View Full Version : Reusing Characters

Monster Guy
28th October 2011, 12:26 AM
As a lot of people that have done RPG's with me before know, I like to reuse some of my characters for multiple Rpg's. Often at the same time.

Some people act like doing this is a crime against RPing (I'm exaggerating, but it does list reusing characters as something to avoid in one of the stickied threads, can't remember which.)

I don't see what the problem is. Reusing characters you like is a great way to develop them, and if their Sign Up doesn't contradict with the RP's plot, why can't I use them again? If it does, I can always make changes.

So, what's your take on reusing characters?

28th October 2011, 12:34 AM
I'm running two versions of the same character at this point in time, and while it's helping me to develop him, I can also see why reusing characters isn't always good. I've had RP's stall because we were all so set in our ways about our characters that we'd write them the way they were before, and it can limit or even contradict what you've already done with them. Also, you could end up in a hurry and post the post apocolyptic version in the average joe high schooler thread, which can be embarrassing.

28th October 2011, 12:36 AM
It depends for me. I'm usually against it, but there are some exceptions. For example, you create a big sign up for a character and, all of a sudden, the RPG dies. In that situation I'm okay with reusing a character[s] because I wouldn't want it to go to waste. It can be hard coming up with new characters, but reusing characters might come across as lazy. It's a bit of a grey area for me. I wouldn't say it's a mortal sin, but I'd rather not do it unless it's a recovered character from a dead RPG.

28th October 2011, 12:51 AM
I agree that it depends, especially if, say, the RP dies before it even gets off its feet.

The main issue with reusing characters is that, depending on the RPG, you may need to make changes to that character (as Endarkened_Gardevoir mentioned). If the setting differs between RPs, then certain aspects of that character will likely need to be changed between RPs. It can be anything from age to clothing to history, and without those changes, your character may not fit properly in that world. RPers also become better with experience, so they may realize that the character they used as a newbie has room for improvement.

Another issue is that characters tend to develop over the course of an RP. Consequently, you need to make a conscious decision if you reuse that character; will they start off the same at the start of a new RP, or will they have undergone that development from last time? Will they go through the same character arc, or will they develop differently?

We all come to love our characters, but an RPer has to be objective enough to know when to make these kinds of changes. The wonderful thing about characters is that they do undergo change, and it's up to an RPer to see that and make sure it shows. So long story short, you can reuse characters, as long as you're smart about it.


28th October 2011, 2:38 AM
I *try* the best as I can to not reuse characters, and I usually don't.

Some people (that I knew of anyway) feels that reusing the same character (or character type) over and over makes you (as a RPer) boring and/or a one trick pony, and I don't want to get into that. Plus, I want to practice my writing skills a bit by having different characters with different backgrounds/personalities.

But I do understand how putting a lot of thought/finger sweat/emotion into one character and then see the RPG die really quickly and/or didn't feel you've developed the character enough that you want to bring it back. I felt that way somewhat recently, and since I didn't want to redo a second full character and stay in only one RPG (being low on time), I did a compromise: introduce her as a secondary character/NPC!

Monster Guy
28th October 2011, 2:55 AM
Well of course, I'm not going to use a character I made for a Pokemon Trainer RP in an X-Men RP for example, at least not without major changes anyway. That's just common sense.

Of course, in my RPing life so far, (Not all of it on Serebii.) 90 percent of the RP's I joined were Pokemon related. (The rest being Super Smash Bros where I RPed Kirby, or school for kids with super powers.) So often times the characters I make tend to fit in the RPG I'm using them for without problems. xD

Avenger Angel
29th October 2011, 6:57 PM
I don't ever reuse characters.

The character you made for the first RPG was made for the storyline, setting, and situation of that first RPG, but the second RPG will obviously be very different. You'll be spending more time trying to figure out what can transfer over well rather than building the character to shape and adequately represent a person or creature that would fit the storyline's situation and setting. First off, their clothing may seem out of place if they're in a new setting. You may think their personality probably wouldn't need to change too much, but it is really the right kind of mindset for the story? And their background... does it really fit or create a meaningful impact on the character and influence their reactions to storyline events? If you're just recycling all those same details over and over again, then your character is way too generic and is more of a distraction to the storyline than it is a working component of the setting.

