|Character Creation Guide|
Okay, so, you've read through the Member's Handbook, the Rules, and the Siteplot. You've looked at the Jobs & Abilities Master List so that you know what's reserved and what isn't. Now it's time to craft a character! This guide is designed to walk you through a series of questions to help you focus your concept, and will give you some pointers about some of the pitfalls that Staff look out for that could result in revisions to your application!
SO, first thing - the most basic of questions - What do you want out of this? Do you want to be part of a regular community - crafting tales set in the Harry Potter universe as your main source of entertainment? Or do you want to be able to turn up and go and enjoy it along with a thousand other commitments? That will be the first indicator as to the kind of character you want to create. Don't worry - you will not be discriminated against in terms of plots - this is all about what kind of character you should look towards playing. If you will only turn up occasionally - then why not look to play maybe a shy Hufflepuff who turns up occasionally but maybe spends a lot of time going home to look after his sick Muggle mother? Or has allergies and spends a lot of time with the nurse? Or maybe NOT a student - one of the score of visiting Wizards who turn up in the area? Already just by answering that question, you can begin to get a grip on your character. But of course there are countless other questions.
Note: The staff consider some roles on the site, particularly teachers, prefects, and players on the quidditch team as positions that need to be filled by active and committed players. As a result, you'll find that some concepts can only be achieved once you've been a member of the site for a certain amount of time. This is so that we have a feel for your level of commitment and can ensure we're still providing a fun environment with a lot of activity for the rest of our community.
Do you want to play a student? A professor? A fully grown Wizard? And what kind of Wizard? Which nationality is also important! The characters in Rowling's books are terribly British - indeed much of her satire is subtle and sly looks at British culture ... maybe your character is American? Maybe they attended the Witches Institute in Salem?|
Maybe you are a reporter for The Quibbler? Seeking some juicy gossip to write up (if you are willing to actually write up the story in a sensationalist tabloid style all the better)? Or maybe a reporter for the Daily Prophet - maintain the line established by this most serious of newspapers? Maybe a professional Wizards duellist (trying to avoid the 62 year ban on duelling in Britain)? Maybe you are a professional Acromantula hunter (the giant spiders in the Forbidden Forest)? Maybe you are a scout from one of the professional Quidditch teams? Maybe you are an Auror in Training (the Ministry of Magic's secretive force dedicated to the hunting down of Dark Arts Wizards)? Or a Hit Wizard of the Magical Law Enforcement Department? Or maybe a criminal? A Wizard trying to bypass the strict regulations set down by the DRCMC (Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures)? Maybe you are a Dark Wizard - looking to recruit students to learn forbidden skills? A spy sent from another school - or some Dark Master - or the Ministry.
And then we have the endless possibilities if you are playing a student. You have your house as the first choice of helping decide who your character is (actually if your character is an ex-Hogwarts student, house plays a role there too). The four houses have set 'types of person' - but you can also buck the trend (to an extent - a cowardly Gryffindor wouldn't be allowed - but a physically weak one whose strength is emotional would be). So look to your house and look to the vast array of things in there. Slytherin does not have to be nasty all the time (remember Malfoy was a git to his own house). They are self-serving, but that does not make them all bullies or cynics. The desire for power could manifest itself in many ways- to be the most popular kid in school for example, would make you create a sociable Slytherin? Hufflepuffs are often seen as the most 'boring' of the houses, but that misses the point - they are the ones who are 'loyal and just'. 'Just' - the believers in justice. A vigilante Hufflepuff who comes down on any Slytherin who makes a nasty comment suddenly creates whole new dynamic for the house. The loyalty is also prevalent - but WHO are they loyal to? Their house? Their friends? The school? SOMEONE ELSE?
