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 The making of a fine charecter
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Lunasol
 Sunday, July 08 2012 @ 01:09 AM UTC (Read 8001 times)  
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First off, pardon if this is chockful of typos, Im in my Android phone. Touch screen and such. Second, if you think Im insulting you or your char, Im not meaning to be. These are observations...


Anyway... I was recently talking with a friend about how to better his char and the topic of what makes a great char came up. And I suggested that the good people here be asked...

I suggested to invest in some char flaws. And I mean true flaws. Someone mentioned on another thread the tendancy to become Joker and be SUPER JOKER. ABLE TO FIX ALL PROBLEMS AND KILL ALL MONSTERS. And while thats fine, Ive just never seen the appeal. I love Collin and a couple others whos Joker runs are sprinkled with failures and fuck ups. Having a flawed char helps make someone feel real, rather than one dimensional...

My other big suggestion is to stay away from over played things. For a while there, it seemed anyone who walked in NH had wings and an eyepatch, my char included. I think I saw the fifth person with an eyepatch and said "Yea... Im fixin her eye". It became a joke. Magical powers is the new vogue. And there are chars who play magical powers with finesse. Using them leaves them drained and exhausted and are usually a rare occurence. Another is insanity. Makes sense on the island, but having 13 people in an outpost who are insane and hear voices/are possesed once again makes everything feel monotomous (how the frick does one spell that word?). Shi, god bless her, has always been my benchmark for insanity.

What thoughts do you have? I would rather no one name names. This isnt to become a bashing thread. If you name names, you better be telling us how awesome they are.


 
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Maniak
 Sunday, July 08 2012 @ 09:22 AM UTC  
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My character has a very valid reason for wearing an eyepatch.

You see, a couple weeks back heterochromatic eyes were all the rage. Sadly, Maniak has a horrible birth defect, in that he has two eyes of the same colour. They're even that bland green colour, just to add insult to injury. You can imagine how disappointed he was that he would never fit in with his peers. But oh, much to his surprise and delight, the shady salesman in the Prancing Spiderkitty offered him a single contact lens, guaranteed to redden his eye. He handed over his 1,000 req without second thought and hurried to the bathroom to try out his latest purchase.

Poor Maniak, he was used to pain, but even his twisted mind could never have imagined the torturous nature of this device, manufactured only to fit in with the crowd. Oh, it definitely delivered what was promised; the dozens of tiny prongs that would pierce the tissue around his pupil guaranteed a red eye.

The perfect contrast to the perfectly functional green eye he had. He finally belonged.

It didn't last long. The red blood irritated and blurred his vision. Understandably, it itched. The accident happened in the blink of an eye, Maniak was scraping out the bone-marrow from a mouldywarp with a crab fork. He never even saw it coming.

And that's why Maniak wears an eyepatch.


http://maniak.cu.cc/
 
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Anonymous: Escemfer
 Sunday, July 08 2012 @ 09:29 AM UTC  


Oh... That story brings a tear to my eye, Maniak. It's just so... So. Just so.


 
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Collin-Vee
 Sunday, July 08 2012 @ 12:13 PM UTC  
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Ah, always nice to hear that you're doing something right.

But, as to not derail the topic by patting myself on the back too many times, I have to agree to what Luna is saying. Too often, even in characters I admit to liking, I see the overpowering, and the "OH I HAVE THE ITEM RIGHT HERE TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM MAGICALLY" problem. I like to think of II as if it were real life (which it's not, of course). In real life, when you have a problem, quite often you have people willing to help (or who try to worm their way out of it because you ALWAYS have problems), but no real way to. Otherwise, it's not a problem, it's just an inconvenience!

Though I am trying to say that you need to think of things from a WRITER's perspective. Imagine a story where the character never struggles! This is a bad thing. You want to be entertaining. This doesn't mean you have to be non-serious, hell! Some of my favourite scenes are serious ones. But if you constantly just have all your problems solved, that's either A: You projecting your ideal situation on your character, or B: Not entertaining at all.

You want to grab people's attention without being an attention whore. You need to make people WANT to be around you, or make them want to find out what's happening. With the constant drama lately, it's harder to do that seriously, but it's the idea, not the result.

Be entertaining. The solution isn't what you should aim for, it's the ride along the way. An example of this? Collin. I literally will not have him normal-joker powered until ~40 DKs. And even then, he's got even further to go for his full potential.

