Author Topic: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste  (Read 4417 times)

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Offline Quickman

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On TheForce.Net, I had started a discussion concerning violence in fiction, and early on, the topic dipped into the realm of RPGs, with a post concerning character histories.

Let's be realistic, here.  Dark and traumatic histories are dramatic, and we all love us some drama.  Admit it.  You do.  Drama is exciting and interesting.  If a character's history is traumatic, it also helps to shape who they are, and they are seen as a better person to have risen above such adversity.  Tragic histories can range from being created for the sole purpose of being a tool or an object of study, or to being smacked around as a kid.  Perhaps there was an incident in that character's lifetime that helped to shape who they are.  Death of a loved one, parent, sibling, beloved pet, their Kanto starter.  At some point in their life, there was a defining moment that helped to shape them.  Perhaps it was for the good, or for the bad, or they're still trying to make sense of it.  Dramatic histories are just fine for characters, if it helps to define their key traits and how they cope with the world.

However, there comes a point where the drama will be ratcheted up to insane levels, or deplorable acts are arbitrarily thrown in because the player thinks that it makes their character "more interesting."  Sometimes, when looking over character sheets, the histories become more and more traumatic, with ever-increasing amounts of violence and sexual assault in this bizarre one-upmanship contest.  And the players of those characters may see absolutely nothing wrong with that, as would the GM. 

Though, to many, as the linked topic has pointed out, there comes a time where you should draw the line.  A more "mundane" trauma can be far more interesting for a character than "I was raped lots, tee-hee."

So, what are your thoughts on developing character histories?  Are there any tropes you find yourself falling into?  Were there characters back in your own personal Cringe Era that were so overblown that you can't believe that no one had the sense to tell you to rewrite their history?  Do you like dramatic character histories?  How dramatic?  Do you prefer your character to be the average Joe Schmoe off the street with nothing special about their background? 

There are plenty of more discussion points than just those. 

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2013, 08:18:14 AM »
I usually just have my characters parents, or close friend, die at a young age.  Sometimes it's murder sometimes it's illness or even old age.  I don't do [twin slasher] because I think that's just not necessary to develop character.

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2013, 08:33:21 AM »
Hmm, never really thought about stuff like that.

Though I guess in the sense of my characters both Josei and Josei-Prime have lost people close to them, Josei's loss being a female friend/lover who had an accident (Said person is who Akai's appearance is modeled after.), Prime's (And Keco's by extension) loss being the mutilation of two of his robots, whom were considered as children or sisters depending on which person it was.

Though honestly, I don't try to force drama. I only try to do it when I feel it could be done well. Like with RPM-vengers there's no need to go over the "MY PARENTS ARE DEADDD AHGHGAH" stuff with Batguy because he's not meant to be a serious character.


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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 09:31:38 AM »
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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 10:20:22 AM »
See, now those are fine tragic backgrounds for characters!  They were interesting and dramatic, without having to rely on [twin slasher] or torture, or both.

Back in the day, I've come across more than my fair share of RP characters that have [twin slasher] as part of their backstory.  Some years back, this was actually taken to extremes when a member of the Mechanical Maniacs (Gauntlet may remember this) fabricated another user named "Zapper."  Zapper was a young woman who was forcefully tattooed when she was an infant and raped by her father.  Eventually, she was sent to foster care, but her father found her, kidnapped her, and repeatedly raped and tattooed her.  At first, the story was vague, and early on was somewhat plausible.

It fell apart immediately when Zapper was discharged from a psych ward after eight hours. 

If you are committed to a psychiatric ward, you are to stay there for a mandatory 72 hours.  If you're a minor, you can get out after 24 hours, but only with express permission of the attending physician, after you have been assessed for risk of self-harm, and your parents have signed a consent form to allow you to leave against medical advice.  In short, once you're committed, it's hard to get out before those seventy-two hours are up.

No one caught onto this right away, but I did and I started asking questions which poked more holes into the story.  Eventually, it culminated into that aforementioned kidnapping, which ended with another psychiatric stay (again, not the mandatory 72 hours, or even 24 hours), and soon after, the user confessed to making it all up.  He strung an entire forum along with this sob story about a girl who never existed.