Take for example, a character sign up that was used for a trainer Pokémon RPG being recycled for a kind of cyberpunk setting mixed with a little zombie apocalypse, where an experiment with mind-controlling nanobots goes out of control. Now, you may think your character can be recycled, but guess again. First off, your character's clothing, being the traditional Pokémon Trainer garb, would definitely have to be changed to reflect the setting and what other people will be wearing. Even your character's physique would need to be altered around, as events in the storyline might have altered their appearance or they might have grown differently. Second, their personality. The happy-go-lucky trainer mentality your first character might have had doesn't look right in the cyberpunk post-apocalyptic setting at all. Also, the RP's events and situation should be influencing their personality and their moods. Either you have to reshape everything, or your character looks like they're oblivious to everything that's going on. Lastly, background. Different settings, different times, different climates, different universes, different everything means your character should have a much different past than the one in the first RPG, since your character's past greatly influences and determines what they are like today, and what they will be like during the RPG's storyline. If all you're doing is recycling the generic fluff that seems barely tied with the setting and the storyline of the RPG, you're only going to make yourself seem unoriginal to the GM, who has probably read something like that before.

So, instead of trying to recycle a character, I highly recommend just trying to create a new one from scratch each and every time. Read the storyline, brainstorm some ideas for a character that really fits and seems like they have a role and a real tie to the setting, and then put it to work. Make your character bend to the setting and the storyline laid out by the GM, don't try to make your out of place character seem acceptable in a setting where they shouldn't be.

Flame Mistress
29th October 2011, 8:03 PM
I, for one, am against using characters. I like to think that the characters are all different from each other, and I like acquainting myself to new ones. And besides, I love creating new characters.

Part of that is because none of my RPGs seem to be very similar in any way. It's almost impossible to reuse characters. Serebii isn't the only forum where I've participated in RPGs, so out of the many characters I create, none of them seem to fit into another RPG. But there's also the enjoyment of using new characters and getting to know them better as time goes by, and I prefer this instead of just reusing a character over and over again, only to become bored with them.

The only RPG I've ever reused a character for was in the RPG Winter Ball here, because it didn't really have a specific plot.

29th October 2011, 8:46 PM
I don't mind reusing characters. Of course I change and make appropriate edits to histories, appearances, and personalities when necessary, but I don't see it as any terrible crime against RPGing to reuse a character. Remember, a signup is a character outline, it's only a starting point. I love my characters, I love giving them depth; making them victorious, failures, heroic, and tragic. I love exploring the evolution of characters and that idea and concept. It's why I don't mind using the same/similar character in different RPGs...or at least the same/similar signup (since settings and fandoms usually require altering). Once the RPG starts, the character develops differently depending on a thousand different factors, and I love exploring that.

Metal Bagon
29th October 2011, 9:01 PM
I always like to use myself as a basis when I'm playing as male character no matter what the age, which is why you'll often see the blonde hair, blue eyes thing going. I think as long as you don't C+P straight from another sign up it's fine.

For example, my Pokemon Ranger and Adventures in Niyon character sound a lot alike, yet they are 4 years apart so I had to change them. The point is, as long as they are edited to fit the RPG I think it is fine to reuse.

29th October 2011, 9:37 PM
There's nothing wrong with re-using characters if it makes sense in the context of the character's personal history. Any character that isn't killed off could conceivably be involved in more than one game's plot, being developed in different ways by each story. Plus, I don't like hanging up characters from RPs that never got off the ground - those deserve to get transplanted to a new game. However, I love creating new characters, and I feel that it helps one to branch out if they create a stable of diverse ones to play as (and I personally like to try out different archetypes).

Bottom line, it's fine in limited amounts, but don't do it too much.

29th October 2011, 9:44 PM
I really only make a new character when I'm tired of the old one or when I get an idea for a character that I think would fit the roleplay. For instance, I generally use myself as a template appearance wise with a few changes but tend to give my characters different histories/personalities from myself. And if I do reuse a character, it's normally in name and/or appearance only with everything else being built up from scratch.

