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Help: Profile Forbidden Tropes

There are some elements to profiles that are very overused or do not really fit in with the game world, and as such we have termed them 'Forbidden Tropes' and will usually ask a player to alter them if they are in a profile submission. Many of these tropes do not sound so bad on their own, but they're often rejected solely because everyone seems to want to use them -- many characters would have exactly the same motivations and histories if these were all allowed without question. Some examples are listed below:

* "I spent several years in a career as a doctor / lawyer / engineer / politician and then one day decided to become a civilian pilot!" Spending a large amount of money and time to work towards a particular, specific career makes it unlikely that someone is going to just drop the life they have created and throw it away in order to fly starships. As such it's unlikely that a civilian pilot is going to have a vast array of knowledge in regards to a specialised career. Your character changing careers like that would be a major, life-changing event and would need an extremely good reason to be valid.

* "My parents were pilots and raised me to be a pilot too." Although there are always exceptions, most pilots are loners by nature and tend not to form stable relationships. Also, during a civilian pilot's career, they are chemically sterilised until retirement to prevent unexpected pregnancy and issues relating to this. For this reason, you were probably also not born on a ship. (This doesn't apply for a Mutuality character.)

* "My parents / childhood friend died tragically and/or I was abused." Should you be tempted to add something like this, first ask yourself why. Is it because you feel your character would be too boring otherwise? Well, remember this: Tragedy is only interesting when it happens to interesting characters. A tragic past is not characterization on its own, it's just a tragic past, and if your character does not respond to it in a unique way, then it's just a cliche. Also, these stories are often frankly crazy, and remember that your character must be of sound mental health. Better to just leave the tragic past out, unless you truly feel you can say something unique about it.

* "Outsiders slayed my family / destroyed my town / formed an Outsider mafia and demanded protection money, and now I must take my vengeance, which will mostly take the form of gaining industry points." Outsiders bombarded spaceports and areas of material production, but did not make any particular effort to harm cities or the civilians living in them. Nor did they often appear personally on the ground, for Outsiders are xenophobes and hate personal contact with other species. People were killed during their bombardment, of course, but the loss of life was not massive. The odds that it directly affected any particular pilot are low, and certainly not every pilot needs to have a vow of personal vengeance -- particularly when, in most cases, pilots who have pledged vengeance go on to never do anything in particular to act on it.

* "My parents forced/encouraged me to be a pilot and/or paid for my flight school." Although certainly possible depending on the parents, most families would strongly discourage their children from becoming pilots. Pilots in this world are roughly equivalent to merchant seamen in the early 1800s: they can make a lot of money very quickly, but most people regard the profession as something that a decent person would not do. If your parents actually supported you becoming a pilot, please explain why.

* "My parents were trying to force me to become a doctor/lawyer/etc. but I fled their control to become a civilian pilot." Parents trying to dictate their child's entire life is a rather antiquated concept, and likely to be more so three centuries from now. This situation is, in fact, quite unusual, and a profile that wants to lean on this as a motivation would have to describe why their family was like this and what other effects it had on the character's life.

* "I rose through the ranks / was promoted to [rank] / served on a navy cruiser." Civilian pilots are not part of their alliance's navy and have no ranks. That said, it is possible that a naval pilot would make the transition to civilian piloting, but this is something a profile would have to go into detail about.

* "I graduated at the top of my class." For obvious reasons, this would be a rare thing. Showing exceptional piloting ability is something that's more likely to show up in a special application/profile. Also, because combat in this game is largely based on the actual skill of the person behind the keyboard, you'll want to be sure you can really pull off good flying before you talk about it in your profile.

* "I learned at the academy." There are really no academies and you're not in Starfleet. Flight schools here are the same as they are in real life -- you pay for class time, simulator time, and flight hours with an instructor, and if you perform to good standards, you are granted a license. There are no grades; you either qualify or you do not. You probably attended an academy if you had a naval career, but if you've always been a civilian, it is unlikely.

