Character Evaluation Guidelines
The following should act as both training and reference material when evaluating submitted characters to gauge how viable they are in the Vaxian world. If you ever have a question on a particular character, it’s never a bad idea to ask another SH to look over it and compare notes.
Understand, we’re fairly flexible, especially with newer players. As a general rule, if you don’t feel the character would do genuine damage to the site or the IC setting(s), approve it. We can always disapprove it or revert it to draft status later if problems arise.
That said, trust your gut: if the character seems like a two-dimensional excuse to roll dice, it’s probably a bad fit for the site. If you’re not sure if you trust you own gut yet, here are a few guidelines on how to sniff out the roleplayable Cs from the dregs:
Whenever possible, revert to draft to give the player a chance to fix the character and make it playable. Only if you feel the character is beyond any hope (e.g. the player doesn’t even seem to be trying) should you set it to “disapproved.” Any time you’re about to set a character to disapproved, please check with another SH first.
The Background is usually the best way for telling if a C is a complete character or just numbers wrapped in fluff. It's important to remember that a background doesn't have to be long, nor do long backgrounds automatically equal good Cs. Believe me, I've seen 2-page backgrounds for "elite turtle ninjas," so length on its own is a bad measure ?
Backgrounds also don’t have to be particular well-written. It’s the content, not the stylistic quality, that’s at issue. Look for the pivotal events in a C’s life that made her who she is now. See if they follow a logical path, or if there are jumps and skips that might need further explanation. This will also be your roadmap to check against the character’s skills later.
What you want to look for, really, is an eventful life. How hackneyed does it seem? Is it "lost his parents to a demon and is now out for revenge" with six skills that would put ninjas to shame, or is it "grew up as a farmer, until one day his parents were killed by a demon, so he went about to many different teachers to learn different arts so that when he encountered his family's killers, he would be ready"?
It’s a subtle difference, perhaps, but it shows evidence that the player thought through the life like a complete, coherent story, not just an excuse to have a sword named "World Ender" that bursts into flame on command.
Be wary of epic backgrounds, even on older accounts. Fallen angels, ex-demons, gods on vacation, some of these "I was the cosmic janitor" stories are a little outlandish for a starting C. That said, something like a dethroned empress might be okay, since she would have lost her previous riches, allies and influence, and thus have returned to starting level.
Personality & Occupation
Personality and Occupation together can help you gauge of the playability of the character. Watch out for loners: they tend to work well in books and terrible in RP. Look for a sense of purpose, a goal, a general connection to the world around them. Without that, they’re likely to do a lot of dark-corner RP, which the player themselves may not find very satisfying (whether they realize it or not).
The character's Description is not usually an area of too much concern, but because it's the one part other players will see, it does at least merit a quick once-over. Just make sure it's in line with the character's numbers, to help show the player understands what those numbers mean. Someone described as "supremely gorgeous" with a Beauty score of 20 (below average) may demonstrate that the player has unrealistic expectations for how their character will preform IC.
Two things to watch for in numbers: consistency and extremes.
For consistency, make sure that the Stats and skills match the character as described. If the C grew up a humble farmer, an INT of 40 may merit some further explanation. As would a skill in Blood Magic; not exactly something one picks up while milking cows.
Also, watch the extremes. You’ll likely find that most characters start with one or two 40’s in their stats and another 40 in their skill list. There are exceptions, but be watchful both for two many 40’s, and too few.
For instance, a mage with magical mights of 50 may struggle more than they expect to, despite the fact that "25" is supposed to be average. Realistically, if it’s their primary character function, mights of 70-80 are probably more appropriate.
If you’re worried that the character may run into frustration against even average situations IC, feel free to revert it to draft status with a note for the player in the Workflow Comments.
Any stat below 15 should catch your attention as possible min-maxing. Make sure it’s explained somewhere in the Background or Description for the character. 5 to 10 is so ridiculously low, the character might as well not have the stat, so it should be an equally extreme situation (brittle bone syndrome, raised by wolves, etc).
Skills at Zero
Having a starting character with a skill at zero is actually allowed. It can be something the C just picked up and is only now starting to learn. That said, zero-skills should be limited to one per character at the start. They can learn more in the future through RP as per the normal rules.
Be wary of any character with very high stats and very low skills. Skills cost less to increase, so some players will front-load their stats and then use their XP to raise the skills to get higher mights earlier. If it doesn’t fit the character background (an orcish grunt might have more natural talent, but less skill, for instance), you may want to revert to draft to have the player balance the numbers better between stats and skills.
Skills are possibly the most complicated thing in our system because they’re so wide open. Refer to the Skill Guide for good boundaries on a skill to ensure it’s balanced with the rest of the site.
A couple of specifics to watch for, skill-wise:
Most skills should list three semi-specific functions. For instance, a thieving skill might allow the C to pick locks, pick pockets, and blend in with a crowd to avoid notice. Some skills, like Melee combat or awareness, tend to look more limited. This is normal.
Skills which directly boost a single stat are generally a no-no. The one exception is Awareness skills, which are limited to two senses (sight and sound, sound and smell, etc). For this purpose, “magical tingles” counts as a single sense, though there should be some explanation of why the character is attuned to magical auras.
Any skill that contains specific numbers, like suggested difficulties or produced effects, should be edited to remove said numbers. The numbers will always rely on the SH ruling and the dice rolls at the time the skill is used.
Be sure to watch for exotic and problematic abilities: regeneration (normally just a troll and werewolf thing), biomancy, blood magic, shapeshifting, mind magic, shadow magic, etc. None of these make a C unplayable by themselves, but they should call into question whether the player properly understands the responsibility of having such a skill. Naturally, if you don’t feel it’s adequately explained in the character’s backstory, that’s reason enough to kick it back to draft and ask for clarification.
Non-standard ages: humans and Orcs don’t typically live to 1000, but some players try to make one that old anyway. See the “epic background” caution above.
Borrowed names: if a character’s name matches one from popular fiction, it doesn’t necessarily mean the player did so intentionally. Check to see if the description also matches the character (an old wizard named Gandalf, a petulant gnome named Tyrion, etc) before making the call.
Equipment in the Description field: sometimes people will try to sneak their world-ending equipment into the description (“he is never seen without his faithful blade, Morgul, which counsels him in combat”). Animal companions also count, though if they’re companion is a perfectly ordinary squirrel they met in the forest, you can probably let it slide. Intelligent dire wolves, less so.
That’s it! Again, if you’re ever uncertain of your judgment on a given C, check with another SH to get a second opinion.
Below is a handful of sample characters if you'd like to practice your evaluator skills. Each is initially presented without comment, but there will be a link to an annotated version of each in case you'd like to compare notes afterwards.
SH Course : Go to SH Course Main Page