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How do you avoid cliche?

Mirdthestrill's Avatar


Mirdthestrill
11.17.2012 , 09:02 PM | #1
This isn't so much a question as an invite to disicuss. I started thinking about this after reading the thread on "The Revan Disease".

How do you avoid your RP character being a cliche? Giving them some unique quirk, such as a soft spot or a personal cause, helps, but sometimes can stray in the direction of having the character completely defined by one particular facet of their personality.

So how do you keep your characters from becoming cliches?
I <3 alts!

TheBBP's Avatar


TheBBP
11.18.2012 , 01:23 AM | #2
I play characters that are not very extraordinary. My characters do not have a tragic past, famous bloodline or amazing lineage.
  • My RP Trooper is just a regular soldier. He serves simply because he is patriotic and I play him as a low rank.
  • My RP Jedi is just a Knight. He is a "soldier" among the Jedi.
  • My RP Smuggler is just a Freighter Captain. He is not rich. He does not engage in anything illegal. He just transports goods and people if needed.

It also helps with keeping from bumping heads with all of the RPers who like to be important. I literally watched someone RP that they were a Prince of Rattatak.

JekRendar's Avatar


JekRendar
11.18.2012 , 10:50 AM | #3
First thing you can do is knock them down five notches. Second thing is to limit how much of the storylines you incorporate into the character's development. There are two theories in character development: 1.) Let the game mold your character or 2.) Develop the game mechanics around your character concept. Number one is problematic, as I mentioned earlier, given the "Galactic Savior" mentality in each story and mission. So, the second option is best.

It's always best to choose a character's personality first. What makes him unique? Then develop his profession. What does he do? How does he make credits? There are a billion and one mercenaries out there and Canon is full of dozens of examples.

You also can't forget about the game mechanics themselves. This a themepark MMO. Combat relates to 90% of all in-game activities. Unless you want to RP a cantina crawler (which I do not recommend), then I would highly suggest giving your characters some motivation to engage in combat. They don't have to be soldiers or mercenaries, but they should be able to defend themselves. (This isn't to say that you can't go OOC for combat-related activities, but I'd recommend limiting this for immersion's sake. Having said that, most missions I do OOC because they don't work with my character concepts - yet my characters are combat capable.)

Just a run down on my characters at the moment:
Imperial Agent: Former Imperial Pilot turned vigilante - upper 40s, calm, cool, collected
Smuggler: SIS agent moonlighting as an Underworld tradesman - mid-30s, cold, calculating
Jedi Knight: Retired Jedi Master recently returned to active duty - early 60s, loud, boisterous, sensitive
Star Wars Galaxies (Starsider): June 27, 2003 - December 15, 2011

BarneyBash's Avatar


BarneyBash
11.22.2012 , 12:23 PM | #4
to be unique I simple make decisions that I would make. Im a fighter by nature and don't like to be told what to do so the warrior is an obvious roll for me.
I have a snide/troll side so any chance to antagonize or tease I enjoy.
basicly I decide what I would do if I had force powers and roll that.

Fetid's Avatar


Fetid
11.24.2012 , 02:32 PM | #5
Sometimes playing a "just a" can be even worse than playing a cliché special snowflake. Keep that in mind.

redhuntinghat's Avatar


redhuntinghat
11.24.2012 , 06:45 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Fetid View Post
Sometimes playing a "just a" can be even worse than playing a cliché special snowflake. Keep that in mind.
It really isn't about the character you play, but rather about how you play your character. Keep in mind these virtues of RPing that I use and should apply to any character, whether RPed as an unimportant mook or a king.

Virtues:
-Honesty~ Be honest about your character; if so and so happend in their past, how would they act? What are his/her strengths? Weaknesses? Are these proportional, and do they show? Does your character feel sincere, or if not, have a valid and concious reason for feeling insincere? Is your character realistic and plausible within your own universe?
-Creativity~ Try to provide new, insightful, or exciting ideas to the table through your character. Inspiration can be drawn from anywhere, from movies to art to your personal life to music etc, and a great character is one who embodies an idea or a spirit. Unique characters work best when they are unique not to the lore, but rather the way similar characters are played by other players. Notice other players tend to have very angsty and gritty Sith? Then play a more light-hearted one who sincerely believes in the goals of the Empire, or perhaps a cold and reserved manipulator. But that doesn't mean you should play a 1,000 year old demi-god in the body of a sexy twi'lek girl who only wears a bikini and rides a rancor. Ever.
-Respect~ Giving other people time to flesh out their character and be "in the spotlight" marks the difference between a mature and an immature player. Having great ideas isn't just enough; one must also share the spotlight and realize their character is not the protagonist but one of many characters. One must not just talk; one must also learn to listen!

