The Orion's Arm Universe Project Forums

Character profiles
There's a writing exercise where you ask:
How well can I describe a character without naming them, describing what they look like, what they wear, what lines of dialogue they say, or what they do in the plot.

I struggle to describe more than a few sentences each about maybe 5 characters in Orion's arm, after reading most of the stories after 3 years.
This isn't a problem if you don't want it to be, because this worldbuilding project seems to attract more people who like building worlds than those who build characters. And that's fine, but it might be nice to have a few more options to make characters come front and center..

Would it be a good idea to have a EG (or just EG section, which is less work to make) where there's ordinary characters/ profiles that you can look at the direct introductory material?
...sort of like this one about 'Skalosak'.

Each character has links to their stories (which hopefully will be more meaty with characterization and less dry). This is different from the historical characters section because these figures might have no historical significance. Maybe they have some description saying how they like fancy cheeses..or minor things like that.

Still, I guarantee that if this happens, a few will have a paragraph about family and several paragraphs on how their hylonanotech immune system worksSmile

This isn't nearly quite as character-centered as the more character- or story driven among us might want, but I think it might provide an outlet for the Roleplaying statistic/ Encyclopedia-writing minded to merge with the more character story minded among us.
Certainly sounds worthwhile to me and would fit in with the earlier suggestions about creating challenges and threats in the setting that are more 'human scale' ('modo scale'?).

It would probably be easy enough to either add such profiles to the existing Topics in the Personalities section, or to add a Topic or two for this purpose.

On a related note, if you (or anyone else) has ideas for further developing the character side of the project, please share them.

For the moment, I think just making

Topic under "Modosophonts" (and/or elsewhere) for 'Characters'
Topic: "Story Characters" (I know this breaks the 4rth wall of the EG)

The profile might not even have to be 3rd person. It could be roleplaying style or social media profile.

..put into a little grid like the Sephirotic articles (for now)

For example:

(Article Profile: Thespian)
Name(s):Gattias Oudar, Gateo Kohor, Thespian
Clade(s): Nearbaseline human, cyborg, bioborg, virtual upload
Places Inhabited: "I've lived on five megastructures and a planet in three star systems, but I liked my old apartment in the Hibbet orbital the most"
Occupation/ "jobs": "No. Not since I was two hundred and four. This is a post-scarcity society"
Age: (Born 7210 A.T)"I lived for about a century in my first body. Then I died for the first time. I'm told my backup was resurrected five years later in a different star system, and I don't remember anything for a while after a hundred and 293 now? Maybe?"
Current biological sex: "Neut"
Current Gender: Genderfluid
Latest Interests: "Too many to name, I guess. I sculpted a few creatures in the past decade and I'm becoming more interested in the teachings of Tiantang...We'll see where that goes.. My online avatar likes playing space war games. I'm trying to convince her to stop. I've been gardening a lot with my daughter, Menno, since she moved back to the Yudkowsky habitat a few cycles ago"

(links to stories)

Attached Files Thumbnail(s)
Here's one for Auguste Gienah, the protagonist of Betrayals;
I'd like to do the same for Colen Coell, who is featured in two other stories, and Lefty Muligan, who is in the new story collection (out soon); another character is Elanor Denley, who is in the Starlark blog, and Max Handy could have his own entry as well. These characters can be recorded in typical EG style, as if they were notable historical figures (which may be the case), but this can be difficult to do without introducing spoilers.

As well as a profile for Gus, I also created a backstory for Toney Alrami, who is a minor figure in Betrayals;
I'd certainly be willing once I get enough development in on the Breytenbachs.

I am, wholeheartedly, a character-first person--by the standards of a group so technical, very "right-brained"--and I admit I've noticed a lack of this in OA to a degree. For me, the characters absolutely must come first. I enjoy the science and the concepts, but for me the key question is how I, or how people, would react to it. That's what's compelling me to write and why I am drawn to the turbulent early period. The societal transition scared me, that I read about in OA--and that told me there could be a resonance for readers. I already have a very strong sense of what Marie is like as a person, and I can even see in my head (sort of) the iconography that might be done of her after her death and canonization by certain groups. While I am constantly learning more about her, even before I had her name, St. Marie of the Good Hope was almost right away like a person I could imagine knowing IRL.

I am also really starting to think that while I will not measure up scientifically, I might well be able to help you guys with the story cycle I am coming up with. It could provide a place for some to dip their toes slowly into OA without being hit by all of the neologisms and all of the concepts full on...and then get acclimated for the modern-era stuff. Smile

I've liked Auguste , elenor delany, and i'm remembering the other starlark characters now.

I suppose the issue is that entering members can't find these easily enough
what if they were linked (for now) in more introductory material ? (Labled characters or personalities, as a category after "sophonts)
Introduction (sophonts")

Steelensouled, it's quite fine to not have not much of a science background. I answer many questions with google and science education sites in minutes, if it's a more advanced question.
I love the idea. I may attempt something similar with some of my recurring characters.
I've attempted to write characters before but always end up trailing off with it. Same with any story or first-person article I've tried to write. I guess I'm just more naturally inclined to think of and describe the technical side of things.

But that's the nice thing about a collaborative project Smile we all pool different strengths.
Only just had a chance to respond to this, but I really like the idea.

Taking Wikipedia as an analogy, there are lots of articles about individuals that just about meet their notability criteria, but in the grand scheme of things will likely be forgotten footnotes in just a few years. Not that they aren't interesting characters though, I'm thinking of the countless profiles of heavy metal bassists that played on one Alice Cooper record, the soccer players that spent 5 seasons playing in the English Conference league between 1999 and 2004, the long lists of characters from the Star Wars comics. So it does feel to me like the EG is missing that individual touch - the artists, sportspeople, politicians, etc that are very minor on a galactic scale but have a made a major impact on something more locally. There's plenty of space for these sorts of articles.

I'm personally keen to keep that 4th wall intact though so I'd be averse to having someone profiled in an EG that, in reality, the EG compilers wouldn't know about (or shouldn't know about, from a story perspective). The protagonist in my novella in Against a Diamond Sky, for instance, had a major impact on part of the version war but I wouldn't want to think that the rest of the Terragen Sphere knew about it.

In some of these cases, the Ghost Net Ghost Net could be an appropriate place for profiles of characters of a mysterious, controversial or covert type.
The Ghost Net might work for some of these, but I've also been giving some thought to an issue raised during the 'What can we do better?' discussion.

Basically, there seems to be a need/want within the project to present ideas that are inside the OA universe but beyond the scope of what the EG (or even Terragen civ in general) 'knows'.

I'll actually post this again in a separate thread to avoid hijacking this one, but lately I've been thinking about what sort of vehicle we might use on the site to fulfill that function. The working title that keeps going around in my brain is Orion's Arm: The Shadow Chronicles. Or something.

Whether such a vehicle could be used for items that break the 'fourth wall' or if we might use the existing Design Notes for such is something that we could discuss.

More on this later in a separate post.


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