The Crossroads of the Aether
I'm finding myself in a particularly peculiar predicament. For years I was an avid roleplayer, strictly online text, and I've created hundreds of characters, often on the fly, as well as written a few short stories. I've never had trouble coming up with a character before. And then two years ago I got into Steampunk, have grown to love it, am excited to go to cons and meet others, yet I cannot seem to develop a persona for the life of me.
As far as I can tell, it's the me, actually playing the character part that's hindering me. I'm so used to being able to play any sort of character I want, that now I'm limited to the base of myself, and having a hard time balancing that out. So I guess I'm curious how you do it?
I know that having a persona is not required, and so far I've just enjoyed things as I am, but it ends up leaving me with nothing to narrow down. I've been unable to make costumes, cause I just don't know where to start. So far everything I've worn has been me raiding my closet, (benefits of re-enacting the Victorian period aren't passed on me here) and creating a hide for my digital camera so I don't miss out at cons.
But there's another side to the steampunk world that I'm missing out on, and dearly want to join, I just can't seem to manage how to balance it out. So for conversation, how did you come to develop your persona? Do you manage by having more than one? How did you create your persona to fit what you look like, and who you are?
Okay, here's what i did to get where i am now.
I basically got everything i'm into and interested in, narrowed it down, tinkered with it and BINGO.....my character was born. As a kid i was always taking broken stuff apart and seeing how it worked, i loved roaming through crap yards looking at stuff and was once in heaven when i went to an old plane scrap yard...it was heaven sitting in old planes and seeing massive jumbo jet engines just sitting there rusting away....i've encorporated those memories into my character.
I'm into cryptozoology and all that Big Foot stuff so that's part of my character as well. I've incorporated various characters from various films into my character as well....Hondo Ohnaka from Star Wars: The Clone Wars (mannerisms and voice), Watto from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (wheeler and dealer), Badger from Firefly (wheeler & dealer). Badger from Firefly had a small band of cronies and that's what my character has....henchmen who also become salesmen and traders when the situation calls for it.
Basically let YOU come through the character.....that way you'll be unique.
You've defined the problem as rising from the idea that your character must be based on you. This is the new part that makes creating a role harder than it was before. Maybe you've got too much material to work with - if so, you need to re-define that requirement.
Try focusing on the aspects of your self that come out *at cons* - what activities do you enjoy most? Whom do you socialize with? Then ask yourself what kind of person, with what background, skills and occupation, would have these chosen activities and companions.
I was introduced to Steampunk by a coworker who is First Mate & Captain's Wife on an airship that delivers Her Majesty's Air Mail, so I came to my first con already a crew member. Aspects of my mundane self that fit into my role in the crew were: artisan or working-class rather than aristocratic, more useful than decorative (that's me all over), mostly law-abiding yet with a sense of adventure. Other parts of my story (adventures before I joined the crew, a hidden connection to a certain aristocracy should I ever need it) came after I established my basic character.
That said, I'm a lousy actor, so cosplay isn't a big part of my con experience. If you're looking to create a fully-realized persona for cons, make sure you develop a character you can afford to dress. Time, talent, ingenuity and investment aplenty go into some of wonders on display at cons - not to mention the storage space at home!
Jack of all trades is itself a possible direction - maybe you could be a trouble-shooter for hire.
I'm still really new to steampunk, with the roleplaying aspect being the least comfortable for me. I got into it basically because I love to sew costumes, and what I love most about making things is the creative process, how a spark of inspiration becomes a real-life object. After some advice from this website on character creation and roleplaying, I decided to create a character for the sole purpose of having a reason to make some cool-looking stuff. I decided on a vampire hunter because it fit into that weapon-toting adventurer archetype that is so firmly rooted in steampunkery, and because I have a passion for horror fiction and I love monsters. I've read a LOT of vampire stories, and even bad ones usually have something interesting to add to the mythology. But I digress. My point is that for me, it's really stepping outside of my comfort zone to think of myself and operate as anything other than myself. I had the opportunity recently to introduce myself as my character, and it was too awkward for me to even say my name was something different than what it is. Struggling to "balance it all out" is something I understand too.