Yes, this fabrication was stupid and pointless, but it's another example of a preoccupation with [twin slasher].  Why do people feel the need to include [twin slasher] in their character backstories?  And to include it in such copious amounts?  If [twin slasher] were a sandwich spread, some people would be trying to slather the entire jar's worth onto their bread!

This seems to be more prevalent with the younger crowd, namely the late-teens/early-twenties crowd.  That's where I've seen it most often, used to the point where it was almost romanticized.  Why would anyone think that such a heinous act is "good" for the development of their character?

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 10:41:42 AM »
I can't explain much in the way of RPM RP stories, since I either use characters I've created for other RPs or borrowed existing characters from games and throwing in a mundane backstory to explain how they wound up in an RPM-related universe.  But if I were to throw in a character as an example of whether there's too much torture to "beef up" the thrill of the character, I'd say Ryuta's X9 backstory may fit the bill.

I'm still in the midst of rewriting it to kick off any out-of-character situations that originally made him the "misunderstood" person that is runs the X9-related, vigilante-only Blazkrieg, but the primary focus was that he was stolen off the streets by some unnamed organization and turned into a "masterpiece" they think is the more appropriate weapon to end the war between Mavericks and Reploids.  He was eventually busted out by a Hunter unit that thought they had encountered a Maverick-run torture chamber, and while trying to straighten out the mess they had gotten themselves into, some other human-run organization tries to take custody of Ryuta and other victims captured and reconstructed by the unnamed organization.

He's currently hiding in a monastery and instigated a vigilante squad that hunts down and oppresses "human Mavericks", leading other military-based organizations to see him as either a threat to the public, or a complete nuisance, and wants him captured for their own legal reasons.

Ryuta was originally found by the monastery as a terrified heap, attacking anyone that so much as loudly contemplates calling someone that is under higher authority, but as he continues to live within the monastery, he begins to loosen up and find other ways of living in the public without having to act so violently or antisocial towards those who want to help him.

There isn't much to say about Hajime and Nite, the reploid version of Atsushi Saito.  Hajime was a victim of the Abel City missile attack (Though that may change to explain, in a less torturous way, how he wound up with cybernetic implants), and Nite's only tragedy was losing a half-brother to a Maverick raid caused by an anti-reploid gang of humans, bent on making the public regress them back to obedient robots.


MAKE WAY FOR HAJIME'S DRAGON DELIVERY EXPRESS!!! 8D

Offline Fxeni

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2013, 01:51:21 AM »
Hmm... I usually try to not go overboard with trauma in the backstories I create. Sure, there's a few deaths here and there, however I usually try to keep it in realistic bounds. I usually think back to my own experiences, and grow things out of them. People tend to take things a tad too far, and it's often things that don't mesh well with the way they write their present-day character. They kind of throw things out there because it looks good, but the impact it has on the way the character is written often doesn't merit some of the things they came up with.

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 02:53:30 AM »
Particularly if the incidents from their past are repeated in some fashion throughout their present storyarc.  When the character reacts nonchalantly to something that would traumatize the rest of us, to treat it as something that happens every Tuesday is just weird and it makes one wonder what the hell is going through the author's mind.

I know back in the day I've had more than a few characters with traumatic backstories, though those histories were derived in some fashion from my own past.  Elaborated, yes, but they have roots in things that had happened to me over the years.  Though, the darker histories were spawned during my personal Emo Era, where I was a roiling cauldron of raw emotions and rampant hormones.

I've dialed it back some, but I still pull things from my past.  What changed is how my characters have dealt with it.  Rather than being emotional about it, they've matured and put the past where it belongs.

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...When Larry the reploid accountant goes maverick of his own accord, he's certainly formidable during tax season, but he isn't going to provide X the challenge needed to make him grow as a warrior and reach his potential.

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 05:41:55 AM »
Personally, I find Traumatic Present much better than Traumatic History. 

