How to Portray "Depth" in a Character




  • Have you ever had fellow players or a Storyteller tell you that your character is really shallow or cardboard, when you did not write it to be shallow IC?

  • Do you have trouble taking a basic concept and flushing it out into a believable entity, or running it as a character with substance?

  • Does your character engage in only 2-3 different modes of role-play at most, if that, and never does much of anything else?

  • If so, then this is a coaching section that can help you fix that.



1. What qualities give a character depth? Conversely, how do we recognize a shallow/cardboard character?

A cardboard, shallow character is one that is very rigid, especially to a stereotype. It is "cookie cutter", formulaic, not very original, and easily forgotten. Sometimes, such a concept can be the base for a character, but it should never be the meat of it; never all there is.

Qualities of a character that has depth:

  • [a] APPROACHABLE: A character who is not some mythic hero that normal people could never be or even know well. Heroes are iconic; they are not creatures of motion. Once their legends are set, people don't like to know any more. They want to freeze them in a moment of glory. This doesn't make good role-play. Such characters are great fun to watch or read about, but not to play, or play with.
  • [b] VULNERABILITIES/FLAWS & STRENGTHS, BALANCE & LIMITS: Such a character should not be perfect at everything (See the "Mary Sue" page.) They should have weaknesses, flaws, but also strengths as well. Some players think the key to a unique character is to weigh them down with all the "cool" flaws, until they become a joke of a concept and hard to play. There needs to be a balance between the weak and strong traits, and limits to how many different ones of both you give one character. Don't try to be everything to everyone.
  • [c] HISTORY/FAMILY/COMMUNITY/RELATIONSHIP: Almost every PC in the World of Darkness, is part of the WORLD. They were born. They were once children who grew up. They had a family, an education, friends. Belonged somewhere. A heritage. Even if these things were soured in their background history, they would react to the loss. They did have them once. This will color many traits about them in the present. You should be watchful for opportunities to react IC in ways that give us a glimpse of their past. A stray comment, a reaction taken the wrong way, a memory, a habit. Also, most creatures want to belong, somewhere. To some group, good or bad. To be a part of something, or else to paint themselves as special because they "don't need it like everyone else does." But either way, the concept should be a part of their actions, lingering in the background of everything they do. The only people who think being despised or cold-hearted is cool, are those who don't have other options.
  • [d] EVERYDAY ISSUES: A more developed character should have to deal with things that people deal with every day, just like the rest of us. Hunger, sleep, friends, allies, pawns, enemies, work, superiors, subordinates, money, health, plans, possessions, appearance, acceptance, achievements, recognition, control, power, the government, and so on. There should be signs that this character has to handle those things from time to time, actively or in the background.
  • [e] EMOTIONS/OPINIONS/REACTIONS: A well rounded character is going to have all of these, to many things around them. You cannot portray a character's depth by not reacting to things, or by making the reactions too subtle or too weird and not universal. They have to be clearly understood by others, to convey meaning. This is a basic precept of acting; portraying emotion is no time to be unique. You need to be clear and accurate. If your character never seems to change moods or demeanor, they're going to come off as shallow.
  • [f] REASONABLE GOALS & ASPIRATIONS THAT DRIVE YOU: Yes, occasionally characters have flaws that make them obsessive or driven, but by and large, a well-rounded character has goals and aspirations. Find chances to portray these as you see them. And don't make them exaggerated or fixated; then the character only derives identity from their obsessions and that gets very old and boring, very quickly.
  • [g] INDIVIDUALITY/UNIQUENESS: Within reason! Difficult to portray at times without losing a universally understood mien, but possible. Take a common story and put your own spin on it. Change someone's race, gender, heritage, age, morals. But don't go so far off the planet with trying to be different that you make the character impossible to believe. Only change a few things, before you destroy the core concept. Don't make the character into an impossible freak.

2. Ok. Now that you know several traits that a non-cardboard character should have, how do you go about conveying them to others?

  • A. REACTIONS: Make them visible and standardized/universally understood. You have to be comprehended by others to get the correct reactions IC and OOC.
  • B. POSSESSIONS: What you surround yourself with, tells a story. What you guard and covet. What you treasure. What you don't keep. All of it.
  • C. APPEARANCE: "Mileage." Mood. Income. Position of power. Fears. Wants. Priorities. All these can be reflected in the character's clothing and grooming.
  • D. SKILLS: What you know and don't know how to do, is colored by your history; what you choose or have to learn as you go along in your life. Look for chances to show things they know, or spots of lack of information, as a means of showing who the character is inside.
  • E. CHOICES/ACTIONS/INACTION: Your character's character, morals, ethics, worth, will be judged by the things he/she does or does not choose to do. How does a person of substance and depth act? They show authentic interest in other people. They do not do things to make empty dramatics. What is authentic? It's the opposite of "trying too hard." Your instincts tell you, OOC, when someone is pulling your chain. It's the stuff we do when nobody else is looking. It's who someone really is, not who they are willing to be to get something or avoid a consequence. It's what your PC does freely, without demanding a specific reaction or reward, but simply because that is what they want to do.
  • F. PLAYER ANALOGY/EMPATHY: Relate a situation to something in your OOC personal experience that is similar, if you are unsure how to convey the correct reaction. How did you feel? How did that feeling make you behave? Use that IC.

