We have a couple of 'guides' helping newbies in the creation of their characters but those guides do little in terms of helping said newbie figure out what to do with their new creation and I think they're a bit long winded for the newbie who just wants to jump into things without carefully weighing out every option and detail like planning a D&D character. Which honestly...isn't necessary.
So I've decided to write this guide as an alternate view on character creation and provide some hopefully useful tips on getting started. These are my opinions no one else. This may get a bit long winded as well but I'll try to keep it shorter than the other guides.
The other guides focus on the technical, designing the character itself, However in creating a successful RP character there are only actually a few things that REALLY matter. I've seen characters planned out to very minute details completely fail in RP and ones that were horribly thrown together work. Why is this? Well I'm going to tell you. It's INTERACTION. Yep. It's that obvious. But there are a lot of details that affect interaction.
I'm going to list everything and point out what matters and what....really doesn't.
-Your name while interesting honestly rarely will matter in whether or not your character is successful as a RP character. If it's interesting it may draw some attention to you when it's said in RP but otherwise, largely irrelevant. Most people spend maddening amounts of time on their name and other area's of the bio suffer because they worked so hard figuring out a name. Don't do this. It's a trap I tell you! Sort out the other particulars first and come to the name last. I've seen some people change names 3 times just because they picked a name first then later added details and decided the name didn't suit the character, or it sounded wrong or it seemed like a name the opposite sex should have. Whatever. Point is. Do this last.
-Your age is semi-important, if you actually look it. For example a child on a battlefield will garner much more attention than the grizzled vet in his 30's. Some people may have reservations about doing things with characters at certain ages, It's slightly more important than the characters name, but really at the end of the day most people don't care how old your character is....particularly if they're trying to kill you. But do give it reasonable consideration, it also affects how long we expect your history to be.
-Important- This can determine if you stand out or simply blend into the crowd. If you're a human you'll blend in and nothing will draw anyone's attention to you unless you do something to get it. But if you're something different, something out there like a half ogre half dragon. People will take notice of you whenever you walk into a room. This alone can cause the success or failure of a character depending on how good you are with people. Also keep in mind some characters may have prejudices, Obviously that paladin is going to hate you if you're a filthy undead monster and vice versa. Keep this in mind when RP'ing. Don't take things personally.
-Male/female/Androgynous/whatever.-marginal- This is only really important if you're looking for romance, some characters(like mine) Have quirks about how they deal with the opposite sex...or the same sex. This might help you be successful in integrating in RP it might not. It probably won't be the key factor but every once in awhile it might kickstart things. Particularly for females. Male characters are prone to knight in shining armor syndrome after all. But it's less likely a guy will rush over to save another guy. It's suddenly "none of their business". Funny huh?
-important- This is very important as it affects characters first opinions of you. If you look like a rich snob, a thief will probably try to rob you, some will avoid you, and others who are also rich snobs will gravitate toward you. If you're a peasant you might go unnoticed on the streets, if you've got weapons at all times people might take notice of your gear, particularly if you're in armor. You may want to take the time to figure out at least two styles of dress for your character, a casual style, and a battle ready style. It's not necessary but it may be a bit easier to go into a peaceful thread without being armed to the teeth and making everyone nervous ya know?
-VeryImportant- More important than your appearance is your personality. Ok so you've gotten someone to talk to you, good job, now keep the conversation going. Or do something to spark more than passing interest in you. If you're boring and uninteresting it'll be hard to get into things without just pushing your way in. On the other hand if you have a personality that tries to avoid trouble, you'll have problems getting started unless you intentionally place yourself at the wrong place at the right time.
Keep in mind there's more to RP than bashing the brains out of something's skull or nuking it with a spell. Talking to people is the most important thing. If your character can't find a way to make connections with people it will probably fail. Particularly for your first character. A later character who's got a good deal of power can get away with this, playing the silent observer role,appearing when needed and disappearing faster than batman the moment someone turns around. But a newbie can't really do that. Personality is the MOST important trait of a character in determining whether they succeed or not.
Also, don't make a character with a personality you yourself don't like. You won't RP as well as you could. It's much better if it comes out naturally because you can think like that rather than forcing yourself to look at things from a whole different perspective some people are capable of doing this at a whim some aren't. If you know you aren't that person, don't try to force it.
As strange as it may sound this actually isn't that important. Not in terms of whether you succeed or fail as a character anyway. Your character class has only limited effect on your interaction with people. If you're a guardian mage it's somewhat more significant, as being a healer and protector is a easy way to become endeared to another character. On the other hand being a Dark mage, or warrior makes you the kinda guy who's abilities are probably only important in combat. Most mages learn cryptology which enables them to break would be language barriers and speak to even rare/unique races without problem. Druids can talk with nature to learn about things going on.