For example, one of the greatest pieces of storytelling in modern day...anything is TNG's The Best of Both Worlds. It was not only a story showing the growth of Riker, but actually showing the downfall of the show's title character, Picard. Captain of the flagship of the Federation, and he came this close to wiping out everything he held dead, after killing thousands along the way. How it was done was so beautiful as well. The Borg stripped him of everything he was, everything he had become and then assimilated his knowledge & wisdom into helping them murder & kill. It's perfect. That's true character development.

That's what I was trying to go for with PB in the Wily RP. His ego is his greatest weapon. The source of his power, so to speak. So what if someone turned his own power against him, twisting who he is, and used him to kill. How would he cope with that? That is where I feel trauma is used best.

Offline Sakura Leic

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2013, 06:02:43 AM »
With Zeta it's kind of the opposite, her past was not only traumatic but happened within the first month of her activation so it stuck with her.  She became convinced that the best way for her to live was for her not to get close to anyone emotionally which manifested in Zeta's mention of trying to ignore Sakura's attempts to be friends with her and, as I will later mention, putting Ninja Lou in the Hospital for trying the same and touching her shoulder, whether it'll just be a broken nose or other things that Lou can heal equally easily I haven't decided.

Eventually Sakura rubbed off on her and when Sakura collapsed due to fever she realized that she was hurting herself more trying not to get close to people and was very lonely.  

However she still has some social insecurities and unusual ways of dealing with situations, such as slapping people in the face when they lie about not feeling good or breaking people's noses when they try to ask her out and not go away when she mentions that she's a robot since she doesn't want to go that far with someone she doesn't know and feels that they just want to go out with her for her looks rather than for her qualities.

She also has a few insecurities about people seeing her as a machine rather than a person but she hides it well and can ignore it if it's just some stranger.
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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2013, 06:44:41 AM »
My story begins in 499 AR...

499 years ago, a cataclysmic event shook the world.  99% of the world's population was instantly killed -- raped to death by an unknown force.  Those that survived the rapeocalypse were less fortunate, because what awaited them was even worse... 

Humanity tried to rebuild, but the post rapeocalyptic world was harsh.  Every time someone had consensual sex, someone else would die, seemingly chosen at random.  What had once given life, had now become death.  Once word got out, chaos overtook the remainder of the world.  Cities fell, while others were consumed by madness. Finally, the wisest elders gathered together, and outlawed consensual sex forever.  In order to preserve their species, [twin slasher] became law.  This order was carried out by elite soldiers of the United [twin slasher] Alliance, which conquered most of the known world, and ruled with an iron first.

Darken Edgie grew up in a quiet fishing town, built in the ruins of a once grand city.  Shielded from the outside world by a giant wall, he often wondered what kind of adventure lied on the outside. 

One night, the United [twin slasher] Alliance attacked his town.  Everyone he knew was raped.  His parents were killed.  He was tortured, and then forced to join the Rapeliforce, where he was trained in the art of Rapefu.  He quickly rose up through the ranks, being the youngest member to master the Triple [twin slasher] Maneuver.  However, he secretly loathed them and plotted his revenge.  Late one night, he raped all the guards to death and escaped.  Now an outlaw, in the post rapeocalyptic world, he knew there was one thing he must do...

This is original content do not steal.

Offline Sakura Leic

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2013, 06:46:57 AM »
And this is why we missed you so much. XD
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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2013, 06:52:14 AM »
I just pulled that out of my ass but I think it's a real philosophical take on laws and morality.

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2013, 07:17:09 AM »
That pretty much sums up most of the RP character backgrounds I've seen over the years. XD

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2013, 07:18:49 AM »
That pretty much sums up most of the RP character backgrounds I've seen over the years. XD
Wow really?
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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2013, 07:32:29 AM »
Glorious!

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2013, 07:33:28 AM »
Wow really?

Well, not exactly, but there were quite a few that followed a similar pattern.

Offline Sakura Leic

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2013, 07:44:01 AM »
Which parts exactly minus the destroying the town, capture, and revenge.
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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2013, 07:47:48 AM »
Being secluded, being captured/sold into slavery/prostituted and then tortured/raped, only to escape by unknown means/killing everyone/fellow prisoner helping only to die in some fashion/be recaptured, joining some group and becoming the youngest whatever, then striking out on their own.

