forum Character Help
Started by @Serpentess
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@Serpentess

Like the title says. I need some inspiration for building the two characters below. They are mostly blank.

  1. High Sergeant (royal guard, second-lowest rank) Augen Emarth, he’s a bodyguard for the princess in my story and has high seniority. He is maybe 40’s-60’s, unsure. His shoulder gets dislocated in a fight in Chapter 1. He’s otherwise a blank.

  2. Secondly, Sergeant (city guard) Kaffer. He gets thrown and his side is hurt in the Chapter 1 fight. Complete blank.

Deleted user

Are Augen and Kaffer related? Whether or not they are, their home environment in their formative years might have influenced their worldview or personalities.

Were they raised with both parents, or fostered by a grandparent, or orphanage, do they have siblings, or cousins, are they bachelors, or widowed, or separated, or have their children died in plague or battle, or are they dedicated to the guard which means they don't have or expand on families of their own anymore? Were they educated by a tutor, or at a boarding school, or guild, or on the job training?

What relationship to monarchy or authority would they have that suits the story (like, maybe they've been told seditionary things and believe it because it makes sense, but feel amicable towards the princess as a human being rather than some abstract symbol of privilege and inequality? Or does upholding the tradition give them a sense of comfort and stability, because they always know how to relate to everybody else in their lives if everybody knows and respects rank?)

What relationship to violence do they have? Were they entrusted with this position because they're sadistic on the battlefield—or is it more like a noble sport, for fun that happens to have casualties, or a scholarly pursuit in which enemy lives are necessary collateral damage—or do they hate violence so much that if they're in a situation in which everybody expects them to be violent then "fighting fair" is the very last thing they can ever bring themselves to do?

@Serpentess

(Making this as extra notes/context, and a reply to the questions you gave. Thanks for the reply, it does help a little and also made me realize that I gave no context at all. My bad. I’ll make another post to give context)

The two are not related, and possibly don’t even really know each other at all.

The King is respectable, and there are no rebellions in progress (that are relevant to the story at least). Augen most certainly serves to protect the Princess, Kaffer likely serves as a ‘loyal soldier’ type (?).

It’s a default that all guards start out as a City Guard, then later become a Royal Guard, so Augen is a lot older than Kaffer, (twenty years older? More?)

Augen is more likely to be mellow in regard to violence, except when the Princess or other royal family member is threatened. Kaffer… may be more logical about violence (if being attacked, attack. If person is no threat, don’t attack. The like).

Neither of them are bad guys, they’re just minor characters that are protecting their respective charge.

@Serpentess

FOR CONTEXT (big title/note, not screaming)

They are based in a fairly mellow/amicable kingdom on a large island of other nations. The entire island has been locked in a peaceful truce for millenia, so wars are rare.

The kingdom Augen and Kaffer are based is most notable for being the only nation with steel weapons (instead of iron or some other predecessors). This kingdom is actually full of blacksmiths, that’s their main trade.

The current King is a respectable man who tries to lead fairly, though he is human and does occasionally make mistakes (as usual. It happens). He has only one child/heir, the Princess, and he assigned the bodyguards to protect her, though the Queen Consort is more protective and strict than him.

The Queen Consort is a bit of a b**ch (excuse the language, I couldn’t think of another way to say it), but isn’t as involved in ruling the kingdom as her husband. She is overprotective, and goes a little psycho during the story (long story, mainly because of the MC), but she’s actually a good mom and is just trying to help the Princess grow.

Guards of the kingdom are mainly just guardians/protectors, but can serve as an addition to any army if need be. Augen and Kaffer in particular, are in the capital city, where one guards the city itself and the other is watching over a royal family member.

Deleted user

What I'm thinking now is that Augen could have started off as an apprentice metalsmith, which would be a source of pride in their kingdom as a famous or remarkable industry—but that, the workflow simply didn't suit him. He could have this cooperative mindset of how if so many people in his neighborhood are metalsmiths then he doesn't have to be one more, especially if he doesn't want to stay indoors leaning over red-hot ingots every day. I imagine that the commission requests might have gone more towards "hearth-toaster" or "steel grater/mandolin" and not only weapons, which loosened up his consciousness towards how steel is really only a tool: it can be a weapon, or it can be kitchenware (or, I dunno, clockwork pieces… I don't know your world's technology level.) Then it wasn't like some latent desire to go to war is in every hammer-blow

So if he signed up to be on the city patrol, especially during a time of peace, then he could walk around and check in on people, more than raring at the bit for a fight.

