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How to Write Your Pony (or Character Creation Tips)

Discussion in 'Pending Characters' started by Pon4, 4 August 2012.

  1. Pon4

    Pon4 Unloved by Al

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    How to Write Your Pony (or Character Creation Tips)

    You, a member of a UK Brony community, stumble across a roleplay forum. What do you do?

    Roleplay may seem a confusing thing to a newcomer, especially with much-varying standards and methods. Some people think of roleplaying games like Final Fantasy, or the more “Western” RPG styles like Dungeons & Dragons and Fallout. Some people think of what they do when they and a friend mess around in an instant messenger, or what they do behind closed doors. Roleplay essentially means “pretending to be something else,” but when used in this guide, and this forum, it means “to act in a role you've chosen within a community-created story.”

    Getting into roleplay as a newcomer is sometimes a difficult task, and understandably so. People who aren't used to acting, especially in a public forum, may find it embarrassing or awkward. The key is to remember that we're all in the same position as you, and we're all just trying to have fun.

    If you feel silly acting out the daily life of High Tail the dancer or the subtle intricacies of Gregorio the Magnificent's career, take a look around and remember we're all doing the same thing. We're a very friendly community, so don't expect to be ridiculed at all, even if you find it difficult to start out with. Most of us aren't “veterans.”

    If you want to try it out, feel free to join us! We welcome newcomers and hope you have a good story to tell.
     
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  2. Pon4

    Pon4 Unloved by Al

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    But how do I get started?”

    To start roleplaying in our forum (nothing's stopping you from doing it in other places, but on UK of Equestria it's the Roleplay forum or bust!) you have to fill out a character creation form, and submit it to the Pending forum. The Roleplay forum can be found at the bottom of the main forum page, here.

    Remember, we abide by the same rules as the rest of the forum as well as our own. If a post or character infringes any of these we will take action, either rejecting relevant applications or potentially deleting/editing posts and issuing warnings.

    First of all, I recommend checking out some basic writing and style guides, like the Equestria Daily Pre-Reader Omnibus which does a must better job of explaining a few basic writing techniques and common problems than I could. Chapters I'd suggest anyone check out are Self-Editing: What To Look Out For and Show vs. Tell, as well as various parts of Hazardous Terrain. Many other guides are suggested in the final chapter, too. On top of that, I suggest two things:

    1. Have a dictionary and thesaurus at hand at all times (or site like Dictionary.com)​

    2. Type posts up in a word processor before pasting it into the forum post boxes

    These two lovely steps will help prevent common spelling and grammar errors. Some browsers have both functions built in, in which case, enabling them might do some good and cut some windows out! A thesaurus is very useful if, like me, you often know what you mean but can't think of the right word for it. What I do not recommend you use a thesaurus for is to find words that are different or complex for the sake of being different or complex.

    NB. Remember we write in third-person past tense while in-character!
     
  3. Pon4

    Pon4 Unloved by Al

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    Okay, I know about how to actually write, but now I want to make a character. How do I do that?”

    Well, first, there's no real set way to start making a character. Maybe you have an idea of what you want to do in the roleplay, maybe you don't. Maybe you already have a character – an “OC” perhaps – and would like to use them (keep in mind that we have our own standards and set rules so any OCs should be adaptable)?

    Either way, we require you to fill out our form and submit it for approval. While the form provides us and other members with basic enough information, there's plenty which will go unsaid. The devil in is the detail, after all. Some prefer to leave many details open ended to write in later, with development, while some like to have a very concrete backstory and story in mind. Neither are better than the other, given they're executed properly. Either way, flexibility is recommended, at least to an extent. As you aren't the only character in any given story (such is the nature of a community roleplay), adjusting a bit to other characters and players is key to a good experience overall.

