Show and Tell – How to Add Flavor to Your Character’s Description

elf bard mmorpg

When you create your character’s description in a text-based game like Achaea, how do you do it? Do you use vague terms that leave a lot to the imagination or do you spell it out so that absolutely no mystery remains?

 

The Basics of Character Creation

Creating your description is like drawing people into the prologue of the story that is you. Your description will begin with something like He is a winged atavian or She is a tiger-like rajamala, so there is no need to mention your race. But beyond that, you are giving whoever looks at you a brief narrative that explains who you are, but does not spell out your entire life story. That’s what your background is for, anyway!

 

You will definitely want to reveal your hair and eye color, as well as the shape of your eyes, ears, and lips and your hairstyle. You might also mention special facial features like freckles, birthmarks, or scars from battle. Another thing that is acceptable to mention is your height and overall build. Perhaps you are tall and slender, or short and round, or somewhere in between!

 

Advice from the Files

In the useful scroll called HELP DESCRIPTION, the admins give some really good advice. Here are some of the finer points on which I have added some extra details and examples based on my own experiences in Achaea.

 

  • CLOTHING – Don’t show it. Whatever you are wearing will be revealed when others LOOK at you. The same goes for things you are wielding in your hands. Also, don’t describe anything that would be seen beneath your clothing. If you’re dressed from head to toe in the latest finery that Achaean tailors have to offer, nobody is going to see that dragon tattoo on your back unless you ditch the clothing in favor of going topless all the time.
     
  • FEELINGS – Not everyone is going to look at you and feel or do the same thing, so please don’t use phrases such as: You look at him and smile because you feel safe knowing his muscular form will protect you till the end. While that’s a noble sentiment, it’s best to let people find that out through your actions than forcing them to react that way just by looking at you.
     
  • TASTE – Use good taste. This means leave private parts private. Nobody wants to see that. If you doubt me, use the COVEREYES emote sometime. Bosoms, bottoms, and other wobbly bits should be left out of your description. Not only is it in poor taste, but Achaea is open to those 13 and older. Even though 13 year olds meet the age requirement, knowingly involving minors in sexual situations is not allowed in Achaea.

 

Leaving Something to the Imagination

You want to leave something to the imagination, however. Something like a jagged scar zigzags across his face from forehead to cheek nearly missing his right eye will cause people to ask you how you got the scar. That encourages interaction and roleplay, which is the whole point of being in Achaea.

 

But if your description says something like he wears the scar of a dragon’s talon across his face like a badge, while that’s equally descriptive would people really know that a dragon’s talon caused the damage to your skin? Not to mention if you spell out your life story through your description, then you are robbing yourself the chance to create a full background that others can read, and denying them the chance to ask you for the information.

 

If you aren’t sure if your description is okay, then it’s best to ask someone else, preferably someone who is considered a leader in your house or city. If you use CHELP or HHELP then you might even find that they have a scroll that details more information on the topic! As long as your description is not vulgar and free from anything that would be rated PG-13 or higher, then it is probably fine and something people will enjoy looking at you!

 

About the Author: 

Seth Grayson first discovered MUD games when his older brother needed extra guild members to help win a battle against a group of pesky goblins. Since then he has accompanied the guild on many other adventures, even graduating to lead a few of them. When he’s not working as a barista or studying for college exams, you can find him in his dorm room playing all of his favorite Iron Realms games!

Comments

All excellent advice.

Uh huh

can't blame ya

A short manual. Still, a lot more needs to be said. Even so, this is a superb introductory.

And also acknowledged.

Seconded!

Thirded!

Also, fourth'ded?

Fifthed, in that case! :3

sixthed!

Seventhed. Also, this needs to be on forums too.

nod

nod

Nighy would not approve of such behavior.

weh.

Hew?

really?

Acknowledgement accepted.

agreed

subtle hints of who he is while adding deep meaning

agreed

Good taste, please! We don't need three lines of bountiful bosom.

What you need and what you get are compeltely different!

That's for sure

When I ran into some newly-made character the other day. Every aspect of those erm.. "private bits" mentioned earlier were not only openly on display, there was nothing about hair, eyes, face, nothing, just the description of anything you shouldn't be able to see beneath clothes. Yet somehow, still, the description was longer than most I've ever seen.

yea

I've seen one or two of those. You are suppose to understand how "sexy" they are, but you can't even tell what race they are....

Maybe they want it to be that way.

who's pat?

classic

I hate descriptions that directly tell you - at all is bad, but sometimes it's like eight times - how attractive the character in question is. "She is very beautiful" or even worse, "she is the most gorgeous woman you've ever seen." Just show me. Let my character make his own judgements. Beauty is subjective and that kind of cry for attention is offputting.

She was a walking pair of tits? Please tell me it was bosoms and not other unmentionables.

Reminds me of a video by T-swain on newgrounds. Where a #2 hired was literally just a giant pair of tits

here kitty kitty kitty...