PLAYER NOTES AND COMMENTS (from the actual Workshop held on 8-22-05):

Tonight's topic is about how to play a character with depth. This topic originally came out of a conversation in which a player was told that their character was really shallow, and they didn't write him that way but he just came off that way when played.

So, this is about how to be "not shallow". To portray a PC that has substance and authenticity to it. Below are relevant snippets from the logs after holding this workshop online.

On 1-A - Being Approachable instead of a Legend:

Player1: That includes only "Epic heroes" right?
ST: I mean if you think about a lot of famous heroic characters... and no not just Epic heroes. ANY heroes. this is true of
Player1: I mean.. a normal guy dropped in an extreme situation is a Hero.
ST: not in the literary sense he isn't. Doing one heroic act is not the same as being a Character called a Hero
Player2: Not only that, but even larger than life people are difficult to approach to ask questions of or engage in conversation.
ST: If you think about famous heroes... a lot of twisted stuff is done about what happens afterwards. Nobody wants to know about how Sleeping Beauty got old or whether Cinderella had kids and got fat, or what became of Han Solo. They just want the legends. But you can't run a guy like that in this sort of a game, without running out of relevance, so a PC with substance needs to be someone we can believe exists now, here, in the modern world. They can be heroic in nature but... there has to be more to them than this
Player2: Playing an everyday person with abilities is more fun anyway I think
ST: Yes, but some players think the way to be cool is to be a hero. Well that's nice but... it gets stilted after a while
Player1: Plus they tend to hog the spotlight a lot.
Player2: Also, when an everyday character does something heroic, its more noteworthy.
ST: Exactly. A hero is expected to do that kind of thing constantly, or they become "Fallen"
Player1: yeah.. they usually end up dead.
ST: That's pretty fallen

On 1-B, Having A Balance Of Strengths & Flaws:

ST2: While it's perfectly fine to have a character who wants to be the center of attention all the time, it gets a little grating on the players if you, the player, don't give them their spotlight too. If you're too angsty, you do the same thing. Step back and ask yourself what you would do if you were around that person all the time. Sometimes, it's appropriate. Sometimes, there's no excuse for a character NOT being the center of attention all the time. That's when the character fades into the background and only comes out for specific things.
ST1: I think that sentiment is true both of the perfect character and of the character who is all flaws.
ST2: Indeed. Indeed it is.
ST1: A character who commands that much attention away from the other characters, is on their way to becoming an NPC. cuz you don't want everyone else going "Oh shit here we go again, he'll just do all the cool stuff and we sit around" This is one nice aspect of 2.0, there will be no uber NPC's for people to whine to to go fix it. We're all equal going out the gate, for the first time in 14 years

ST2: There is enough angst generated through the interactions that occur during game. Not everyone needs to have a truly tragic background and questing to fix it. You don't need to start off angsty. And when building a character, in the event that we ever build Supernaturals from the beginning, start as a person. Start NORMAL. Sean, as an example, had two parents, still married, a dog, a harp, and a house. He was in DC to attend college. What happened next was a left turn for his life. And he got angsty. But his history, and his foundation, were very white bread, very normal, and mundane
ST1: But yeah the point being, that a character of substance has these things. Find ways to show them (we'll get to the How To Do That part shortly)
ST3: Heh. I even have a PC who had a perfectly normal life (He was an ACCOUNTANT fer chrissakes> until one excruciatingly bad day.

