Examples of Allowable and Unallowable Character Descriptions

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Doug R.
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Examples of Allowable and Unallowable Character Descriptions

Postby Doug R. » Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:03 pm

As players report character descriptions to the Players Department, we'll post them here to demonstrate what is allowed and what is not allowed.

Allowed
Not Allowed

Borderline - Could be allowable in some situations, and not allowable in others. Ideally should be rewritten.
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Re: Examples of Allowable and Unallowable Character Descriptions

Postby Doug R. » Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:27 pm

A theif.


Describes a character's inner thoughts. How can other characters possibly know this?

A fit and dapper young man with an enthusiastic, though possibly more sly than intelligent demeanor. Acts like a tough guy and aspires to eventually become one, for the moment he is just an ambitious kid though.


The first part was deemed acceptable. While it seems to give away some of the character's inner self (he's possibly more sly than intelligent), establishing a demeanor takes into account subtle, physical elements that may be difficult to role play. The use of the word "possibly" leaves the description open to interpretation. We take this statement as implying that while he seems to be smart, there's something subtle about him that may bring that into question.

In the second sentence, acting like a tough guy is something quite overt that should be role played, and his aspirations are not something that can be visibly seen. This, and his being an ambitious kid, should be left for the other characters to decide for themselves through their interactions with the character.

This man is not very tall, and built like a brick wall. He has sandy brown hair and pale blue eyes with a twinkle in them. He's quite strong, and not ambitious at all. He'd rather have friends than power. Lots of people around make him nervous, but he likes to stay quiet and watch them. He's quick to help, and slow to anger. But watch out if you try to hurt someone around him!"


Being quite strong can already be implied by the previous sentence that he's built like a brick wall, and not being ambitious is something that should be established by the characters words and actions (same for wanting more friends than power). The last sentence is also something that should be conveyed via role play.

The borderline statement here involves the character's disposition towards crowds. The reason I have it borderline is because if there wasn't a crowd present, it would be granting information to other players that couldn't be gleaned from the current situation. In this instance, the statement should be removed unless there is actually a crowd, and then possibly rewritten to allow differing interpretations of the character's body language.
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Re: Examples of Allowable and Unallowable Character Descriptions

Postby Doug R. » Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:44 pm

A jaunty roguish type who loves the ladies but is strictly loyal and true to his one and only love, his wife, X. His hair is long, black and caught up into a ponytail by a piece of sinew. His face is brutally handsome but scrubby and unshaven mostly unless he is wanting a kiss from X. His build is large and muscular though advanced in age, time has chiseled and refined his great strength. He is strong enough to be very gentle. His blue eyes are full of laughter and mischief most of the time. An honest, fair man and peaceful unless his beloved forest or forest spawns are threatened.


Most of the red descriptions here are things that should be gleaned from role-play. The added comments about his strength are redundant and state explicitly what the allowed prior description does implicitly, which is preferable. The meaning of the line strong/gentle line strikes me as something that should be done via role play.
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Re: Examples of Allowable and Unallowable Character Descriptions

Postby Doug R. » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:44 pm

Prima donna extraordinaire, compassionate, friendly (chatty) and always right. Sulks when put out.


Describes actions that should be conveyed via role-play.

A small woman of barely 5 feet, with shoulder length brown hair. Her face is covered with engine oil and soot and her leather clothing form overalls which cover her from head to foot.


The borderline description would be disallowed if the character was describing clothes that they aren't wearing. In this case, they are, kind of. I'm not sure how you get overalls out of leather pants, vest, headband, and pumps, though. Perhaps they meant coveralls, or maybe they want us to pretend the pant/vest combo is overalls? Still, a vest doesn't cover very much. An eyebrow raiser to be sure, but not anything that I would contact the player over.

A tall, strait standing man, he acts very kind and polite without making any threatening gestures or suggestions.


The red portion is behavior which should be conveyed via role-play. The borderline part seems like it should be re-written to be less action-oriented (he is unassuming, he has a non-threatening posture, etc.)
Hamsters is nice. ~Kaylee, Firefly
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Re: Examples of Allowable and Unallowable Character Descriptions

Postby Doug R. » Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:12 pm

Long straight black hair down to mid back, with bangs layered shorter in the front and longer toward her jaw. She has soft features, petite and elegant, yet has a sharp tongue and fiery personality hidden beneath. She's gentle and serene, with innocent Arctic blue eyes that bring out her features. Curvy in all the right places.


This is a tough one, so let's get the easy part out of the way. You can't see a personality by looking at someone. Personalities should be role-played. The borderline parts are head-scratchers for sure, and the PD was honestly divided over this one. You can argue as I just did that these two qualities are personality and should be role-played. But, they could also be intended as modifiers of what other characters hear. So, if this character says something without explicit RP, we should read it sharply. But doesn't that contrast with her being gentle and serene? All in all, these borderline details confuse me as to who this character is supposed to be.

She is a taller woman. Her hair is a beautiful chestnut color, and straight falling along her face just below her chin. She is a seafarer, her skin tanned and her hair highlighted with streaks of a lighter color. Her eyes are a steel grey color and she carries a beautifully crafted shield with the etching of a galleon at full sail in the middle of a beam of moonlight cast by a full moon


This also caused some division in the PD. Some claimed that they could spot a sailor by looking at them, and that this was alright. Others said that it was bad form, regardless, and I tend to agree with the latter. A good rule of thumb is, instead of saying your character IS something, to say that they APPEAR to be something. This puts you squarely on firm footing and leaves things open to interpretation.

You see a huge bulge through his trousers.


The most commonly reported description so far. Really, there's nothing at all wrong with this. If it offends your sensibilities, have your characters act as such in game.

Diligently working on whatever task he has (mumbling to himself, otherwise), he is usually happy, taking pleasure from his progress and his own musings. He looks strong, but mostly just unkept and wiry


If you're not happy, role-play the mumbling, this is just lazy IMO. The red portion is all personality that should be role-played.

A piece of leaf is tied over his eye as he lost it when his home village was attacked.


We have no way of knowing how he lost his eye.

xxx


Not a description, but not problematic either unless it's some kind of secret code. I just deleted it.

-She has long, wavy brown hair
-She has soft brown eyes, and pale skin that suggests limited exposure to the sun
-Although still young, she seems somewhat older due to the rather proper way she holds herself
-Whilst she may be called attractive, [color=#4040FF]the combination of her sad demeanor and her prim ways distracts from that somewhat
-Whilst her clothes button up to the neck, the results suggest a corset beneath.
-She is about 5'6


Can't see any problem here. The reporting player cited demeanor and the corset. Alright, so some of this is personality, but I think these are passive qualities that could easily also come across when a character was inactive (as opposed to the mumbling above, which is a very active quality). Suggesting corsets is not wrong - it's a suggestion.

working as town security


And how do we know this? Does he have a badge? A uniform?
Hamsters is nice. ~Kaylee, Firefly
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Re: Examples of Allowable and Unallowable Character Descriptions

Postby Doug R. » Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:42 pm

I've caught up on the English CD reports. If any known offenders haven't changed their descriptions 48 hours after this post, please send the reports back in. Thanks.
Hamsters is nice. ~Kaylee, Firefly

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