Opinions of what makes a main character

How do you make a main character that let’s say, isn’t dull and definitely not boring unlike a certain mc I know (turns away from roy in the corner). I just need suggestions so that to not disappoint ya’ll and create another roy. I’m open for ya’lls suggestions
(I don’t hate roy, it’s just he’s bland in FE6, sorry for ya’ll roy fans out there :b)

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Write them like a human being who grows from their experiences over time or someone who appears realistic.
Roy’s biggest issue lies in the fact that he was written poorly, he has a lot of potential that was lost from both translation as well as the focus being to speed the story along; this is the case for most of the early fire emblem games. Main story > character development.

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I think that a lot of main characters do not go through enough character development, especially when it comes to development on an emotional level. Very few main characters truly show their emotion or some kind of flaw in my opinion. Some characters try, but fail to do this.

I like Eliwood as a main character, because he can be seen in various different emotional stages during the events of Fire Emblem The Blazing Sword. He grieves, he laughs, he loves, he hates.

Dimitri has a lot of emotional stuff going on as well, making him way more interesting than Ephraim for an example. Ephraim is a bland main character, because everything seems to just work out for him during the story.

Have a main character fail or have a major setback during the story. It’s the perfect way to show how strong the main character truly is, by overcoming these nasty experiences. You could also have them ponder and/or have them give their view on the situation a number of times, like Alm en Celica do in their story.

A more simple solution, would be to just flesh out the character. Tell us about their hobbies, worries, family, friends, relationships, opinions and feelings. Make them involved with the events of the story and have them reflect.

Hope this helped!

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Depends on what you want, really. The only thing you need to avoid is making them annoying for the player - it’s the only character you can’t bench or kill off if you don’t like them.

Roy > Corrin every day of the week. Roy is bland and uninteresting, sure, but Corrin is an idiot who’s every decision makes you furious.
A cool idea I have toyed with is making the main character slowly turn to the dark. You, as the player are powerless to stop it and it’s already too late when you understand what your main hero has become…

BUT TANGENT ASIDE… Just make the likable enough that the player won’t die of cringe.

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Don’t use the noble purehearted lord trope.
Make them crazy, evil, selfish, manipulative, depressed, brooding or whatever trait a normal FE lord would not have.
And give them some ulterior motives, like purging evil by mind controlling humanity and have to be stopped by some other characters (or not).

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I’m not the best writer but one of my favorite main characters is Guts from Berserk. Guy is flawed in some aspects and feels pretty human. I also generally like characters which motivate me to strife to be a better person. Ippo from Hajime no Ippo is probably one of the most relateable characters for me, and not only got me into boxxing, but also working out in general, even though he is not the most complex character out there.

I generally don’t care all that much about whether a character is a main character or not, and most often like a side character more than the main one though, so make of that what you want.

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Giving them a conflict that runs parallel to the main plot helps give you something to focus on, as mentioned before the main character doesn’t need to be perfect and pure hearted, as long as they are not someone the player will despise; Unless that is something you wish to explore, few games do this since it’s not very popular so you would have to look outside of fire emblem for such examples.(Such as brad from Lisa, or more Appropriately Denam pavel from the tactics ogre psp remake, who can become an accessory to genocide early on the story, and his personal conflict becomes wheter or not he can be redeemed.)

Letting your main characters make mistakes, Create enemies for themselves through their decision, harm or kill people they shouldn’t out of anger or profit,it gives you something to explore, which in turn can ease the writing process along since it forces you to acknowledge and deal with such issues.

Despite what i mentioned before the most important thing at the end of the day is not to be too rigid, you can have a vague idea of where the character’s journey starts and where it ends, but you have to remember to leave room for those little things that show up in the middle, so that as you flesh out other characters and the world they inhabit you can make small changes to your protagonist so that they might better interact with each other, taking a little from Leif you can make them ignorant to the plight of others, specially if they are of noble birth and explore this ignorance, let the character become aware of such circumstances or simply ignore them, at the end of the day what develops a character is how they interact with others.

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Ippo from Hajime no Ippo is probably one of the most relateable characters for me

Ah a fellow HnI enjoyer, I see you have good taste !

But to give some advices to Plant_Academy on how to write a main character, even if others have already given a lot of good advices, you can write some backgrounds for your characters it will help to then flesh his character: is he a young prince that have to prove his worth, a peasant from a remote village that suddenly have to discover the world, an ambitious mercenary that got mingled in events too big for him, etc. What is important is that your character should evolve during the game, depending of what happen.

Also, don’t feel bad about using classic tropes when writing stories and characters, we can’t always reinvent powder !

