Open Characters Guide
Open Characters have become a huge deal at 'Souls! We often have many, many adoptable characters on our official list, and even more in the Open Characters category on the Wiki. This guide will attempt to aid players who wish to make an enticing adoptable, and provide information about advertising and promoting adoptables.
On this page... (hide)
- 1. Creating New Adoptables
- 1.1 Make a Profile (Or Not)
- 1.2 Traits to Focus On
- 1.3 Dealbreakers
- 2. Getting Adopters
- 2.1 Keep it Updated
- 2.2 Plots
- 2.3 Advertise Outside of 'Souls!
- 2.4 Approach Others
- 2.5 Baubles
- 2.6 Simplify and Modify
- 3. Picking an Adopter
- 4. Readoption
- 4.1 How to Readopt
- 4.2 When Not to Readopt
- 5. Contracts
- 5.1 Be Clear
- 5.2 Keep To It
- 5.3 Strictness
- 5.4 Example Contract
- 5.5 Reclaiming
- 6. More
- 6.1 Other Tips
- 6.2 Adoptables Surveys
- 6.3 Related Forum Discussions
- 6.4 Questions?
1. Creating New Adoptables
1.1 Make a Profile (Or Not)
You can make a forum profile or a Wiki profile (recommended). If you want to create both, you're doubling the amount of maintenance you have to do! It's easier to just create one or the other. However, creating both profiles does offer more places for your character to be seen. If you create both, it will help you to keep one or the other profile simple, and link to the more complex profile.
Choosing whether to make a profile or not is an important decision. On one hand, it can be difficult to gauge a character without detailed information about them. Many players are looking for in-depth characters with complexity; this is difficult to provide with just the information in the Open Characters list. The Wiki is also great for storing your adoption contracts and other hefty information regarding the character. You can also tag your pages with the Open Characters category, which is a second "list" of characters available for adoption.
On the other hand, however, if your character is "open season" -- e.g., heavily customisable -- and you don't have many ideas to provide the adopter, don't make a profile. Some players are indeed looking for a "sketch" character they can adopt and fill in the details about. The brief overview in the official list may be just the right amount of information for those sorts of adopters, and you might be tempted to fill out parts of the profile, overwhelming these types of adopters with too much information.
Remember, both types -- a complex character and a "sketch" character -- can prove successful!
1.2 Traits to Focus On
From the 2012 survey.
From the 2022 survey; 'What matters to you MOST when it comes to adoptables?'.
The four biggest draws for adoptable characters, according to the 2012 survey, are Name, History, Personality, and Family. You cannot really help the last aspect unless your character was already born into a family that appeals to the adopter, but you can focus on the first three.
According to the 2022 survey, other big draws are Available plots / character arcs, and Character's intended pack.
Personality is probably the single biggest draw to a character -- you can leave the personality entirely up to the player, or you can craft one for them. Personality is often the most interesting aspect of a character, though -- be careful leaving it blank or entirely up to the player.
Similarly to the above point, intricate histories may intimidate adopters -- they may feel they have too much to learn, or they're afraid of not playing the character correctly. Conversely, though, an interesting backstory is often what draws the player to the character.
- 2012 Survey answer: "If a character's personality or back story is too detailed I likely wouldn't take interest as I would be afraid of not playing the character to the adopter's expectations."
It's difficult to know what kind of names are appealing -- no names are universally loved, and the name is perhaps the most important aspect of the adoptable character. Even if everything else appeals to an adopter, a name they dislike may drive them away and to another character. You can consider flexibility with names -- provide a few options, if possible. This isn't always possible, especially for established characters or those born on-board, but it may help! For puppies, you can consider giving them an option of either parent surname, perhaps. Established characters can always change their names, too!
Younger characters tend to be adopted faster since players have vast room for development and don't need tons of backstory. If your character is already quite old, it can be tough to "fill the gaps" in their history and know what to do with their life before they came to 'Souls -- and if you fill in this information yourself, with a lengthy history, players may feel constrained or intimidated by such an intricate character.
