Saturday, February 20, 2010

Character Creation - Lackadaisy style

Well, I haven't really had much to talk about, but today, I feel inspired!  Inspired to create a new Lackadaisy char!  So, I figured I'd document, for those who are thinking of getting into the world of roleplaying, or even just writing, how I go about creating a character.

The inspiration and the basics.

1920s-based char of course, for the Lackadaisy world.  Always need to be mindful of the world you're dropping your character into, so you can build your char into it.

Second, I'd like a male, preferably in the industrial sector.  I decided on a general mechanic for now.  Might be a mix of car, boat and/or plane in the end, but we'll see.  General mechanic is nice and flexible.

Also, for Lackadaisy, I need to pick a species of animal.  I usually go with cat, but this time I might go with something different, like a raccoon, possum, squirrel, or maybe even a dog.

Then, I need a name and an origin.  For me, origin comes before name.  Will he be first or second gen immigrant, or an American mongrel with no particular ethnic breeding?

Finally, I need to start thinking of personality and history.  I've already decided that they'll be somewhat traditionally educated: a basic elementary education, followed by years of apprenticeship.  Given the amount of years that one apprentices for, he'll be most likely in his late 20s, maybe early thirties in 1927 (the target year for the Lackadaisy world).  That would mean he'd have been old enough to serve at least some time in the Great War.  Maybe he served as a mechanic in the war?  That would give him the proper training in planes and cars, if not boats.  The boats could have been picked up more as a hobby, living close to the river.

Okay!  Now that you've got your starting point, it's time to move onto the next step: research!

Research, research, research...

Unless you're creating some fictional creature right off the top of your head, you're going to HAVE to do your research!  Chances are, practically every character you create is going to need some kind of research.

For me, I think I'm going to go for a non-feline character, so I need to start looking at what species of animal I'd like to use.  I usually start with Wikipedia for an overview and a list of species/breeds of any particular animal I'm thinking of.  This is also where origin comes in.  I've decided to go with American mongrel, so if I choose a dog, it's going to have to be an american breed, or if I choose a squirrel, it can't be a European species.

(two hours later)

Okay!  After much research, including almost an hour of tangent researching (when I was researching raccoons, i came across a fun google word: baculum), I have settled on an Australian Shepherd.  While not crucial to my characters, Australian Shepherds existed as a breed during the 1920s.  Usually I reserve such strict distinctions to the feral pets.  Plus, now that I have my species and breed, I can nail down an exact origin.  He should have grown up on a Mid-Western farm close to a town, where he could've easily become apprenticed and gone to school.  He also should have several siblings, so that he wouldn't have been stuck at the farm, but could pursue a mechanic/blacksmith apprenticeship.  This mean he would also be one of the youngest in the sibling line.  Also, I usually choose an animal based on the temperament I want, so his temperament would follow that of an Australian Shepherd.

Now to work on his war record...

Ah, found it.  I've decided that he was part of the 'Motor Transport Corps', the precursor to the current U.S. Army Transportation Corps.  He was assigned to the Service Parks.

Service Parks

Designed to make repairs not requiring much time or heavy equipment, these mostly mobile workshops carried a limited stock of spare parts and were mainly assigned to combat zones. Because of their temporary and mobile nature, the service parks were often operating in the open, under canvas, or in any shelter found to be available.  (Wikipedia quote, from Motor Transport Corps (United States Army) (World War One))
Okay, seems like he can't do planes in the war, as planes are apparently under the Navy.  See?  This is why research is important.  Okay, let's stick to motor vehicles and boats as a hobby.

The last thing I think I REALLY need to research at this point is his present wardrobe.  Unlike most of my previous characters, he is strictly working class, so he needs to be dressed appropriately.  Also, what would his work clothes (this is different to his street clothes) and his tools look like?

So, he would wear either overalls or, more probably, a combo suit that he could wear right over his street clothes.  They'd be made of denim or some other heavy material.  In the winter he'd wear a matching jacket.  Since I see him owning his own shop, he'd most likely not wear these clothes out on the street, but a sensible suit.  He'd most likely have in his closet: several shirts and pants for daywear that he could mix and match, no more than 3 'Sunday best' or evening suits, and maybe one or two leisure suits.  He'd also have motoring clothes, since I think he should have his own car or motorbike.  He would prefer braces (suspenders) to belts, and his favourite hats would be a flat cap and a wool trilby; he'd wear a felt fedora with his best clothes.

I think that's enough research for me... oh snap!

I almost forgot one of my most important parts of research (for me, anyway)!  I must name this guy.  I always look for a good name that would be relatively common, especially if they're an all-American.  If not, I name them based on their ethnicity.  When looking at name popularity, research the character's BIRTH YEAR.  Don't research the year that's your character's 'present-day'.

Clayton Lawrence Whitfield.  Yes, I like the sound of that.  Any nicknames?  Childhood ones would be 'Clay', while Army ones would be 'Whit'.

Okay, that's enough for now.  I'll post the final profile once i finish hashing it out.

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