Note: Much of this won’t apply in a comedic game. This is mostly a list of tips and things to avoid when trying make a character for a moderately serious or realistic roleplay. If you think something should be added, shortened, elaborated, or cut out, just tell me.
Background and Personality
#1. While you don’t have to straight up Freudian with a character’s backstory, try to give the other players some idea of why your character might be the way s/he is. Why can s/he do what s/he does? Why does s/he do it, what are his or her motivations? I find it best to think of a couple interesting characters traits, such as a single skill/profession and a basic personality archetype, before I even start writing anything. From that, I try think of causes and effects, no matter how boring initially, of those traits- both positive and negative. With a backbone, you can try to think of related traits, and the thought of adding to round him/her out can be less daunting from there on.
#2. I don't have to tell you that flaws are important, significant to the story. But even I have to admit that coming up with one for a character can be difficult. Try to think of a flipside to a strength or quirk of your character. If a man hardens himself to, say, manage life as a soldier, than others might find him to stoic, cold, and unfeeling during peacetime. And try to go for at least two, as other characters or players will interpret your character differently than you intended. Even a nicotine addiction could count as a character flaw if you don't glorify the act and play realistically. Have him/her have troubles keeping with more energetic party members because of the cardio vascular problems it causes, or leave the group occasionally for a smoke, just when the stress is building up. Overcoming a main flaw -or at least having him or her admit it exist, thus getting on the road to positive change- in your character is usually expected by the end, but it really depends on tone that story is going for, especially in more cynical ones or those with lots of grey morality.
#3. Try to check out the other characters in the roleplay, and look for what you could possibly build with. What could contract or compliment them? Try to not be redundant. A more out there character could a more practical character to avoid getting in trouble, where as the out there character could add spice in the situation he brings to a character who might otherwise be plain.
#4. Unlike normal forms of writing, roleplaying is social; it depends on the interactions between characters in order to work. Socially inept, awkward, or antisocial characters can be difficult to use. You will probably have to use this as a hurtle for your character to jump over. Do this too fast and it seem as though you are acting out of character, too slow and you risk being a load to the progression of the plot. A shy character, or one who isolate him/herself because of high moral or intellectual standards can justify this. However, it can look like you are screaming “feed me” at the top of your lungs. On the other hand, a describing a character as a social butterfly off the bat can be risky as well for precisely that reason and even slight alternate character interpretation and.
#5. The dark and Tragic Past (TM) is also something to careful with. It isn’t an all expenses payed ticket to being a burden for the party or a karma Houdini. If your character angst about something in his or her past and still be seen as sympathetic, they need a really, really good reason. Have the event be recent, or drastically affect the character’s philosophy, like a Pollyanna having her trust in the government broken after her father getting drafted and dieing in war.
#6. Additionally, Unless you mean an ass whopping, betting your character raped in his or her backstory is also best avoided. And having your character force themselves upon another can lead to you looking like John Ringo, though perhaps something adequate to put as part of a back-story if said character is trying to atone for past sins throughout the roleplay. However, even if you do go this route, please refrain from reinforcing the double standard when it comes to female perpetrators, or reinforce the stereotype of “all homosexuals are pedophiles”.
#1. Despite what you may think, physical appearances are not something you should put big focus on for making your character stand out. Not saying your character can’t be beautiful or repelling within reason of the setting , status (Can s/he actually afford or even get a hold of cosmetics or a fancy outfit?) free time (medieval royals took hours to get their clothes on) and practicality of the outfit for the character’s profession. High heels or a skirt can be bothersome cumbersome enough for running- have you seriously ever seen someone do a backflip in a ball gown? And another flipside to having a particularly notable appearance is how so standout. Yes, Mr. Right might notice the lovely, low cut skirt, but so will all of the perverts in the subway station.
#2. Also, remember that writing is not a visual medium, so what such description can easily be fluff. Everyone will imagine a different look for your character; it doesn't matter if you but two or twenty sentences describing him or her. Saying someone has blond hair and blue eyes won't usually have much bearing how a character or is going to be, minus a dumb blonde joke or comment about Eugenism. However, if having blonde hair and blue eyes are unheard of for natives in the setting, then mentioning that will mean that others characters will notice that that character is probably a foreigner.
#3. Scars are just a reminder of the past or a mar to beauty. If you think giving one to a character might be a good idea, medically research what happens when they aren’t treated properly, and then decide. I dare you!
#4. When appropriate get your character messy, dirty, or hot- and know when to exploit it for fanservice. Ever watch sports, or were part of a team? Can being sweaty be attractive? Hell yes- why else would I go to the gym? But after a point, it... just goes downhill. Seriously, it ain't moe after you run miles. And yeah, lesbian mud wrestling has always been a Pay Per View favorite, but this ain't that kinda forum.
#1. First off, giving your character natural talent in something is something you gotta be careful about. Remember that kid in your school class who could draw like crazy, but never had his structure down. If you observed that kid a bit, you may have noticed a lack of consistency- even if s/he drew the same thing twice, they weren’t identical. In other words, talent is cheap. If you wanna you gotta work at something, a lot- at least in fiction land where conflict and change are king and queen. This also especially goes with multiple languages, as they take years to speak fluently, and Rosetta Stone cost a bomb.
#2. Make sure character abilities are important to the story in someway or another. They don’t necessary have to show up a lot, they can merely flesh out a character or be common for that character’s background. If a dude primarily beats the leaving crap out of people during the course of the story, having him know violin might make him seem more than a mere brute.
#3. As above, avoid being redundant unless you want to use this as a way to compliment the contrast between the personalities of two characters or the sides they are. One guy uses a broad sword, but you still want your guy to use a sword because they are often perceived as heroic? A rapier is designed for a completely different sort of fighting style. If one character is the team muscle, then try for someone witty, or be the team mom/cheerleader.
#4. Notably, turning a still into a double edged sword can be done via overspecialization. A scientist is likely to have little knowledge out of his/her branch of studies, and might spend too much time in a lab to go the gym, or even have learned practical knowledge that is otherwise common sense. This is another way in which having a diverse party is important.
#5. Unless things are super combat focused, where everyone likely to be armed to the teeth, its usually fine to give some one main weapon with a back up (Ex: rifle and pistol, bow and short sword, etc.), or a set (Ex: dual knives, sword and parrying knife, long sword and short sword, sword and shield, etc.). Unless weapons break/run of ammo in the blink of a eye, you'll be fine. Trust me. Of course, this only applies if the roleplay you are signing up for welcomes warriors at all.