Remember, however: only adult adoptables born outside of 'Souls are permitted on the official list. If your character is less than 7 months and was born off-board, they are not permitted on the official Open Characters list by the rules. You are still welcome to make them a profile and include them in the Wiki category for Open Characters (though they are not playable until 7 months of age, as per the game rules). The official Open Characters topic bars such adoptables altogether. The reason for this is to provide an advantage to puppies born on-board via our Puppy Procedures. Players needed to be active and committed to use their puppy points, so it's only fair the resulting puppies have a bit of a leg-up from a random whipped-up puppy. :)
In the 2012 Survey, the question was posed: "Do you have any "dealbreakers" where adoption is concerned? In other words, is there a specific "part" of an adoptable that would make you cease considering that character? For example, say you found the perfect adoptable, but you hate the name. Would this stop you from adopting the character?" The answers may prove surprising:
- 8 (28%) of players indicated the backstory.
- 12 (41%) of players indicated the previous roleplay, if it exists.
- 12 (41%) of players indicated the adoption contract and terms. A very strict adopter with exacting specifics about how the character should be played seems far less likely to get a character adopted out.
- Personality was also mentioned as a big dealbreaker, and certainly should've been included in the multi-choice answers.
- Pack affiliation is also important: some players prefer to roleplay in the same packs. Some players prefer to spread their characters over as many groups as possible. Either is perfectly acceptable, but it's something adopters may not consider: obviously, as an adoptable character is generally intended to provide an in-game connection to an existing character, many adopters have stringent requirements about which pack an adoptable should join. Consider, perhaps, relaxing your requirements as to the character's pack affiliation -- your characters can definitely still interact frequently if the adoptable joins a neighboring pack, and inter-pack roleplay opportunities (e.g., for an alliance or even negative consequences -- make sure to check with your leader first).
2. Getting Adopters
It might help everyone to see this answer -- adoption isn't easy and if you are struggling to get a character adopted, you are not alone.
If you're having trouble finding an adopter, there are things you can do!
2.1 Keep it Updated
Keep your profiles updated. No, seriously! Keep it updated and you'll attract more players; no one wants to have to sift through unorganized junk to figure out things about a character. If you had a roleplayer drop an adoptable and you want to replayer them, you better go back over their profile(s) and update everything. Make a list of their past threads and update their history to reflect what changes have happened. Same goes for puppy characters -- you might have made the page when they were born, but now they're 6 months old and it still reads as if they're a newborn!
Create a plot or involvement for your Open Characters -- having something fun to play with immediately may generate interest. Give some brief ideas on plot involvements for your adoptables. This doesn't necessarily have to be a family tie -- if your character came from outside of 'Souls, perhaps they met and befriended your adoptable elsewhere? It's bad roleplaying form to make gigantic edits to your character's backstory, but there's nothing wrong with a little assumption like friendship on the road or having traveled together or even a negative encounter. :)
- 2012 Survey Answer by Sie: "I make sure the character has IC ties readily available, for instance to my own characters or other active characters. For example, with Eris, I've always figured she met various characters on her journey north from Eterne to 'Souls, but I've never gone in-depth about who or which characters. I eventually plotted with the players of Jeremiah Ezekial and Bastion Hallow/Janos Russo that our characters had encountered one another previously."
This is very important: if you have a plot for your adoptable, FOLLOW THROUGH WITH IT. A player in the 2012 survey indicated they felt trapped by the non-progression of a promised plot for an adoptable. The succinct "trapped" word works very well to express the feelings of players stuck in such plots. Remember: plots dying out without a resolution can very easily cause a busted muse in some players! Characters with slow or entirely halted plots may be dropped. Make sure you're ready to follow through with such plots if you offer them.