29th October 2011, 11:37 PM
In all the years I've been roleplaying, I haven't reused a character once. I just haven't felt the need to. I generally start to generate some sort of a vague idea for a character the moment I read the plot, so there isn't any time for me to even think about using older characters. Not that I would've ever even wanted to.

Though, right now, there are a few characters I'm thinking of reusing, if given the opportunity. Their rps died young, and there were so many things left undone. But I'll only use them if the settings match what they were originally made for. I'd never, for example, transfer a Pokémon trainer to a Resident Evil game or somethin'. If I need to change too much about a character in order to reuse them, it just... kills the character, you know. No point in it anymore. And so, I might just as well make a brand new character instead.

I also have two characters I've made sign ups for, but never used. That was because I was planning to join a couple of rpgs with them, but never got around to before they started and moved so fast I was left in the dust and decided not to bother anymore.

I don't really mind if people reuse characters, given that there's enough time between their uses, and that they aren't used simultaneously in two places. But if someone uses one (or even a couple) character(s) in absolutely everything, chances are I'll get bored with them. Doesn't matter if the character idea is OMG TEH BESTESTEST EVAH, if I've seen it five times before, I won't warm up to it.

And I mean, relations are important to a character; enemies, friends, lovers, fu*kbuddies, whatever, they help shape the character. So if a character is used in gazillion places all at once, I feel like it... sort of lessens the impact of the people around them. If they've got many best friends forevers, many lovers, many rivals, many different people responsible for killing their dog on their 15th birthday and traumatizing them foreevr, none of those relations seem unique or important anymore, somehow. Does that make sense, or is the pain from my wisdom teeth making me talk gibberish?

Monster Guy
30th October 2011, 12:10 AM
Oh wow, the opinions are split.

Every RP I've ever joined has died before they reach a proper conclusion. I never know what's "canon" and what's an alternate universe/timeline that has no effect on the real one, if that makes any sense.

Yes, I use alternate universes/timelines to explain discontinuity between RP's. xD

Anyway, I agree characters develop differently from story to story. It's fun to see how different situations affect them.

I'm still a character reuser, and I have no plans to change that. :P but that doesn't mean I can't make someone new when I need to. xD

Metal Bagon
30th October 2011, 1:07 AM
Mon, the first part of your post above deserves a discussion in its self, "Why RP's are alwaysc discontinued."

Also, it is nice to see what happens to your character in different stories. Using my example in my earlier post; me as a ranger won't turn out the same way as a trainer version of myself. So it most certainly doesn't get dull when re-using characters.

Also...50th post!

30th October 2011, 1:24 AM
And there's yet another topic of discussion; basing characters off of yourself.

For me, rp would get doubly boring if I were controlling a character that was basically me. Not because I'd consider myself that boring, but because, to me, rping is fun because you get to try and put yourself in someone else's head, figure what a person very different from you would do and think in different circumstances, etc.

But yeah, I have a gijinka character I really want to reuse, because he didn't get to do much in his own rp before it met its end. Guess I'll have a better opinion of reusing characters once I've tried it. The trouble is finding a good place for him...

Monster Guy
30th October 2011, 2:05 AM
I have one character based on myself, It's easy to RP as him, but I find it awkward talking about myself in the third person. xD

31st October 2011, 12:40 AM
People RP to have fun. And that is all that matters to me. I say if people have fun reusing a character, let them. If they want a new character, that is cool too. As long as it doesn't contradict with anything in the RPs backstory, then I am fine with whatever the RPer wants to do.

It's all about the fun in my opinion.

31st October 2011, 4:22 AM
I don't mind reusing characters that were in short-lived games. Occasionally, I'll 'reuse' a character in an RPG that's actually from one of my fanfics or original stories; this is because I want to push the limits on that character and see how far to go while staying basically the same person.