On 1-C - A Character's Past and How Much Of It You Should Know to RP It Effectively:

Player1: One question. Assume for the sake of argument, that a character had, in theory a very active past.. esp for Vampires or other really "old" characters. Not everything can be included in BG unless you want to type a novel. So how much.. well stuff.. is allowed to exist/be made up?
ST1: The Big Four takes care of that. The only think I honestly give a damn about are the answers to those questions. Nothing else in the character's history matters to me. If you want to do it for your own notes, fine, .... But honest to Christ it wont be a better PC because you sat and wrote out 200 years of history for him. He really wont. you just need to make some basic decisions about his history, the highlights.
Player1: *nods* My question was about the "hints to their past" remark.
ST1: we're not talking 300 years past. We could be talking 20 years past and a lot of that should be answered in the big four. For example... If the char had a normal childhood, a girlfriend, school pals... then grows up to be a freak and has to leave that all behind... its going to scar him. He's going to miss it... React to it when others have it... Covet things. Or resent them. He might snap at someone for being mushy in front of him. Envious. Or stalk an Ex who moved on and married well without him, or leave secret presents for a promising child he'll never father. Little things that come out of your past. Its not about how much long ago that past was, as much as its about its meaning and impact on the PC

On all the sections - Availability to process background story for your PC:

Player2: How much time is available with ST to do things like that. Do they have to be present for these little side things.
ST1: I'm not sure what you mean
Player2: If I decide that my character has a wife, leaves and decides to establish a trust fund for their unborn child, what ST involvement is necessary.
ST1: That would be in your background unless someone else is playing your wife. You wouldn't RP that out, however if you want to do some little things you can get an ST to help you
Player2: OK, thanks
ST1: but the only caveat I would say, is way way too many people did that INSTEAD OF role-playing, instead of IN ADDITION TO it. So in 2.0 there's going to be a lot less Side RP unless its required
Player2: Makes sense.
ST1: Like if you want to RP out breaking into someone's house to leave a letter... or whatever. I don't mind doing a little bit of that but I just do not want anyone making that the meat of their RP is all
Player2: So no killing time with private stuff. No prob
ST1: well don't kill time you could be playing with the group with it, more like
Player2: Right.

ST1: on a night like this, say when we can't move on... it's a good night for that

On 1-D - Dealing With Everyday Issues:

Player2: OK, so it comes through but doesn't dominate.
ST1: Right. To make a char less cardboard you want to take moments to show that they do in fact have to go to the bathroom and sleep and dodge parking tickets like everyone else does. Sometimes through powers but at least you are addressing it and making them more real
ST2: Eating's good. Having quirks is good. Sean had a thing for vanilla coke. ;)
ST1: exactly. Show us a favorite food. or drink. Or get a call from work. Do they hide from the cops even when they're not being bad? (some people do this) A cardboard character never seems to need to deal with the dumb day to day shit. To give them substance, find moments to portray these things. Makes them more flushed out
ST2: Spend time doing your favorite things. Skip doing things they don't want to do, even if you, the player, wants to.
ST1: Make them have a hobby. That you do IC.
ST2: Use their quirks, even when inconvenient. It's not about being perfect when you have to be.
ST1: Or have them ask another PC to teach them something
Player1: That's always a fun one.
ST1: That makes good RP. Teaching someone something IC.
ST2: Have a normal conversation. About normal things.