2.3 Advertise Outside of 'Souls!
Advertise outside of 'Souls! You'll not only draw attention to your characters in particular, but 'Souls as a whole! Make sure you abide by these sites' rules when you advertise -- remember, you're representing 'Souls! An oft-cited negative experience with adoptables is that characters tend to sit for a really long time. 'Souls pool of players is growing -- but it's not growing super-quickly, either. The same players are looking over your adoptables -- it's no big wonder the same players aren't interested, right? Advertise your open characters elsewhere -- off-site advertisement is good for 'Souls and it's good for your adoptables. :)
These forums exist specifically for you to post open/adoptable characters. They're well-suited for the purpose of advertisement.
- Forum Classifieds @ RPGFix -- Requires you to make an account and make 10 posts before using.
2.4 Approach Others
Your pack leader can help your adoptables get noticed. Ask your leader to help promote your adoptables via Twitter -- most pack leaders will gladly oblige. Quite a few packs actually have areas on their websites or Wikis that list available characters relevant to that pack. Ask your pack leader to help! It's what they're there for. c; They may also be able to offer additional baubles such as game points, if they don't already have something built in to their game system -- most packs have an automatic point gain for joining with any adoptable tied to their pack.
If someone else plays a character very close to your adoptable -- e.g., a sibling -- you can ask them to do a little extra promotion, such as on their profile or in their signature. Players looking over their profile or posts may then become interested at the chance to play a close relative of that related character.
You can create (or promise) graphics for the player -- tables, avatars, signatures, and so forth can be strong incentives for adoption, as many feel "naked" without graphics on 'Souls. Try some templates. Remember that baubles are rarely the thing to attract attention to your adoptable characters -- nor is it a "deciding factor" as per the dealbreaker question. Worry about the adoptable's profile information before you worry about their shinies.
2.6 Simplify and Modify
If your characters aren't being adopted, consider shortening their history or leaving more of their characteristics open -- for example, if their appearance isn't important, let the new player decide what they'll look. This makes their "required reading" shorter without losing the core of what you want.
3. Picking an Adopter
Here, it seems we have two opposing schools of thought, from the 2012 Survey answers. In one camp, you have players concerned primarily with activity and whether or not the player is actually going to stick with the character. In the other, you have players primarily concerned with writing ability and the player's ability to play the character well. Both viewpoints have their negative and positive aspects. For players concerned with activity, they may get an adopter they don't enjoy roleplaying with -- this is bad! For players concerned with writing ability, they may get an adopter who is a very slow poster, or an adopter who poofs shortly after adopting the character -- this is bad!
- 2012 Survey Answer: "i may ask for a short written example to see how they would play the character." A great suggestion -- if you're not absolutely sure whether you want to go with a player, ask for a sample. If the player can't be bothered to even write a little blurb for you, they probably won't stick with the character -- and, you'll also be able to roughly evaluate their writing abilities to see whether they jive with your style or not.
- 2012 Survey Answer: "I approach the player and propose the idea. Instead of feeling obligated if someone approached me..." It's important to note that this tactic may not work so well: many players have a good idea of their future characters and don't have room for another in their roster. Additionally, make sure not to be pressuring in your inquiry.
3.1 Rejecting a Player
You may wish to reject a player for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is activity, poor past experiences, instability/inconsistency, and a lack of harmony between roleplay styles. It happens!
- 2012 Survey Answer: "I've adopted 6 characters altogether, and they have all been dropped not long after, or been played with such scarcity that it could hardly be called activity (1-3 posts per month). Some of my characters have been adopted numerous times because they have been returned to me shortly after being adopted. This is discouraging, and really damages my own muse if these characters have close ties (family etc++) to my characters. I try to give players the benefit of the doubt, but after trying for a few years I've just given up finding dedicated players entirely. It seems the players that could play my characters well aren't interested in adopting them."
This survey answer speaks pretty well for the rest of the answers: there are, unfortunately, a lot of negative experiences with players who pick up and drop characters shortly thereafter. :c The best things to do here are:
- Check out the player's previous experience for yourself. If they have a history of picking up/dropping/picking up/dropping very quickly, or their activity is very low, reconsider. You can look at the Drop and NPC List to see how often their name comes up in the last few months, or you can look at their Players page to see if they keep a list of past characters.
