Saturday, July 12, 2014

Character beliefs

Sorry this post is a bit late today, but there's a really good reason for that. I was playing Arcanum this morning. Yeah, that old RPG game where you pick a character and give them stats and such. The reason I'm telling you all this is because I like to use my characters whenever I'm playing Arcanum.

This time I'm playing as Kagami Amaya, one of the antagonists of Mahō no Hogosha! and as I'm playing I feel like she's a bit OOC. That's partly because I like to take every quest, even when she wouldn't care to and they way that she talks to people... isn't exactly ideal for game play, as when people get too mad at you they'll attack and I don't want to go around killing everybody.

But I digress.

What is it that your characters believe in? Do they believe in God? Do they believe they are God? How do they think the world works, the people in it?

Belief is a very strong thing, sometimes people believe in things so strongly that they just know it's true. Even when they're presented with compelling evidence to the contrary.

Developing these views
Where do these world view come from? Usually it will come from someone else or from an experience in the world. Religious views are often handed to children by their parents and some views, such as optimism and pessimism can be bred by early life experience.

Someone who's had nothing but bad things happen to them all their lives might tend towards pessimism. Or maybe they chose to be optimistic to help get themselves through the hard times.

Singular conscious
A singular conscious is how human beings observe the world. This limits their ability to be empathic and objective. I'll just talk about objectiveness and subjectiveness. When a character sees something happen with their very own eyes as opposed to being told it by a third party, they're far more likely to believe it.

Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias is when someone remembers, or interprets information in a way that confirms what they believe. I'll give you an example, Stella Nakamoto is one of the main characters from my series Sanmalari and she believes herself to be a God and immortal.

Stella got infected with an oft fatal parasite called a desert worm. Everyone who knew her was quite certain that she was going to die and Stella was convinced that she wouldn't die because she couldn't. Stella didn't die and she took this as proof that she was immortal.

Now, Stella isn't immortal (nor a God) she just suffers from delusions of grandeur.

Cherry picking
Cherry picking is selecting specific bits of information about things to fit what you believe. Matthew Berry does a wonderful job of illustrating cherry picking in his fantasy posts. What he does is this, he selects two players and calls them player A and player B.

He talks up player A by telling you all the good things about him and talks down player B by telling you all the bad things about him. Everything he says about both players is 100% true.

Then he tells you that they're the exact same person.

Cherry picking is a great way to make characters argue. People don't often consider the validity of the other side because they're convinced that they're right and they're just trying to show everyone else the right way to do things.

Belief is a powerful thing, characters need to hold strong and firm to their beliefs. They must follow them as if they are right even if they are 100% wrong. After all, people thought witches were the causes of ills despite the fact that this is 100% wrong, they still burned people.

Don't be afraid to make your characters be witch-hunters.

One final word. Beliefs, no matter how twisted and seemingly incorrect likely have some grain of truth to them. You probably want to aim for the middle, make something a character believes to be both equal parts right and equal parts wrong.

Any questions or comments? Leave a comment below or email me at

No comments:

Post a Comment