How to Make a Unique Character

Recently I went and got an art book designed to help flesh out an original character and realized that a good deal of the system could be used to create character designs for RERN. Seeing as it will take a while to piece together and sum up and make relevant to our boards.

First off, I take no credit for the system or the ideas derived thereof. For those who wish to get more detailed information, the book of reference is Manga Matrix by Hiroyoshi Tsukamoto.

Part 1- What is the Matrix?

For all of you who are expecting something involving Keanu Reeves, leave... Just leave. For all others, the answer is simple. A matrix is simply a grid built of rows and columns. Each row and column has an attribute tied to it and the cross section of each row and column is called a cell, which incorporates the attributes of both its row and column.

Part 2- Base Composition of the Character

Ok... Time to relate this to RERN. Essentially the method is to start by selecting a base form(s) from the form table.

This is what will be the essence/structure of your character physically. Each of the forms are as follows:

Fixed Form: Typical human/navi figure
Non-Fixed Form: Human/navi Shape comprised of shapeless material, such as sand or ice.
Collective Form: Human/navi figure attained through a collage of similar materials such as vines and roots.
Mechanical Form: Created through machine parts
Cracked Form: Broken and weathered structurally, but still resembling form.
Increase/Decrease: Multiplies or reduces the number of body parts.
Length span: Stretched or shortened body parts.
Growth: Grows extraneous elements from body parts; i.e. Fur, horns, wings.
Combination: Swaps/combines a body part for a body part of another creature.

Most basic and current navis have Fixed or or Mechanical forms, though quite a few have Growth (Wings) and Combination. Fewer still have some of the others (Teethman = Collective Form).

Part 3- General Shaping of the Character

Ok... Now that we know the rough composition of the character it needs a shape. While there is nothing wrong with having a human looking navi, for the more adventurous of us I suggest consulting the following table.

How this is supposed to work is as follows; Each column (vertical) represents the main shape of the character. Each row (horizontal) represents what the character's body parts are combined with of other animal, vegetable, mineral, or other. So a Human being (column) / Fish (row) may look like the Creature From the Black Lagoon, while a Fish(Column)/Human Being(row) may look like a mermaid.

Also, since a good number of the categories are vague... Here's a little table that provides some more specific examples of what falls into each category.

So even if you choose Insect(column)/Insect (Row), it doesn't mean that it has to be the same type of insect... You could have a combination Dung Beetle shape with characteristics of a Scorpion.

Part 4- Specific Shaping of the Character

While simply stating that a character is a complete cross between two appearances is perfectly acceptable, by slightly tweaking a composition to a localized body part it opens even greater numbers of customization and flexibilty in your character.

Confused? Take a look at the following table.

The columns are the same shape listing whilst the rows have been replaced with a deconstructed set of parts (in this case animal body parts) of the secondary subject from the previous matrix. So in the case of the Fish/Human Being (Mermaid), the rows would be filled with the deconstructed body parts from the diagram in Part 2. Checks would be in the Upper Body or all of the parts outlined beyond it.

This brings up another point I've failed to bring up thus far. You are in no way limited to a single choice under any of these matricies or tables, however it makes things a lot simpler if you try not to vary outside one column or one row at first. Otherwise you could just be creating one large homunculus that has little, if any, method of connection between the parts it is comprised of. Of course, if what you are looking for is some absurd amalgamation of parts, then by all means feel free to experiment.

Part 5- Redefining the Norm

When you think of an angel, typically you think of a humanoid with wings sprouting from their back. Well, that may not be the only case. After all, it is more the fact having the wings than the fact of them sprouting from the being's back. For a different approach, how about the wings sprout from it's hip? Perhaps it would replace the ears. Attached to its heels?

You get the picture. Simply because a body part is located in a certain place on one being, when combined onto another it doesn't mean that it needs to absolutely be in the same place. For suggestions on placement of the new parts derived from the previous section, refer to decomposition diagram (See graphic in Part 2).

Part 6- Clothes make the... thing

As tempting as it is to simply leave your newly created character completely in the buff, it's unlikely that it would be all too well accepted in any place save a nudist colony or certain peoples dreams (and/or nightmares). Some form of covering not only enhances the feeling of the character containing some form of identity, but also helps to determine it's likes and what sort of choices the character would make.

The types of garments/coverings are as follows:

Body Wear: Clothing that covers more than one major body part. Ex: suit, dress, uniform, leotard, etc.

Covering/Footwear: Clothing that covers just one major body part. Ex: Mask, glove, shoe, glasses, tights, etc.

Ornament: Accessory with main design for appearance over function. Ex: ring, necklace, brooch, barette, scar/wound

Makeup: Art directly applied to the body. Ex: lipstick, tattoo, eyeshadow, body carvings, etc.

Wrap/Tie: Clothing/fabric with function that tends to hang off the body. Ex: bandage, cast, turban, bandana, artifical leg, etc.

Carry-on item: Any held object not previously listed. Ex: weapons, shields, instruments, toys, tools, personal belongings, etc.

Obviously this list barely touches the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully it's enough to inspire. Again multiple pieces of clothing is perfectly fine, but too much tends to become a walking fabric store.