Of course, if you don't make use of these abilities in such ways, they won't help you in terms of getting to know people or getting involved in things. That said, it can clearly be important to interaction if you get creative depending on your class. But class alone won't make your character succeed or fail in RP.
Now here's where I'll probably take the most flak but your history is only as important as you make it. It can be incredibly important or it can be completely irrelevant and this often makes or breaks a character.
A large part of this often stems from the very first decision you make about history, although you probably aren't even aware you made it.
The first and most important question is- Is your character from this world or another one? <- this alone can kill characters before they even get started.
If you're trying to be from this world but don't know anything..... You. Will. Fail....Probably.
There are too many things to think your character would know all of them but to not know ANY of them will surely get people looking at you funny and labeling your char a moron while thinking things like "He lives here and doesn't know this much?" As a newbie you'll be much more reliant on gathering information from others to make your character fit in properly until you have a fair idea of what's what. It will also help a lot to pick a home town that's on the map. People can tell you things that happened there or near there or big events that effected the whole world you should know about.
Here's a few tips though-
READ THE FORUM DESCRIPTIONS. A oh so often overlooked detail. The forum descriptions tell you a little about each place in it's current state. It may not tell you the place's history but it's a start. Never neglect to check a forum description of an area you aren't familiar with. Sometimes they're a little out of date, but you will at least have a decent idea of what a place looks like as opposed to being totally clueless and likely putting out of place details like lush trees, in a desert.
Any character in the legendary category is someone anyone on the planet has probably heard of and therefore major events that go along with them are probably solidified as plot.
The same can be said of some other characters, but it's more difficult to distinguish the whose who of lesser categories.
On the other hand If you're from somewhere else, it's perfectly normal to not know anything....but then you have to explain how you got here and a bit about where you came from. In this case people will still look at you funny, but you can tell them "I'm....not from around here." and they shrug it off and fill you in.
Also if your character never talks about their past it's less significant than if there's someone who knows about it.
On the other hand things that happened to your character in the past can dramatically affect how they react to present events even if they don't talk about it.
Maybe if you survived the burning of your home you have a fear of fire and that's something that would come up in RP since fire is a commonly used element and in this case it can change how others perceive you. Maybe if that same home was burned by trolls you now hate all trolls and act accordingly when you see one.
On another note maybe you have combat experience and a situation presents itself that looks almost identical to one you've been in before. Maybe that situation went badly, maybe it went well. Maybe you'll try to do things different? Maybe you'll run it exactly the same way?
Either way if nothing particularly special happened other than training and adventuring, unless you bring it up it probably won't matter and that's the most common error to make. Do NOT let your history become irrelevant if you can help it. As you progress remember things that have happened so you can use those events to shape future reactions.
So if there's something that affects how your character will behave in the present History is VERY important, particularly if they're the reflective type who draws parallels between the past and present situations. But if they're the type of character to go 'the past is past' and move on it's not too important in the grand scheme of things. Characters of that sort often have a harder time getting started because they don't know anyone yet. So it's hard for them to find something to do. ALWAYS regardless of character type or personality or whatever, ALWAYS give your character some sort of goal in their history. If they have something they want to do this gives you your own starting point how you go about doing that is up to you.
Ultimately the success or failure of a character comes down to interaction. When planning a character don't make an isolationist who has no goals, no wants, but has power. It's probably never going to get into anything. But a character who wants revenge, or wants to become famous, or rich or join an army(there's a couple taking recruits) or whatever they have something to do, he or she has a driving force behind their interaction with others that always pushes toward that ultimate goal and perhaps in the course of interaction that goal changes.
Don't be afraid to start your own threads, but be aware that people can only be in one place at a time, if no one joins it may just be because they're all tied up, not because they're avoiding a newb. When making your own thread, particularly if it's your first one, try to give it a purpose, somewhere to go, so your character has something to do regardless of whether one or 20 people join in. Even if it's something like a simple 'I'm on a job to go here and kill this thing over there, and then go get my money.' it's a plot, it has purpose, it has a place to go, a thing to do, and a end. Nice and tidy.
At the end maybe you'll continue travelling with anyone you met, and go on another random kill that thing over there quest. Or maybe you'll just travel and meet people.
Also don't be afraid to jump into one already going on, it may take you little bit to figure out what's going on but it SHOULD. You're new, your character hasn't been involved in what's going on, they need to find out what's going just as much as you do.
Oh yes one last tip, and this is very very important. DO NOT run off everytime a character with a higher post count than you enters a topic. You're going to meet them, it's inevitable, learn to handle being around people more powerful than you, you're new. One day down the line you'll get to be the one herding newbies. But right now, you're the new guy. Act like it.
And that's all from me and my opinions. Hopefully this helped you in figuring out what to do for your first character....or second or...whatever number it is.