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If you want to go for the human one, take some notes of my favorite mc kei kurono from gantz. He’s probably the most realistic one i’ve had I mean ridiculously realistic. Basically, he’s just a horny teenager like almost every 99% of them and he’s a complete asshole but a normal one not too overly like a narcissist. The thing that I like him the most is that at the early chapters, he’s not just a hero who out of nowhere manages and interacts with the mysterious situation for everyone, he just doesn’t care at all and just sits in the corner waiting for something to be happening feeling like he’s just a side character. I was surprised by how human the reaction of the character is and it is somehow relatable on most people. Basically the situation of gantz was so sudden and mysterious that he didn’t even know what to do yet, he just stays silent and listens to other people not knowing that it’s a life threatening situation that is going to be stuck for the rest of his life. His character development is pretty decent, he turned from a dumb horny teenager to a matured young adult. But i’m not gonna talk about most of him cuz huge spoilers. So make them feel like normal people around you with relatable aspects. That would make the story more enjoyable to read.

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Take it from me, probably one of the most financially successful writers in the community. Characters are not about traits or other surface level things. Good characters are entirely about the choices they make.

It doesn’t matter if Eliwood’s favorite color is blue, or if Hector is a hothead, or if Harken values honor. Those traits have zero impact on the story unless they make the characters make interesting choices.

If Eliwood has the choice to save one of two lives, and he saves the life of the person with blue hair, that means he made a choice to save them over the other person because his favorite color is blue.

If Hector is a hothead and this results in him attacking someone when diplomacy would have been a better option, then that means he made a choice based upon his personality trait.

Similarly, sometimes characters can go against their personality traits. This often shows character growth.

If Hector has five times now done something hotheaded that resulted in an escalating conflict, but he’s also realized that what he has done was screwed up, you might choose to have him take the diplomatic route for once. Then, you call attention to this choice. By deliberately going against his personality, his built-in self, he’s making another deliberate decision that is interesting to the player/reader.

What makes a bad character? Someone who makes no choices. There’s nothing more uninteresting in fiction than a blank slate or a passive fellow who just ‘goes along with the flow.’

I haven’t played FE6, so I can’t speak for Roy. But if Roy just went along with whatever Marcus told him to do, then that could be made into a series of choices, but realistically he’s just being passive. A protagonist should have some strong influence on the plot, generally speaking, and make decisions that advance the plot; for better or worse.

This has been a Klok Writing PSA.

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it’s important to consider the role the main character fills when deciding how they should act, they have to be charismatic or important enough to have an army, they are the only playable character that can have a consistent and permanent character arc due to always being in the story, and they need to drive the plot forward.

I think the best example of what I mean is looking at how Dimitri is handled in Three Houses. Looking at the Azure Moon route, Dimitri is only able to push forward thanks to the people that were already with him before the time-skip, Byleth, Gilbert, Felix, and Rodrigue. Without having those people around or being as crazy as he is pre-time-skip would make it incredibly difficult to justify why anyone would follow him and how he would drive the plot forward.

Dimitri’s character arc was intertwined with his role in the story, neither was an afterthought, this is what you want to aim for when creating a main character.

You also don’t want your lord to have certain traits that would make it difficult to justify how they get into conflict, an example of this problem would be Chrom from Fire Emblem Awakening, overall I think Awakening’s story is pretty good but there are certain points where it feels like the story is bending over backwards to give Chrom a reason to move forward, the most obvious example is how Virion is used as a metaphorical sacrificial lamb to give Chrom and co a reason to actually go to Valm, and how Maribelle seeing Gangrel’s army and Gangrel himself happening to be there was used as the inciting incident for act one.

despite what many believe having a ‘generic’ lord personality of noble and purehearted isn’t inherently a bad thing, my mind immediately turns to the amazing storytelling of FE8, Eirika, the purehearted lord is shown consistently to believe that Lyon can be saved, even going so far as to relinquish the renais sacred stone to him and she eventually overcomes her weakness and is able to accept that Lyon is dead and can not be saved and fight him alongside Ephraim, the noble lord who is shown to be the person who accepts that Lyon is gone, most people think that Ephraim is boring because of this and I tend to disagree

The entirety of FE8 deals with how people deal with loss, Eirika and Ephraim are merely two sides of the same coin in that regard, Ephraim ignores his sense of loss and pushes forward with unflinching resolve, while Eirika can’t accept the loss and keeps telling herself that Lyon can be saved, neither are shown to be greater than the other, Eirika finds it in herself to accept the loss and move forward, while Ephraim is able to face the reality that he simply ignored.

Strong character writing is essential for a lord, be sure to allow for situations that allow the lord to both show their strength and weakness, and give them an actual stake in the story, give them something to care about and something to protect, and have the protected be threatened or even taken, allow the lord to reach an all-time low before allowing them to rise up once more and overcome the challenge in their way, or don’t, as long as it’s done correctly, a story where the lord fails can work.

anyway I’ve been typing long enough, just do what you feel is best and you’ll be able to make a main character you’re proud of!

