So I wanna preface this by saying, when I say "don't do this" I don't necessarily mean "Don't do this." I mean be aware that this is a problem area, a trap people tend to fall into. As with anything creative, anything you shouldn't do...doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It just means approach with creativity, caution, and the knowledge some people won't like it no matter how well you do it (and fuck them.) Every don't and shouldn't on this list has a handful of shining examples of people doing it right (it is on this list however, because it has many more of people...not doing it right.)
And some people won’t like it, no matter what you do. Don’t spend your life focusing on them. It’s not fun for anyone, especially you.
And I ALSO want to preface this by saying all this is just my opinion. I've been modding/rping for a long time, and have seen a lot of really good examples and some less so of all of the below. I am by no means perfect, and neither is this advice (And even if it is, if you and yours are having fun with what you arew doing, ignore it.) A couple people have just asked me about this sorta thing, so I figured I would write up everything I have seen work and not work in one place.
All of the above things mean different things specifically to different people, I'll try to cover all the bases. But with many fandom things, what sexswapped means to me, might be what genderplay means to someone else, etc.
So the first thing to know anytime you are genderbending: SEX IS NOT GENDER. Say it with me: Sex is not gender.
Having said that, it gives 2 ways to approach rule!63.
Sexswapped mean that your character was born with one sex, and ended up the other through some plot device (magic, whatever.) In that case, their insides would be the same. A man who suddenly grows boobs is now just a man with boobs, not a woman. Generally this type of genderplay is seen as more lighthearted meme fodder (though not always.) Most of what you usually see explored here is what's played currently, how your character is responding to a new set of junk, being treated differently by the world around them, etc.
Genderbent means that you have changed the character from birth into the opposite gender. This type of genderswapping takes a lot more thought into how the character has changed. How has life treated them differently? Their names, their look, everything should shift...but not to far. It can be a delicate balance. Lemme address some of the easiest bits first.
I play Dean Winchester as a chick, so I am gonna use him/her as an example.
The name should not, necessarily be a female version of the male name. Sometimes this makes sense, like in the case of Dean. He was named after a female anyway, so Dean becomes Deanna. Sometimes it doesn't (For example there is no great female version of Draco)
However, if there was no Grandma Deanna for Dean, you would start by thinking about his parents, and what kinda names they choose. For example Dean and Sam are fairly old fashion, and solid sounding names. So you wouldn't be looking for a far out sounding name, you wants something popular around the 50/60's, middle America. So it is unlikely they'd name a girl something new aged and funky or far too old fashioned. Donna might work, Destiny probably not.
You can also bring in meanings, as long as you follow the type of name. But don't choose a meaning, and ignore the context of how they would be named. Again, Destiny is pretty appropriate for Dean meaning wise but really, John Winchester would never name his kid Destiny. Ever.
And also, you DO want it to sound similar if possible. Michelle might fit all those criteria, but if someone sees a tag from Michelle Winchester, they won't know what is going on.
So don't get too hung up on matching EXACT features. But also don't ignore them. But, for example, if I find a person with Jensen Ackles features who also is a tiny, pale haired waif of a girl...that's not gonna work. Dean is a hunter, roughed up, and would have some bulk, whether male or female.
Sometimes it takes some more to search for the right PB but in the end, it is very much worth it. And it's fun to find them!
Unfortunately, due to Hollywood's double standards, while you can find paunchy, wrinkled, lumpy, etc men it's often farther to find female in that range (Which is why I'm focusing on male to female PBs right now, female to male is much easier, generally) however, it is much more satisfying to find a PB with the feel and character of the male actor, and will help who ever your are playing with as well. A 40 year old male won’t be a smooth skinned, young, shiny haired female.
And here is your meat and potatoes.
Sans very specific fantasy/sci-fi setting, most every character will change due to their gender being switched.
However, they will still be the same person at the end of the day. It is a hard balance.
It’s a lot of exploring gender politics and culture. Not to say you have to be a gender studies major, but there will be some research, into your character canon, culture, etc. And some guess work, especially for fictional worlds. You can read Tolkeins work, you can look at his time period, but at the end of the day, you are gonna have to make shit up about Hobbit society.