 

It was a little bit of... erm... everything. Apparently the character was fond of wandering around naked, from the way things were completely on display.

Make them good enough and who really looks at the face?

like a viable strategy to me!

Works the same with red heads - see ginger, skip the rest.  they have a defining characteristic - ah the ginger wizard.

well maybe not completely.

For some characters it seems like boobs and butt are two thirds of the description.

Good taste would be nice, but it's probably never going to be common.

 

Oh I don't know... as long as it's not the only three lines... :D

That is bountiful indeed

If you have one please remember to revert when you step out of your subdivision house

aaaaagh oh god my eyes my eyes. Yeah please do set it to something not nude.

People do that?

I had exactly the same reaction.

I can understand that this may cater to some forms of role play to have a nude description, it's even possible to be Good Role-play, however walking out of your house in the nude is not, unless you are role playing a fool.

Vaeris has a bunch of scars on his back, but I just emote that stuff where relevant.

haha

I've seen some bad descriptions before, especially the ones that seem to describe features someone could never have known by just looking at them.

I look at descs like that and I'm like, seriously - you really expect me to read all of that? Though I frequently still do, for the sake of RP. Still - lotsa people probably don't!

If a description is too long, I just don't read it. Unfortunately, a lot of the descriptions I've seen are too long! Unless they let you write multi-paragraph descriptions, your description is a single paragraph... and yet, half of the ones I've seen ignore this completely, and try to fit in what would be worth 2-3 (if not more! @_@ ) paragraphs of text into their one-paragraph description. T_T

An overload of insignificant details. Wouldn't you rather write the main points of your character's appearance and feel more certain that people would actually read it?

there was this guy in Lusternia, had the longest description you could possibly have. I had to type "more" twice, I think...

I hate the old, "Flowing silky hair, down to her back moving slightly with her feline grace." ... *vomit*

cuz they want their characters to have flowing hair. That's alright by me.

good for you

Nor I.

I don't judge people either... but I will judge the things they write! >:3

Yeah. I know they're pretty words, but it always feels a little contrived when sentences are full of them. I know people want to be pretty, but simple is even sweeter!

I like a basic description. I form a picture of an adventurer according to his/her name and behaviour. If I look at an adventurer and see that he/she is completely different from what I have imagined I simply don't look anymore...

That's fair, I guess. But the description's are there for a reason. It's their character, after all. Still, long descriptiongs can be offputting.

I hope this is new and means new articles... But yes... this is very true. There are appropriate ways to "show" us how you look.

 

I think my favourite "bad" description was on a newbie:

 

"He is a human. and is awesome. He is completely naked."

 

Yes, I know there are worse descriptions, but this one made me grin just because he was so new.

I've seen one along the lines of "He is a rajamala and looks fabulous" and he wasn't even close to a newbie. He was way older than my character.

Lol

Hilarious description

Lol

Hilarious description

Naked is awesome, you have to agree!

Worse is pretty much any description which has you reacting....

 

....it is often wrong when even the GMs do it.

Also, make him insane.

Nice read. I am login now to test the emote and now have the idea of changing, upgrading my description in the near future.

This is a really nice introductory guide. Personally, I prefer shorter descriptions. If I type LOOK <character> and their description fills my whole screen, I just won't bother reading it.

A short description gives me an idea of who you are. A giant paragraph gives me the wrong idea of who you are.

Keep it short and sweet. And yes, I don't need to see wobbly bits.

More people will read it that way, too. Just describe the important features that define your character. :)

If you just stick to key points like height and build, skin, eye and hair colour, and any other distinguishing features, keeping it short and sweet, your description is much more likely to be read, at least by me.

Me too.

Woo, a new one!

That was a well written article and one I think some people should read.

I agree, nice advice in here.

Nah its a great one

It's a good one.

Good article

agreed

nice article

very good advice

I shuld really update my description

me too :(

and another new article already, wow

And it has a lot of good advice, but a lot more could be written on the subject. That said, I don't think any help file or article could really fit in all the information necessary, so kudos on what you have here!

Starting a new character and creating a description for him, this is quite helpful. thanks!

There are a few small things in my description that need fixing.

Heh

Cannot be as bad as some I've seen...

I'm unhappy with mine. Rewrote it once. Too lazy to sit down and do it again.

I think a desc says a lot about a char

I dunno about that. But in general, I really like your guide. Personally, I prefer shorter, more concise descriptions, because for me, anyway, there are only a handful of features that define my character, and I'm not really vividly imagining the precise shape of the guy's ears. And that way I figure more people will read it, too. Speaking of which, I should probably revisit my own character desc and try and refine it....

Yeah, that's one of the things I thing I always say I'll come back to then forget to.

