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Spirits/Intangible/Immortal characters in rp?

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I've had a character idea kicking around in my brain for a while. Basically it would be a djinni (fancy word for air genie) that ends up being found by another person's character. I think it would make for an interesting rp, but I'm wondering if it would be overpowered/boring. Do you think mythic spirits and such would be okay for a fun roleplay? If so, how would you do it?

(Just to clarify, this isn't a wish-granting spirit. It has shapeshifting, can turn into smoke, etc.)

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4 hours ago, Alex Kimchi said:

I've had a character idea kicking around in my brain for a while. Basically it would be a djinni (fancy word for air genie) that ends up being found by another person's character. I think it would make for an interesting rp, but I'm wondering if it would be overpowered/boring. Do you think mythic spirits and such would be okay for a fun roleplay? If so, how would you do it?

(Just to clarify, this isn't a wish-granting spirit. It has shapeshifting, can turn into smoke, etc.)

I think things like immortality and intangibility are only OP when you're trying to use them to get an unfair advantage over someone else in a combat type scenario. Like if you went around trying to kill everyone and then going "haha I'm immortal" if/when they tried to stop you or exact revenge or what have you. 

Outside of that I think either quality (or both) can be used just fine as an element in a narrative for a story you want to tell 

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There's a litmus test. If the powers are meant so the character can act with absolute impunity, then don't. Just fucking don't.

Second, it's rude.

First, one person getting somewhat creative can and will ruin your day. An example would be an airbender. While I don't recall djinni being in Avatar, if they were it would be about as one sided as a blood bender vs human match up.

Articulating the metaphysical energy called chi in the avatar lore would allow the air bender to describe his attack as something more than just moving air physically. Allowing for heavy damage to the djinni itself.

Granted, exploiting a weakness of something considered OP doesn't make it not OP. It's just satisfying.

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I just finished with my character, until I get into some RPs. I may be interested in your djinni meeting my Spriggan (my own species of elf, meaning Wind Elf). Also, I'd love for someone to look over my character's spells, to make sure they aren't to OP for their casting requirements.

Edited by Natesh Springhelm

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On 2017-09-18 at 6:14 PM, Natesh Springhelm said:

I just finished with my character, until I get into some RPs. I may be interested in your djinni meeting my Spriggan (my own species of elf, meaning Wind Elf). Also, I'd love for someone to look over my character's spells, to make sure they aren't to OP for their casting requirements.

That sounds interesting! If I come up with something I'll shoot you a PM. Also, I think your spells are pretty reasonable especially with the hand signs and things.

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The way I see this:

"Overpowered" characters in RP are the same as "Mary Sue's" in fiction novels.

A Mary Sue is identified as a "perfect character", as in one that possesses too much strength and competence to be relatable, realistic, or be affected enough by the stakes of a given plot. It's the novel version of godmoding. Books like these often never make it past a publisher, and if they do, they're shot to the ground by critics. However, if you recall some of your favorite books, movies, and otherwise, there DO exist very powerful characters that appear in them (vampires, spirits, immortals, intangible, etc). So, for the purposes of good storytelling, what excuses them existing?

It's because of plot balance. The situation they are engaged in has stakes high enough to challenge them, and threaten their existence. Plus, their character makeup is full of intentional holes for arrows to get through, because without them, no one would be engaged. 

My theory is that what makes a character vulnerable and believable in stories is what makes a character valid in RP. In RP, those stakes will always be dynamic depending on whose doing the challenging, so unfortunately that means you need to take some ego out of your creation and put in some serious nerfs to justify its existence.

If you're going to create an immortal or intangible character, you have to:

  1. Establish weaknesses that are proportional to its strengths, or at least enough to give challengers an opportunity. If they live forever, they can't be impervious to all types of damage, and maybe should be even frailer than a normal person. If their intangible, they better avoid any sudden gust of wind, or very bright lights, or something that it can be vulnerable against. If you can do multiple weaknesses, that's even better.
  2. Make those weaknesses not cryptic to figure out. If the creature is held together by an amulet, they better show that they're anxious and protective of it (and provide an opportunity for it to get away from them, and endanger their existence). If they're intangible and hate bright lights, they better make it clear that they're avoiding it (and it better be woven into the narrative).
  3. Have the character immersed in the consequences of that immortality or intangibility. If a character is intangible, they must also have extreme limits in how they can interact with the world, as if the world was also intangible to them. If they are immortal, are they really some perfect carbon copy of their young self, or are they a shambling corpse falling apart? Is their brain deteriorating in some way only a character so long living would suffer from? 


My advice is to disregard any discouragements in doing a character you want to play, and instead take a large grain of salt labelled "believability".

If you want to play a character, and are worried about it being OP, don't "not do it".

Instead, raise the stakes.

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There's a difference between a story and a cooperative role play.

In a story, it doesn't matter if a character is overpowered in the context of the story being completed. There is one writer that handles the entirety of the content. There is no required input from other people to complete the work.

As always, your mileage may vary when inspecting the completed product.

A cooperative role play on the other hand is a completely different beast. You have to cooperate with other people and having an ability meant to allow your character to act with absolute impunity does not facilitate this.

Notice how I focused on the reason behind the intended ability rather than what the ability was. This is because almost anything can be properly articulated. If you want to play a character that contains aspects that the community you intend it for considers overpowered then you have to sell the idea yourself.

If any part of your sell contains the concept 'keep an open mind' then scrap your entire articulation. Keep in mind that you are pushing for something unusual and the default answer is no. You can try, but you have no right to complain if one of these kinds of ideas isn't allowed to fly.

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