I’ve figured out something very interesting about my main: she is the poster child for what I’d call Niche RP. Yva Darrows is not right in any sense of the word. She’s eccentric, dark, skilled, and her bread and butter is ritual involving blood, rune circles, sigil work, and chanting. This sort of character does not really lend itself to every type of RP situation. Most decent people don’t want a half mental witch prancing around their living room with a snake and a skull she can’t quite identify. Well, maybe they do, but they don’t advertise it.
Is this a bad thing? No, not really, not within the confines of Niche RP. “What is Niche RP, though?” Well? I’d identify Niche RP as roleplay that happens when conditions are ideal for a character to shine. “When X, Y, or Z goes awry, we want __________ around.” I suppose this could be a bad thing if the niche doesn’t manifest often, but Yva’s in a great place . . . she’s the go to person whenever shit goes strange. Her specialty? “Heinous fuckery most foul” to use Tarquin’s term. Yva is called into roleplay scenarios when no one can think of a normal response to a common or uncommon difficulty. Because this is where she works best, I try to make each and every one of these situations special. Doing so makes people continue to see my character as a resource when things get weird, and the invitations to partake in amazing stories keep coming in.
How does this affect the playability of my character? It does mean my roleplay is sporadic. There are some months where I’ve been called into three and four story arcs at a time. There are other months where I could hear crickets, and the most RP I’d get on Yva would be a few random smatterings of conversation with people who look at her IC’ly and try not to claw their own faces off when she starts yammering on about something dark and weird.
For anyone looking to build a “specialty character”, I think there needs to be some considerations to those downside. The first and most obvious one is the lulls in roleplay. No one always needs the witch to come out of her tower. Children are not always eating Yva’s gingerbread house. With niche rp, you also have to expect the roleplay to have a common theme. This does not mean you have a one dimensional approach to story, but there’s always going to be some evidence of your niche in your interactions. Also, too, is the probability of other people doing “your role” and you having to be all right with it, even if other folks dancing your jig comes at a time when you’re RP starved. Ilarra Stormrunner is just as insane and talented as Yva, and there are times people approach Ila for things that Yva would otherwise do well. Do I resent her for being as much of a space cadet as Darrows? No way, but I do make sure I don’t elbow in where I’m not wanted, even if it’s tempting.
(Of course, the answer to the Ila and Yva situation can sometimes just be pair them up, and isn’t THAT just a bad idea.)
For all that there are obvious drawbacks, I think the pay off in a niche character is huge. When you do get involved in arcs, they tend to be well thought out. Other characters have set a rich background and I get to walk in at just the right time, reaping the benefits of their labors. I also get to throw monkey wrenches in plans by suggesting things that to Yva, would be completely normal, but to other people, are brain meltingly awful. Watching reactions to that is priceless.
For anyone looking to make a super specialist, I wish you luck and patience with the endeavor. It is a labor of love at times, but one that I think is well worth the pitfalls. If I had one piece of advice it’s find something that grounds the character, makes it more common. In Yva’s case, it is a smarmy yet normal significant other who challenges her reign as a domestic terrorist. It gives her a bit of realism and fills the quiet time in between the lunatic rp. It also makes her somewhat accessible to other characters, who now have something better to say to her than “Hey, nice felhound, why’d he just eat that guy’s eyes out.” You’d be surprised how far that goes with folks.