Character Development

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A Biography (or, "bio") is a short description of a character, with a brief synopsis of his/her life story. All Navy members - including you, recruit - are required to develop biographies for their primary player-characters. Writing your PC's bio will help you keep his/her backstory organized and consistent, and it'll help other VE members write convincingly about your PC, in accordance with your conception of the character. Biographies help writers visualize characters, making it easier to write about/with them. So, the first thing you'll need to do on your way to active duty: write your character's biography.


The details of your pilot's biography are yours to invent, but there are three basic sections you must fill out with content:

  • Physical description of your character
  • Emotional 'profile' of your character
  • Brief personal history of your character

This may seem like a short list, but these three basic sections can make for an efficient overview of a great character, if you fill them out with care. Please note, however, that bios do not have to recall the character's entire life: the point of creating a bio now is to give you a base from which to work, and provide information to your future squadron-mates. As you learn and grow here in the VEN, so will your bio, and you can add things in as you please.

Next, we offer you some helpful tips about each of the three sections of the basic character bio:

Physical Description[edit]

When we say physical, we're talking about how your character looks: this includes everything from facial features, species, gender, and body type, to the kinds of clothes they like to wear when not on duty. The important thing for this section is: give details, and be as descriptive as possible. You want to help others visualize your PC.

Example(s): You could describe a physically weak character by using phrases like, "he often appears hunched-over or slouched," or "her uniform seems to hang from her slender frame," or you could indicate strength with a description like, "she's physically fit, with pronounced muscle definition and good posture."

These descriptions don't have to be perfect, but they should be more in-depth than a simple declaration of height and weight; you're trying to give some indication of your character's physical characteristics and manner, so people (including you) can get an idea of how to describe them in stories. Feel free to include distinguishing features like scars, tattoos, and piercings, if you like.

Some of the physical attributes you should make sure to include in your bio are: species, gender, height, weight, hair color/style, eye color, race/skin color/skin hue, and any particularly notable features.

Please note: Your PC is joining a military, which implies he/she meets certain minimum physical requirements. Keep this in mind when inventing details, and try to make justifiable choices. Even more specifically, while the Vast Empire does not discriminate against females and non-humans as was the norm under Palpatine, our faction is an Imperial successor-state, so all of our equipment is standard Imperial. If you're joining the Starfighter Corps, especially, take this fact into consideration. Standard TIE flight suit helmets will not accommodate unique-to-an-individual cranial horns, for example, and members of species which are much larger than average human height and weight would find the spherical cockpits of TIE-series craft uncomfortable in the extreme, if they could even fit inside! Make realistic choices for your PC's physical characteristics, and if you simply must make an implausible choice, compensate with some very thorough justification in the following sections.

Emotional Description[edit]

This is the core of your character: it's what brings him/her to life and makes him/her memorable. Simply put, the emotional description covers how a character acts, and why - essentially, it's a summary of a character's "personality." Now, it's understandable if you don't want to reveal a whole lot about your character's emotional landscape at first, but the basics are needed so that others can interact with you IC.

Again, almost anything could be fun (for you and for your fellow members to write about), but some choices make more sense than others.

Here's a suggestion to get you started developing your character's personality: imagine what would happen if someone said, "Hello" to your character. His/her initial reaction to a simple greeting tells you something about who he/she is: would your character grin, and say, "Howdy!", or snarl "Shut Up!" in response to the greeting? Maybe they'd offer a shy "Hi", or a puzzled, "What?" matched with a blank expression. Whatever you decide, come up with a reason or reasons explaining why your character would say what you imagine him/her saying, taking into account his/her history, which we'll talk about next.


People are always influenced by their past, if not outright defined by it, whether it be by the traditions of the culture they grew up in, or by their feelings about things they've done, or even by memories of how they have been treated (by everyone from strangers to peers to family members). A character's past is a part of him/her, it shapes him/her in the present, and adds context to his/her future. Your character's history need not be complex, or exhaustively detailed; indeed, we urge you not to lay out his/her entire life story, as this can be taxing, and hard to figure out, and you may very well change your mind about some of your initial impulses later on, as you develop the character.

The important aspects of the character's history - the aspects which should be included in your bio right from the start - are the events/circumstances that have led him/her to seek out and join the Vast Empire. This is key, since during the time period in which we're writing (as of now, 12 ABY) there are any number of factions spread throughout the Galaxy, many of them Imperial successor states very like the VE, and many of them more centrally-located or more powerful. Why has your character chosen to join the VE? Are you from a planet in the VE's "sphere of influence"? Do you have a friend or family member in VE Space, or do you know someone serving in its military? Are you a refugee from the recent conflicts in other areas of the Galaxy, seeking a fresh start? Are you attracted by Vast Empire's more inclusive vision of Galactic peace and prosperity? Whatever your rationale for joining up is, tell us; we want to know your character's motives. Be as specific as you can: why is your character choosing to join the Vast Empire's Navy?

The personal history section can also be seen as an opportunity to justify "less plausible" choices in the preceding sections. If you've chosen a set of physical characteristics which seem unlikely to allow your character to do the given job(s) your character will be called upon to perform (she's so diminutive that her duty uniforms must be custom-made, perhaps), or you've developed a particularly unusual emotional make-up (he is mentally unstable, maybe), make sure your history is especially well-crafted, to explain why your character has chosen to join the VEN, despite being predisposed against the choice physically or emotionally, and how he/she overcomes those "handicaps."

Further Notes[edit]

Ultimately, you have to use your own judgment about what to put in your bio; after all, it is YOUR character. But remember this: bios are evaluated on appearance (are all three sections covered?) and plausibility (is this scenario likely?) and content (is there a good mix of broad information and evocative details in the bio?). It's a good idea to throw in a few "extra," personalizing details, like favorite activities, pet peeves, minor mental or physical problems, etc... Even the most trivial things can be useful for someone trying to read up on and understand your character.


The Force Restriction[edit]

As a new member, your character is not allowed to use the Force, or affiliate with it in any way (this means your character can't be related to a Force-sensitive being, can't be the heir to a mysterious holocron, and may not own a lightsaber, to specify just a few impermissible scenarios). We know a lot of people want to be Jedi or use the Force, but we ask you to keep a few things in mind when you consider this ban on affiliating with the Force:
1. During the time period in which we're writing (at the moment, 12 ABY), virtually all Jedi and Sith have been eradicated, with a very few exceptions who are already mentioned in the movies and books of the Expanded Universe. IC, Force-sensitive characters are rare.
2. We feel that using the Force in your writing is a privilege that you must earn; if you can't write a compelling story without using the Force, then you probably don't have the control or experience necessary to write well with it. In other words, we don't want you magically saving the day with the Force every time your character gets into trouble. OOC, Force-sensitive characters are overpowered.
3. If you prove yourself as a writer, maintaining high quality and high quantity activity over time, you may have a chance someday to delve into the mysteries of the Force, by joining the shadowy group known as the Dark Jedi Order. But again, this is not an available option for new members.

The Canon Characters Restriction[edit]

We also prefer your character is not affiliated with any well-known characters from the Star Wars saga. For example, we'd rather you didn't write a story about how you once beat Han Solo in a game of sabacc, and we're not keen on reading about all those years you spent as Wedge Antilles's roommate. We're not writing typical fan fiction, here; we're collaborating on a literary rpg with original characters. Note: you should absolutely feel free to post fan fiction stories to the appropriate area of the ComNet (the neutral "Story Board"), it's just that any such activity is quite independent of your main PC, which you will use in all official stories.

If you have questions about either of these policies (about how far you can push Force-sensitivity, perhaps, or how far removed a canon character must be from your original character in the literary rpg) simply ask your trainer, in your training thread, or approach one of the other members of the Vast Empire's Naval Academy Staff (VENA-S) via IRC or ComNet Message Center.

You may take a look at a few bios by going to the Navy Members Category. Some good examples of character biographies there might be Ibram Tyrol, Anden Beliam, Hunter Morrell, Wyl Trykon, and Drac. Note the diversity; each member covers the three required sections, but each does so in his/her own way.

Assignment in three parts[edit]

Part One: Biography[edit]

When you have written your bio, please post it on your training thread so your Trainer can mark it and give you feedback. Please also use the following form to start it off:

  • Physical Appearance
    • Homeworld:
    • Age:
    • Species:
    • Native Language:
    • Gender:
    • Skin Color:
    • Height:
    • Weight:
    • Hair Color:
    • Facial Hair:
    • Eye Color:
    • Scars:
    • Tattoos:
  • Physical Description

Your character's "look" goes here, including information on build, stature, etc.

  • Personality

Your character's personality overview goes here. Make him/her interesting and complex, by including strengths and flaws/defects.

  • Character’s Background

Your character's summarized personal backstory goes here. It should be at least 1-2 solid paragraphs (of 5 sentences each), and you needn't go into exhaustive detail, but feel free to include more than the minimum.

Part Two: ID Line[edit]

This is not part of your biography, but needs to be produced at the same time as you present your bio for review. Every member of the Navy has an ID line - a succinct summary which gives the member's basic information at a glance: name, rank, unit, etc. There is a specific format that must be followed, along with set codes and acronyms to use. You can find all of the relevant information on the Naval ID Lines wiki page. We realize, though, that the Naval ID Line system can be confusing, especially at first, so don't stress too much; the system becomes second-nature surprisingly quickly.

Part Three: Wiki Page[edit]

Once you have completed your bio and figured out your ID Line, please also create a Wiki page for your character, using this tutorial. Don't forget to include your bio information and ID Line on this new Wiki page. Your biography should be well-formatted and grammatically correct, and your ID Line accurate. We recommend writing your bio in a word processing program first, to take advantage of features like Spell-Check. Your bio reflects your writing so you want it to look good. Once you've made your page, please post a link to it on your training thread, so that your Trainer can review your work.

A word about wiki pages: Not everyone sees the need for a wiki page, but most people, especially as time goes on and they stick around for awhile, find them helpful as a convenient place to store all the little details of the character (and associated NPCs) they create for their writing here in the VE. And even if you're uncomfortable with coding, or convinced that you don't need a wiki page to keep details consistent, remember that not everyone in the club knows your character as well as you do. Your personal character wiki page isn't so much for you as an author: it's mostly meant to help other members who will be writing about your character(s) in their own posts. Remember, we're writing collaborative fiction, here. Be a team player: help your fellow members know your character(s) by making a wiki page and keeping it up to date, and get to know their characters, by reading their pages.

Once your Trainer reviews your wiki page, containing your character's complete biography and your correct ID Line, he/she will clear you to begin the second Chapter of your chosen school, whether you're a trainee pilot in Starfighter School or a crewer-in-training in Fleet School.