"Ashes of Kanaka" Character Development / by Xiaosong Shang

Hello everyone! Sam Martino here.
Last time I said I would discuss how to develop strong characters, or at least how we’ve developed the

companions in Ashes of Kanaka.

Everyone at Dogwood is a huge RPG fan, we’ve all seen how various companies develop their characters and what is done right and what isn’t done right. Character development is always at the forefront and is one of the hardest things to make feel real. Audiences always judge the development first and there are ways to make it feel realer than others. One of the big things we did with Ashes was we didn’t want the companions in the game to feel forced, we wanted there to be a real reason as to why they would risk their lives for your cause. We did this either through terrible circumstance such as Kitchi who lost everything, or through devoted thankfulness to the player such as Hobo Joe, or characters that had inadvertently traveled with the party as they moved across the planet (such as Jamie).

In our mind, the travels of the main character lasted for several months, allowing characters to grow through the circumstances we put them through. It was difficult to do this for every player, but we made sure to include this with large character arcs like for Majima or Mina. Even if we couldn’t have large arcs, we wanted to have it so every character with you had a story that was only uncovered if you really explored the world. We did this with Richard and his love interest, or Harry with his experiences during the Kanakan Civil War. We felt this made the characters feel more alive, they don’t just dump their whole life story on you, you have trigger certain events that in turn will trigger some of their memories and give them a real reason to bring it up.

On top of all their development, we wanted their initial discovery to be unique. We wanted each and every companion to come from completely different backgrounds and have entirely different personalities. Even characters you can get in the same place, like Jason, Frank, or Fredericka, all have their own personalities and are completely different from each other in means other than just their class type.

There are a lot of different factors that go into creating believable and memorable characters, these are the main factors that we looked at but there is obviously so much more you can do. If you follow our suggestions, you’ll at least be on a good track.

As always, please reach out to me at smartino@dogwoodgaming.com with any comments or questions. I always love hearing from you guys!