ST1: and you have a much better understanding of how to do it than slapping dots on a sheet. For example, someone started a Dojo 3 years ago. I sent two characters to them to take lessons.
ST2: The conversation that sticks most in my mind, actually, is one between Ice, Sean, and Catalano, shortly after Sean took duke for the first time.
ST1: OH? remind me
ST2: It was a mundane discussion about Ireland, I believe. And missing home. And running around DC anyway. Very...plain. And it struck Sean as humorous, many years later, when he thought about it. The three most powerful people in the area... just...chatting
Player2: I know its not good to put too much real life into your character, but if you are teaching a hobby, isn't' it good if the player has first hand knowledge of it? For example, in real life, I teach kendo and take iaido lessons. Can my character do the same thing to explain any basic weapons skills?
ST1: I don't object to OCCASIONALLY putting in things you are good at OOC into your RP (we will also address that tomorrow night incidentally) Because you are right, you can add a sense of realism to it since you know. (this is a great segue to the next topic TUES)
Player2: That was going to be the extent of my real life inclusion.
ST1:But yes. Have normal conversations about normal things. That's one area you get derailed in, (Player)
Player2: I'll be done with class around 8:10. Wont' have access to my computer during that class, so, after 8:10, I will probably be able to be on.
ST3: IMHO, the simplest way to test if you've made an interesting character is, can you answer the questions, what do they do in their free time, when they aren't being characters.
ST1: (PC) has these forced conversations when you are TRYING to make a point but it doesn't want to naturally come out on its own
Player1: Ah.
ST1: He doesn't seem to be much PAST his hero complex. (see earlier comments about heroes) That is what makes him feel cardboard. What's his favorite color, do you know? I don't require that, its just an example
Player1: Hence my earlier question. There's a lot of stuff not in his BG.. that he's gone through.
ST1: Is he a virgin? What are his hobbies? How did he like his parents, that kind of stuff
Player1: But I hesitate to call on it since it isn't official.
ST1: Well you don't have to write all that out UNLESS.... you plan to have him reacting out of it. Then I would make a brief comment. Like... Stuffy upbringing .... or... not many girlfriends... or whatever it is. Just a sentence or two
ST3: What we *require* you might consider as a bare, bare minimum.
ST1: See instead of trying to have him act like a hero, decide he already is but have the hero just react. How does a hero react when someone cuts a fart? I am sure they make a face or a cute joke.
ST3: But any question you can answer about yourself, you should be able to answer about a character
ST1: just like normal people do. they don't stand up and brandish a sword about it. Heroes sweat and get horny and tired and impatient too. That makes them approachable
ST3: What's (character)'s favorite book? Does he read poetry? Can he carry a tune in a bushel basket?
ST1: that's why the art thing is working for him. Its a total sideline. He isn't a torie. he just draws cool shit. THAT... is one of the more real things he's done.
Player1: is uncertain which question to respond to first.
ST1: its rhetorical Hon
ST3: You don't need to answer them to me
ST1: answer it in your brain. And then look for chances to react, out of those answers.
Player1: *nods relieved*
ST3: But you need to be able to answer them to yourself.
Player1: Oh I know.
ST1: Like... If someone is reading a book he might like. Have him walk up and go Oh, I read that. It was excellent. Or ask them to explain it to him. Or if he has a thing for Redheads. He could stare more often at the PC's who have red hair. OR whatever. You just study the scene for such moments.
Player1: Maybe I'm WAAAY off base here. But I haven't gotten the impression anyone is interested in casual conversation with him. But this is off topic and more "Remedial RP" than class worthy.
ST1: Well no its both.
Player1: Ok.
ST1: but back to the topic part of this... He can start having genuine conversations about shit he's actually interested in... as a means to start getting people to be less annoyed with him. That would do a world of good on two fronts
Player1: I think one of those errors is worth sharing with the rest of class. To paraphrase. If it's not written/shown.. it doesn't exist.
Player2: Can you elaborate on that a bit more? Doesn't exist if not written. Don't make up landscape?
ST1: When you want to portray a reaction, you don't do it by stony silence. Unless, you exaggerate it to where it is clearly sulking. And do it at key moments so others know WHY he is sulking
Player2: Ah, OK, makes sense.
ST1: This had to do with not reacting in a way that was clear, and then the other players not taking the reaction as meant. if you're angry, or sad, or embarrassed, IRL you can just sit quietly with no expression. but when you are on stage, or role-playing or in a movie or on TV... you have to show the audience which one you are. The method in which you sit, the tone of your voice, what you set your eyes on, what you avoid, all help to make it more clear. Silence is rarely good RP.
Player1: Don't count on them though.. sometimes you just have to out and out STATE the motivations and emotions.
Player2: OK, that all makes sense in a written format. although probably not completely intuitive unless told. :)
ST1: that is true, sometimes if your movements are not being understood you may have to just get up IC and say Ok I'm kind of pissed

On 1-E: Emotions & Reactions:

ST1: This is a basic precept of acting; portraying emotion is no time to be unique. You need to be clear and accurate. If your character never seems to change moods or demeanor, they're going to come off as shallow. [pauses for more comments]
ST3: I have one. There's nothing that says that your reactions have to be dramatic or highly visible. A clenched jaw and narrow eyes can be as effective at conveying your character's wrath as throwing things and shouting. IF you've established he's very restrained emotionally
ST1: Let's try a couple examples to clarify here. What does a Happy character act like? (not rhetorical, answer at will)
Player3: perhaps whistling, smiling, singing an upbeat tune, chatty
ST1 nods... Anything else?
Player2: Attempts to high-five.
ST3: eyes will tend to crinkle into smile lines, expression will soften a bit
Player2: lets out a whoop.
ST1: ok good, good. Now what does a sneaky character act like?
Player1: Lets things slide they normally might not? Why let something small spoil a good mood?
Player2: Looks around quickly from person to person.
Player3: paranoid
ST3: Dresses deliberately low-key, blends in. Does little to attract attention to themselves.
ST1: Good.
Player2: Doesn't look someone in the eye.
ST1: See, there's many options but you all can agree these are universally understood. now if I do this:
Player2: Hey, if only I carried a wallet.
ST3: Well, it depends on how good they are at being sneaky lol
ST1 walks into the room, heads straight to the table and sits down without a word to anyone
ST1: What mood am I in?