    You'll need to choose a race for your character: unicorn, pegasus, earth pony, zebra, donkey, mule, buffalo, griffon or dragon. No others are currently playable, though this may change in the future. Whether this is the first step you take or not might vary. Sometimes the stereotypes or traits of a race inspire ideas that make a character, sometimes certain traits of a character make you consider a certain race. As I posted in another thread, there are a few tips to keep in mind when thinking about races which may help:
     
  4. Pon4

    Pon4 Unloved by Al

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    But what about everything else?”

    That's up to you. Are you a Wonderbolt wannabe, giving your all to get accepted by the team? Are you an aspiring musician who spends their days snoozing and their nights rockin'? Are you old, young, big, tall, smelly, handsome, strangely obsessed with jam? What makes you... well, you?

    Well, try thinking of an idea, and work forwards from there. Cause and effect, maybe.

    When coming up with your character, try asking yourself these questions. Think deeper than the required information, and how they would think, and why:

    • Why is your character named how they are? Do they prefer or get called another name? What does it mean?
    • What is your character's special purpose? How did they discover it? Is it a family thing? What does their Cutie Mark really represent?
    • Why does your character look how they look? Are they strong? Fast? Do they dye their mane? Do they have any physical problems? Do they hunch over, or stick their chest out with pride? Do they wear anything unique?
    • Does your character have family or friends? Are they around? Did any have a big influence on them? What was your childhood like compared to now?
    • If your character knows other characters, how? Why? Is this a long-standing friendship? Did it last? Has it changed over time? What are any special memories your character has?
    • What does your character sound like? What are like in conversation? And with different people? What is their attitude to different people and how does it affect them?
    • What are your character's primary motivations? What are their goals and dreams? What are their biggest fears, problems, shames?

    And finally, when you're done:

    • Can you distil your character into a few key traits? Are they recognisable and distinct based on these alone?
    • Are they believable by in-universe rules?

    It's important that regardless of details, your character is reasonably simple for someone to understand. You might not need to know their complex relationship with their parents and their feelings about their lingering mortality, but if you're a multi-coloured dragon demon from another dimension there are a lot of things someone will need to know to understand you as a character and how to act around you.

    Believability is a key aspect, even in fantasy fiction. While you can technically do anything in fiction, universes have unwritten rules. As a general rule if you don't think it might fit in the logic of the show,it might not fit here. Pegasi can fly, dragons can fly, can earth ponies fly? Changelings exist, but they don't usually chill out with a frosty one with Twilight Sparkle and Princess Celestia on a regular basis. Don't take the fact you “can” do something as “you should.”
     
  5. Pon4

    Pon4 Unloved by Al

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    What shouldn't I do?”

    Three of the biggest problems in a roleplay I see go hand-in-hand:

    • Meta-Gaming
    Meta means “outside.” “Meta-gaming” is the term used to describe when a player uses knowledge from outside of the game inside the game. This is especially annoying when characters are not necessarily working with each other. Players who meta-game often don't mean to, simply failing to take themselves out of a character. An example would be if you and your friend both participate in a story, and your friend tells you his character has a secret past he's not telling anyone else. In the story, you then post, as your character, about this secret past, despite the fact that your character would not know about this (unless you and your friend agree somehow that they would, such as them talking in-character about it earlier, possibly over hay crumpets and daisy tea.)

    • Power-Gaming
    Power-gaming describes when a player tries to “win” or be the best more than anything else. “OP” or “over-powered” characterisation is often a result. “God-modding” is an example. Players who suffer from this forget to give their characters the same flaws which make them believable and fallible, or at least do it in a way which doesn't make them seem realistic. Being half-demon may be a source of inner conflict, but it's not as simple as having bad eyesight or prone to jealousy, traits real people (and ponies) possess that make them imperfect.

    • Main Character Syndrome
    Main Character Syndrome is when one player takes their own character and their own stake in a story as the most important part. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking your story is more important, even if not consciously, but it's important to remember that you're constructing a story together, and no one character should take the spotlight entirely. Sometimes the spotlight falls naturally, but players should remember to nudge the focus where appropriate and not just on themselves.