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your message so inspiring that it came to the point where I became emotional while reading it :sob:

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thanks for the praise, I didn’t think much about it tbh I just kinda wrote down my thoughts, I think there’s some much better and more concentrated advice in this thread (although people are really dying for an evil lord)

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I like evil protagonists just like everyone else seems to do here, but I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. Tropes aren’t bad, it’s the way one uses them or not that is. Make a purehearted lord. Challenge their beliefs. Shatter their worldview. Will they break or will they keep going? Only one way to find out.

Here are the five guidelines I use when writing my protagonists. Of course those aren’t absolute rules, but I’ve found they make for better, more interesting protagonists when comparing mine, some of my all-time favorites and some of the protags I don’t like. (This applies to more than FE hacks btw)

  1. Make sure they are more than one-dimensional. Show different aspect of their personality, not just that they are “a cinnamon roll” or “a little evil goblin”. Some questions you can ask yourself that may help you (though having an answer to them isn’t an obligation of course) are “what do they fear?”, “what do they hate?”, “what do they think of themselves?”, “what do they want to achieve” or “what do they like to do, like, as a hobby?”

  2. Make them grow as a person. It’s not enough that they must have more than 1 personality traits, I think it’s important that they change throughout the story, for better or worse. I think that’s a lot of lords’ weakpoint, but Corrin and Roy get the most flak for it because the 1st one’s story seems to bend so that things can go their way and the 2nd one feels the most like a vessel for stuff to happen. My tip for that is to simply imagine how a meeting between said lord right before the game begins and after the game ends would go. If it sounds boring, I’ll try to spice things up a bit, which leads us to…

  3. Obstacles. Make them go through stuff. Not only physically (having to fight pretty much every chapter is enough imo) but also mentally. Make them feel guilt, sadness, maybe even anger or hatred. Most importantly, make it affect them in the long run. In that regard, “I let Gwen Stacy die” is one of my favorite tropes when it comes to this. I think this is also one of the reasons why people hate “Mary Sues” so much, because they’re rarely confronted to something that really affects them or make them falter, and when they do they shake it off too quick.

  4. Make them flawed, and make sure these flaws have consequences, or else they’re just quirky character traits. Many people on the internet would advise you not to make clumsiness, gluttony or “trying to do too good” their flaws because those aren’t serious enough, but I heavily disagree on that. Any flaw can be serious, as long as they have lasting consequences (ooooh, this ties up with the above point!). Characters with those three flaws often tend to just have them when there’s no stakes, for comedy purposes or sometimes just so the author can pretend they’re not perfect, but a character’s clumsiness could lead to the accidental death of someone dear to them, for a very dramatic example.

  5. Make sure they work well with the rest of the cast. Remember your character is not alone, and their interactions with the rest of the cast need to be interesting. I know it’s a bit weird, but usually when working on my main cast I try to make sure that they’re as different from one another as they can. A sweet and well-meaning lord could have a pragmatic and dead-serious 2nd lord as a foil. A troubled, aloof anti-hero could have a caring cleric as their secondary protagonist and closest ally. Note that this also applies for antagonists. I think one of the reasons Zephiel is so popular is that he offers an interesting contrast with Roy. Both were young men that excel in a lot of things and have their own burdens, but both chose different paths.

So… yeah. Sorry for going on such a big rant haha. I hope this turned out to be useful!

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I always liked the fools journey and variations of it. I like my protagonists to be new to the situations around them, learning from there surroundings. How the journey ends may vary but by the end you want the fool to be changed after all they learned and experienced. Another thing that’s integral to the fools journey is all the characters that they meet along the way, to make the main character interesting the side characters need to be too, some will challenge them, others will teach them, but mainly they will all affect the journey in some significant way.

I dunno that’s my two cents in all of this, I think the above posts say it better though

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Man i recall once buying a DVD with western movies, thinking it had a Classic but misreading the title. Me and my friend later found out its an Argentinian movie called “Abbaday: the Man without Fear” (translated from the german title). The main character in the movie was so bland and almost never spoke. You know the TellTale games where you have 4 dialogue options, and one of them is always to stay silent? Imagine picking silence everytime the characters expect you to actually say something, BUT ITS A MOVIE, AND YOU DON’T HAVE A CHOICE. We also had no idea what was going on half the time, or why the characters were doing what they were doing.

So yes, could not agree more with this.

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I don’t think it’s about having arc or flaws or being multidimensional.

Protagonists have 2 purposes (I think), being relatable and being wish-fulfillment.