Player1: Exactly *agrees with ST3 Emphatically*
ST3: Could be any of several
ST1: exactly
ST3: there are no handles on that statement
ST1: its not universal enough
Player1: Thoughtful, worried, pensive, scared.
ST1: this is a time to stereotype so that you are clear. motions and reactions tend to be pretty similar regardless of culture, and BTW in the above example, I made up that I was embarrassed because the character is deaf and didn't want to be made fun of. but that wasn't clear.
ST3 swings the door open, letting it hit the wall with a meaty thud. His boot heels rap out a ringing staccato on the hardwood floor, his eyes, the color of chilled steel, narrowed intently as he scans the room
ST3: I'd say it's pretty clear that the above character is in a bad mood. And probably looking for the source of the bad mood

ST1: So stay with the universally understood gestures.
Player1 looks unconvinced by the "regardless of culture" statement.
ST1: Its true. People don't kiss you on the mouth in Asia when they're mad at you. They might yell or shun you just like here. when someone likes you, we all extend some recognized gesture of friendship.
Player1: But the Italians do.
ST1: Not on the mouth, honey. and it isn't sexual. And you watch too many mob movies.
ST3: If you're speaking of the stereotypical mob situation, sure. They'll glad-hand you and then shoot you in the back later.
ST1: Do you actually know what the Italians do when they are mad at you? Honestly? or are you kind of just winging it
ST3: But then again, you're dealing with sociopaths.
Player1: Usually beat the snot out of you. or just scream a lot.
ST1: You just made my point
Player3: bang pots, lots of loud noises
ST3: Well, I can speak of Venetians.
ST1: those are pretty universal signs of displeasure
Player3: yell at any little thing
ST3: They'll get up in your face and yell and gesture a lot
ST1: they don't make me think someone's in love with me
ST3: Then again, I work for one lol
ST1: Sure there's subtle differences in the extremes but again... there is a universality of reactions here. That is why Art transcends countries
ST3: I mean, sure. Johannes' anger looks a lot different from Ice's anger
ST1: quite a lot different. from Heather's Anger, from Morgan's anger, from AO's anger.
ST3: But there are signs there nonetheless that the perceptive can take note of.
ST1: from Cat's anger. But I bet each one... you would know they were angry. because you stay within that Venn diagram of the universal
ST3: Well... If you aren't perceptive, your signal of J's anger would be him running you through with a large piece of sharp steel... But then, that's not something you do to someone you're happy with, unless you're direly psychotic
ST1: Well this is about is Jay perceived as angry or not. Whether a PC or a player is clueless is another matter
Player1: Well this gets into the Shallow Vs. Effective problem. What if you have a character who doesn't wish to show anger but is in fact, quite pissed off.
ST1: Always opt for effective, if you need them to be noticed as being pissed off. Otherwise others cannot react
Player3: that sounds like a woman who's pissed but doesn't tell you she's pissed
ST1: you can tell when a woman is pissed in that way. She just says "Fine" to everything in a terse voice and becomes withdrawn
ST1: lets back up a minute. Why would the character refuse to show their anger? that's all part of the reacting out of your history thing. Something in their past makes them feel one should not show it
Player1: Well.. for one thing, the character doesn't want to be seen as angry in a situation where that will bring negative consequences.
ST1: What negative consequences? Embarrassment? Being stabbed?
Player1: Yes.
ST1: being thought weak for being emotional? Ok well you still have to get that entire thread out. This is what I would do if I was that character.
Player1: *listens.*
ST1 glances over at the others, biting her tongue, eyes flashing in reaction to the comment, but staying silent and withdrawing from the conversation. She rises, her jaw briskly turning as she whisks off to a corner of the room, alone.
ST1: You still show there is annoyance or anger there but show also that they hold it in, and they are concerned about being noticed by others. this makes it clear it exists, but also establishes that they are stifling. That will cause both an IC and OOC curiosity as to why, which can come out in the RP

