Diversity includes a range of factors, such as gender, body shape, ethnicity and race, sexual orientation, age, disability, and mental illness. When designing a cast of playable characters, giving special consideration to diversity makes sense from genre, community, business, and world building perspectives.
Why focus on diversity?
Diversity is an important subject to consider when creating a cast of characters for any franchise. Diversity impacts how the genre feels, can help the business succeed, can help grow a community, and can help the characters feel unique and stand out.
Diversity is important in horror
In order for horror to be effective, the player has to feel like the situation is happening to themselves. The fears of the character mimic the fears of the player. Having a diverse cast of characters means that players are more likely to see aspects of themselves in the character they’re role playing as. Having a character feel as though they are an extension of themselves will immerse the player into the world. Immersion into the world means that the horror aspects feel real.
Diversity is important to fostering a community
If One Shot RPG presents players with a diverse cast of characters, then more players will be interested in the franchise. Focusing on one shot adventures lends itself to building a community, and having players feel like they’re welcome and that they fit it reinforces that goal. Having a welcoming, accepting community is vital to keeping players interested in the tabletop RPG one shots.
Diversity is important from a business perspective
Widening the appeal of the product means more customers. When developing the setting, I took into account decisions I could make from a business perspective to make it more customer friendly. When it comes to characters, diversity is something that makes sense as it gets more people excited about the product. More diverse characters means more people will find a character they identify with, which means that they’ll want to play a one shot adventure, which means they’ll purchase the product.
Diversity is important to intellectual property
Previously I discussed intellectual property related to the concept of worldbuilding. Intellectual property considerations are even more important when it comes to a character focused franchise such as One Shot RPG. Creating a cast of characters with diversity in mind leads to them feeling unique and relatable. Creating unique, relatable characters means that the intellectual property is more recognizable and protectable—it’s stronger. Having a strong intellectual property means that the product will stand out from its competition.
Why focus on diversity? It makes sense. Simple as that.
One of the requirements for a successful RPG setting is that characters of all genders be provided an equal opportunity. This goal also applies to designing the premade player characters. One Shot RPG should have an equal ratio of male to female characters. There should be a balanced distribution of combat roles, such as female melee characters and male supports. Personalities should be varied between the characters, with strong female leaders and emotional, caring men. Each person is unique, regardless of their gender, so characters in One Shot RPG should follow suit.
People come in all shapes and sizes, so the player characters should too. When considering a character’s body shape, the character’s gender should also be taken into account. There should be a variety of body shapes across all genders. Tall, hulking women should stand with short, non muscular men.
Ethnicity and Alien Race
When considering human characters, characters must come from a wide array of ethnicities. In the future version of our solar system, borders aren’t necessarily based on where you live, so there’s no reason the player characters can’t come from different ethnic backgrounds. One Shot RPG should strive to create premade characters of all colors.
Having equal representation of race applies to creating non-human characters too. The animal people are based on Earth fauna, so should come in different types of animal. The species from Mars comes in all plant, all stone, and in-between varieties, so that should be carried through to the character designs. The fourth alien species will need to be diverse too.
I’m going to assume that there’s interspecies romance in the setting of One Shot RPG. In a world like that, things like sexual orientation wouldn’t be a controversial subject. There should be characters designed from a wide spectrum of sexual orientations. When thinking about characters from an RPG perspective, I imagine that if a player has a different idea of how a character should be portrayed, they’ll role play them how they see fit. Additionally one of my goals is to have fanart drawn of the characters, and I don’t expect the artists to follow cannon portrayals either.
The setting for the sci-fi and horror one shots takes place over 200 years into our future. The ideas of health and aging are going to be different than our standards today. Characters can come from a large spread of ages. There should be premades in their early twenties, to middle aged, to sixties, to even older.
Disability and Mental Illness
Like age above, our notions of what disability looks like 200 years from now will be different. Missing limbs will be replaced by robot implants. Spinal cord injuries or motor disabilities can be fixed or mitigated with special suits or surgeries. People with cognitive disabilities can be accompanied by AI helpers. Because of these advances in medicine and technology, there’s no reason that disability can’t be represented by One Shot RPG’s premade characters.
The horror genre is successful when it preys upon our fear and anxiety of the unknown. That means that characters need to have their own fears, anxieties, and mental illness. There should be characters struggling with depression, perhaps from being branded as a heretic or traitor for being a scum fighter. There should be characters with generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, PTSD, hallucinatory disorders (which would work very well for horror), and other mental illness.
Now that a basis for diversity has been defined, it’s time to move on to defining how the characters should look and feel.