Offline Dr. Wily II

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2013, 04:02:50 AM »
Hmm... The only real "traumatic" past I have is the one in Pokemon RP, given how Dr. Wily II was a evil mad scientist, and then becoming docile after one of his freak experiments and knowing about his past...

WilyRP's is based more on RPM history... So it's more comical than traumatic...

My story begins in 499 AR...

499 years ago, a cataclysmic event shook the world.  99% of the world's population was instantly killed -- raped to death by an unknown force.  Those that survived the rapeocalypse were less fortunate, because what awaited them was even worse... 

Humanity tried to rebuild, but the post rapeocalyptic world was harsh.  Every time someone had consensual sex, someone else would die, seemingly chosen at random.  What had once given life, had now become death.  Once word got out, chaos overtook the remainder of the world.  Cities fell, while others were consumed by madness. Finally, the wisest elders gathered together, and outlawed consensual sex forever.  In order to preserve their species, [twin slasher] became law.  This order was carried out by elite soldiers of the United [twin slasher] Alliance, which conquered most of the known world, and ruled with an iron first.

Darken Edgie grew up in a quiet fishing town, built in the ruins of a once grand city.  Shielded from the outside world by a giant wall, he often wondered what kind of adventure lied on the outside. 

One night, the United [twin slasher] Alliance attacked his town.  Everyone he knew was raped.  His parents were killed.  He was tortured, and then forced to join the Rapeliforce, where he was trained in the art of Rapefu.  He quickly rose up through the ranks, being the youngest member to master the Triple [twin slasher] Maneuver.  However, he secretly loathed them and plotted his revenge.  Late one night, he raped all the guards to death and escaped.  Now an outlaw, in the post rapeocalyptic world, he knew there was one thing he must do...

This is original content do not steal.
This should be a game or novel trilogy.

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2013, 07:55:24 AM »
MAKE THIS HAPPEN, SUB

I admit to getting pretty damn dark with that Alakazam.  It had some basis in various real-life experiments using brain-computer interface devices.  The point, however, was not just shock value, but an exploration into what goes on in research laboratories.  This has already been alluded to in the games,  anime, and the manga, and I simply took it a step farther.  The science itself is rather fascinating, but it is also seen by many as needlessly cruel, as many experiments use animals.  Thus, it was more of an exploration into ethics, namely where do you draw the line.

Now that we've gotten the histories out of the way, how do those histories affect the character's behavior?  In some of the examples I've cited, particularly the post I linked to, people seem to have used the rapepocalypse history as an excuse to have their character raped over and over again, only to brush it off as being a perfectly normal occurrence.

This can somewhat coincide with Clefant's topic, too, in terms of relationships.  I've seen at least a few character profiles in which the abusive significant other is still a major part of the character's life, and the character is subjected to their whims on occasion.  This role is usually an NPC, so it's usually controlled by the player who created it. 

I notice this with people who also have a tendency to god-mode.  It's not a common occurrence, but I do see it coinciding with god-moders from time to time.

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2013, 08:12:50 AM »
To be honest, I was amazed at the way you described the Alakazam... It... Was grotesquely satsifying. >_>;

Hmm, on-topic, I think it served as a reminder of sorts for my Pokemon char, trying to make amends for all the things that was done prior, sort of like redemption. And of course, this only led to the possibility of that evil side re-surfacing with a vengence again. How it will play out... *shrug*

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2013, 01:31:54 AM »
So, someone on TFN seems to think that "adult" stories center around "adult" themes such as sex and violence, and drug addiction, as exemplified by their obsession.  It was said the best in that thread that if you take the drug addiction out of your story and it's unable to stand on its own, then you don't have an interesting story to tell.

So, what makes a character's story "adult?"  How do you define "adult" themes?  Should they be linked to rating? 

Offline Protoman Blues

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Re: Character Creation Discussion: Traumatic Histories and Good Taste
« Reply #24 on: October 10, 2013, 03:58:20 AM »
Anything can be an "adult" story depending on how it's told. Hell, Bambi can be considered "adult" because it deals with death & love.