Creating believable and memorable characters is a task that's just as important for intensive story-based role-playing games as the engine itself. There's a lot more to it than just choosing a couple of sprites, calling it Bob, and giving him a sword. After all, the players are going to be spending a good deal of time with the characters, so shouldn't they be memorable?
From playing more than a few of the games made in RPG Maker 95 - VX, I've seen tons of creative originality when it comes to characters, but I've also seen a lot of the opposite. Dull, bland and lifeless characters with poor grammar and unrealistic motivations. I've seen some very good tutorials on the act of creating believable characters, but I've yet to find one that really gets down into the psychology
of character creation.
So that's what I aim to do with this article. So let's get started, shall we?
Let's assume you've already started your game's overall story, maybe even have scripted out a few events in your game. Let's assume you've already named your characters.
However, the question is, who are
your characters? I don't mean their background? I mean their personalities. Everyone's got a personality, but what's more interesting, is that everyone's actually got five
personalities. Karl Jung, that wacky yet brilliant man posited that everyone had five different aspects to the personality. Archetypes. Those five are the Persona, the Ego, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, and the Self.
As taken from http://pandc.ca/?cat=carl_jung&page=ma...d_individuation
The Persona is that which we present to the outside world. It isn't really our selves, though there is a danger we can identify too much with it and believe it to be so. It is a mask. It's not a bad thing to have, in fact it's necessary for getting along with others. Jung seems to talk about it in the singular, but I suspect that a well adjusted person has several masks and is adept at juggling them and knowing which one is appropriate when and just how opaque it needs to be. In any event, singular or plural, it's a fact of life. Ask a doctor what he does and he won't say, "I do medicine", he's unlikely even to say, "I practice medicine". What you'll likely hear is "I'm a doctor". Occupation isn't the only shelf where masks are pulled from. Religion, sexual orientation, politics, the social sciences....
The ego is the centre of consciousness. It is identity. It is 'I'. But it is not the totality of the psyche. Being the king of consciousness amounts to dominion over a small but important land surrounded by a wide world of terra incognita. The more aware the King is of lands beyond his domain the more secure he will be on his throne, but he must not be tempted to open the borders to it all. In Jungian theory the unconscious is far too vast to ever be made fully conscious, poking about in it is not without danger, yet ignoring it is also a mistake since it leads to a brittle fixedness which at best impedes growth, at worst can break when under the pressure of the 'threat' of change.
I was a couple of sentences in on Anima/Animus, before I noticed that I had forgotten the Shadow. That is the nature of this archetype, it is the receptacle for all of that which we have for one reason or another disowned. There seems to be a movement on to 'redeem' the Shadow, as evidenced by such books as Your Golden Shadow, but in truth there's a great deal that's very, very unpleasant here, since we have good reason for wanting to disown our darker natures. The avenue for an attempted redemption of the Shadow lies in the belief that everything disowned winds up here. A person who grew up in a family where level headedness prevailed and such things as art making were not given much value may discover some artistic aptitude hiding out in their shadow. There are treasures here, but they are buried in stinking muck.
The Anima is the female soul image of a man, the Animus the male soul image of a woman. That is the most simple definition, and one which many struggle with, since Jung seems quite absolute in defining a person's soul image as gender opposite.
"Soul image" sounds very pretty, but the Anima/Animus is not without a negative pole as well. Jung's anima whispered to him that what he was doing was "art". He rejected this and pushed ahead as a 'scientist' which was much better in a society which regards science as 'serious' and art as less so.
If one is on good terms with one's Anima/Animus he/she can prove a valuable messenger between the unconscious and the conscious, a connecting link - a veritable Hermes.
The Self is simply the centre and the totality of the entire psyche. It is the archetype which contains all the other archetypes and around which they orbit. It's something of a paradox, and extremely difficult for the conscious ego to accept.