Player1: Assuming someone tries to pry.
ST1: They may not always. This is not about that. This is about establishing the character is angry and having that comprehended by others
ST3: Okay... Not everyone is going to jump on every hook you throw out there.
ST1: Whether they pry, is about following up on leads and plot hooks. Which is another night :0
ST3: If that were a reason to stop throwing out hooks...
ST1: yeah God knows you guys ignore a lot of ones we throw out ;pppp
ST3: I'd have quit storytelling about 6 years ago
ST1: Also, consider it motive. If your PC wants to be noticed as angry, they must choose to be angry enough that others cant ignore him. Slam a book down or a door shut. Or kick a thing. or huff. Or crack your knuckles roughly and drum your fingers. make it an issue. By your actions
Player1 nods thoughtfully
ST3: The biggest thing is... Establish a certain amount of consistency.
ST1: you have to decide if your PC is more worried about being noticed... or more worried about being punished for their anger. Choose one.They can all be in there but only one game plan can win at a time. and yes consistency is key. If your char is very mellow... Like take Jay for example.
Player3: jay is mellow?
ST1: when he shot off at the mouth during Alex's big scene... That was a bigger deal than when Trent does it. He's not someone who makes drama when angry.
Player3: ah
ST1: Unless you really really fucked up which is where I'm going with this. When Jay speaks, E F Hutton listens. That is how you convey that its fucking serious. The quiet kraut, Broke.
ST3: When Jay shouts, Justicars shut up and take a step back.
ST1: it merited him screaming. That's a universal sign we all know. The silent dude got pissy. Very very very bad. When Ice gets pissy... well its more common. She's high strung.
ST3: Alternately, small signs from him that you might not notice in someone more expressive, take on meaning.
ST1: And that's how I convey that: She snaps at little things.
ST3: Narrowed eyes. A furrowed forehead. clenched jaw. All things that you notice and take to mean, "Oh shit, he's building up a head of steam"
ST1: when you show consistency then you can show meaning in a small shift like that. Like take Alia. She's always got something nice to say. Except once. That was a much bigger deal because she was consistently understanding and mellow. On the other hand William yells all the time so nobody thinks much of it.
ST3: Yeah. When he gets quiet and pensive, people take notice
Player2: I've really enjoyed this.
Player1: Makes perfect sense.. I do the same things.

On 1-F: Goals & Things That Motivate Your PC:

ST1: the Big Four questions help establish what these goals might be.... But showing how they color your RP is the key here. If I want power but I also want respect, I don't want it at ANY and ALL costs, I will behave differently than some sociopathic ladder climber. If I'm in love with another character I would act differently than if it was just a lust fuck. the goals come out sometimes in the reactions to things. When you see an action that touches a goal of yours, react to it. You're ambitious. Someone asks for advice. Stand up and go give them some.
ST3: And then call in a favor from them later
ST1: Just the point is, Goals can be another thing you can portray at key moments : You have to look for them but take them when you see one

On 1-G: Individuality / Uniqueness Gives A PC More Depth Than a Cloned Concept:

ST1: Only change a few things, before you destroy the core concept. Don't make the character into an impossible freak. Understand why I put this part?
Player1: Seems necessary. For some.
ST1: a character with substance should not be just a clone of a done concept
Player3: makes sense
ST1: I think with one exception none of my characters are identifiable as a media or TV or Film character. In fact I'm certain Jon's the only one who knows the exception. I have a couple that started out as existing characters. But mostly they've been so thoroughly fold, spindled and mutilated that they're now pretty much my own. and that's the individuality thing. Good news is I do not recall either of you running any characters that are clones of something. but that can be an issue for making a character less cookie cutter.

On 2-A: The Importance of Universal Reactions:

Player1: be unique.. but do it like everybody else. Trite but accurate?
ST1: Well not sure what "like everyone else" means. I'm saying, be unique but don't try so damned hard to be different that the PC becomes a joke. some people go too far, they think playing a mortal sucks because you aren't "speshul. "

On 2-B: Your PC's Possessions & How They Express Personality:

ST1: This is one of the few ways you can say a lot about your PC while he is silent
ST3: To shamelessly misquote Ian Mackaye, you aren't what you own. But what you own tells a lot about who you are.
ST1: a necklace. A shirt that clearly belonged to someone else. an old watch. A book you keep in your pocket, well worn. Something that doesn't fit you, like a stuffed animal.
Player3: like Vander with his guns, that one guy with the whittling
ST1: Showing these things tells stories. Ice has certain things in her bins.
ST3: A character who is very simple in his wants and needs, will keep little more about him than is necessary to get by, whereas someone with a more hedonistic bent will surround himself in comforts, an ambitious char will surround himself with the accoutrements of power and glory.
ST1: Nobody's gone nosing in them yet. You started to do this, with Vander's secret cartoons. But you let it die before people could act on it
Player1: How did I let it die?
ST3: Johannes requested certain books from Chiana. What they are and what they're about say something.
ST1: You stopped bringing it up. Nobody knows now where they are, to act on them. Are they by his bed still, on the art wall? I Lost track of them
Player1: Only made one so far. Other are in the works.
ST1: aye but where is it. so what you do is,... like this: (Vander) walks back over to his corner of the room and sits down. He gently pushes his makeshift pillow out of the way of the wall, on which he's taped up the self indulgent cartoon he made of Siobhan, now a bit dog-eared and smudged from being hidden away." it opens it back up with a clear destination in case someone wants to peek at it
Player1: gotcha. makes mental note to do something similar.

