I guess each RPG – which is a collectively written story – gets sometimes the misfit.
But while we encourage the misfit as a character in various ship crews, as a personality interesting to explore in the interaction with other characters, we don’t encourage the lone wolf in a creative endeavour based on collectivities (ship crews). Yes, the odd one or two might happen, as secondary characters, forging their paths among the collectives – but they are rare sights. (Exactly how women sailors should be rare sights too, the odd one or another).
Unfortunately, most often it doesn’t happen so, and I don’t understand why the writers don’t try more to work on their characters and make them fit the story. Because if the character doesn’t fit, the experience on the site, ie in writing the story, won’t be as good as the one for those whose characters do fit. Instead of looking strangely at the suggestions and rejecting them, you should look widely at the story as a whole, to see what characters are really needed and how can you adapt your ideas so that they really fit.
What we get instead (and they don’t stick much around, when they are the wrong characters for the ongoing story)?
1. The captain. There are people who want their characters only as captains, and they are disappointed that here the captainship (or any higher position) is gained in the story, by being a dedicated writer, involved in the story, doing properly the needed research, bringing good ideas and collaborating with the others.
They don’t realize either that crewing a ship is extremely difficult (“so what? I’ll have crew immediately” – yes, and this is why in 4 years, after having several captains, the ships in our story are still undercrewed… so why would we want even more ships?). And I think these are the more control-focused and individualist writers. They don’t want the captainship for the reasons me and a few others who got it wanted it – to help push the story forward when nobody else did. They think that it sounds cool and that being captain meant doing whatever they want without any rule… and it is not true in the given setting.
For a captain like some cruel ones wanted to be (and didn’t stay because we didn’t offer them this opportunity… especially when speaking about a character too young to be really a captain), the pirate crew (because pirates do elect their captains, unlike in Navy and merchant shipping, where they are appointed) wouldn’t have elected them as captains first and foremost, or they would have demoted them at the first signs of dictatorship. (And if they didn’t want to step down, what about killed in their sleep?)
2. The present day/ fantasy guy. There are people who don’t want to do research at all, and who want to write about a historical setting as if it were a present day story, just with different clothes, but with the same mentalities and facilities as in the present, or who want only their fandom and nothing else. For these sort of writers, a fantasy setting would suit them better (and eventually not a RPG site, but a fanfiction/ individual story).
And I am adamant about keeping the experience of the historical setting, because this gives the charm of a historical fiction story: having, through the characters, the experience of living in that particular century and place, with their mindsets and challenges.
Strangely, but many people don’t care about it, at all or not so much. Come on, guys, if we, those who don’t have English as mother tongue, could do research on the 18-th century and on life aboard ships, those who do have English as mother tongue could do it even better than us. Especially that most things are, now, either copied on the site, under resources, or given as links to internet articles – which is much more than I ever had on the first site I had joined, when I wasn’t sure how to formulate what I was searching in order to find it.
3. The lone wolf. Again, an embodiment of a control-focused and individualist writer, who wants a character who doesn’t take orders from anyone… and who isn’t, actually, integrated in the story, having only short thrills with immediate satisfaction, when in the world of writing everything happens gradually, in time, as the chapters (threads) succeed one over the other.
A lone wolf as a secondary character, getting occasional plots from time to time, while the main characters are seafaring focused and part of the crews? Yes, it is perfectly all right. We do encourage exploring all kind of characters; but we have a main focus.
4. The colonial lady. Nothing against such a character in itself, as long as her mentality fits the time and setting and she doesn’t want to be a modern day feminist misplaced in that time. Ladies, slaves, prostitutes, honest housewives of working men or women working hard to earn their living are interesting to explore. It works well, in the same mindset as the case above, as a secondary character who has plots from time to time, as the story ideas ask for it.
What I am adamantly against is the ones who want to transform a seafaring adventure into a colonial life story, by not having people aboard the ships (again, because this usually asks for research), then they complain that the site shouldn’t be seafaring focused.
Well, what does “Age of Sail swashbuckling adventures” tell you? Not exactly, or not only “colonial life“. The site, story, setting is seafaring-focused, with the colonial life only a side bonus. Yes, the story is obviously focused on the four ships’ seafaring adventures. People should have first a character aboard a ship. Then, for the times when that ship’s story is less in the limelight, to create characters aboard the other ships and on the islands. One can create any character fitting the setting, or to write for existing or newly created NPCs where the action is in the moment x.
Creativity is free, but in the limits of the historical setting and of the story (which is continuously expanded, and reasonably added to – for example, when we do have 3 islands as main setting, one can have an odd thread in another location, as long as it makes sense – such as Cuba, or Bahamas, or the Mainland. But having a part of the story taking place in Europe just to suit a character’s / writer’s whim… wouldn’t be advisable. Who is not in the setting, is not active in the story.
5. The “here but not quite” people. Unfortunately, in all factions, there are lots of people who don’t understand that writing a story together with others is a collective endeavour for which everyone’s absence harms/ blocks the story. They post once in a blue moon and they aren’t invested in the story because they don’t give themselves the time and the commitment to get invested.
I can’t help seeing the potential of all characters for various stories,and missing them in the story, because they were the ones who had the power to make things happen. Ultimately, this is the characters’role, to make the story happen. And by not writing, people not only reject this potential and the development of stories which would need them; they reject other characters’potential development too, because writing stories alone within a RPG sometimes is a solution, but most often it is not.