Posted by: Sean | August 18, 2008

The beautiful people: It’s all relative.

While I agree with everything that Jess says, not just in that post but in life in general as a stated policy, I do have to make one comment. (OK, two. The other one is that Jess should probably have explained what FlagRSP, MyRoleplay and ImmersionRP are before she began that last post. For those who don’t know, they’re little addons that let you add a text description to your character.) There is a pretty basic reason why a lot of people make really beautiful characters: Beauty is compelling. This is a solid half of why Hollywood consistently uses really attractive actors and actresses. (The other half is the F-quotient.) Art has focused almost exclusively on beautiful people for its portraits for most of history. The fact is that if you make a character beautiful, that’s compelling in and of itself. The reverse is also true; ugly is compelling. Making a considerably ugly character is also compelling in and of itself. But, as mentioned before, wish fulfillment kicks in. Few people want to play an ugly character, plain and average is kind of dull, so beautiful wins out far too often.

But the fact is, this is lazy. You can, and should, make average or at least less traditionally beautiful characters and stay compelling. Focus in on key features – A tattoo, an interesting scar, a birth mark. Do they have Uncombable Hair Syndrome or any other interesting physical quirks? A missing finger? Come up with stuff that leaps out and distinguishes you. A good description can be compelling even without being incredibly beautiful. For example, here’s a human rogue description:

Built wiry, lean and scarred from years of experience in stealth and combat, he stands tensely, his manner furtive and nervous. A crooked nose shows at least one poorly resolved argument behind it. A mop of rough-hewn sandy hair hides a forehead lined with age; his slightly overlarge ears would stand out as his most memorable features if it weren’t for his eyes. Couched between raised cheekbones and an overhanging, prominent brow, those blue rings pierce the air, intense and judgmental.

See? Not ugly, but not your classic hotness either. Fittingly for a rogue, he’s scarred but capable of looking like he belongs in a number of places.

And the first person to recognise in a comment below which Hollywood actor I’ve just described will, well, be the first person to do so.



  1. William Defoe? Pretty scarred up.

  2. I’m leaning ‘Daniel Craig’, here.

  3. It is indeed Daniel Craig. James Bond himself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: