Quick Find
     Sister sites
    See our Quickstart Guide for information on how to get started.

    Having Problems?
    • FAQ - our Frequently Asked Questions page.
    • Device Help - assistance for viewing your purchases on a tablet device.
    • Contact us if none of these answer your questions.

    Affiliate System - Click here for information about how you can get money by referring people to !

    Our Latest Newsletter
    Product Reviews
    Privacy Policy
    How to Sell on
    Convention Support Program

    RSS Feed New Product RSS Feed
    Building Characters $5.00
    Average Rating:3.6 / 5
    Ratings Reviews Total
    1 0
    2 0
    1 0
    0 1
    0 0
    Building Characters
    Click to view
    You must be logged in to rate this
    Building Characters
    Publisher: Dancing Lights Press
    by John H. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 02/21/2021 23:22:33

    This version is an improvement over the first edition, and it still has a way to go to be the indispensable resource that I would expect from a publisher. While the formatting is better in this version, such as including bullets in place of the first edition's block paragraph of text for how different Character Roles interact with each other, there is still some sloppiness to the production. An example is this: "Looking back over the questions you answered for your character in the stages of lie section," (p. 67).

    Now you might think my issue is with the incorrect word "lie," which should be "life." I got over venting about that after reading the first edition (you can read my review of that edition to see how much I talk about this). I suspect that the second book may have been edited better, and since a lot of the content is the same, I skimmed the second version. I also wanted to be a little forgiving after all since a second edition meant that effort was made to improve the product.

    What didn't escape my notice in my careful skim is mention of the questions from the "Stages of Life" section. These questions are not in the second edition, and the publisher overlooked updating the context here, which still suggests a lack of better editing. Now I am guessing that the questions were removed because the publisher opted to go with leaning toward how building characters relates to roleplaying and games rather than how they relate to literary writing. If you really want that, you can pick up the first edition (even though it costs two dollars more than the second edition, and I suggest that The Art of Character by David Corbett is a far superior book for that sort of thing).

    There is some other material from the first edition that I felt was useful that has been cut too, such as descriptions of different rankings for Elements. Still, a reviewer of the first edition, Esteban M. V., felt that taking the time to describe these in detail was superfluous, such as a Low ranking Education meaning that the character has little or no education. Since that was a big chunk of the first book, one could hope that something more useful has replaced it.

    The improvement is that advice occasionally appears in place of what was in the first book. As an example, when talking about Activation of Wonders, the publisher suggests adding "a nice character bit" and suggests a few. Other material still got the chopping block that probably should have been retained, such as considering how long Activation takes. This may be because the publisher decided to define this book as a "minimalist [...] guide." Still, elements might have been retained that did not necessarily detract from the book like that I mentioned.

    Some of the new material is no better than that from the first book. I looked forward to (and read with interest rather than skimmed) the new introductory material on how building characters relates to worldbuilding, adventures, and rules. A lazy approach, reminiscent of the first book, was taken with each section, each ending with a sentence in this format: "When creating character background elements, keep [x] in mind," such as "keep existing worldbuilding in mind." Sure, this is useful for someone new to this sort of material or someone who is not reading the book from cover to cover, but it is recommended in the introduction that we "read through the entire book at least once" (p. 1). So as repetitive elements like the aforementioned come up, you know it's going to be a slog. It reminds me a bit of reading the Pathfinder Core Rulebook Second Edition rules in depth: be sure you guzzle some caffeine as you sit down to read this book.

    This formatting flavor is kept throughout the introductory section: "If your style leans more toward the wargaming perspective, consider [x]," e.g. x= "consider what abilities are common and uncommon in the setting" [Worldbuilding]; x= "the player should consider what abilities will be useful in the type of campaign or adventure being proposed" [Adventures]. Now the content in these examples is not bad: one can see why one would compare rarity of abilities in worldbuilding and usefulness in adventures. It is just the attempt to do as much as possible with formatting, and this style is maintained throughout the book. Concise and clear? Yes. An interesting read as one continues into adjacent segments? No.

    I am surprised that wargamers are even taken into consideration, and that they would want more depth of the nontactical variety. Still, kudos to the publisher to be inclusive. And this inclusivity should not pervade beyond the stat block format to the content of the stat block, as is done with the Story Points in the stat block: "Unanswered questions could include whether the character was like this in all stages of life, if they changed into their current state, and how this impacts components of [x]": x being "sociology and psychology" when talking about "physiology," and the publisher just mentions the other two when talking about another Dimension, i.e. "physiology and psychology" when talking about "sociology." Not only does this make for a dry textbook experience throughout the book, but considering this is a minimalist approach to the topic of Building Characters, one can wonder just how much actual content is left after shrinking down the remaining content from the cookie cutter statements used throughout in this manner.

    So the book's formatting is better, and I still expect and want more from this book. In my first edition review, I mentioned how I generated a new page of ranking data for my Character Eight in the the game The Iron Realm Dark Fantasy RPG for all sorts of elements. The advice that was included in the second book did not bring me any closer to having fleshed out my character over the first book with the new advice given. I still just had my rankings from the first book, which would even have been harder to produce with just the second volume, when it does not even incorporate the section about character sheet considerations when using elements from the book. This is why my rating has only increased to two stars because, overall, the book has not improved enough.

    If a third edition were made (and since the book is useful, I certainly hope that the publisher is inspired in ways that the second edition could be improved), a thing that I would like to see would be diagrams showing how characters relate (maybe using smooth arrows for Protagonists and jaggy ones for Antagonists with each pointing in the direction of interacton). For mentioned characters, I would at least like a reference of what they are from, such as when Olivia Foxworth is mentioned as an Aggressor, it might read "Olivia Foxworth (Flowers in the Attic)." I would like to see more broad notion ideas like as is mentioned for not bothering to list an itemized inventory because one can go off the equipment modifier (p. 83) although some writers might suggest that what one carries around with them can define something about the nature of a character too as I learned in a writing workshop. I'm not even sure why the book aims to be minimalist when what I would seek is something comprehensive without being granular. In the meantime, I guess that I can draw my own diagrams and add my own notes, just like how I could take PDFs of both editions, edit them in a PDF writer into one edition, and come back with a stronger version that incorporates the useful elements of both without the typos and oversights.

    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Displaying 1 to 1 (of 1 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
    0 items