- Talk to other adopters you trust and ask about their experiences with this player. Don't rely on gossip, and remember to take things with a grain of salt!
- Keep your own "blacklist" of players you won't adopt to. It's not at ALL a pretty idea, but it seems to be an unfortunate necessity: there are players out there who simply can't hold down a character. If you keep such a list, it should be kept as privately possible to avoid offending players. They may not be someone you want to adopt to again, but you also do not want to hurt their feelings and disrespect them (it's against the rules!). Public lists are not appropriate -- use Google documents for this purpose, if you must.
Learning to Say No
- 2012 Survey Answer: Players Sie says: "I dislike saying no -- even if I know for a fact I won't be satisfied with a player approaching me about adoption, sometimes it is still tough to say no. Personally, that's a point I'm trying to improve upon in ALL arenas of my life. I've found it helps thinking about it in absolute terms: on one end, if you say no, you do run the risk of offending a player and making them hate you. However, that would take a rare, extremely petty person (not often found at 'Souls!) who isn't worth your time anyway -- so it doesn't really matter, does it? :) On the other hand, if you say yes, you run the risk of frustrating the living hell out of yourself and regretting adopting the character out -- I can say with certainty, there's one particular character I've always regretted adopting out, and even now, years after the fact, I still D:-face over this character. That's the absolute end of adopting to a player who doesn't tickle your fancy -- which absolute is worse? :)"
How to Say No
- First and foremost, BE POLITE. There is absolutely no reason to be a jerk to someone who's reaching out to you.
- Secondly, tell them why. It's a little hurtful to receive just a "no" without any reason why -- do tell them. On the other hand, though, don't throw them a 10 paragraph letter of everything they've ever done "wrong" in roleplay: a short, general reason suffices just fine.
Many players will try to find a new player for an adoptable if the character is dropped. Readoption, although common, can be a tricky thing: previous play can be a frightening thing for new players, who can be paranoid about getting the character wrong.
4.1 How to Readopt
If you choose to readopt a character, there are some things you can do to prevent the "readoption paranoia" from scaring new players:
- Log their threads, write down what happened to them, and archive, archive, archive. The clearer you are about how the character was, the better chance the new player has of understanding that and being able to continue them.
- You may want to create a list of relationships -- characters they've met before, how they feel about that character, what happened between them. This can reduce the issue of the adopter not knowing who the character has met and interacted with.
- Recraft their personality. After they were dropped, perhaps something major happened to them, causing a significant shift in personality. This is a great way to change things up with the character and make it clear you're okay with differences from their past roleplay.
- If you need to recover information (e.g., something the adopter deleted when they picked up the character, like the adoption information or contract) from the Wiki, use the History tab, which lets you recover and restore past edits. You won't want to totally revert the page to before the adopter had the character if they've made changes to personality, history, etc. but you can at least copy-paste your information back onto the page.
4.2 When Not to Readopt
Most players and adoptables feel that long-term, highly-involved characters should not be replayered on a whim. When someone has dedicated a lot of time and effort into making the character their own, it's good form as an adopter to give them a long (a year or two at least -- perhaps even permanent!) grace period before asking the player if they plan to return with the character. The 'SA can always look up an email address for you, should you wish to ask about an old character.
Contracts are a method of protecting both the adopter and the adoptee.
5.1 Be Clear
Make sure your terms are very clear and very exact. If you're don't know what you mean by a phrase in your adoptable contract, it's just bad form to expect another player to hold to those terms. You may wish to ask for feedback in the Help and Questions thread regarding the clarity of your contract.
5.2 Keep To It
One answer of the survey indicated that their adoption experience was soured when the adoptable's owner's expectations changed. This is HUGE: If you're using an adoptable contract, make sure you adhere to the terms. They're not only for the adoptable itself, but for you, too -- you can't set out a term requesting 5 posts per month from a player, and then turn around and change your mind to demand 10 posts per month. What you agreed upon, you agreed upon.