Additionally, each item should have a defined material, color, and shape. Here are some ideas as to possible essences/theme for each item.

Heaven: sky, moon, star, sun, cloud, rainbow, rain, wind, thunder, etc.

Earth: dirt, sand, rock, stone, tree, leaf, petal, shell, feather, hide, fur, leather, cloth, etc.

Water/Fire: drip, snow, ice, flame, smoke, etc.

Inorganic matter: gold, silver copper, iron, nylon, plastic, concrete, fiber, etc.

Image: light, darkness, etc.

Part 7 - The Character Behind the Character

Let's face it, characters can't all be about the looks. There has to be some substance (or lack thereof) behind the figure or else a character flops. Here we break down a character's personality into six sections.

Behavior: The being's emotion, will, and character.

Examples: angry, cry baby, scared, gloomy, cheerful, optimistic, capricious, shy, arrogant, lonely, hasty, easy-going, timid, devilish, good-natured, ill-natured, serious, cold, delicate, nervous, selfish, arbitrary, impudent, egotistic, rough, ferocious, lecherous, honest, dishonest, cunning, brave, supple, pure, unrestrained, kind, strict, humanistic, hysterical, difficult, frivolous, narcissistic, sadistic, masochistic, romantic, flirtatious, etc.

Status/Profession/Position: The being's social position, work qualifications and learned profession.

Examples: Status - king, queen, prince, princess, knight, gentleman, lady, billionaire, patriarch, chairperson, army general, nobleman, slave, etc.
Profession - lumberjack, flutist, minstrel, actor/actress, street performer, magician, puppeteer, wizard/witch, fortune teller, dancer, singer, painter, inventor, teacher, student, scholar, doctor, nurse, lawyer, judge, driver, carpenter, bartender, waiter/waitress, shopkeeper, assassin, terrorist, soldier, ninja, samurai, police officer, hunter, detective, etc.
Position - justice advocate, evil mastermind, leader, follower, master, pupil, traveler, pet, president, employee, secretary, merchant, manager, caretaker, monster, etc.

Biological environment: The being's habitat, diet, and activities.

Examples: Habitat - mountain, forest, woods, hollow of a tree, nest, cave desert, soil, river, fountain, lake, canyon, ocean, icebreg, city, underground, spiritual world, heaven, hell, interior of:jar, lamp, gem, crystal ball, mirror, picture, inside doll, dish, precision machinery; fire, water, wind, soil, dream, mind, house, etc.
Activity - Nocturnal, diurnal, sleepless, wakes up once in a number of years, etc.
Food - herbivorous, carnivorous, omnivorous, cannibalistic, eats: anything, love, dreams, hopes, etc.

Special attributes: The being's personal special abilities

Examples: flying, diving, speed running, jumping, high-speed movement, Herculean power, virulence, mimicry, petricifation, reflection, absorbtion, transformation, possession, deformation, alter ego, fission, fusion, duplication, recovery, immortality, regeneration, resurrection, hot air, cold air, fire breathing or blowing, wind/fire/water/soil/human/monster manipulation, ability to talk with animals, vision in the dark, heightened senses, transparency, elasticity, intelligence, singing, dancing, performance, music playing, cooking, hallucination, curse, spell casting, beam, barrier, telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance, teleportation, second sight, etc.

Weakness: A being's weakness; a creature without a weakness is not interesting

Examples: morning, light, darkness, rain, thunder, smoke, wind, fire, water, sand, ice, dust, hot air, cold air, animal name, food name, man, woman, child, temptation, tears, money, cross, holy water, prayer, noise, etc.

Desire: A being's wants to obtain something; this may lead to conflict in a character.

Examples: love, courage, dream, joy, hope, freedom, pleasure, heart, trust, life value, meaning of life, youth, eternal life, power, wings, friend, lover, family, teammate, beauty, wisdom, intelligence, flesh and blood, food, drink, home, clothes, energy, money, status and honor, hometown, reminiscence, memory, etc.

Feel free to flesh out certain areas of the matrix in further detail. Others still may best work with a multitude of items describing it (Behavior is the big one). Personally, the strongest three areas for telling the personality of the character are Status, Profession, Personality- to further the appearance and to determine a first impression (though could be replaced by a descriptive Biological Environment); Behavior - basic decision making, rational and moral thoughts, as well as quirks all stem from here; and Desire - the subconscious, the will, the heart, the gut feelings... Call it what you like, it comes from this.

((A side note: A number of these examples are obviously prohibited from RE:RN due to power issues (in the case of special abilities) or other common courtisies. Please consult character creation rules section for what is and isn't allowed.))

Part 8 - Knowing the character you want to create

Now that you have all these methods of fleshing out the character, how do you put it all together? Normally you have some loose idea of a character or theme you want to work with. If not, the best place to start would be Part 2 or 3 to come up with a general form of the character. However, for those who do have a rough idea in mind, it may be best for you to jump ahead to Part 7 and flesh out the personality before jumping back to work on the form and clothing.

Here's an example of how the book does it by brainstorming a form then working up the character from the Desire trait of the Personality Matrix.