    Common mistakes in making an “interesting character” are, but not limited to:

    • Orphanitis” and “Only One Left Disorder”
    "Orphanitis" is the name that's been given to the tendency of character's parents being killed or dying being used as a motivation or quirk. "Only One Left Disorder" refers to the same but in reference to being the last of a race, bloodline or other group. The struggles and motivations of both of these can be interesting, but more often than not read like a template story and have been used so often you'd think that there was a plague rivaling that of the Old Testament. Death is a natural part of life, but overusing it as a plot device is not only very often lazy but also a bit macabre. There's also the complication in Only One Left that you will have to detail all that you've lost, convincingly within the world it's set in.Inexperienced roleplayers will find this difficult to pull of successfully and too many extraneous lost or on-going cultures make the world crowded opposed to enriched.

    • Revenge
    So your parents were killed, your dog was kicked and your favourite toy was taken from your hands, along with your princess girlfriend who has just been kidnapped. Now you want revenge. Revenge is an incredibly negative motivation and rarely results in any real accomplishment even if it's fulfilled. So you slay the evil Lord Schmooze who took your life away. Now what? Live it out? Do you have any other life besides this? Especially in a world like My Little Pony, revenge is never a good idea to take as any kind of primary or sole goal unless you know what to do with it. Of course, you can always declare revenge against the sea or something intangible...

    • Amnesia
    Amnesia is where memory is partially or totally lost.Typically, this is for specific time periods or areas, though in real life there are a lot of different varieties.

    Amnesia as a plot device is fairly common, though less touched upon in recent fiction between the fairly unrealistic depictions that are dramatically convenient and the agreeably “cheap” nature of using amnesia as a motivation or way to cover up plot threads.

    You wake up, with your memory lost, and a maguffin in hoof. Your motivation, clearly, is to find out why! This has worked in a lot of works successfully, but it's seen as a pretty overly convenient and easy method of reaching plot points and means that character can hand-wave at thinking up a decent history.


    There are also some more specific roleplay-oriented common problems, including:

    • Everything But The Kitchen Sink,” or cluttered design
    This is a way to describe when a character has too many aspects to them. Most commonly, this will be in the form of many, often clashing, items of clothing or accessories. While it's a good idea to have parts of a physical design reflect the character's life and personality, no normal human nor pony walks around in 20 different bangles and a clashing outfit involving skirts, jeans, three belts, several band pins and tri-coloured hair with a pendant that shows their demonic heritage.

    The less obvious variety works somewhat in reverse, but can also be the reason for this physical clutter. This is when too many ideas are put into a character, too much complication in their life and past and too many concepts in one individual. Complex is fine, confusing is another. Try to distil the fundamental ideas of a character and work upwards, rather than throwing everything into one. If you have a lot of ideas, go ahead and make more characters for them!

    • Memes and outside references
    The pony fandom is quite a big place, the internet bigger, and pop culture larger than that. Equestria is not any of these things, and involving ideas from outside often simply muddies the issue with its fancy mathematics. Not everyone will get the joke, and even if they do, it detracts from the world you're supposed to be working in. The odd joke isn't unwelcome (I just did it) but anything too subtle or frequent is likely to just get on the nerves of members trying to keep in their roles.

    • Just being yourself or self-insertion
    Write what you know, and who do you know better than yourself? It's completely expected that you'll put at least some of who you are into a character – how else can you relate to them, and play them appropriately? The problem comes when a character is just the writer. This leads to a lot of meta-gaming and a tendency to not want to change any aspect, as that's... changing yourself! Refusing to change anything about the way you act can be problematic in a community story, try to remember that whatever you create has it's own life inside this universe.

    The media wiki TV Tropes provides a lot of examples of common cliché in character motivation, goals and general characterisation that you may want to think twice about, think harder about or just ignore the stigma and go for your idea anyway (common devices are common for a reason!)

    Remember, you want to create a character that fits into the world as a whole, and not just create your own version or corner. Many people use existing characters for roleplay (like their “OCs”) but fail to adapt them for play with others. The key is to be malleable.
     