I might suggest, then, for Augen the character trait of good-natured nosiness. If he's had to break up a bar brawl, he could find it a necessary effort to keep the peace, and find that he's successful to that end.

But it really all depends on what will move your story forward in a way that's interesting to you. If it's more interesting to you that Augen is cynical and bitter and has a mysterious past because he comes from another kingdom, or that his only consolation is the salary he drinks away to block his post-traumatic stress and the uniform finery he gets from serving a prestigious family…or something like that…or if he's been raised at a monastery, or was "the spare heir" of a family of lower nobility, recommended transfer to the royal guard because he's naturally tall and muscular, and/or has a romantic subplot with the princess' tutor or a housekeeper or lady-in-waiting…then, that's what it's going to be.

I can headcanon Augen as having working-class roots, but really any trait you decide on can then be compared or contrasted with Kaffer to define Kaffer's character too: Would it be more interesting to you for the purpose of the story if Kaffer were working-class, or gentry, or nobility? How well-traveled or well-educated would Kaffer or Augen be compared to one another? Where does their loyalty come from—Have royal decrees worked in their favor, and/or does the king or princess remind them of a younger sister or a good friend from their past? Or even the queen reminding them of a spoiled yet sternly overprotective and emotionally unstable aunt?

Finally: At what plot points will these traits matter? Are they supposed to make these characters sympathetic to the reader right before they die? Or are there skills you need to pull out of a character to make something in the plot happen?

For the latter, it's like…if Augen is A People Person, and rumors start going around that "the queen has gone mad", then Augen can quell any rebellion just by talking, which wouldn't work if he were seen as a standoffish class traitor instead of "yeah, that's Papa Augen, he was on the beat in our neighborhood when I was a wee child, we all know him so if he says the queen is just sad about the princess like any ordinary mother would be then it must be true."

So if Kaffer is an overgrown sheltered/spoiled child who's only read history books about strategizing war, or if he's somebody street-savvy and underhanded without much brute physical strength or weapons finesse, then that's going to change how he deals with plot happening to him as opposed to if he were a bland faceless background character…which you can still do, if their personalities aren't going to be important to the whole story anyway.

@Serpentess

Ooh, this is really interesting/insightful. And sorry again for lack of context, the entire island, not just the kingdom I’m focused on, is medieval technology, or maybe a ‘barely out of the Iron Age’ scenario. A bit of a grey area there.

Thank you, this is really inspiring! I like your idea with Augen being a former blacksmith and Kaffer being streetwise and shady.

And ideas for additional parts in the story for them are now appearing. Yay! Thank you!

And I completely forgot about maids/servants and ladies-in-waiting! Crap! I shall be quick to fix that.

Deleted user

Glad to help!

The structure of domestic service might not have changed much for the royal or noble families between medieval and modern times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiMASk5MIU&t=06m20s

An estate the size of Eaton Hall would have about 50 servants catering to one family. What Pamela Cox's description (the documentary host) of more modern domestic service leaves out is that in medieval times the land owned would include wilderness, which was why some medieval royals would have venison or roast swans from a hired royal huntsman (or twelve), rather than sending a housekeeper to buy it at the market—whereas commoners weren't allowed to hunt those animals but were only allowed to catch and eat animals like hegehogs or rabbits, otherwise it would be poaching. A royal gardener or groundskeeper would keep the orchards or hothouses.

Much later on, families of more modest means would try to imitate the structures of domestic service, aspiring at least to two maids and two manservants (the manservants which would have a tax on the hiring of them; women remained cheaper to hire), but the middle classes around the early 20th century usually had to make do with only one "maid-of-all-work" (that's cooking, and cleaning, and caring for any children if there were any.)