[shared topic] In-Character Identity & Affiliation
I’ve nerded out about lore and raidfoo and face-meltery lately, so now it is time to work on the RP in my subtitle with this BA shared topic from Akabeko of red cow rise: How does your character define themselves? What part of their identity is most important to their personality and self-presentation?
I love character development questions like this SO MUCH, because thinking about these things is a great way to add layers and depth to your RP (or writing, or characterization, or or or).
Sister Arolaide is many things: a sister, a daughter, a farmer, a priest, a soldier; each of these means something different to her.
Being human isn’t something she much cares about; being in the military with so many other soldiers of various Alliance races means that it’s nothing more than a signifier on par with her regimentary or her eye color. She spends the majority of her time with gnomes and dragons, and diplomatic assignments require one to embrace diversity. Even being Alliance — versus Horde — means very little to her, because her goal is Saving the World for Everyone, not Saving the World for Just Some Folks. Fighting with people who don’t take baths and have no shoes or last names takes vital time away from fighting off hordes of demons and old gods and general dumbfuckery sent to eat the souls of every living creature, and she prizes efficiency.
Being a priest was more important to her when she was a healer — and in that instance, it was more a question of BEING a healer than specifically being a priest. Healing, for Sister Arolaide, was about control and responsibility, not necessarily about embracing the joy and goodness and peace and whatnot of the Light. Perhaps temperamentally she should have been a paladin, but armor is boring and robes are fashionable (somewhere, Noé is sad). It is just and fitting that in her helpless rage over the state of her world she has embraced shadow, but it’s not important. It’s a means to an end, and little more.
While her family and her relationships with them (both blood-related and … adopted) are incredibly important to her, she defines herself most strongly as a soldier. War is hard, war is brutal, and whether or not the cause is just the fact remains that what heroes do is kill people. Every day she goes to work and someone dies. Maybe she was the one who killed them, maybe she wasn’t, but someone dies so that people she cares about can live, and that is important.
That is a hard life that makes a hard person who has to make hard choices, and living with that every day colors and builds the way I write about her and the things that I write for her. If she retired from active duty she would be a different person, but still have that background to build on; if she’d never been a soldier, if she’d just been a cloistered priest or a city-stationed healer, she would be a very different person.
Hell, if I removed any of those pieces — if she hadn’t been a farmgirl from Westfall, if she were not the Exalted, if she hadn’t been a healer — she would be a very different person. My characters are built like Jenga towers, each little bit stacking it higher and higher until I miss something or slip something out and it falls over and I have to build it all over again.
Which is also fun!
But only when it’s part of a long and storied beer pong game.