You want to be a Gryffindor? What kind - as I said courage comes in many forms - including doing unpopular things (being a spy for the Ministry for example). Again great variety there. And the Ravenclaws - famed for their 'wit and learning' - wit suggests humour and perhaps more - mediaeval descriptions of wit suggests 'fighting words' - protagonists? Imagine a nasty, quick to pick a fight, insulting Ravenclaw? As you can see, the house system allows variation - look towards the words which describe them and use that as a hook towards developing your character.
|Age is another crucial factor here. Younger characters will not have as well-developed traits as adults. No, that doesn't mean you should insist on roleplaying stroppy mood swings; more that you maybe could create two sides to the character - two differing goals and intents - which show the conflicted dynamics of the teenager. It is sitecanon that older wizards are more talented than younger ones. This applies for students, too. A first year is getting to perform magic for the first time in their classes, due to wizarding laws and the trace. They might have a natural aptitude for a particular subject, or an interest in it, but they aren't going to be perfect right away! A seventh year is getting ready to go and apprentice into a professional role, and might have a general talent in a particular area, but most serious jobs in the wizarding world require further training (aurors, healers, etc) that they can expect to enter into to refine their skills further when they graduate. Someone with a special talent (say, an animagus) who has more years of experience in that will be better than someone who only recently learned the skill. But that's okay! Sometimes really interesting scenarios play out in roleplay because your character has made a mistake -- just look at Hermione, the smartest witch of her entire class, and her accident with polyjuice potion!|
|Obviously we want players to enjoy themselves - and if you have set your heart on playing a certain a character from a certain house, then sure, fine. But what we REALLY want is for you to actually be sorted. Answering questions which lead to you finding out a house chosen based on your personality - with the fear always being there that you may find yourself in a house you never 'imagined' you would be in. This also gives you your character's response to the sort.|
|Motivation and Goals|
Got an outline for your character? Great! Now let's get more detail. Most importantly - what do you want to do? What's your goal for your character? What's your motivation? What do you want to achieve? Give yourself a goal. Give yourself several (especially if you are playing a kid). Where do you want to go? What stories do you want to tell? This is important - both for me and for you. It helps you frame your character's role in the stories that are to come. Remember - the aim is not to 'win', but to tell a story. You motivations may change - indeed they should change. As the environment of Hogwarts changes, as the story goes on, so in time will the goals and motivations for your character.
As well as your goals for your character (what do THEY want to do), what do YOU want your character to do for the story? Give yourself goals for how you see your character helping the story along. For example you may decide you want ‘my character to be attacked by a bad guy and left in hospital’ - which is great - because it lets us know that you want your character to be part of a possible story (and you suggest a story to us - who attacks your character? Why? Did they just attack or try and kill you? Already we have endless plots forming). See what I mean?
You may put down here say 'organise a real professional Quidditch team'. Or 'get expelled for some reason and then hang around the Leaky Cauldron plotting and badmouthing the professor who expelled me' or 'set up a secret society dedicated to eradicating half-blood wizards which carries out attacks upon half-bloods' or whatever. You can leave this area blank or fill in as many as you like. We can't promise we will do it, but we will read it and get excited and maybe throw some plots your way.
Now we get to the interesting stuff. Creating a history for your character - where they came from and where are they going. You can create a full 'method acting' background here - pages of intense detail. I may not read it all, but you can create it!
You can also do the most basic type of write up ('My parents were muggles'). It's up to you. What I will say is that you want to give us stuff that we can use. Try and give us things we can expand and give back upon. But no, your character's parents do not have to be murdered or that kind of thing. Nor does your life need to be filled with angst.
|This is important. Why? Well one of the themes will be the idea of prejudice, based upon the pure-bloods' way of seeing things. You choice of 'breed' will make interesting roleplay ideas. Remember, not all pure-bloods give a damn about that sort of thing (the existence of half-bloods show this), and to be Muggle-born could mean you are prejudice towards pure-bloods!|
|Abilities and Talents|
|Covering a vast array of skills and talents. These are things you can say your character can do - you may be able to animate your avatar to show this; or maybe you can use it to describe actions your character makes. These could include playing the guitar (Muggle or Wizard versions), or being very good at conkers; of having an affinity towards Dragons (which may or may not be useful).|
|Your wand is important. Maybe you have purchased a wand. Maybe you haven't. Maybe you purchased a simple one but want to give it a bit more life? Maybe you are just describing one your character is supposed to have? Try and make yours individual. Give it a quirk. Maybe even a history.|
This is where you can add whatever you want which is not covered in the above sections. If you are unsure, may I humbly suggest you make your way over to the Harry Potter Lexicon, arguably one of the greatest sites for all things Harry - and take some time wandering about and getting stuck into the universe. Staff also uses Pottermore and the Harry Potter wiki as canon sources when we consider applications and plots for the site.