    TarePandaTalisha likes this.
  6. Pon4

    Pon4 Unloved by Al

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    Examples

    The Good

    Name: Given Example

    Race: Pegasus

    Gender: Stallion

    Age: Young stallion (equivalent human age ~21)

    Physical Description: Curly auburn mane that's been flattened out and cropped short as smart as possible, and a tail which has been less successful in the same endeavour. Trendy frameless spectacles adorn his face at all times, hiding a few of his grey-brown freckles that dot his otherwise creamy, parchment-coloured fur. His fetlocks are appropriately shorn and his medium frame stands tall and proud. His eyes are a dull ochre, but wide and gleaming.

    Special Talent: His special talent is acting. He's capable of fitting into pretty much any role he tries with at least moderate success. This is shown by his cutie mark of a spiral heart coming from a roll of parchment, representing how he takes his written roles to heart.

    Primary Residence: A small shared house with his friend Marey Sue in Cloudsdale. It's layout changes significantly every few weeks according to the whims of his housemate, to his ire.

    Personality: Given Example is a friendly young stallion who loves to make friends and have fun. His favourite thing to do is play games and go adventuring. He flies around Cloudsdale with a smile.

    Past/History: Given was born into a family with a long line of work in the Weather Factory. His father made rainbows, his father's father made rainbows, and his father's father's father was an orthodontist, but his great grandmother was factory engineer in the Weather division who first came up with the prismatic distillation system. Given never cared for the scientific pursuits his parents seemed to push him into, though, instead feeling a lot more at home in his afterschool drama classes, sometimes skipping flight practice just to spend a little longer getting into a script.
    He spent most of his time convinced he was going to be a great scriptwriter, but he only earned his cutie mark after one night, frustrated with his flat writing, he tried his best to put himself in his character's shoes. The experience was just... right. Immediately his new ambition clicked, and his cutie mark appeared.
    He now frequents his local community college acting classes, waiting for his "big break."

    Written Sample: "Forsooth, for he did verily... slide?"
    The instructor pushed his hoof against his forehead with the briefest sigh, nudging his spectacles up the bridge of his snout.
    "It's slay, Mr. Argon. Slay."
    "Spay?"
    "Oh for the love of..."
    The instructor fell back into his hoof and buried himself into it. He needed a coffee break more than air right now.
    Another student popped up from the front row and hopped onto the stage, cheerily offering a helping hoof to the flamboyantly-dressed stallion in the spotlight fumbling with the script.
    "Hey, don't worry about it, a lot of this old writing is hard to get into..."
    The instructor looked up, slightly relieved. This new kid was starting to really help him out. he didn't usually look kindly towards the teacher's pet kinds, but this one seemed genuine in just wanting to help other ponies out. He didn't know what he did as a day job; he seemed to spend more hours in the studio than any staff.
    "Oooh, I get it, he's not talking about toast he's talking about--"
    "The sanctity of life," they exclaimed in unison.
    "Wow, you're really good at this stuff, uh... what's yer name again?"
    The pony didn't seem offended at this lack of courtesy. In fact, he seemed eager to answer.
    "Given Example," he told him, hoof to his chest in a subtle burst of pride. "Remember that name, it's gonna be big!"
    He coiled back just a little at his own words, adding a shy disclaimer.
    "Hopefully."

    The Bad

    Name: Rainbow Slash

    Race: Unicorn

    Gender: mare

    Age: Filly (20 years old)

    Physical Description: Blue hair and a blue body with orange eyes. Has mechanical wings she built herself. her cutie mark is a rainbow being cut with a katana.

    Special Talent: She can fly really fast

    Primary Residence: Twilight Sparkle's library

    Personality: Random and cool.

    Past/History: Rainbow Slash used to live in the kingdom of the Chrystal Ponies but she was exiled. She once dated Chaos Gun and owns Luna's abacus.