The characters in the PS1 game Xenogears
were designed using Jungian concepts, and if you've ever played the game, you know what I'm talking about. Each of the main characters were deep, complex, and most of all, they felt like real people. Their entire personalities were mapped out. As a result, it became one of the most memorable games I've ever played.
Now, with the general understanding of each of these five archetypes, you can incorporate these types into the personalities of your characters. Describe how each part of the five types affects your character.
However, what about psychology in interpersonal relationships? For this, we're going to take a look at four archetypes of a different sort. Archetypes that really dig in and define a personality.
Robert Moore (phD) posited that every person can be defined with four archetypes. No matter who you are, you will have each of these four archetypes prevalent in your personality, in most cases some more than others. These four personality archetypes are: The King/Queen, The Warrior/Amazon, The Lover/Seductress, and the Magician/Sorceress.
Let's take a look at the prevailing archetypes, shall we?
Snipped from http://www.robertmoore-phd.com/index.cfm?f...&page_id=32
The mythic images of the King and Queen, in males and females, represent an instinctual line having to do with nurturing and centering in the human personality. This Royal line of development has to do with inclusive nurturing and blessing. It is critical for the self. Without it, you are not calm, you are not centered, you do not have a vision, you do not have a sense of "I am" and "I want." A lot of men want to know what they want but cannot find it. That is because of a lack of development of this Royal line.
It is easy enough to discover whether this energy is developed within yourself. Just ask yourself one question. When did I last really bless and affirm another person? Was it today, yesterday, last week, last month, last year? Do I find that I do this frequently and spontaneously, or is it an effort? It it's something you do infrequently, and with an effort, you are short of King energy. Most of the men on the planet are in the same position as yourself.
The mythic images of the Warrior, in males and females, represent both the capacity for aggression and the ability to serve a cause. The energy of the Warrior is that energy of focused discipline, boundaries, service and mission. It is the ability to get organized and motivated, and the ability to follow the vision found in the royal line of development. Without the Warrior, there is no motivation, no energy to be accessed for a goal. It defends the boundaries of the "I am" and the "I want." And when immature, undeveloped and uninitiated, this energy causes all kinds of trouble, from passivity to rampant violence, both of which we are facing globally.
There are several vital signs of the shortage of Warrior energy, among them failure to defend boundaries in relationships, especially intimate relationships, lack of focus, and absence of clear goals.
Mythic images of the Magician, high priest or priestess, represent the cognitive line of development. This has to do with moving from mere knowledge to wisdom which is used for healing of self and community.
The Magician and the Royal line are in tension. This is the same for men and for women. There is no difference there. In other words, it is just as hard for men and women; just as hard to develop generativity and the capacity to bless and nurture. We are alike in that way.
If you are strong in the Magician quarter, you will be the sort of person who uses his intuition in the service of others, a man who, for instance, thinks through a problem that faces one of your children, coming up with a solution which is suitable for them, and which doesn't necessarily serve yourself.
The mythic image of the Lover is an instinctual line of development of sexuality, affiliation, intimacy, embodiment and joy. If you do not have a connection with this, then you do not have any fun. No matter how smart or how caring you are there is not "dance" in your life.
The Lover is the man in touch with his feelings, the man who expresses his joy, his pain, his anger, his fear, spontaneously. He is, most definitely, not someone who bottles up or covers over what he feels.
So there's some food for thought. Keeping this information in mind, it's important to note that each of your characters should have a prevailing archetype. If you're so inclined, I suggest you check out television shows such as Entourage or Sex in the City. In each show, the four main characters represent one of the four archetypes of each gender.
Now that you have this information, use it. During the course of your game, you should allow your characters to develop and evolve from one particular archetype, to an equal mixture of all four. (IE, the Lover learning to defend that which he cares about, the warrior discovering he can be a gentle lover, the magician learning to take charge, or the king learning how to relax, for a basic example.)
What you do with all this is entirely up to you, but remember, the setting of the story is just that-- a setting. It's the thoughts and actions of your characters that really drive it forward. Make memorable characters, and you will have made a memorable game...
Now go forth and create.