In the words of a friend: "You need to openly want your character to struggle, to have to claw their way to what they want."

Thanks for reading my jumbled up excuse for a post!


 
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Ada
 Sunday, July 08 2012 @ 04:07 PM UTC  
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What makes a good character is a good writer. Realistic is good. Funny is good. Believable is a must. Inventive is good. Interesting is good. Spelling and grammar are pretty necessary. Friendliness helps. I could go on. But a checklist or suggestion list for making a character - the only thing I can think of to put on there is "don't be like everyone else if you don't like what everyone else is doing".

I've seen superpowered characters who are excellent (example: Skidge). I've seen superpowered characters who were obnoxiously horrible. I've seen character flaws that were believable and endearing (example: Ebenezer). I've seen people use character flaws to demand attention, or to rub in people's faces, or by people who might as well be screaming "look how DIFFERENT I am!". I've seen characters who are neither deeply flawed nor even slightly powerful and are still more than worth reading and playing with. I've seen characters without overt flaws or strengths who bore me to tears.

It's all in the delivery.


 
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Lunasol
 Sunday, July 08 2012 @ 11:11 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Ada

What makes a good character is a good writer. Realistic is good. Funny is good. Believable is a must. Inventive is good. Interesting is good. Spelling and grammar are pretty necessary. Friendliness helps.



I will say this. I can't fully be behind this. I dislike someone who has terrible grammar and spelling and doesn't care to improve. That said, my husband and brother in law both have terrible spelling. When my brother was an infant, he was deprived of oxygen and as such has trouble with sever dyslexia. But enjoys these kindsa games.

Once again, though, it's just goes to show. It's all about the person behind it. About whether or not a writer is willing to be better and finding ways to constantly change, constantly better themselves.


 
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Count Sessine
 Monday, July 09 2012 @ 01:48 AM UTC  
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Let's keep the tone of this thread positive, okay? No grumbles! The OP was asking about characters we admire and enjoy reading, and ideas for how people who are wanting to make their characters more interesting can do so.

Yes, a good writer can make any character concept work. But some are easier to pull off than others! For those of us who are not yet virtuosi, what are some tips?

Here's one thought: When it comes to flaws, bigger is not (usually) better. Minor quirks and habits of speech are much easier to incorporate in a chat line, and can make a character memorable. (Test: Who says "Engh!" Is there anyone here who doesn't know?)

Another trick I've noticed good writers using is including bits of omniscient narrative along with their actions and speech. This can completely contradict what the character is saying! For example:

[character] glares suspiciously at [other character]. "I know all about baking cakes!" No, he doesn't -- he's never baked a cake in his life. Eaten them, sure... he has a vague idea there's flour involved.


 
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Ada
 Monday, July 09 2012 @ 03:14 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Lunasol

Quote by: Ada

What makes a good character is a good writer. Realistic is good. Funny is good. Believable is a must. Inventive is good. Interesting is good. Spelling and grammar are pretty necessary. Friendliness helps.



I will say this. I can't fully be behind this. I dislike someone who has terrible grammar and spelling and doesn't care to improve. That said, my husband and brother in law both have terrible spelling. When my brother was an infant, he was deprived of oxygen and as such has trouble with sever dyslexia. But enjoys these kindsa games.

Once again, though, it's just goes to show. It's all about the person behind it. About whether or not a writer is willing to be better and finding ways to constantly change, constantly better themselves.



Don't worry - I don't mean to suggest that being able to spell correctly is the Be All And End All of being a good writer. Perhaps it would have been better written as "Attention to spelling and grammar". Nothing wrong with having dyslexia or having trouble typing on a touchscreen or having jittery fingers or whatever. (In fact, when people say things like "oh sorry for my spelling, I am dyslexic", I often find myself in disbelief because I don't think the mistakes are that bad! Good use of spellcheck, I suppose.) There's a big difference (usually noticeable) between people who know they aren't good at something and try hard anyway and the more "lol hu cares" end of the spectrum.

So, yes, as we agree: about the writer. Rather than give specific tips, I'd just tell your friend to read. On-Island and off-Island. What characters on the Island are their favourite? Why? What do some or all of those characters/writers have in common that make them interesting?


 
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Buddleia
 Monday, July 09 2012 @ 03:47 AM UTC  
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I apologise if these are too obvious, but I'd just like to recommend the Roleplaying Guides (newbwiki, basic, advanced) on the Wiki, and the recent thread How to give personality to your character. A great many excellent points in all of these, and considering how long it takes me to find stuff on the Enquirer, it seems entirely possible that you/they might not have seen them.