On 2-C: Your PC's Appearance & How It Adds Depth:

ST1: How well you are groomed. What kinds of things you wear. Ice showed up to the Church in a formal dress that was shredded and
Bloodied and honest to Christ we had to work at it to make anyone even comment on it. Jon finally had to do it cuz none of the PCs would
bother. That was a plot hook we couldn't GIVE away.
Player1: Well.. the PC's were a little self-absorbed at the time.
ST1: yes but some of them were not being so about other less important stuff. but again that digresses into the How to pay attention to plot
hooks workshop. Point is that her attire was a huge statement of the story at that moment. Also, not that you got to see this much but in the last year ice dressed very UN Princelike. Quite plain and casual. She'd been mistreated so much she was trying not to call attention to herself. That was more clear in her mannerisms but the clothing said something that a woman of her station wasn't in her normal Uniform of the Empire.
Player1: I noticed.
ST1: Is someone neat, or throws on whatever. Do they accessorize. are they trendy or classic. all these things say stuff
ST3: Example, using my own chars. Compare and contrast Louie and Johannes, in terms of fashion sense and dress
Player3: does he even know who Louis is?
ST1 staggers into the room, hair rumpled in a fluffy halo about her ears, one earring missing, shirt buttoned up wrong.
ST1: Yes, Louis is in Sanctuary
Player1: She just got laid.
Player3: huh?
ST1: He is demonstrating my point. Without saying anything you can derive a conclusion about the character by her appearance
Player3: I was paying attention to Jon, not you
ST1: she's not just mussed up, its the how. waiting on Jon to type
ST3: Well, I was awaiting general comments from the peanut gallery... what you guys derived from their various wardrobe choices. Or did you want sample descrips?
ST1: I thought you were going to post them yes, by how you said that
ST3: Okay. Can do that. for Louis, a typical descrip...
ST1: and I'm going to answer last, this workshop is to help trey and sin
ST3 is resplendent in a navy-blue Cardin suit, brilliant-white silk shirt with French cuffs and broad, spread collar, a deep-crimson silk tie, and glove-like Italian shoes. His auburn hair is brushed glossy, tied back with a ribbon colored to match his cravat
ST3: and for Jay:
ST3 rises quietly, dressed in his favored black slacks and riding boots, a forest-green silk shirt framing broad shoulders, and a wide leather band sweeping from his right shoulder to left hip, partly concealed beneath a dark, calf-length frock coat
ST3: Interpret at will, if you like

Player3: I don't know about you, but I'm good with the clothes desc
ST1: what kind of a man is Louis versus Jay, based on those descriptions?
Player1: *nods* Clothes sometimes make the man.
Player3: one is out of the international male catalog and the other has issues and wants to be a bounty hunter
ST1: More specifically
Player1: L is more concerned with appearance as opposed to functionality. Jay looks Like he just came off the the set from the latest three
Musketeers movie.
ST1: better. Jay also tends to stay to the classics and the understated whereas Louis is a bit of a peacock, which in turn tells you a bit about his ego. But the bigger point I think is pretty clear - use your appearance to convey things. most especially, changes in it

On 2-D: Skills Your PC Knows & How That Shows Their Personality:

ST1: when you're a criminal type... You aren't going to learn etiquette and languages. Takes time and sitting still to do that. You would show what life you lead because you know... pick pocketing... stealth... subterfuge (Honest officer, its my watch). If you're a partier you might not know much academics or finance. "Who the fuck cares, I'm' not buying'", And so forth
Player1: gotcha
ST1: so the skills you made a point to know, speak to the need to know them
Player3: stupid question, what happens when you can't buy the background that your char should have?
ST1: Well give me an example; why cant you buy it?
Player3: college athlete but not enough points to buy the appropriate skill level
ST1: why did you spend the points on other stuff?
Player3: (My PC) was suppose to be a high level gymnast but when I created her, she wasn't according to status
ST1: that's not a background anyway, that's a secondary skill. If you were building her properly from the beginning now, she would simply have to make putting points in those areas the priority, so you'd just buy gymnastics as a secondary skill of Athletics 4 (in the old system anyway). That's the advantage of us being more strict about char sheets now, and that's the kind of stuff we look for. if she's supposed to be this hot shit Gymnast, we're going to make sure she has the dots.

On 2-E: Choices, Actions, Reactions - How They Show Who Your PC Is:

Player1: Vander was similar.. he was supposed to be a jack of all trades kind of guy.. but just didn't have the dot's to make it fly and still be viable. *shrugs* I figured I'd pad those out later with exp, but that is a bad idea.
ST1: See, Vander by design was trying to be too many things. that's why it didn't read right
Player1: To share with the rest of the class. Don't see a character sheet as a goal list.
ST1: Your character's character, morals, ethics, worth, will be judged by the things he/she does or does not choose to do. How does a person of substance and depth act? They show authentic interest in other people. They do not do things to make empty dramatics. What is authentic? Your instincts tell you, OOC, when someone is pulling your chain. It's the stuff we do when nobody else is looking. It's who someone really is, not who they are willing to be to get something or avoid a consequence.
ST3: That's why they invented the "Jack of All Trades" merit
ST1: I Don't even think Vander had that merit, actually.

