Digital avatars known as VTubers have been taking over Twitch (and every other streaming platform) for some time now. While the VTuber scene is very welcoming to new members, the sheer vastness of the culture can be a bit overwhelming. If you’re looking to join the ranks of streamers who use a 2D or 3D digital avatar, you might be wondering things like, “Do I need to ‘debut?’” and “What the heck is ‘lore?’” Fortunately, we can answer the second question for you right now!
VTuber lore is your character’s backstory. While you certainly don’t need to have “official lore” for your avatar, more often than not, you’ll encounter VTubers who have written a backstory for their beloved character. Since VTuber character design allows for so much creative expression, it’s no wonder that streamers are choosing to pour a little more of themselves and their interests into their digital selves. Lore can help make your character more interesting and can be as simple or as elaborate as you desire.
We’ve created a lore-writing guide for those who struggle with storytelling. First, we’ll focus on writing for avatars that have not been created yet. If you have yet to make your own avatar (or commission one), you’ll have a lot more freedom when it comes to your lore. If your VTuber model is already complete, you’ll need a different strategy. Don’t fret, we’ve got great ideas for streamers in either situation. Let’s get started!
Lore Writing Guide (No Model Yet)
If you don’t possess a VTuber model yet, you’ll find that writing your character’s lore can aid you with character creation down the road. Whether you already have ideas or are starting from scratch, let’s try a few brainstorming exercises to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Write down your favorite things.
This exercise should be easy. Start making a list of things that make you happy, whether it be activities like reading or painting, things, places, people, characters, books, movies and TV, games, colors, etc. Anything that brings you joy: write it down. The more you have written down, the more you’ll have to work with. Try for at least 10 or 20 things before moving on to the next step.
2. Choose things from your list and combine them to form new ideas.
Pick three things from your list and see if you can combine them into one, super cool idea. For example, if you wrote plants, cats, and Italy, that could be turned into an anthropomorphic cat who runs a flower shop with Tuscan-inspired decor. Maybe you wrote chocolate cake, vampires, and Pokemon. A vampire character in a fancy, chocolate brown inspired outfit with a pet familiar comes to mind. The more you try this exercise, the easier it will get. Soon, you’ll have an idea for a character that really appeals to you.
3. Research and be inspired.
It’s time for one of the funnest parts of the creative process: Pinterest. Yes, Pinterest is a digital wonderland for creatives as it has thousands of inspiring photos and ideas at the ready. Try searching for some of the things from the list of favorites you made and save anything that catches your eye to a board (you can make it secret to keep it safe from prying eyes!). From there, check out your favorite VTubers and note any characteristics that you want to incorporate into your own design. Take care though, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about this.
Approach your character’s design and lore by using inspiration in a way that is acceptable to the creative community. Direct copying is obviously wrong and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, take certain aspects from many different characters and use those ideas to form your own unique character. Maybe your favorite VTuber is a fallen angel with white hair and a black and red outfit. Copying every aspect would be weird (and unoriginal), so stick to a general rule of only drawing inspiration from one element per character.
4. Draw from your own experiences.
As human beings, while we all share similarities, each of us are completely unique. No one has lived and experienced life exactly as you have. Think about certain characteristics that define you, along with your experiences and unique knowledge. The more of yourself you incorporate into your character, the easier it will be to be yourself on stream. While you can absolutely explore a different side of yourself with your VTuber avatar, you may find it tiring to “keep up the charade.” For example, if you write your character as a hyperactive fairy when you’re actually a quiet and mellow person, you may find yourself breaking character more often than not.
5. Ask your character questions.
Once you’ve formed a foundation for your character, go deeper. Among figuring out your character’s likes, dislikes, and fears, the most important question you can ask is, “What does my character want more than anything in the world?” If your character is an alien, maybe they’re searching for a way to get back to their home planet. A demon character might want to form an army of minions or be promoted to “Demon Lord.” A human character who runs a seaside bakery might want a quiet, simple life.
6. Go big (or don’t).
Our final tip for writing your character lore is to decide how grandiose you’d like to be on stream. If you want to stream as yourself while simply using a fun avatar, that’s completely fine. Some streamers really enjoy roleplaying on stream and if that sounds appealing to you, you can too! Are you a haughty imp who talks down to others? Maybe you’re a benevolent tree spirit that promotes wisdom and kindness. As you can see, there’s a lot of room for expression. Deciding whether you want to roleplay or not can help your lore write itself.
Lore Writing Guide (Model Already Acquired)
If you’ve already made or purchased your model but don’t have lore yet, you might think it will be difficult to write something fitting. The truth is, creativity thrives when given limitations. If I handed you a blank piece of paper and told you to draw something, you might struggle to come up with an idea. However, if I told you to draw an airplane, you’d immediately be able to get to work.
Take a look at your character and try to define a few basic things. At the very minimum, most VTubers have their character’s race, age, and occupation defined.
There are a lot of fantastical elements in the VTuber realm, particularly when it comes to characters. There are anthropomorphic animals of all shapes and sizes, ogres, mermaids, monsters, aliens, witches, faeries, nephilim, and more. Is your character part of the human race or something else?
While you don’t have to get super specific, decide whether your character is a child, an adult, or perhaps a thousand year old mage. Figuring out your character’s age will make it easier to decide their occupation. A child probably wouldn’t have a job as a celebrity chef without some really wacky circumstances. Thus, you’d need a backstory to support this narrative.
What does your character do and is it believable with their appearance/attire? If you want your character to have a job or title that doesn’t really match their aesthetic, you can alter their backstory instead. If your character is wearing jeans and a t-shirt but you want them to be a Duke, maybe they’re spending some time living among the common folk to see how the other half lives. An unlikely story can be made believable if you sell it right, but in general, working with your character as they are will be easier.
VTuber lore is meant to be a form of creative expression that makes the character more unique, personal, and interesting. It is not required, nor frowned upon if your character doesn’t possess an elaborate backstory. Some streamers feel that defined lore allows them to get into character easier and helps with their channel’s overall aesthetic and branding. Lore writing should be fun, so be sure to enjoy yourself and don’t get hung up on specific details. As long as your lore is something you enjoy and relate to, it will be easy to pair with your character. We can’t wait to see what you create!