; 12-24-2013 at 05:17 PM.

  5. #5
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    *Nods enthusiastically* Pretty I think I love you! That was excellent and inspirational! What you said about Marven shined some light on some character aspects I had left untouched upon. Like his master for instance,... definitely needs some flash back work and I don't think Marven's really "talked" about his life to the other members yet. ^^ I'll have to remedy that.

    As far as Clay's critic goes. *WOW* Would you believe I hadn't even thought of him actually maturing? The concept of "growing up" had actually escaped me! You have my heart felt thanks for providing me with the insight needed to push this campaign to a "Modest" level. I've subscribed and eagerly await your input on other character made and in the making. Thank you.
    Clay Baker of Dragonspear http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/....php?cid=67218
    Clay's Psicrystal http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/....php?cid=69396
    Maven Manastorm of Awakening http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/....php?cid=68099
    No matter what happens today, come tomorrow its just yesterday.
    But, if history is immortal,... what god would you be?

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