Improbable Reference Links - goo.gl/MRBnb -------------- Land Registry (map of Places) ---- goo.gl/bpkRR
 
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Skidge
 Monday, July 09 2012 @ 04:26 AM UTC  
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Nonsense, Skidge wasn't superpowered. She was just the universe being horrifically clumsy. And I think the reason it worked and didn't piss people off (overmuch) was because half the time, her powers backlashed and ended up kicking her ass halfway to Brooklyn (and I don't know where the Island is in geographical relation to Brooklyn, but trust me, sunshine, it ain't close). What's the lesson to take from Skidge? People don't complain about godmodding if you're willing to do a few pratfalls from time to time.

And it helps to be friendly and include people and occasionally be funny. If you're the type to make arch comments in Banter about other people's writing? You don't get to godmod without being mocked for it. Because those people you were making fun of? Yeah, they were reading.

What makes a good writer on the Island? Honestly? You guys have such a spectrum going. I've seen good descriptive writers, good continuity writers, good plotters, good romancers, good worldbuilders, hell, I've seen good eyepatch-wearers and good dragons and good every-stereotype-EVER writers. There used to be a list of things that you Shouldn't Do On The Island Because It's Been Done To Death, People! and I think Skidge had at one point or another done ALL of them!

How important is grammar? Depends. How seriously do you want to be taken? The problem with a (blatant) grammar mistake is, it tends to take the reader out of the moment. It breaks the wall. Now, if you don't care so much about what the reader thinks, if you're in it for the socializing and the bopping-around-making-things-explode, then shit, who am I to tell you to fix your grammar? Can I understand that you just made that thing blow up? Did it look awesome? Did you walk away with sunglasses and a long trenchcoat? Then you win, buddy. You. Win. I don't CARE that you just dropped a participle or two. Hell, you can make a great big pile of participles and blow them up, so long as you manage to effectively communicate that you just did so with a side of awesomesauce.

A'course, if you wanted to say that you made a thing blow up and you say, "FING BWOW UP HUR HURRRRR" and that is your actual description, I will...

No, screw it, that'd be cool too. In fact, can someone please go and create a character whose entire purpose in life is to make things blow up and then point and say, "FING BWOW UP HUR HURRRRRR"?

Tell you what, I'll sweeten the deal. You can give him/her an eyepatch. C'mon, what d'you say?






 
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Lunasol
 Monday, July 09 2012 @ 04:50 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Buddleia

I apologise if these are too obvious, but I'd just like to recommend the Roleplaying Guides (newbwiki, basic, advanced) on the Wiki, and the recent thread How to give personality to your character. A great many excellent points in all of these, and considering how long it takes me to find stuff on the Enquirer, it seems entirely possible that you/they might not have seen them.



That last one there? I absolutely didn't see it until after I posted this, which is more a comment on how absolutely blind I am than anything. Hahah, I feel stupid. Oops!


 
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Full Metal Lion
 Tuesday, July 10 2012 @ 04:28 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Count+Sessine

Test: Who says "Engh!"? Is there anyone here who doesn't know?

There was a whole banner ad based on that. It's some sort of Improbable osmosis.

Another trick I've noticed good writers using is including bits of omniscient narrative along with their actions and speech

Or bits of non-omniscient internal thoughts. Example:

Full Metal Loin scoffs at Mr Such-And-So. "Of course I know how to pilot a submarine!" He turns to the panel of controls. Hmm... what about the big red-- nope. That's the self-destruct button. Shouldn't have pressed that.

Quote by: Skidge

Nonsense, Skidge wasn't superpowered. She was just the universe being horrifically clumsy. And I think the reason it worked and didn't piss people off (overmuch) was because half the time, her powers backlashed and ended up kicking her ass halfway to Brooklyn (and I don't know where the Island is in geographical relation to Brooklyn, but trust me, sunshine, it ain't close).
Spoiler alert! The Island was formerly known as "Long Island". So... not far.


 
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Genevieve
 Tuesday, July 10 2012 @ 07:32 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Full+Metal+Lion

Spoiler alert! The Island was formerly known as "Long Island". So... not far.



Oh god, I knew the landscape was familiar.