FE protagonists usually fails at both since nobles leading armies is far removed from the life of any player. Beating the game is usually attributed to the tactician, aka the player, not the protagonist. So the story has to go out of the way to create wish-fulfillment angles for the protagonist, like Ike’s black knight arc. That’s why in classic FE the best characters are relatable ones and later more “evil” protagonists like Edelgard or Dimitri are so popular.

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The choices they make in the situations they are trying to resolve and the character traits which drive their decisions are what will make the audience like or dislike a main character. A main character with all good traits, perfect decision making, and no flaws to their thoughts and logic is a character few will enjoy.

Regardless if they’re a main, secondary, or side character. Hero or villain, protagonist or antagonist. A good character never is perfect. In regards to the main character, the choices they make need to drive the story forward while having them learn and grow from the experiences. Whether they make good decisions or bad in situations they find themselves in that regard is subjective to the story you want to tell and what sort of character you plan to have them be.

Planning out how characters will react to the situations you put them in is something you will need to do. There are probably better examples than the following, but FE Romhacks and all:

In a battle, for example, you can put the main character into a pivotal position within the battle where their decision will determine the outcome. Say your main character is a relatively competent leader and lord (as per general FE standards). It’s an important battle the army they’re leading is fighting. Things are going well and from their perspective it only makes sense to press their advantage to rout the enemy. A perspective shift to the enemy army can reveal (or you can foreshadow in some other way) a decision being made or reinforcements or something else which throws a wrench into the protagonist’s endeavors (perhaps something which the main character would not have taken into account). Something which can/will turn the tide of the battle. In this way the decision the protagonist makes (pressing their advantage) is logical, but still something they will have to retreat from (or whatever makes sense), lick their wounds, and learn from the experience to continue their journey.

Another misconception of main characters people sometimes have when writing is that they have to be the most likable and interesting character(s) of the story from start to finish. The character has to have certain dynamics with other characters in the cast. Interactions between characters are what will convey to the audience what sort of person they are and whatnot, especially in almost strictly dialogue restricted/focused media like GBA Fire Emblem.

The character doesn’t even need to be likeable from the get-go (but having other characters that are is important, or else the audience may/will lose interest). In fact, if you can pull off a character in a way where they are not widely loved by the audience in the beginning into one who grows into a character the audience will love, you will have succeeded greatly.

An example I can think of off the top of my head is Alphinaud from Final Fantasy XIV. Whether it was intended by the writers or not, Alphinaud is a character that is generally disliked by the players in the base game A Realm Reborn. When you meet and start getting to know this character, he’s a calculating individual who comes off as very intelligent, but has an air of pompousness or arrogance about him because he thinks so highly of himself at his young age. He generally has good plans and things eventually get resolved for the better by the end of the main story of A Realm Reborn thanks to yours, his, and the other Scions endeavors.

Later on his arrogance bites him in the arse extremely hard and he finds himself reflecting on all the mistakes he had made leading to what brought him down to that point. The story from then on he learns and grows from the events and experiences into a widely well regarded/one of the most loved characters by the players.

Hopefully that might be of some help, kinda just vomited my thoughts out onto the page.

EDIT
Fixed a couple grammar things and added a bit.

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I wholeheartedly disagree with that as well. In my opinion, the purpose of a protagonist is simply to drive the story forward. Sure, those two things you said help make them appeal to the audience (at least on surface level, because this doesn’t give them that much depth on its own), but I wouldn’t call it their purpose. Of course the FE format means that more often than not the focus is on worldbuilding rather than individual characters development, hence why most mainline FE protagonists are either wish fulfillment or “wow relatable”.
Sorry if it seems like I’m just contradicting you on purpose, I just think we both have drastically different ideas on what makes a protagonist lol.

I second this. Another great example of character that starts out as unlikeable but grows to be very popular to the audience is Luke Von Fabre from Tales of the Abyss. Starts out as extremely self-centered, childish, ignorant and gullible but after a series of terrible choices due to all these personality traits leading to a massive fuck up, he grows into a responsible person. And that’s neat.
Of course doing this kind of protagonists isn’t without pitfalls either. Make their redemption arc not satisfying enough and you’ll find yourself with a character like Alex YIIK.

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Most bland protagonists do push the plot forward (in fact that’s pretty much all they do!). I agree that having a bland protagonist in a good story that focuses on world building is sometimes a good approach. But since we are talking about making good protagonists here that’s not relevant.

Characters with depth but unrelatable is much better served as villains. In fact most “character depth” are created for otherwise unrelatable characters to be relatable to more people. For example, making a rich guy suffer parental abuse or PTSD is a good way to connect to people with similar experiences. FE format sucks at this since dialogue boxes are not a good way to depict traits like trauma.

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