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    Vivacity

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    psychoticbarber
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    Vivacity

    Post  psychoticbarber on Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:22 pm

    One of the hardest things to bring about in a character you've created is its vivacity. This spark of life goes beyond having an interesting history, good hooks, and all that jazz, and speaks to giving the character a bit of its own life by stepping beyond the constructed nature it had before.

    It's very possible to write long histories and backstories of a character, especially one for an RPG, and still have the character feel flat and uninspired. It doesn't really mean much to say the character is an elven prince, or a super hero, or just a remarkably tough guy trying to keep the zombies from eating him; unless, of course, that person comes to life in some way.

    Lets take Han Solo, for example. He's a scruffy-lookin', shady type character who appears to be in everything for the money. At the beginning of the first movie (Episode IV, for those of you who are willing to pretend the sequels are "first"), Han actually shows his true colours when he shoots Greedo under the table. You can shrug it off and say he was acting in pre-emptive self defence, but it adds a dimension of life to the character: He's not all that honourable, and he's willing to do difficult, violent things if he has to.

    For me, however, Han's real spark of life comes in The Empire Strikes Back, when Leia finally tells him she loves him. It's a touching moment, and in a moment of weakness it would have been easy to let Han reply in kind. It wouldn't even necessarily have been out of character for him to say it right back to her, but he doesn't. He looks at her, all but smirking, and says "I know."

    Its the very little actions and decisions that make our characters come alive, and it can be very difficult to make a character truly vivacious without careful attention to these details. Can you imagine if Han had said something more along the lines of, "Why, my dear, I find I am quite fond of you myself."? It wouldn't have felt right, and our image of Han Solo would have been forever changed, muddied by a single poor decision.

    Many characters grow organically in play, and that's fine, and even wonderful. An astute player will even recognize that it's not necessary to have the past interpretation of the character match the present one: as long as you can get logically from the past to the present. These little pieces of life, the vivaciousness of characters, are what really push gaming from cliche to fantastic story-telling, and while they're hard to master, they should be the aim of every player.


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