People like tribes. In the real world we align ourselves with those we consider to be like us, and we include the tribe of those we meet as part of their identity. Most games give people tribes to belong to and signifiers as to which group they belong to. At large games a player might have two or three levels of tribe. For example, at Curious Pastimes games the players belong to the factions who have formed an alliance, then they have their own nation, and within that they often have a group. It’s a LRP trope to play the last of a tribe but unless that happened in game then in my experience it’s not a usually good thing. Groups work well when several people are playing variations on a main theme. You can have people within a group playing different roles For example a leader of a religion, a couple of acolytes, some warriors, possibly with different specialities, someone to lead rituals… there are numerous other possible roles, including less religious staff. Each of these can build a unique and special identity onto their role within the nation, and stand out for that. They gain roleplay from the relationships within the mythical church. They gain a place within the community, as a group makes a much larger impression than an individual, and so they have assistance making themselves important within the game as a group.
I believe that good characters identify their tribes, conform to that and then individualise within the structure of the tribe. It gives a good group feel but also serves to give the character a more solid position within the game world. Characters that don’t sit into the world background seem utterly out of place. They feel a bit unnatural and fake. If you look at how films bring things to life and develop costumes you find that they draw on the proposed background to build colour palettes and styles together to give the people harmonious looks, and then bring the principle characters to life by building them an identity within that framework. The same is equally true for LRP characters.
If you’re turning up to a sci-fi game you could be playing space cowboys, space infantry, space battleships, space scientists or space explorers. You’ll have a different uniform for each of those. You might have an entire game where everyone is a space explorer, or you could have different roles for different parts of the player group. It’s a thing we do in real life as well. If you turn up somewhere in formal dress, everyone will wear something different. They can all recognisably stick to the formal dress briefing but apply their own cultural adjustment to it.
It does take a degree of agreement within the group to make this work, but the compromise usually pays off beautifully. Agree on a nation, agree on a group and decide on your role in it – and do it in that order. Your character will gain depth and context and you won’t be trying to shoehorn in something that doesn’t really work, or manipulating backgrounds to try and make your character fit. Putting a beautiful idea aside because it doesn’t work in this game is a hard thing to do. This helps to make it clear when it’s the right thing to do, and that makes it easier to move onto something better.