As a GM, there are some characters that I see posted often by one player. Most of the time, I don't mind (although I may tease the player about it). The bad thing is when I recognize that the majority of that character is exactly the same in various games, especially when they cross between fandoms (like from an original world game to a comic book superhero game to a Pokemon world game). It looks lazy, a bad sign when you want regular posting to keep a game alive. And sometimes it happens within a few hours of putting up the SU thread, like they were jumping in before the game filled up. That always makes me cringe, because someone else may be working a few hours over a completely new character and a copied SU just shows up.

If you're going to use the same character, at least recraft the person. Take the form in that game thread and fill it out again. If you must cut and paste,then make absolutely sure that the character will fit into that game's world. You'll probably get asked to do so anyhow.

I don't use characters based on myself, unless it would be funny and fourth-wall breaking is acceptable. They may have a part of my personality in them, since that's unavoidable, but never exactly.

7th November 2011, 9:39 AM
I don't mind reusing characters that were in short-lived games. Occasionally, I'll 'reuse' a character in an RPG that's actually from one of my fanfics or original stories; this is because I want to push the limits on that character and see how far to go while staying basically the same person.

I do pretty much the exact same thing. In fact, most of my characters are re-used several times. I have a "character bank" consisting of twenty or so characters that I'm planning on using in original stories (some of which I don't even have sign-ups for yet). And the main way I develop and get to know them better is by participating in RPG's with them. So I encourage everyone who is an avid writer, particularly of novels, to re-use characters. It really helps you develop them, and can give you ideas for your own stories. Or at least that's what's been happening with me.

On another note, I posted a Character Recycling Guide (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showpost.php?p=11465965&postcount=15) in the "Making a Sign-Up" thread in the main RPG forum. While I do believe in re-using characters, I believe that one must be smart about doing so. I've seen a few people copy-and-paste signups, and this really annoys me because they clearly have no concern for the RPG they're signing up for. Whenever I re-use a character, I mold them to the situation, which often causes me to modify or re-write parts of the signup. I can get away with copy-and-pasting some things (like Personality), but not everything.

As far as using characters on different platforms goes... I say it can be done. So far I can think of an example where I used the same character for a Pokemon RPG, an X-Men RPG, and a Persona RPG. Her personality was pretty much the same in all three; I just had to make minor modifications to her Appearance (not to mention I had to add superhero clothes in the X-Men RPG, and then I had to give her either Pokemon, powers, or a Persona depending on the RPG, which wasn't too hard. Changing the History just involved modifying her hometown and re-writing the last few paragraphs in accordance with the plot.

Also, I know of one user here (DVB) who uses the exact same character for every RPG he signs up in, no matter what the setting. Yet somehow, everything works out. He modifies things like Appearance and History in accordance with the RPG, and sometimes even makes him a different species or something. I can't tell you how many faces of Diego Vendrix I've seen: an ice ninja, a high school kid, a musician, a Pokemon trainer, and even a werewolf! But every RPer has their own style, and everyone just has to figure out how to make that style work. DVB certainly did.

21st November 2011, 7:28 PM
I don't see any problem with re-using a character. If you really like them, why not continue their development? True, some RPGs may cause the charcter's history to change, but you can think of that as "alternate worlds" if you must. Or maybe your superpowered character isn't yet aware of their abilities at the point of life they're at in the new RPG. There's ways to mentally get around that. Plus, it's not like we don't see characters in our favorite animes and cartoons having contradictory lives in different movies and other media. You can create whatever and however many different lives and roles for your character as you find fun. To me its another awesome thing about fantasy, you can do everything if you want, over and over again, in real life all you have is the one path you take, one time.

7th March 2012, 6:19 PM
I just wanted to bump this topic back up the slots, because I feel it's a valid point of discussion and none of these "Craft of RPGing" should really get lost amongst the various game discussion threads. First and foremost, the Discussion Forum should be about exploring ideas and concepts relating to RPGing.

Now, to (re)start the discussion, I'll begin by stating how I very recently was confronted with a dilemma pertaining to this topic. A member (unnamed so as not to point fingers - We'll call "him"..."Hugo" for now) inquired about a character in an RPG I'm running (Planeswalkers - Sign up now![/shameless self-promotion]). This was a character that he brought along to every RPG he plays, from what I understand. Now, I can certainly understand the draw there. When designing my characters I often re-use phrases or even whole paragraphs, especially if I'm very fond of the way that paragraph/phrase/overall language served to describe that aspect of my character and it is appropriate for my next one.