Ultimately however - all this attention to detail is not mandatory. You can write as little or as much as you want. You can change things as you go along. The reason for all of this is to help you enjoy the game. If spending ages creating a character doesn't appeal to you - then don't. Remember - this is a tool to help you and to help us run the roleplay.
Are you starting to get an idea for how your character would develop? Great! We'd like to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls we see that can delay applications and discourage other players.
1. Stranger-Danger with Dark Wizards. If this is your first character, and the staff of the site haven't gotten to talk to you enough to get a feel for you personally, any dark wizard's profile is going to receive more scrutiny. This is because our first and foremost obligation is to make sure our existing members can continue to have fun without having to worry about who's trying to be the next Voldemort. We also want to make sure that the people playing Dark Wizards are reasonable about consequences for their actions; they do not have a license to simply maim and destroy or they will be stopped very quickly by those players who are working in law enforcement.
2. Family's in the Fridge. Look, we get it, some characters have tragic pasts. But for every Harry Potter with blown up relatives, there's a Ron and Hermione, folks from normal family backgrounds who still managed to be heroes without having dead people strewn across their personal landscapes. The "refrigerator" trope is broadly said to originate in comic books where superheros frequently found their female counterparts killed (literally put into a refrigerator, in one instance). If you're going after angst for the sake of angst in your character history we may ask you to tone it down to something more sensible. If TNI is meant to represent a microcosm of the wizarding world, then, logically, not everyone's parents/sister/spouse/etc can be dead. Also! If you are pursuing a darker background for your character (which is perfectly fine, within reason), please be careful about how explicit you are in your profile. Our threads usually contain trigger warnings, but profiles are an area where anybody could stumble across content that makes them uncomfortable. We want to respect individual's comfort sheet ratings where possible.
3. Wunderkind. If you are eleven and you have a patronus, your application is going directly into pending. If you make a blanket statement that your character is the best Chaser in all of Britain, your app is going directly into pending. If you have a one of a kind skill that no one can replicate or a family background which grants you special powers that nobody else can have, your app is going into pending. Look, I get it. We all want our characters to really have their chance to shine. It's a very real and natural desire. The problem is when our desire to have our character in the spotlight eliminates someone else's opportunity to have an equal chance to shine. As a result, we watch young witches and wizards and monitor their activity at Hogwarts to keep them on the Pottermore spell schedule. If you have an idea about a special family or character plot, please run it by an admin first before you put it into your profile. Better to get permission for a thing you really want than to be attached to it and find out you won't be able to have it after the fact. This is also why we no longer allow characters to hold multiple special reserves (e.g. animagus + metamorphmagus + auror) broadly speaking. Subtlety is an amazing and underutilized tool among writers! Consider it!
4. Mary Sue / Gary Stu. A variation of the Wunderkind, we watch for applications that have conflicting strengths and weaknesses, e.g. "Mary had a terrible childhood and a cold father but wants to serve society and is secretly waiting to share her love with the world". We'd prefer your character's story have a certain consistency. If you have to use the sentence "My character is like this, BUT Also Sometimes Does This" you may be struggling in this area. If your character's weaknesses are not actual exploitable weaknesses; if you cannot stand to put them through any suffering that you did not architect personally -- if you can't let them off of a script where things go the way you wrote, then this is going to be an issue.
5. Being an Asshat. This may come as a surprise to you, but sometimes people on the internet are not nice. We want to be a warm place where we can encourage our amazing community of writers. Please try not to be hostile or threatening in your interactions with staff or other members if you're new. We know that every person reacts to a new environment differently, but chances are, if you offend someone and they complain about you it will cause the staff to view your application through that lens.