ST1: If you want someone to be seen as not shallow, you need to remember what shallow looks like, and do the opposite. Shallow people are
concerned with how they look, whether they will be caught or judged, not with what they think is right. Shallow people try too hard. They pretend they are friends with someone they don't connect with (used car salesman). Jerry Maguire, ever seen that movie?
Player1: Nope missed that one.
ST1: THAT was one shallow mother fucker. Even when he talked the talk his emotions were empty; he was holding back
Player3: dude, did you just call Vander shallow?
ST1: Yeah, and I did it IC. Not just now. Part of this workshop was because of that.
Player3: ouch
ST1: well he earned it, Trey knows this
ST3: Hon...
ST1: that's why we're doing this
Player1: The Ironic part of that is that I earned it by not being concerned enough with appearance.
ST3: (Another PC) was never big with the depth either, to be truthful.
ST1: no she wasn't. She was kind of a one trick pony concept. The char you have in the works for 2.0 is built much much better
Player3: excuse me, I'm going to leave before I sound defensive
ST1: well... If you can't do this objectively how are you going to improve your RP? It's nothing personal. But it is the truth and if you thought I was making it up you wouldn't be defensive. We're here to work on these things.
Player3: I'm improving by not mouthing off, (my PC) did that, I learned from her
ST1: Well I might suggest you could also improve by allowing the truth to be the truth and then changing it. I'm not going to lie about the
character to spare your feelings. It's a game.

On 2-F: Player Analogy & Empathy - Harnessing Emotions You Know To Fuel RP Reactions Realistically:

ST1: If you're stuck on how to react to something... See if you can relate it to an event you've been through. Use those reactions, most of the time you can count on that universality thing again. Any questions?
Player1: Well.. Some of us need to avoid that since we're off on our own little worlds.
ST1: well that may be true. but that comment is to everyone, not just to you.
Player3: will dwell on the points
ST1: And there are even certain reactions you have that are universal. Just not as many as some people I know ;p
Player3: thank you for the class and the invite
ST1: Some people have different reactions IRL than conveys on a stage or in a game
Player1: looks around
ST1: We have to remember that we're conveying what someone else is thinking, to other people. So we cant always go by what we do,
especially if we know its not like how other people do

Player1: Which leads to the conundrum of Shallow again. I respond *this* way because that's what people need to see.
ST1: but its not shallow. that's an RP technique question. Its not relevant in the IC sense. Its not shallow because you are OOC doing it to
express the proper emotion. The shallowness is IC.

Player1: *nods* I see the distinction.
ST1: IC he really is (whatever the emotion is)
ST3: Louis for example, is very shallow, IC.
ST1: and he's shown that. When you pin him down about this whole Church thing he gets edgy
ST3: But as a character, from a writing perspective, he's well developed and interesting.
ST1: Yeah Louis actually *IS* written to be shallow, which is an entirely different animal. When the shit hits the fan Louis's first reaction is often for his own safety, but not even showing much interest in that of others. Maybe occasionally Aki's but only cuz he brought her in there. I certainly don't view him willing to die for her. That may change. Vander on the other hand... I could in fact picture dying for someone else. Sometimes it comes off fake but we're working on that, by design he's more sincere than he's been painted. Aki is shallow.
Player1: *Nods again*
ST1: The only moment of.... peace, or whatnot, she's had, is when she could uplift others through her art. She's not altruistic but she isn't mean. She's just... selfish
ST3: Nonetheless, Louis has also shown a few flickers of altruism.
ST1: ice on the other hand, is almost never shallow, so when she is it stands out and seems weird
ST3: Trying to knock William off track when he went after Vander, for example
ST1: People have to lecture her to be more so
Player1: As for my part to just throw it out on the mat.. I've adjusted some of my behavior, hence the improvement you've seen.
ST1: Yes, and it has actually worked. And you'll notice the parts that worked out, were ones that were in line with the points we made tonight
Player1: Well the problems were fairly simple.
ST1: I can be real cynical (thank IRC) but I do feel more hopeful about him than I did for several weeks now
Player1: Well I'm glad I lasted through the cynicism. That was killer. *tugs on collar* But I do know, in part what I'm doing, granted.. the
refresher courses don't hurt.
ST1: Sometimes its nice just to hear what you know, echoed from other people, Even if it may be more for their sakes