There’s an exercise I do to help me keep characters updated, strong and easily accessible. It’s the same exercise a lot of novelists use to keep multiple personalities from falling apart as they write their stories. I call it The Letter Exercise.
Whether you have one strong character, or a dozen or more characters with varying personalities, desires and goals, this exercise will help you to keep their voices strong and their direction clear. All you have to do is write a letter to yourself AS YOUR CHARACTER(S). It doesn’t matter if you’re putting pencil to paper or opening up a gmail pane, writing yourself a letter from the perspective of a fictional character will help you breathe life into your RP by keeping your character’s voice alive and LOUD.
Once you get into it, you’ll see how easy it is. Start by asking your characters a question, or give them an order. For the purpose of this exercise, I asked each of my characters to send holiday greetings to readers of the RP XP. Let’s see what I — I mean they — came up with. You’ll notice that some of the responses are short; some may even come off as “snotty,” but that’s the whole point of this exercise. Let your characters be who they are. Don’t force them to say or do more than they would naturally. You’ll see what I mean…
DISCLAIMER: The following are the views, opinions or languages of playing characters in Star Wars The Old Republic. They are not the opinions, views or language of MJ. …See what I did there?
HOLIDAY GREETINGS FROM THE EMPIRE
Lord Solax of Khar Delba -
“Greetings, readers of this datacron. I ask you all to raise a glass in toast. To power and wealth… kia midwan ir fasuna.” He grins wickedly, stroking one of the crimson tendrils of his chin. “Here’s wishing death to your enemies.” He sits back in a wide throne-like chair. “No, on second thought… stai kash geidamas xela kia tu’iea.” He grins wickedly, translating, “Wishing pain to your enemies.”
Meurika Khar Delba, Apprentice (and daughter) to Lord Solax -
She folds her arms over her chest and smirks, yellow eyes glinting. “Die, worms. That’s the best you’ll get from me.”
Leftenant Rhenda Nivan Khord, Personal Pilot to Lord Solax, Naval Wing Commander -
“May whatever season you enjoy bring you peace in times of war, laughter in times of sadness, and strength where you need it.” She click-snaps her heels together and bows at the waist. “Long live the Emperor, and long may you live as well.”
Elayka’nei’horwi, Slave of Meurika -
“ran dotkot bu yuna see nai che uba tah jedahkacs. Koee uba bai doth waueoo an tee.” ((Here’s wishing you happiness and health this holiday. Be well.)) She bows humbly, averting her eyes and smiling weakly.
MJ SIDEBAR: Pretty cool, huh? If you’re interested in how to capture authentic Huttese, Ryl, Sith, Mando, Cant or other “real” Star Wars languages, check out my column from August 30: Enhance Your RP with Authentic SW Languages. <- handy link
Captain Teivel Hearse, Hired Slave Wrangler for the Solax Estate -
He nods, giving a two-fingered salute from the brim of his battered work cap. “Hey there. Stay safe, keep your blasters charged, and — if you can — try to avoid the Perlemaian Trade Route this time of year. Pirates all over the damn place.”
Colonel Sevis Adren Hearse-Lekko, Former District Head of the Department of Imperial-Sith Affairs and Daughter of Teivel Hearse -
“How do you do?” She stands straight, tugging down on her uniform tunic. “Enjoy what peace you can as the Imperial Fleet protects your homelands. May the Force free you.” She turns back to the wide viewport of the destroyer, looking out over the milky wash of stars.
Leftenant Mantee Ved, Kiffar Aide to Colonel Lekko -
He turns from his position next to Colonel Lekko and bows slightly at the waist. “Holiday greetings, everyone. I echo the sentiments of the Colonel and wish you all the best. May your lives be filled with the pleasures of the season and your meals be filled with flavour.” He flinches as Colonel Lekko nudges him. “Sorry… It’s an old Kiffar prayer of well-wish–” He stops as he’s nudged again, bows slightly and turns back to stand at attention next to his commander.
Grayce (Gray) “Shiver” Quinlan, Former Apprentice to Lord Solax -
She gazes hard from one red eye, the other covered with a black metal patch. As she runs one artificial black gloved hand over her cheek, she smiles darkly. “I’ll tell you what… I won’t kill you.” After a pause she cracks a smile and mutters, “Merry Sithmas… huh… that’s funny.”
Peryl Lo’Ron, Daughter of Colonel Lekko and Self-proclaimed “The Ghost of Hutta” -
“Hey! How ya doin’?” She smiles showing yellow and brown teeth, a dirty contrast in her powder-white bald head. She scratches at a scab on her neck. “Well, hey… Hope your kills are clean, and uh… well… ya know… all that stuff.” Then she points her fingers like guns and squeaks, “Pew pew!”