It has helped that I have a lot of confidence in my knowledge of monsters and vampires, which are only occasionally steampunk. Maybe you could think of a topic you really have a passion for, or a trait that you really love about yourself--something easy for you to embrace--and work to build a character from there.
Ummm...I made it practical? I don't know. I hate schleping a 3 yr old around and massive amount of weapons...sooo...I don't. I dress my daughter up,and I wear kick a** boots. I really,really,really don't have the mental capacity to LARP to my hearts content. Some days I have to make sure I put deordorant on and re run my actions of the morning,okay?
I approached it also with...'Well why the f not?' Why can't I buy wigs? Wear crazy makeup? Curse like a sailor? (I do in real life already...haha)
Have fun with it,and follow no rules ;-)
You said it Anne...."Follow no rules".....LOVE IT.
I've never done LARPing but I've given it alot of thought. I have two alternate personas The M-peror is the persona that i apply to every aspect of my life. The other is Al-Iskandar Jolokai, A jack of all trades he'll take on any task for the right price he's captain of the airship "Harlequin". He's great with a gun and even better with a blade. I want to try LARPing but I don't have a costume and like you I have no idea where to start, thoughts?
Limited to the base of myself? What does that comment mean? If you think you should have pointed ears or green skin, you can. If you are worried about "body type" or the like I cannot help you there. All my roleplaying characters (D&D, Star Wars, etc) resemble me, but then I am comfortable (with the most part) with my own body image. Some people say too much.
I came up with my own persona just as a joke, and the rest just fell into place. Then again I chose "the road less traveled" that is actually quite unique: www.facebook.com/Hysteria.begone
I often play characters so completely different than me, that it's hard to make one that fits me. Different species makes it a little more difficult to cosplay, as does body type. But even things that I don't express well in person compared to in written form. (Which is surprisingly a lot.)
Yeah... you'll pretty much have to pick one that resembles you or that can be easily changed with makeup or costuming. That's how it works until we get the iPhone 12 with chameleon cloak technology.
(Sets down her afternoon snack, slowly wipes a bit of fascia from corner of her mouth with a petite finger...)
I do find being in this persona a bit liberating. I can let the darker, more sinister part of my being out to play. I do have a regular persona who is nothing if not silly and pleasant...for the most part. And, is the "real" me. (Sorry I cannot say who I am...that just takes all the fun out of this one *wink*)
Isabella Von Trapp, being a zombie, and a proper lady, balances her inner lady with what she has become...a killer. I don't believe she is a monster. Only afflicted with an ailment to which she has learned to control through proper diet, and a strict schedule. All pleasantries aside, one must never turn their back on Miss Von Trapp...or she just might make you her in between snacks, snack.
How did I come by her?
An acquaintance of mine in the Aether was the inspiration. He, being a zombie yet a vegetarian, and a touch nicer than Isabella in most respects, had a good idea. I thought to myself...Self? Why not? And so Isabella Von Trapp is born. Or rather un-born.
I manage the two carefully. They are not on each others friends lists. They do not speak to each other. Though if they had, I would imagine it would be quite amusing. As the real me would find speaking to a zombie quite fun, and they would play off each others quarks.
Do my personas look like me? The real one yes of course. Isabella on the other hand...yes, in a way. I only need put makeup, and a wig on. I plan on playing both soon...in public. (separate days of course) I'm excited to stay in character with Isabella, and find I almost prefer being her. I don't have to worry about who is or isn't my friend.
Anyway, if I can say one thing that I hope is of help.
When making my "real" persona, it was organic. I had just me. A desire to play in the steampunk world, and nothing to really go on but a group from my hometown who's silly nature made me want to come and play. I took my little steampunk seed and slowly built her. Even today I add and take things away. Like in real life, things change. Like your no longer being tied to your ex.
Some people are really good at building a persona quickly. But that does not mean you have to rush and have one right away. Take your time. You seem like you have plenty experience building characters...I bet when you do decide on who you are in the aether, it will be great!
(Nods politely. Turns back to her snack, picking at a bit of the congealed substance now sloughing off what remains...)