Addendum - A Couple Examples

Here's an example that has a fully fleshed out description of what came out of each matrix section.

And this other one is just my personal favorite twist on rethinking stereotypes.

((Depending on my mood and level of boredom, I may be posting a few Navis I've created from inspiration of this method here.))
Fish and shelled creatures are nowhere on the matrix...?
This topic sounds promising.

Quote (AimMan)

Fish and shelled creatures are nowhere on the matrix...?

Fish and Shelled creatures will be covered in due time. Believe you me, there is little left out by this system and even those things are covered with escape clauses.
Non-fixed for me!

(cyber-energy thing; his outline constantly wavers)

I like this concept, though.

Quote (Silver)

Non-fixed for me!

(cyber-energy thing; his outline constantly wavers)

I like this concept, though.

that would be a non fixed form based on electrical/cyber base...

I know, cause I have a non fixed form based on shadow...
I'm not sure that I'm totally comfortable with character-building being based on a step-by-step process. Memoriam is vaguely described and has no real uniqueness outside of RP flair, and that's because I lack the creativity to--

Actually, even if I were to use design eccentricites as outlined here, it would still be uncreative because I would be piecing my Navi together from pre-provided parts.
I'm sorry for being mean about this, but really.

The day that originality is born from a guideline is a cold day in hell indeed (or hot in Norwegian hell)
How to make a unique character in one easy step:


That said, it is an interesting concept...

Oh, and Albel? City of Villains/Heroes. I've seen some pretty unique character designs on there.

A weird combination.

I'd say a mix between non-fixed (wind) for his hands, and fixed/collective for the rest.
He's not only vines and leaves, but also has the normal navi jumpsuit helmet thing.

and Twi, that imagination thing looks sick. 8D
I also like the idea. Ignore the nay sayers; at the very least we'll be able to point people who lack the creativity to write a paragraph here.

Also, After looking over it a little, I think I forgot to describe a fair amount of my navi's appearance. How sad TT____TT

Quote (Leon)

Also, After looking over it a little, I think I forgot to describe a fair amount of my navi's appearance. How sad TT____TT

I haven't written a lot of Persephone because they were not necessary. For instance, her weapons... You don't have to write everything. For instance something like 'his armor can be taken off whenever he wants to' or 'he can create extra sets of arms' or 'he is anatomically correct'. Things like these will show themselves automatically and if it's against any of the rules, a Moderator can always do something about it.

The poster's statement is clearly faulty, your adminships. To create an unique character from a template is a one-statement-contraction in itself.
Precisely, thanks drakim
Heh, fair enough. Although not unique, per-se, making something original in this current era isn't so much creating something new or untouched, but rather mixing and meshing what's already there in a new or interesting way. We have the materials, and so many that it's hard not to find some form of reference out of what you make, so the only true goal one should keep in mind is to keep their creations their's and put their own personal twist on things.

But that's just one person's opinion...
Heh, Drakim's post wins the thread. Now if only there were a way to make the post slowly be typed out, with sound effects on the red words.
People aren't reading the whole and are simply quoting out of context.

The matrix in itself is not a set in stone guidelines method to creating a character. It, in itself, is fully customizable to the creator's specifications and can include or disclude any number of items listed herein. The meaning behind is to provide a different outlook as to how characters can appear to those not necessarily used to doing so and to further aid in character descriptions.

The whole purpose here is not to provide a structure that must be forcibly adhered to, but to provide another avenue along which creativity may grow. To all those who don't like the method, feel free not to use it. That is your choice. However, simply bashing the method, first off before it is even finished being posted, and second off before trying it in its entirety for themselves is plain ignorance. Simply stating 'use your imagination' or 'nothing unique can come from a template' only furthers my point.

Not everyone has the knowledge or training to simply go from having an imaginative thought to being able to transfer it perfectly to paper or words so that another person can grasp exactly what you are meaning to convey. If you're one of those people who can, perfectly every single time, you're either a robot which somehow programmed itself into existance or you're lying to yourself. This doesn't mean that any information in here will guaranteed be able to help you, but for some it may.

There is nothing truely unique in the world. Every idea out there has been thought of by someone before. Everything is similiar in some form or fashion to something else. If we couldn't compare one thing to another or one idea to another, then we couldn't relate or ever understand each other. Unique in theory is nothing like the unique of functionality and practice. The method described here is nothing more than a way of harnessing the originality of the mind and focusing it to a descriptive level that everyone else can relate to. Certainly, if the template itself were not dynamic, then the statement would be true. However this is not the case.
*Golf claps*

When can we expect to see this finished? I, myself, will most likely not use it as I have my own methods of character development that have served me very well in the past; however, I do like to examine alternate approaches.

Quote (Zanallen)

*(When) can we expect to see this finished?

I was busy (fiddling around with my new tablet for my PC) the majority of the Holiday break so yes... It will be finished, sometime this week I hope. Should have another section up tonight at the very least.

I'mma hijacking this thread to give you a random generator for people who can't come up with names...


no, I'm linking this thread to another site, just to spread this around...

Substitution - no - jutsu!*switches places with a confused commondragon*