All reality is nothing but probability, it is impossible to know anything for sure, when we say we do what we mean
is that we believe it to be so probable that it's not rational to consider the possibility it isn't. We could in fact
all be plugged into the matrix, but we consider the probability that we are so slim so as to not consider it worth
In probability the chance of two things occurring simultaneously is the result of their multiplied probabilities. That
means if you have a one in a hundred chance to have red hair, and a one in a hundred chance to have one leg longer than
the other, you have a one in ten thousand chance to have red hair and have one leg longer than the other. This only
applies when the issues are independent, if the same gene causes red hair and legs of disproportionate lengths, that's
a whole other thing.
This is highly relevant to creating believable and realistic histories for RP characters, most people are going to play
characters that are rare, special or unique in some way. But few people realise the repercussions of putting in multiple
ways to be unique, or multiple rare or exceptional things happening to their characters. Simply the probability of someone
being a slayer is fairly slim, multiplied by the probability of being a genius, or of an ancient demon cult, or the victim
of many horrible things, or a virgin at 20 and things start getting unrealistic. You could probably take two such things
but any more and you're starting to reach probabilities that are more unlikely than ones we routinely disregard as untrue
The solution? Probabilities can be massively lowered by using common causes; you want to play a slayer who's had some
traumatic past, then link them. If the person is targeted because she's a slayer this greatly improves the probability
of your character.
In general if you want to make a good, realistic character you should limit as much as possible the aspects of them or
things that have happened to them in their history that are uncommon or rare. Those that you do have you should try to
link to a common cause as much as possible.
This applies to precharacter issues, obviously you can't easily control what happens once you are in the game.
Pretty and rich people are mean, smart people are socially awkward, tough people are bullies.
In today's society we are taught that stereotypes are morally wrong, but in RP they can be very important. The reason
-most- stereotypes exist is because there is a strong correlation between those two things, they therefore form handy
rules of thumb to be used when more detailed examination is impossible.
There is generally always a reason for that correlation, pretty and rich people tend to be less nice for the reason that they
do not need to be. They have people wanting to befriend them and be around them because of how they look, having grown
up that way they are less likely to develop selfless tendencies that will ultimately serve little purpose.
Smart people tend to be more socially awkward because when growing up they get much more of a gain from academic work,
from reading and learning, this tends to shift their attentions away from peer socialising where they are ordinary, to
academics where they are remarkable. The decrease in social activities, slight though it might be, causes a steadily increasing
lag of social skills behind their peer group, which in turn, increases their disinterest in those activities.
Tough people are bullies, people who want to bully others are more likely to learn how to fight, people who can fight
feel more temptation to do so, to demonstrate their skills and what makes them special and remarkable.
Does this mean there are no exceptions? Absolutely not, there are many, in fact the exceptions might outnumber the stereotype,
but that correlation will still be stronger than any other. The important thing about exceptions is that there is a reason they
are exceptional. An attractive person who was unattractive as a teenager is quite likely to not act much like a stereotypical
pretty person, similarly one who was raised in an environment where such things weren't valued or they didn't have the chance
to be valued, like with highly controlling parents would have an impact.
What does this mean for you? It means two things, firstly to make a character feel more real it is advisable to play to your
stereotypes, at least those that have a real correlation. Secondly where you wish to deviate from the stereotype, ensure there
is a good reason for it.
Stereotypes is possibly a poor word to describe the idea, but basically aspects of your character will affect their psychology
and other aspects of them. As will their history, it is important to consider this when developing a character so the end result
Note: There is a large difference between real world stereotypes and fictional stereotypes, fictional stereotypes such as
the archetypal hero or Mary sue are generally nothing like real word people and honestly really horrible characters.
Your character and you
The sad reality of RP is that the further a character is from your realm of experience, the less well you're likely to play
them, even as those characters might be the most interesting for you to play. Overall characters that have a psychology,
skills or knowledge that are closer to your own and people you know will be easier to play well. Some areas are easier
to add to than others, normal person who gets some kind of super power when they grow up is quite easy, person who's had a
super power their whole life significantly harder. Slightly above average intelligence historian is not too hard with Google
as an aid, super genius is all but impossible for anybody not a super genius in real life.
That point deserves it's own paragraph, smart people think differently, it's fine to have a character that knows more than you
but all but impossible to play one who's smarter than you, because if you knew how smarter people thought, you'd be that smart.
Recommended method for character design.
Start with yourself or someone you know very well, then change things. Change one thing at a time and think through its overall
affect on the character. Ok I'm making my character more attractive, what would that change? I'd probably have started dating earlier,
I'd likely have had more friends or at least faux-friends, likely lost my virginity earlier, if I'm a female character that's
particularly true and there's a larger chance of dating someone older and having pushier boyfriends. If I'm a guy I'm less likely
to have had long term relationships and more likely to have had higher numbers of one night stands. I probably spent more time
going out when I was a teenager and less time focusing on school work. I've likely never had to be particularly selfless, either
in sex or relationships or even friendships. I'm used to getting more attention, this might bother me in some ways but overall
I probably like it, and dislike situations where I don't get it. I'm less likely to have developed a particularly keen wit or sense
of humour since people laugh at my jokes even when they're not funny. I probably think I'm smarter, funnier and more capable than
I really am because of people telling me so. I am inured to attempts to hit on me to the point where it's next to impossible for
someone to date me.
It's easy to see how changing one thing can have a huge impact on the character, making the thing happen later in life is one
way to avoid this. Or you just have to live with it, once that's done you can think about the aspects of that affect you don't
want and come up with reasons against them. Like ok I don't want my guy uneducated, so I'll give him/her strict parents who forced
them to do homework. Of course that will have follow through affects of its own.
And remember when you change things, to always keep the probabilities in mind.