I've poked through this article, and the one Maniak posted about life-bringing, and I've spent time being an absolute shit writer who's never written RP before ever and said "ohmigosh this looks like fun" then joined.

First and foremost, you write better when you're enjoying what you're writing. I feel that's a bit of advice often gone missing.

If you are getting stressed out, or upset, or are unhappy with what's going on, if you feel you're not being understood, or if you're generally taking things too seriously (rule numbah two!) then it is time for change. And if you can't change others that just leaves you.

Having fun should be the purpose of a game, and sometimes serious scenes are fun, and so on, but fun should be the goal. Fun is delivered as pizza rolls or caviar, it doesn't matter, so long as no one is standing outside in the rain, looking in at your oddly catered party and sighing deeply. (Unless they put themselves outside in the rain, that'd be sad, but that would be their choice. Perhaps they neeed a smoke?)

I made the executive descision to only have fun a long time ago, and so I do! I feel my writing is more genuine because I am in a wonderful mood whenever I am going at it, and my goal is a simple one of "Giggle till your boyfriend takes out his headphones and asks me what is so funny"

I just have to say something like "Erh, nothing" because "I just shat on someone" is not going to cut it to a non-islander, I think.

Oh, speaking of shitting on people, godmodding blows because there is a lack of consent, even if you think you're doing something nice "HERE IS MAJIKK ITEM THAT SOLVES YOUR ISSUE Big Grin Big Grin" no, I am struggling to do this on purpose, but thank you, I will decline. But if you ask (GTalk, Banter, Distractions are all amazing tools to accomplish this) and there is consent you can get away with anything because all participating parties are happy.

Even when a badger is taking a dump on them.


 
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Matthew
 Wednesday, July 11 2012 @ 12:54 AM UTC  
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Don't be this guy.


 
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Lunasol
 Wednesday, July 11 2012 @ 02:52 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Matthew

Don't be this guy.



Matthew. I don't know who you are, but you're awesome. That picture is exactly why people dislike that kinda magical SUPAH POWAHS. At some point, everyone has to struggle. When they don't, they stagnate. And... I hope someone hands all Rookies that picture. XD


 
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Skidge
 Wednesday, July 11 2012 @ 03:59 AM UTC  
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Ohhhh, THAT kind of godmodding.

Okay, I didn't do that. What's the fun in it, really?


 
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Trowa
 Wednesday, July 11 2012 @ 02:16 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Lunasol

Quote by: Matthew

Don't be this guy.



Matthew. I don't know who you are, but you're awesome.



He's the hero Improbable Island deserves, but not the hero we need right now.


Man, I can't believe I forgot about Elf Only Inn! That was my bread and butter! I'm two parts relieved it hasn't updated in four years since I last looked at it, and three parts sad. Ah! The nostalgia is starting to choke up my arteries! **rambles on some old fart rant about 'back in MY day in the text-only chat rooms...' etc., etc.**


Something something unintelligible gibberish something.
 
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Full Metal Lion
 Wednesday, July 11 2012 @ 04:16 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Trowa

Quote by: Lunasol

Quote by: Matthew

Don't be this guy.


Matthew. I don't know who you are, but you're awesome.


He's the hero Improbable Island deserves, but not the hero we need right now.


Oh, sweet! Can I be Michael Caine? I'm great at telling long, rambling stories which re-enforce an easily-stated moral! (Please note that this means I'm great at finding opportunities to tell them. They may not, themselves, be great.)


 
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tehdave
 Wednesday, July 11 2012 @ 05:44 PM UTC  
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Oh, speaking of shitting on people, godmodding blows because there is a lack of consent, even if you think you're doing something nice "HERE IS MAJIKK ITEM THAT SOLVES YOUR ISSUE Big Grin Big Grin" no, I am struggling to do this on purpose, but thank you, I will decline. But if you ask (GTalk, Banter, Distractions are all amazing tools to accomplish this) and there is consent you can get away with anything because all participating parties are happy.

Even when a badger is taking a dump on them.



This is why Dave is almost always entirely not-quite helpful. More of a trickster than anything. Yes, he has pockets (and a hat) full of stuff that could probably fix whatever it is you need fixing, or he could flip open a robot's hatch and reprogram it (Remember those things he can do because he knows how? and has abilities? Yeah, never does 'em. Too predictable) but dammit that wouldn't be FUN!