A great guide to avoid being en eye-roll inducing, cliche, unlikable, whiny, and nauseating character is the the Mary Sue Litmus Test. Every fiction writer, from RPers to novel writers, should use this as a tool.

Most of all, if your character's biggest flaw is people hate them because they are "too beautiful", "too smart", "too rich", "too lucky", or a combination of these, a serious retool may be needed.

jockjammer's Avatar


jockjammer
12.04.2012 , 05:34 AM | #7
I tend to play my Characters just like theBBT said above In every MMO I ever played . Like the expression too many chiefs not enough indians playing an "average joe" can seem very unique in a world where so many try to stand in the spotlight.
Avoiding certain dominant aspects of species or social canon can be great as long as one does not go over the top to the point of being ludicrous or complete breach of canon. The Chiss for example have a reputation for being arrogant and cold,this does not mean all Chiss must be so. The species Chiss are also known for being highly educated and interested in Art,science and cultures of others. One of my Chiss characters is just like that. He is fascinated to learn as much as he can about all things new too him and in order to do so must be quite outgoing and freindly. The sense of superiority is still there but by no means the dominant aspect of his personality like so many other Chiss characters I have encounterd. In any sentient species there will be individuality. No society is dominated by only one facet of its culture. I bet there is even a lazy Killik out there somewhere
UTINI!!!!

Whillwynn's Avatar


Whillwynn
12.28.2012 , 10:15 PM | #8
Honestly?

I don't. I embrace them.

There is a reason why some ideas take, and others don't. That's because those ideas are generally well-liked and resonate with audiences. The key thing is to avoid cliched speech. But building stories around tested ideas is good storytelling; there are no new ideas under the sun, only subverted or reimagined versions of the same ol' same ol'.

Don't believe me? Go to tvtropes.org. It is one resource I consult constantly when I'm writing to come up with ideas of where things can go (by looking at how they typically go, subverting some tropes, adapting others).
"People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it." - Edith Schaeffer

CosmicKat's Avatar


CosmicKat
12.29.2012 , 04:20 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Whillwynn View Post
Honestly?

I don't. I embrace them.

There is a reason why some ideas take, and others don't. That's because those ideas are generally well-liked and resonate with audiences. The key thing is to avoid cliched speech. But building stories around tested ideas is good storytelling; there are no new ideas under the sun, only subverted or reimagined versions of the same ol' same ol'.

Don't believe me? Go to tvtropes.org. It is one resource I consult constantly when I'm writing to come up with ideas of where things can go (by looking at how they typically go, subverting some tropes, adapting others).
Well said.

Every character in the original trilogy is a blatant cliche character. They are all great characters.

Every character in the prequel trilogy is an over-wrought, whiney drama queen. They are all horrible characters.

DoctorJest's Avatar


DoctorJest
01.03.2013 , 02:32 PM | #10
Cliches are used because they work. There's nothing wrong with starting out with a cliche as a basis; in fact it's probably going to turn out alot better than the person who thinks they're clever by playing a good-natured happy Sith who likes daisies and puppies and rainbows.

So I don't think avoiding a cliche is a good idea. Rather using it as a guideline is probably a very good idea. From there, what you do is embellish the character with personal details; who they are, how they become what they are, what their personality is like. The nice thing about the cliche is that it has no depth, so you can add as much color, depth and flavor as you like to flesh it out into a "real" person.

The first place I start is where does the character fit into my legacy and what is their relationship with, and thoughts about, the rest of the characters in the legacy? What defines their relationship, and the relationship with the others? From there I can extrapolate and build on who the character is, what motivates them, where their weaknesses are, what their hotbuttons are, what they care about, and so on.

The rest arises organically through play.