I'm with you on preferring concise descriptions. No need for an overabundance of insignificant information.

if you think you should, you probably need to.

boilerplate stuff.

definitely excellent advice, most people never think about describing anything outside of their facial features, but most people skimp on non-tattoo-related tattoos as well, not to mention other things of that nature, scents that aren't granted by a perfume maybe, entice more than just the sense of sight, it's always fun to include something that would bring a character more to life, most people don't just notice how you look when you walk up, some people also account for your scent as well, even when your clean and you don't smell foul, you still smell like something!

I follow my own advice along with others, you could say, hehehe

I mean, I could probably write out a description for a character right now using my advice, and the advice above, and create a reasonable-looking character for the species.

credit post

.....

still very good tips

nudging my comment again for a credit

Thanks for the tips!

Sarapis, in the latest event, didn't set the best example. Clothes in the main desc, and then, "He is completely naked." :P

When the creator of the game can't get it right, it sets a terrible example.

Builders often put in poor design into IRE games (and most games to be honest).

 

Weeky Pedia anyone?

I think it's great that Lusty has a sense of humor about itself. There's plenty of stuff that refers to obliquely to OOC in pretty much all the games, when I think about it... I take my character's RP seriously in a way, no doubt, but it's still just a game and we should be able to chill and make fun of it.

Meh

He's always had that description. It's traditional at this point.

True

Lol

Honestly... That's great. You'd think a godwpuld just get rid of the no clothes line, though.

Do Not Be Beautiful

I definitely like short and to the point descriptions. :) I've always wanted to add onto my character's descriptions, but I can't. I can't really think of any important enough details to add without just making a bunch false or irrelevant details up. 

I remember someone posted a description where you look at them and they go "Hello Mister!" and go running down a grassy field. Yeah, don't do that.

Heh

Heh

That's genius!

I hate descriptions that go into detail about certain body parts. It's just tacky.

I need to get around to writing a better desc.

D:

D:

this is only my second post on this article, I'm so thrilled

good article

I've never been quite happy with my desc, really

nice article

I guess

hmm...

ok.jpg

Very good article

tend to have the worst descs. Key point: if anything in a desc is 'dripping', I don't care if it's your nose or your nethers... just say NO!! They make games just for your type... get out of my Achaea!

awesome

He is a frog-like Grook and is  ten percent luck, twenty percent skill Fifteen percent concentrated power of will Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain And a hundred percent reason to remember the name. He is wearing flowing purple robes and a canvas back pack.

description ever.

That's great

He tried so hard, but in the end it didn't even matter...

So awesome

mango :)

some people and their children.

credit

yay! another new one! and it's not a dud, either!

Lotsa useful articles lately!

Good article.

Add some salt

I applaud this.

Me too.

I'm likely one to have walked out nude, unintentionally of course, and have had long descriptions, but thats simply me, its one or two lines for different features (one line for bosom) But I figure the more I describe gives the full image rather than people morphing what they actually look like. Ah well, I've been trying out shorter ones, perhaps when I feel up to it I'll do a thorough updating of my character descriptions. Until then, I'll keep playing whether its ignored or not.

 

I like you and you are a good person, walking out in the nude however, you should probably not do so much, especially in Sar-Sargoth. :)

My description is short, and I need to add some flavor to it! 

Has anyone ever noticed anachronisms in descriptions? I recall a few people saying 'jumping the gun' in their description, which granted is weird anyway. I've also seen people describe themselves as 'African' is that fair? I personally think it's cheating.

but I'm not gonna nitpick. I even try to use imagery specific to the game world when I can think of it!

I am glad someone finally wrote this article I got tired of looking at someone and being told all about them without having to speak to them 

But I accept it's gonna happen anyway.

k

k

+1

+1

buy there will always be critics

Flames

Nicely done!

Interesting article for a new text based gamer.

I think I'm running out of things to comment on!

I agree

me too

Many good points.

credit

..I still need to do all of this..

Bah. I'd never finished my desc, really. I still need to add my eye color, scent, and a defining feature of some sort. Tattoo mebbe. But I'll probably wait for something IC to give it the proper significance. 

Thinking, I've not decided on any of them. Light eyes, probs. Scent? Well. He'll probably just end up smelling like cheetos. I dunno. 

It'll be a welcome break from all the ostrich patties Vaeris has been eating.

Lusternia has perfumes and skunk stink so you can add the smell later.

+1

+1

+1

+1

one word - imagination.

good article to read

I laugh at some descriptions...

Thanks.

Thanks.

Credit comment.

The Siren descriptions are the best.

err, no.

hate the ones that put measurements in... I mean, saying you're about 6 feet tall is okay, but a 36-24-36 etc. is a bit more than the average glance would tell you.

Yeah. Credit.

Also don't impose actions on people.  I hate it when people say something like "You look more closely at her eyes and notice how impossibly, unspeakably GORGEOUS they are."  Like.. Really..  I didn't squint at you.

Yeah, descriptions can either be extraordinary, or just plain out stripperlike.

haha, and all is lacking is a pole!

yeah, i think every character is a bodybuilder