Ulla Nymn, Umbaran Assassin Formerly Employed by Lord Solax, Now Working For Sevis Lekko -
At first there’s nothing, only darkness. It could be a shadow between two stanchions on a refueling station somewhere, or a darkness rustling in the trees on the night side of Taris. Then… a flash, a pair of bright white eyes emerge and a soft, harsh, raspy voice says, “Be well. Be gone.”
HOLIDAY GREETINGS FROM THE REPUBLIC
Jedi Master Kylen Khord-Sarvas, Council of the Taris Enclave -
She bows deeply from the waist. “May the Force be with you this holiday season, and my your family and friends gather around you in the spirit of peace and harmony.”
Jedi Consular Daelu’mi’sarvas, Jedi Librarian and Half Brother to Elayka’nei’horwi and Kylen Sarvas -
“Greetings!” he shouts with a bright smile, turning quickly, his lekku flaring out behind him. Laughing, he says, “Good day to you all, and may peace be yours for your holiday. Um, and may your days be filled with knowledge and your nights with sweet dreams.”
Jedi Knight Kes’eri’ktarloo, Half-Chiss Son of Teivel Hearse and Student of Daelu’mi’sarvas -
“May the Force be with you.” He nods crisply before motioning to his astromech droid to follow, then turns and strides down the main hall of the Jedi Archive on Ossus.
Sergeant Syrico “Trash” Quinlan, Sister of Colonel Sevis Lekko and Half-Sister of Grayce Quinlan, Communications Officer for the 81st Armored Recon -
Laughs and chews the soggy butt of a cigar. “How the hell are ya?” She pulls the cigar from her teeth and sets it aside before resuming repairs on a portable scanner. “Don’t take any munk from any spacers, mind your own kriffin’ business, and have a happy kriffin’ Life Day… or whatever-the-kriff!”
Elayo’lei’horwi, Twin Sister of Elayka’nei’horwi, Half Sister of Daelu’mi’sarvas, Droid Parts Dealer for Czerka Corp. -
“Hiya, mi pateesa!!!” She bounces on her heels, excitedly waving, then crosses her arms and leans against a gleaming protocol droid. “Hey, I hope you have a wizard time this holiday! Cecil and mi will keep the space lanes clear for ya.” She adjusts the goggles on her cap and elbows the droid. “Right, See?”
L-K0, Assassin-Programmed Android Constructed From Colonel Lekko’s Fallen Husband, Cmdr. Tanz Lekko, Reconstructed by the Empire, Liberated by the Republic -
A low hum emits from the grill-like faceplate, the only movement a slight nod.
Ambassador Whardon Lotz, Senator Pro-tem of Kiffex, Father of Mantee, Retired Military Officer -
“It is nice to see you. I hope your holiday celebrations — be they Christmas, Life Day or the Annual Passing of the G’cari M’tril — are filled with love, respect and honor.” He draws a deep breath, smoothing out the colorful robes of state. “Remember to think of others this time of year, particularly those unfortunate souls who find themselves victims of the Empire’s cold annexation practices. If you’d like to help out, a donation can be sent to my office on Coruscant–”
Captain Bendaru “Uncle Benny” Khord, Personal Pilot (and Blockade Runner) for Ambassador Lotz, Brother to Rhenda Khord -
“Hey.” He grunts as he plops his girth down on a crate in the hangar just outside his ship. “Remember what it’s all about: Good food, good friends, good drink.” He winks and flashes a smile.
Fallen Jedi Knight Rejira Lightsong ((Rejira Nightsong Imp-side)), former Jedi Knight -
Pulls back her hood revealing a crown of horns and the thin lines of her facial tattoos. Her yellow eyes blink once, twice, then she bows her head slightly without saying a word.
Lieutenant J.G. Ahmira Gin, Zelosian Republic Naval Reservist, and Freelance Bounty Hunter Working for Ambassador Lotz -
“Hi there, red bloods.” She winks as she steps out into the sunlight on Voss. “You do what you gotta do, then move on. That’s the only way to celebrate anything. Oh… and drink a lot, I suppose.”
I’d like to thank all of my “children” and add my own well-wishes. Whatever you celebrate, wherever it takes you, happy holidays and here’s to a fun filled 2014! I can’t say for sure whether or not there will be an RP XP 57 before the new year. If not, I’ll see you on the other side. There’s only one way to be sure… You have to stay tuned.
Lilting laughter, quite unlike a Sith apprentice, then: “Merry Sithmas… That is sooooooo funny!”
((The RP XP with MJ appears on Fridays right here on www.swtor-life.com. If you’d like more information about RP, want to know how to get started, or if you’re looking for a supportive RP Guild, drop MJ a line at swtorrp(at)gmail.com. You can also follow MJ on Twitter @MJswtor. Happy holidays, and May the Force be with you!))