For instance, in my now-abandoned "Weapons" RPG, I had a few good phrases in the Appearance and Personality sections for my character Jareth, that would fit quite well in the same sections for my "Planeswalkers" character - Lance. Lance himself was essentially a transplant (personality-wise) of a character I'd developed for my "Armored Core" RPG. The personality I developed for him there fit very well with one of the worlds in Planeswalkers, and with Armored Core finishing before its time, I felt more comfortable bringing Lance into the other RPG. Planeswalkers-Jareth, also, was a bit of a transplant, though that was mainly in name only, as his appearance, personality, and history were radically different from Weapons-Jareth.

So in short: I knew I'd reused and rehashed old concepts and characters between RPGs. Who was I to tell Hugo that he couldn't?

But as we got to talking about how he would adapt his utility-character into the RPG, it started to become apparent that he wasn't really talking about adapting the character to the RPG, but the RPG to the character. Part of it--yes--was because Planeswalkers allows players to create their own backgrounds and worlds and gives a lot of freedom in that regard. But I got the feeling that he was less concerned with making his character fit, and more concerned with making the RPG fit. And I was becoming less and less comfortable with the idea.

So I suggested that maybe he should create a new character, one that wasn't held back and down by preconceptions and preexisting conditions. At this point, Hugo seemed to lose interest. And I suppose that's understandable. I'd been subtly and not-so subtly shooting down ideas and then suggested that he completely change how he RPGs. I don't hold any grudges for that.

In the end, Hugo and I went our separate ways without any sort of animosity...I'm hoping. But my dilemma reminded me of this thread and how important it is for characters to be unique and grow according to the RPG they're in. Characters don't always fit in every RPG, and sometimes it's better not to force them into that position. So with that in mind, I thought back to the question: Who was I to tell Hugo that he couldn't reuse his character in my RPG when I was essentially doing quite a bit of the same?

I was the GM. That's who.

Sometimes reusing the same character, whether it's in name, personality, appearance, or history, or any combination therein; just comes off as lazy. Sometimes an RPG asks you to change so much of what came before, that it just makes more sense to create an entirely new character. Having only one character, or trapping yourself with that character means you're essentially holding yourself hostage to your ideas. And that should never be the case.

If you're going to reuse a character, make the character fit the RPG, not the other way around.

I'll go back to Lance for further examples. A lot of my writing now--be it for my graduate work or my for-fun/fan-work--is focused on the darkness within people. Not "evil," but the selfish need for survival. Lance is the full embodiment of my experimentation with that idea. I don't have to be literary with him, I don't have to constrain myself to believable worlds and plot structures and all that sort of stuff. I can go wild and down and deep and really figure out the extremes of that selfish need. RPGs are the perfect place for that, and Armored Core was probably the perfect fit for him. That was "pure Lance". He was completely (biologically) human, living essentially in our world (just with giant Mecha), and limited by human constraints.

Planeswalker Lance is different. It's the same core idea: the dark, selfish need and hunger, but I take it to a more literal level. Planeswalkers is based in fantasy, and the embodiment of dark hunger in fantasy is the vampire myth. So I brought that into his character. At the same time, there needs to be a counter-point to the dark hunger. A "nobility" that makes Lance somewhat sympathetic. It's the awareness of his darkness and his conflicting feelings towards it that make him so interesting for me. But this was Lance on a much more fantastic scale. More dramatic, more over-the-top. That was just the nature of the RPG. So while I carried the "core" of the character over from Armored Core (get it?) so much of the peripheral had to change that he's really become his own character. His "darkness" isn't the result of some outside tragedy. It's a result of his own doing. He did it (gave it) to himself. For noble reasons? Maybe. On purpose? Probably not. But it adds a whole new layer and side to the character in that he's now dealing with a heap of guilt and regret...or should be, if it weren't for the "voice" of the darkness telling him not to.