Text-Based RPGs: How to Write a Character Description

Having trouble finding the words for what your character looks like? Read on for some tips on how to write a character description!

By James K. Woods

The great thing about text-based RPGs is the ability to customize your character’s appearance to your liking, and not just in terms of picking out a bunch of blocky, ready-made body parts. Most online text games will have features allowing descriptions of your character to be entered online, which can be anything ranging from wacky hair to purple scales, or even horns if you’re feeling in the mood. But because your character description can be viewed by so many other players in the text games, it is natural to want it to be the best it can be. This article should hopefully make it just that.

Head to toes
A good way to begin is to start off by describing the uppermost part of the body and then gradually progress downwards towards the toes, taking into consideration all the body features you have as a person, such as hairstyle and hair color, as well as any other body features associated with your particular race in the online text game. This method is especially effective as this is the natural order in which other people will take notice of you.

Keep it simple
A good description is understandable, informative and to the point. Having pages and pages of intricate detailed descriptions is quite unnecessary as others in the text games would simply not have the time or energy to read through it all. Remember, it is the quality of the content which is important rather than the quantity. It also pays to avoid any scientific jargon or other words which require a dictionary for it to be understood. This will increase your description’s effectiveness considerably.

Be imaginative
Often overlooked, most character descriptions in text-based RPGs are usually the same. The men are depicted as muscular, handsome and heroic while all the women are somehow blessed with incredible beauty. If you want your character description to be effective and memorable, it is a good idea to strive to make it as unique as possible.

Need inspiration?
If you get stuck along the way, it can be useful to have a look at character descriptions written by players more experienced than yourself. Note their strengths and weaknesses and aim to adapt their strengths into your own work, while at the same time avoiding any mistakes they may have made. The emphasis here lies on ideas, however, rather than on plagiarism.

For a character description to be effective, one must remember not to stray from the task at hand; any material which is irrelevant to the appearance of your character should be avoided in a character description. A good way to increase the effectiveness of your character description is to incorporate color and adjectives into your work. Descriptive words such as “elegant” or “graceful” will lighten up your character description dramatically. In addition to the physical characteristics normally featured in a character description, it is also a good idea to include the personality of your character through the combined use of body language and adjectives. An example could be, “his eyes twinkled with mischief.”

A good character description should be written in present tense mainly because the description is viewed by others in real time, and because your character description is the result of someone looking at you, it should also be composed from a third person perspective -- think of it as if you were looking at yourself from someone else’s body. It is a good idea to avoid any reactions others may have to your description, as you never know how others will react in the text games; hence words like “you” should be avoided. It is also important to keep away from describing any tangible objects such as clothes or jewelry, as they may mislead other players or conflict with the items you already are wearing.

Spell Check
There is nothing worse than a piece of brilliantly written work riddled with spelling or grammatical errors. Any flair or appeal the work may have had is lost immediately. Therefore it is a good idea to check for these errors beforehand, and then pass it onto a friend for them to check, as they may pick up on errors which you may have missed. This way your character description will remain professional when viewed by others.

These points may seem a lot of work for a character description, but if incorporated into your work effectively they will ensure that your character description will become one of the best.

Try your hand at some of the best online text adventure games out there today!

James K. Woods is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from http://www.IronRealms.com.

Article Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=James_K_Woods


Good article! I'd agree especially with the last part in the "Describe" section, that it is probably best to avoid forcing a particular impression on the reader. In other words, instead of saying something like "she is incredibly beautiful", or "is hideously ugly", try sticking with the factual details. An ugly person isn't described as ugly, but as being covered in weeping sores from head to toe, with black, decayed teeth, and matted, dirty hair. You give the person enough detail to paint that mental picture, and leave it to them to make of it what they will. This article should be helpful to anyone who wants to ensure a quality character description.

I've read some fantastic descriptions and I've read some terrible ones,
and though mine often fall into the latter category (I'm trying, I
really am!), I have nonetheless come to acquire a few pet peeves in
regards to body language used in character descriptions.  Usually, it's
when this is used in a manner that is inappropriate to the setting or to
the person viewing the description that it gets to me.

Let's say, for example, that I LOOK at someone who is sprawled on the
ground, fast asleep, and her description reads "She stands, seductively
swaying her hips from side to side, her eyes twinkling enchantingly as
she winks at all who meet her gaze."   All I can think is "Um, no,
you're not even standing.  You're asleep.  Your eyes aren't even open! 
How can they possibly be twinkling enchantingly?  Furthermore, you're an anthropomorphic rabbit - only Elmer Fudd would find that seductive!"

When writing my descriptions, I tend to try and keep in mind the fact
that I won't always be in the best of moods, feel like twinkling
enchantingly at anyone, or even be awake when people view me. 
Describing eye color or a rampant slouch is one thing (these are tiny,
commonly described details already, and it isn't often that I find a
character description that DOESN'T mention eye color), but I'm not sure
I'd "laugh frequently, giving the impression of being a jovial
character" to some axe-wielding maniac who is trying to lop my head off
on the highway.

I've a potential solution to that, though it's not really the easiest way to get around it. My suggestion might be to alias yourself in-game a few descriptions, each tweaked to a different mood or setting, but general enough that you don't need a few thousand.  A general 'blank' description without posed info perhaps, then 'posed' ones (not POSED posed, though of course) ones which include personality points in it and you can just swap beteween them as need be by entering the alias. Time consuming and obsessive? Absoultely.  Effective? Arguably so, yes?


Height, frame and bearing, skin/scales/fur, body features, tail/mane/wings, hair, eyes, face. I just kind of go down the checklist when I'm writing a description and try to keep it simple, but also interesting to read, by varying the language and not making it read like a checklist ("His skin... His hair... His hooves... His mane... His tail... His eyes... His face...").

A description lets someone know what they're looking at. So that's what I try to write.

I've always been way better at female descriptions than males. And the races woth lots of eatures make it much easier to write a lot more.

I think there are some people out there who really need to read this. It drives me bonkers if I see a description that isn't head to toe.



found this to be helpful because I am not so good at this kind of thing

good article. I'd say more, but the reasons why have already been listed.

I think I should rewrite my description!


I like nice, neat, short descriptions. Keeping it simple can mean more than just avoiding every description under the sun. Not everything has to be described. I'm not very good with imagery and descriptions, so I just describe what I think makes sense and is important to my character rather than everything I can think of.

I think the major checklists have been mentioned. To sum it up


- Write what others will see and NOT how you think they would feel when they look at you.

- Do not include actions. They are seeing what you look like, not the twinkle of your teeth when you beam/sneer/flip them off.


Just remember it this way... your character has no idea who is looking at them or when and unless you spend literaly every second of every day swinging your tail lethargicaly or wiping that oh so sudden wisp of hair from your eyes, don't put it in. That's what emotes are for. It's like pulling a pose at anyone who you catch looking at you. Bad bad bad and not natural.

I saw one the other day that told my character he felt a 'sense of respect and awe' when he looked at the guy. Suffice to say, Mraavir did not. A sense of 'wanting to jab your spear in his eyeball' is far more accurate.

I need to wrk on mine


hight time i update mine, too.