Home > Play-by-post discussion > Make your character fail a few times before succeeding

Make your character fail a few times before succeeding

Superman vs Batman

Even the mighty Superman has weaknesses and obstacles to overcome

In this article we’ll talk about why things shouldn’t ever be too easy for your character, and how you can do to make things more interesting by putting obstacles in their way.

Your character should be realistic

So you’re playing a PBEM game and you want your character to be as believable as possible. The reason why you want this is so that other members of the game will read your posts and really feel like your character is a real person.

In reality, good things don’t happen all of the time. For total realism, sometimes bad things happen to good people. If you want to do something in real life, there will be things standing in your way. Similarly if your character wants to do something, there should be obstacles that they should overcome before they achieve their goal.

If characters on TV or films achieved what they wanted to straight away, we’d cut out the story, and that’s the interesting bit!

You’re in control

In tabletop RPGs, your character will require a certain amount of experience points and a dice-roll to overcome a certain obstacle. But in a story-based PBEM game, you are in control of the story – in the same way that a writer is in control of the the characters in the novel they are writing. This doesn’t mean you should cheat and make sure everything always goes the right way for your character – because that isn’t realistic. In reality, things don’t always go your way.

To achieve realism, you might have to make your character fail in achieving the obstacles they want to overcome. Lets give a simple example. Your character is a young peasant boy who wants to be a master swordsman. You can’t just write that he becomes a master swordsman easily. For this to be realistic it’s something that you will have to work on over time. Break it down into smaller tasks for him to overcome, like firstly he has to find a sword to use, then he has to find someone to train him, then he has to face a series of adversaries who he has to beat, gradually getting better each time.

This does make it sound like we’re playing a tabletop RPG or an online RPG where we’re gaining XP every time, and it is a bit like that – but instead of building up XP, you’re building up the peasant’s character. Making him go through all these steps makes him feel like a real person, going through a journey which takes him towards where he needs to go. Throw in a few more obstacles, perhaps a returning adversary or some rivalry with another character and you’ve got a great story.

This article continues here.

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