What attracted me to the topic was the level of characterization we see online and how it intersects with the question of authenticity. In our discussion board RPG at The Northlands (an online community), board members, already ‘hidden’ behind their online identity and screenname create a second (or more) identity in order to tell a story together and inso doing a new layer of imagined community. As they are only allowed one forum account they have to use other means of distinguishing their RP characters, most obviously this is done by mechanical process of font style and colour, but also more subtly gender, race, style of speech, dress, and mannerism.
Character sheets are used to help role-players develop their characters. They are also a useful resource for fellow players and readers as it describes details like appearance, race, skills and alignment. For this reason they are frequently posted in the same forum as the RPG’s themselves. However the character sheets are just the beginning, characters are developed through this tool – but more so in game, in interactions with other characters, in the choices and responses they make. Frequently in RPG your character evolves in very unexpected ways. The nature of the game is character building in both senses of the word. In The Northlands all the main RPG’s have a thread for character sheets. The character sheets for Forest of the Moon can be found here. I have pasted a sample sheet below. It is the sheet for Hunter, a character played by our Game Master, Red.
Name: Hunter Conri
Race/Species: Fey/something else
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Residence: Faerie, Province of Lirgeal, wherever his Army happens to be.
Physical Appearance: Overbearingly tall for fey, at almost 7′, Hunter looks formidable. Not overly muscular, but more sinewy. All leg, he has an imposing air and look. His face appears carved from stone, all angles, but not cruel. Eyes are slate grey. His skin is tanned and leathery, that of someone who works in the sun, rather than bathes in it. Hunter’s hair is cropped short, typical of soldiers, and a deep hazlenut brown. There are some lighter highlights in, and possibly even some grey!
Mostly, he can be found in plain clothes – black riding britches of some sturdy cloth, a brown shirt laced across the neck, which is usually undone, revealing glimpses of his hard chest (and a few fine tufts of hair). Hunter is rarely seen without his riding cloak – a thick black cloak, looking a bit tattered at the ends, suggesting it had seen many battles. Riding boots of the softest brown leather keep his feet dry. The only other adornment he wears is a silver ring on his right ring finger. The middle of it spins, carved with tiny figures, depicting a scene of some sort. What it shows, no one knows and no one has dared ask.
Powers: Hunter has none, except the power of warfare. He has a keen intuition on matters of warfare, being able to seemingly anticipate his enemy. He has extra sharp senses, which have no real explanation, but other than that, he’s a normal soldier. So everyone thinks.
Strengths: As mentioned above, Hunter can anticipate his foe’s moves. He is an exceptional tracker, and, despite his size, very adept at sneaking up on anyone and anything. Calm in the face of utter chaos, his demeanour keeps his men’s morale uplifted. A brilliant General, Hunter is a charismatic man who could probably convince anyone to follow him into battle. He never asks of anyone something he wouldn’t do himself, and always leads from the front. He is also naturally strong, and fast, and has keen senses.
Weaknesses: He is sometimes too much of an introvert. When faced with troubles, Hunter will often withdraw into himself and think about it, rather than discuss it. He also has a temper which rarely reveals itself, but when it does, will deeply frighten anyone who witnesses it. He tends to be a martyr too, preferring to deal with problems alone rather than putting others at risk. Despite his stony exterior, Hunter is a gentle, soft individual. Few can scale the walls he puts up, but those who can could hurt him deeply.
Personality: The General is, as mentioned above, charismatic and very likeable. There are few that dislike him, and the ones that do usually despise him for doing so well. Calm and easy-going, there aren’t many things he gets worked up about. He is very focussed and direct, and prefers to focus on solutions, rather than problems. He is also deathly loyal, and will defend his home province, and all it represents, to the death. As also said above, he is an introvert, and keeps things hidden away inside. He knows, all too well, how things like that can be used against him, but it can sometimes bear heavily upon his shoulders.
Background: Hunter was born in the city of Lirgeal to a father who had a mysterious occupation that his mother never divulged, and a kind, caring mother who worked hard to bring up her only son. From a young age, Hunter helped his mother with house chores and earning enough to feed them both. His father, apparently away representing his country, never sent any money back. Hunter grew up, never knowing his father. However, he was spotted one day, when he was about 10, breaking up a fight in the middle of the market. The fight, between two much older fey, had caught the attention of the city guards and their weapons, but, before they knew it, Hunter, already tall for his age, had dived in, and seperated the fight. although not remarkable in itself, the event was watched by a Squadron Commander of the Lirgealian Armed Forces, who happened to be on a recruitment drive. Impressed by the young boy’s courage, he silently approached as the guards prepared to cart the boys back to their mother’s, spoke quietly with them, and thanked them as they released Hunter to him. Confused, Hunter followed the man to a bench nearby, and listened as the Commander told him all about the Army and why they needed young boys like him.
Persuaded, Hunter told his mother that night. His mother had dreaded the day the Army might find her gifted son, but knew it was enevitable, given what she suspected he might have inherited more of his father than she’d hoped. The next day, the young boy left his mother, filled with excitement about his new future, promising to send money home as soon as possible. His mother wept, knowing she might never see her son again.
Which turned out to be true. She died a few years later, which Hunter has never forgiven himself for. If only he’d been home, working hard, he might have earned enough to save her. He learned a hard lesson there, and, after the funeral, dived into his training even harder than before. Fellow recruits believed him to be possessed, for he rarely stopped, except to eat or sleep. He withdrew, and barely spoke to anyone. It paid off, though. Hunter quickly became the best recruit, and rose through the ranks quickly. Exceptionally, he was awarded a commission at the young age of 16, where he joined the ranks of Lirgeal’s officers. He volunteered for every exercise, and became a highly respected soldier. He was a great leader, inspiring even the most weary of men to follow him. Eventually, he rose to become one of the highest ranking officer in the Province of Lirgeal – General of the Lirgealian Army. He answered solely to the High Chieftess of Lirgeal, which is where he finds himself now.
Extras: Hunter isn’t quite what he seems. His mother was right.