    Written Sample:
    *Rainbow Slash walks into a bar*
    Rainbow slash: Hey twilight sparkle
    Twilight Sparkle: hey
    *three days later*
    Twilight: rainbow I'm pregnant.

    Author's note: I'm not sure what to do with this, lol.

    The Ugly

    Name: ebony darkmane way xDDDD


    Race: alicorn!!!!!11 (demon)


    Gender: yes plz xDD x


    Age: a thousand year..


    Physical Description: i have long ebony black hair with neon green streaks and spikes that reaches my back and red eyes because i am a demon. Alot of people tell me i look like twilight sparkle I have ebony purple skin with neon spot like velveet and I hate chavs! i have demn wingz and broken horn but i can still fly faster than wonderbolts and i am as good as princess celstia I am married to draco malfoy I have red and purple band and black bands on my legs and I wear hot make up I also part kitsune






    Special Talent: lovin draco malfoy omg xx <3


    Primary Residence: hogwarts


    Personality: I hate chavs


    Past/History: ebony was an alicorn from 1000 years ago who created the sun but then dischord overthrw her and she was sad but 1 day a demon told her she culd go 2 hogwarts were she met dumbledor and draco malfoy who was sooo hot. But neway she became a demn and nw she can contrl ppls minds. Also she killd snape. now she wants revenge against demon mother who has left her as last of her bloodline.


    Written Sample:
    “Hey ebony!” shouted a voice. I look up. It was…. Draco malfoy


    “What’s up Draco?” I ask


    “Nothing.” he says shyly.


    then; I hear my best friend rainbow dash call me and i had to go away


    Now me and uou are in changeling hive batlling chrislis with my lazer eyes


    ((Draco is so hottttt xDDDD))
     
  7. Pon4

    Pon4 Unloved by Al

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    • Do I roll any dice or have to find a game master?”
    No.You're thinking of roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons. This forum follows what some call "freeform," where there are no "mechanics" like number-based statistics or rolls to determine outcomes. You simply write as your character!

    • So... can I roleplay as Twilight Sparkle/Derpy Hooves/other canon character but my own?”
    No. Unfortunately if we allow these to be roleplayed by members not only could it lead to problems with the show canon but also with members' own views of how these characters should act and where they'll be during certain periods. Please limit other, especially canon, character involvement to as little as possible, but as you deem reasonable. See the rules of the forum for an example.

    • What are all these forums for?”
    Character Management is split into Pending Characters, Accepted/Active Character and Declined/Retired Characters. Only Pending Characters is viewable before you are given access.
    • Pending Characters is where members should post their characters. New characters will be looked over and either approved or rejected by Roleplay Moderators. If accepted, they will be able to participate fully.
    • Accepted/Active Characters is where all accepted and active characters are held for player reference. Anyone with a thread here is granted access to the Roleplay area fully.
    • Declined/Retired Characters is where characters who were not accepted for roleplay or have been, for whatever reason, elected as no longer playable. Usually this will be conclusion of their story or not wanting to be used anymore by anyone.
    Main Roleplayis where all in-character posts should go. This is where all roleplay happens, sorted by location prefix.

    The Water Cooler is the out-of-character forum. While minor “OOC” comments and posts are allowed in the Main Roleplay board sparingly and unobtrusively, this area is where roleplay can be discussed completely out of character. Discussion prefixes are used for discussing events, characters and anything else while Suggestion is usually used to suggest character or story ideas, Feedback is used more for forum-side suggestions. Any other roleplay-oriented discussion simply uses no prefix. Regular out-of-character chat belongs either in Miscellaneous Discussion or elsewhere on the forum.

    • I put my character into Pending. What now?”
    You wait. A Roleplay Moderator will be notified and will try their best to read your application in good time. If they approve, they'll often reply or send a message and move your thread to the Accepted. If they don't think that your application is quite up to scratch, maybe some details need clarifying or something would be better if it was added or removed, they'll usually message you privately about the matter. If nothing can be done, they will move your character into Rejected. Very few are rejected as the few who don't make the mark are usually easily rectified.