I've run across people who godmode and such, and yes, it can take the fun out of things. I have had Dave call people out on that, in-character (not in a mean way, of course, or at least I try not to) and I invite you to do the same if I ever do that. I try not to, but it happens. I have, admittedly, godmoded and such in the past, but less in the way of "offering story-breaking help" and more in the way of "Offering and compounding confusion". It's how Dave rolls. It's one of the reasons his grin refuses to be bound by silly things like "Physics" and "The natural boundaries of one's face" and such. I tend to speed-post the more confusing stuff or the stuff that's more Building To A Punchline, but again, I try not to do that as often because it's robbing people of their involvement. I have been called out on that before. It's just hard to RP a Bugs Bunny-esque cartoon in a way that doesn't come across as godmoding.

also, I get into arguments with my character from time to time, also. Because FUN!
(Semi-Required reading to understand how Dave works:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RuleOfFunny
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RuleOfCool
Discworld
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Many others)

Have I gotten off-topic? Maybe a bit self-congratulatory? (There's another term I could use there that might be more fitting, but I'll let Woody Allen keep the masturbation jokes)

Sorry.

Anyway, I think what "makes a fine character" is individuality. And that doesn't necessarily mean going all-out into the weird zone. Sometimes that means they're decidedly normal. (Engh!) And also I don't agree that Joker mean "Powers" as much as others apparently do. In my view, Joker is a state of mind, not a collection of powers. Some people play it other ways, and I respect those that do it well. I think part of doing it well is having experience doing it. No one should show up day 1 and be GOD. Unfortunately we can't see how long someone's been on II, just how long they've been married, or (if they're in your current clan) when they joined your clan, but we can see DK counts. I've been a victim myself of reading peoples' bios and saying "What do you mean all this with 2 DKs?" when they mention all their powers because of backstory and such. While backstory is important, it's more important to be able to point to incidents on-island as saying "Yeah, that's why my character does this."

Flaws, also, can make or break a character. Some flaws are, as Sessine helpfully pointed out, easier to convey in normal interactions than others. (Example: Dave has an almost supernatural inability to take anything around him seriously. It's part of his nature, as a Joker. It's why he is the way he is. It's something that I don't want to put in his bio (because show, don't tell) but hopefully it comes across in his actions? I admit to being a terrible and very amateur writer so it might not. Proof of amateurity: I just broke a paragraph with a nested parenthetical aside. Also, I made up the word "amateurity") Flaws make a character interesting. It's usually boring reading about perfect people, except when the story is really about how not-perfect they are. Without flaws, a character can't grow, and the character's growth is normally the point of a story. Alas, the format we're in means that the random person you're reading, you have no idea where along their personal character growth calendar they are. So...

Okay, maybe a bit of advice?
Assume everyone you meet on the IIsland knows where they're taking their character as far as their character's personal growth. Don't look down on anyone for how they portray their character. Rather, be an interesting, flawed, dare I say Human character (Yes, even if you're a Joker or a Kittymorph or a Robot, it's about Humanity. Damnit I still need to talk to Rohit don't I?) and be an inspiration to others to have their characters be so also? Did that come out right?
Also: READ A LOT! Not just II stuff or Fanfiction, but whatever you can. See how other authors make things work, and see if you can too. Or something. Or learn from their mistakes.


Like I said, Amateurish terrible writer here. And part time crazy person. Soooooo...grain of salt?

Ps: If anyone likes reading Dave, you should find some logs of Bernard and Skidge and Zolotisty and NotAgain...the four of them are probably the four biggest influences on Dave's direction as a character/madman.


Isn't sanity just a one-trick pony anyway? All you get is one trick: rational thinking. But when you're good and crazy, oooh, oooh, the sky's the limit.
 
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Count Sessine
 Wednesday, July 11 2012 @ 06:43 PM UTC  
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Dave is a wonderful character. Memorable, always fun. Definitely an example of (one way of) doing things right!

Very good point, that you can't always tell how long a character has been on the Island unless you have been following their story. DKs are a poor proxy for that -- there are quite a lot of RP-only characters who have been living with Improbability for months and years but have yet to make their first DK. Multiple paths through the game... accumulating experience points and leveling up doesn't happen to be fun for them, but making stories with other characters is. There are plenty of players who like both, but it's perfectly fine to like only one or the other.

And this:

Assume everyone you meet on the IIsland knows where they're taking their character as far as their character's personal growth.

... is excellent advice.


 
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