If you have many strict requirements about the character or an extremely binding adoption contract, it may frighten players! They may fear playing the character "wrong," or they may feel development to the character is unwelcome. This even applies to "simple" restrictions such as the character's preferred pack. Players do want a starting point for their characters, but they also want the opportunity to make that character their own. Restricting their freedom to do so can certainly lend to less interest in your adoptables -- some players just feel constricted, while other players feel guilty and anxious about letting you down. :)
- 2012 Survey Answer: "Regarding character adoption in general, the most critical aspect for me is the ability to make the character "your own." I dislike open characters whose backstories are written out to a T, whether before they were played or as an result of being played for years before being put up for adoption. I love it when adopters are lenient and open to certain changes as long as the player doesn't take the character in the completely wrong direction. I did recently approach an adopter about an "evil" character I was interested in, so long as I could provide a deeper backstory and reasons for his behavior, and she was completely excited about it; that's an example of what I'm looking for. By advertising that I'm open to interpretation and changes about my own open characters (and making them shiny stuff), I hope to get more interested players too."
- 2012 Survey Answer: "I'd just like to say that, though I love adopting characters, sometimes my own fear of letting the adopter down, and of their adoption contract, stops me from doing so."
5.4 Example Contract
You can use page includes to import the contract verbatim onto your character's pages or simply link to this page or take the contract and modify it as you'd like. The following example is one of a very strict contract in terms of Time and Plot concerns. Specific terms are medium-strict, while the terms about the character's baubles are medium-strict.
- Commissioned, bought art, traded art, etc. always remain property of whichever player bought them. You cannot take these things back from the player who purchased or traded for them.
- Purchased titles and icons and things earned via game points such as titles and icons should also return to the earning player rather than a new player: however, in the case that the player disappeared entirely from 'Souls or was banned, etc. -- these things can be recycled to the new player.
The Adoptee agrees to immediately surrender the adoptable character in the following conditions:
I may choose to re-adopt the character if you have:
"Signing" this contract indicates you agree to the above terms and you understand them, and you are okay with this happening! It also means the character is yours, provided you adhere to the specified terms! Feel free to ask any questions you have about its history, past, upbringing, characterization, and so forth. Thank you for adopting!
Including Contract on Wiki Pages
Before reclaiming via the 'SA, we strongly suggest attempting to resolve the conflict yourself. Talk to the player and communicate: clearly and politely state what the problem is and how you would like to resolve it, and make it clear you are discussing the problem. It's amazing what communication can do sometimes!
Draft for Discussion
Please remember -- the passwords for the accounts of adoptable characters are the responsibility of their current owners. If you're reclaiming an adopted character's account, please make sure to contact the 'Souls Assemblage for a password reset. It is then your responsibility to pass this password onto the character's new owner. Adopting players should not contact the 'Souls Assemblage for account passwords.
6.1 Other Tips
- Another place to store information (especially Adoption Contracts) is pastebin.com. You can set the pastes to public and (with a registered account) edit old pastes.
- We have promotion images to help you advertise your available adoptables! Stick them in your 'Souls signature -- or better yet, outside of 'Souls.
- If you have multiple adoptables, create an Adoptables page. Examples:
6.2 Adoptables Surveys
- February 2012: Sie ran an adoptables survey that garnered 30 responses. It covers a variety of topics, ranging from adopters to those who have adopted a character before. The responses were pretty illuminating and much of the information from this guide came from that survey. -- Original Thread
- March 2022: Songbird ran a Pack & Character survey that garnered 25 responses. It covered many topics besides adoptables, but had three questions pertaining to adoptable characters. -- Original Thread
6.3 Related Forum Discussions
Read through some previous discussion threads for more ideas:
- How to attract adopters? (14 Jan 2015)
- Adoptables vs Self-Made Characters (17 Sep 2014)
- What attracts you to a character? (16 Apr 2014)
- Adoptable/NPC Opinions (4 Jan 2013)
Check the FAQ; if your question is not answered there, post in Help and Questions!