* "I was in a gang / I was a professional jewel thief / I was a criminal." Criminals cannot be civilian pilots and are more likely to be in jail than given millions of credits and a spaceship.

* "I didn't notice anything as a child. I had no experiences until I decided to become a pilot." This is frequently used to avoid writing anything about a critical stage of development for any human. Everybody experiences something.

* "My parents were farmers / firemen / doctors / seamstresses / blacksmiths." People are fond of naming only professions that small children tend to answer "What do you want to be when you grow up with?" or jobs that just wouldn't be common in a far future space age. If you haven't put much thought into this and it has no real bearing on your character, it's better to just omit it.

* "I saw a starship flying overhead when I was a nine week old infant, and since that moment, no one has been able to dissuade me from becoming a pilot." While it's potentially interesting to be so inspired by a singular sight, this trope has begun showing up in nearly every profile and reveals itself to be laziness. Please think of a good motivation for your character to throw away his or her normal life and many usual rights in order to become a somewhat reviled civilian pilot. Seeing a starship once or noticing stars in the night sky may not be sufficient to inspire one to become a space trucker.

* "I suddenly learned about piloting in a book / met a pilot one day, and that's why I decided to become one." That humans are active in space on an everyday basis is firmly entrenched in modern culture, exactly the way that you personally are aware that there are people flying airplanes right now. It should never be surprising new information to learn that pilots exist. That this news comes as a surprise is very, very often used in profiles, and it is employed as an easy shortcut -- if one just now learns that pilots exist, then the news itself can serve as impetus to become one, and no real motivation is required.

* "My priority is to settle down and start a family." For some reason this is often listed as a goal, and it is indeed the goal of many humans... but definitely not a pilot. Pilots are chemically sterilized and restricted heavily in where they can travel planetside, so your character will not be meeting many people besides other pilots, who are not exactly known for forming stable long-term attachments. If your goal is to start a family, then becoming a pilot delays this goal by several years, which would need to be explained.

* "I love to read / spent my whole childhood reading about pilots and space travel." Reading is a common hobby but this tends to show up in profiles that contain no other things. Reading is used as a convenient way to explain why nothing happened - what captivates the character about reading, why they chose fantasy over reality, or even what books made lasting impressions on them are never discussed. Written like this, a character's love of reading removes depth instead of adding to it.

* "I can't go on unless everyone knows I'm Irish." Is it extremely important to you that your character have an Irish or Scottish accent? (For some reason it's almost always one of the two.) Does this nationality -- which no longer exists in this game's timeline -- figure prominently in your characterization? If so, you may well be playing a cliche, and you should probably take some time to think of a different, more original tentpole concept for your character.

* "I am motivated entirely by money. Money, success, and power." This isn't completely forbidden. It ends up on this list because it typically shows up as the only character trait. Greed is a great motive to be a pilot, but it can't be all there is.

* "My life goals are to become good at being a pilot. I want to be an ace and an expert gunner." This comes across as the goals of the player, not the goals of the character. When writing goals, it's important to consider what your character really wants from their life and how it differs from what you want. Think bigger: what aspirations led to your character wanting to be a civilian pilot in the first place?

* "My goals are to explore space and maybe find aliens." Written like this, a character's lifelong goal sounds extremely similar to going to the mall and perhaps finding a cute sweater. Characters with this as their goal usually also never explore -- they tend to prefer staying close to home and doing activities there, which is perfectly fine, just not compatible with this concept. Consider what your character would really want from life. What would really fulfill them? What do they dream about?

Note that you CAN write about any of these common tropes... IF you can write it well. If you want to scrape by with a profile a paragraph or two long and short on details, you definitely want to avoid these cliches. On the other hand, if you're going to write a detailed profile fully fleshing out your character, you can include whatever you want as long as it makes sense in the story and is consistent with the game world.

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