1. orinntintin

    orinntintin New Member

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    Having trouble connecting the dots between character actions and beliefs.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by orinntintin, Feb 16, 2023.

    So, I am a roleplayer and am writing for a character named Kestrel. She's a woman born into an empire which was founded on religious zealotism, and to sum up her character:
    • She is aloof and struggles with relationships.
    • She has pride in her religion and, at the very least, the origins of her Empire — as well as her race.
    • She is incredibly driven by the idea of function and improvement. Efficiency and "keeping the machine in peak form" above personal feelings and emotions.
    • She refuses to lie.
    The issue I ran into is that I also wanted to make her a criminal, and I did. I just really liked the idea of a highborn-like, honest criminal. "I do not lie, because if I do the job correctly I will never need to." Despite that sentiment, Kestrel was eventually sold out by (So-called "friends"? "Business" partners?), sentenced to prison, and served time before she was eventually sent to serve as a penal soldier. To date, I've kept her charges relatively vague (other than them being "heavy"), including her involvement in the crimes themselves.

    The story is Kestrel currently in this military unit, fighting alongside hardened soldiers as a lowly little prisoner meant for cannon fodder.

    The issue I'm running into, however... is that I can't find a motivation for her to have turned towards a life of crime. I didn't think about it until I was knee-deep in the roleplay, but a character like Kestrel would have actually been drawn to military life from the very start, like a moth to flame. So I'm struggling to find a sound justification for something that's been "established".

    Any ideas on how a prideful perfectionist, god-fearing and proud of her nation, could have turned her nose up at military life and instead turned into a criminal in the eyes of said God and Empire?
     
  2. Louanne Learning

    Louanne Learning Happy Wonderer Contributor Contest Winner 2022 Contest Winner 2023

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    One idea would be for her to commit crimes against those whom she sees as the "bad guys", that her crimes are self-righteous and motivated by her ideals.
     
  3. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor Contest Winner 2023

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    Well, lots of good actions could be seen as a crime within a zealous empire.

    For example, a high priest could falsely accuse her friend or family member of whatever the equivalent of paganism is in your world. When Kestrel stand up for not only her friend but also the truth, it's straight to the slammer with her.
     
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  4. Set2Stun

    Set2Stun Rejection Collector Contributor Contest Winner 2022 Contest Winner 2023

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    Most empires and religious orders won't be immune from some forms of corruption. It shouldn't be too difficult to come up with some circumstance where the MC knows that they are doing the right thing by violating the law in order to put some bad actors to justice. Or to simply steal from them in a Robin Hood-like manner.

    Maybe they don't agree with the current war, feels like it's against the best interests of the empire and faith, so they want to undercut those efforts. I think you've got a lot of options here.
     
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  5. montecarlo

    montecarlo Contributor Contributor

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    This seems to me the right answer; the character maintained her morality but the leadership shifted under her.
     
  6. Rake

    Rake Member

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    ^ that would work but your description is that she is patriotic and a traditionalist. The motivation of the empire needs to be considered and prosecuting her for a transgression in the empire's favor would paint the empire in a positive, mature light. I also think leadership shifting under her sounds somewhat unlikely if its steeped in tradition. I'd look for a crime that would normally be overlooked but would set her up to be implicated in something she didn't do. That starts to get complex but I think it leaves a lot open. The only problem is, if you gloss over in a clumsy flashback you may end up having it look contrived.
     
  7. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Book Witch Contributor

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    You should watch The Legend of Vox Machina (based on the roleplaying game). There is a character like that on there, Pike Trickfoot. Shes a priestess but travels with a group of mercenaries (who do a bunch of illegal things and were basically criminals).
    Her arc is wanting to be noble and faithful to her goddess.... But when she loses her ability to do magic, she believes her goddess lost faith in her and she returns back to her monastery to repent.
    I wont spoil it, but basically her arch is trying to find a bridge between being pius and being what her friends (the mercenaries) want her to be.
    I think it even gets in to why she began traveling with them in the first place.
     
  8. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    Sounds to me like you just want this character to be everything. You can't. Sorry. All criminals have to lie. They always make enemies that will require them to lie. If she's not lying to authorities, she's lying to people she's stealing from or lying to other criminals. And let's not forget that lying is a form of dishonesty as is stealing.

    Characters can't just be everything. As much as you wish they can be, they can't.

    What it can be is that she's turning to crime in the wake of a collapsing empire. As things begin to destabilize she's turning to crime in an effort to survive. Her whole nonsensical mantra of "I can't lie, blah, blah, blah" is her being in a state of denial that she's really turning away from her fundamental and core beliefs. Just like with grief, watching the world she believed in so much fall apart, she'll go through those phases of denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The stress causes her to betray what she thought should sustain her even in difficult times.
     

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