    Please remember that even if you have been granted post access, a new character must be accepted before you can use it.

    • Can I have more than one character?”
    Absolutely. Just be mindful of how many you can manage at one time. If you want a new character but maybe have a few too many, consider retiring some.

    • How do I “retire” a character?”
    Either use the “Report” function on the original thread stating you wish to have it retired, or message an RP Moderator.

    • What are Roleplay Moderators (RP Mods) for?”
    RP Mods oversee the Roleplay area of the forum.In this area alone they are considered moderators as in any other, and have the same responsibilities and abilities. If you require a thread name change, deletion, something moved, checking anything or to report, RP Mods are there for you. However, they also specifically deal with this area and it's needs. RP Mods deal with matters that are specific to roleplay. This includes players acting out of turn or unfairly. RP Mods also approve and reject character applications and post access into the Roleplay forum, and give advice on how to improve and how to act.
    Outside of this area they are considered the same as regular members with no powers or responsibilities, and are not involved in forum moderation or business as a whole. Roleplay Mods are therefore not considered “staff” as much as “volunteers” (ignoring that all staff are, in fact, volunteers.)

    In short, if a rule of the forum is broken, or some sort of easy move or other job is needed, regular staff as well as Roleplay Mods are both expected to be able to deal with the issue, but for most forum-specific inquiries and help, Roleplay Mods are there.

    Your current Roleplay Mods are Blaze_Midnight and Fridge. The other mods and admins of the forum are also able to help out and check over and deal with applications and other issues aswell.

    Of course, we expect members to be doing so. Creating your own thread in the Roleplay area means you're initiating another story within the world. These don't need to be at the exact same time as others, but can be before others, after others, or just non-descript as to when they occur. It's polite to give clues so that the chronology doesn't become muddled, but not all stories and adventures particularly require this.

    Note that while you may create a thread, you are not necessarily any kind of "owner" or "game master" of the story, you simply initiate it. It may be that you have your own designs, but your word is not necessarily law. Be prepared to improvise.

    • How do I use locations/location pre-fixes?”
    Locations” are just a rough guideline for where the story takes place, represented by a thread “pre-fix” which is selected at thread creation. This 'central location'' in a story can shift, but it's expected that if it changes significantly you will change the prefix accordingly.

    Current locations in prefixes are just the most popular we thought would be used, feel free to use others. If another location starts getting used, we'll upgrade it from "other" to it's own prefix. If you use an unlisted location, be sure to list it as “Other” and we'll change it if it fits a better one. If you need help changing a pre-fix, contact any member of staff, but a Roleplay Moderator is more likely to respond if the situation requires looking over first.

    • Can I include an image reference?”
    Absolutely! In fact these really help, but they're not mandatory. Just put one, preferably under a spoiler tag, in your Physical Description box. Please remember to abide by the usual rules of images posted here, and that any image you post should be yours to do so.

    • Can I make my character in a pony creator?”
    Yep! While programs like Pony Creator can be limiting, they're handy for churning out a simple design or visual reference. Just remember you can design more than these programs provide!

    • “What does Equestria look like (for us)?
    We stick by a rough canon of the show, so items like this map, though subject to change, are decent visual references.

    [​IMG]

    (Note that griffons, according to this source, are from a land to the east, and dragons from south east, not Equestria.)
    • What does a pony look like?”
    A lot of members seem to be confused about how to describe various parts of an equine, so I'm leaving this image here courtesy of Wikipedia. As you can see, a flank is the side of a pony, not the rear end, so keep this in mind.
    [​IMG]
     
    #7 Pon4, 13 August 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: 5 October 2014
  8. Pon4

    Pon4 Unloved by Al

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    Hopefully this has been helpful. I (or other staff) am likely to add to this as time goes by, especially as issues or ideas crop up. That said, comments and criticism welcome.
     

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