The easiest way for me to start is to start with important events, and go over how gender would change it. Next, relationships, with the knowledge of what has been changed event to event. And last, personality traits. However, by the time you get into it, these things are shifting around. Deanna’s relationship with her father changes some life events, her personality changes affects her relationship with Sam, etc.
Sexuality is (as always) a stick subject. Think it thoroughly. Someone may still be attracted to the same gender, even if they are switched. Or they might stay the same orientation. And changing genders might give them, depending on their personality, a position where they slide up and down the Kinsey scale by degrees.
Now I will say a true “don’t”, about the only one on here. Gender issues can be really sensitive for people. Don’t disrespect that. RP is a game but don’t be an asshole.
I think the most important thing to know about OCs, and the hardest:
Nobody cares about your OC. And nobody really cares about your OCs world.
It blows, but it’s true.
So what does this mean? Well, mainly, that your character needs to be able to stand alone and play well with others. That doesn’t mean that your character has to be simple, not at all. But you should be able to explain them on multiple levels. A quick grab, a more through explanations, and then…a really detailed indulgent one where you can go into every little thing. Most people will only need the first part, will seek out the second if they like your character, and a few will wanna know the third. But if your character NEEDS pages of back story to make them interesting or make sense, they probably aren’t good for this medium. They may still be a fine character, but some character just don’t work outside of their canon (Which is true for any canons, not just ones you made.)
There are a lot of Mary Sue litmus test type things, and that whole “Take this with a grain of salt” applies heavily here. It’s pretty much like this:
Yeah that's the sweetest venn diagram you have ever seen.
Yes, if you are hitting off multiple signs of a Mary Sue…might be a good time to take a step back and see if the character you made has become a Mary Sue. But don’t dump a character just because they always save the day in canon, of have two colored eyes or seem like they have a lot of powers. Just take a critical eye at those things, and realize you might have to change/tweak them to make them more playable in a game setting. Which, again, happens with some canon characters too.
Just make sure that they are well rounded, and have realistic flaws (not “Too cute and everyone falls in love with him!” type stuff.)
(Now a side note-Mary Sue can be fun as fuck to play with. Don’t be ashamed to have them and play them. Just be aware of it, and realize that…while the might be fun for you and maybe some close friends, they aren’t very well suited for public consumption)
There is however, one issue that almost always goes bad with OCs. Getting too personal.
Don’t be too precious about them. (Most) People don’t get upset someone doesn’t like Naruto or Rapunzel or whomever they play because, even though we like the character, there is a disconnect. A lot of people lose that with OCs and it can get really awkward out of character. Just remember, there can be a lot of reasons people don’t wanna play with you or don’t find your character interesting. Don’t take it personally if they don’t wanna play, be pic spammed, or hear about their every thread. Just don’t.
In addition, because it often plays into the above, to be very, VERY careful about how much you have in common with the character. There is a very easy to cross OOC/IC line there. If they have your same likes, your same appearance, your same issues…again not a never ever, but it becomes very uncomfortable for other players if, say, I have a character who is an chess master with flaming red hair and an abusive father, and then they find out…I am a chess master with flaming red hair and an abusive father. It can get mighty uncomfortable, and even if you are one of the few people who can keep those separate…most people can’t, and most players aren’t going to take the chance and see if you can (And, especially when it gets into the serious, real life things if can just be a mess.) And, once again, not just an OC thing. See any comparison of Stephanie Meyer/Bella or the fact almost every Stephen King character is a writer (And almost every one since he was hit by a van has been hit by a van. Dude, we got it, you were hit by a van.)
So, this is not an area I have TONS of experience with. Generally, the less connected to canon characters, the better. Most people don’t tend to like unexpected assumed relationships, so avoid those as much as possible. And if they are unavoidable, just respect that a lot of people aren’t into that.
Some canons take are made for OCs really well (Harry Potter, for instance) and some less so. But almost always you can find a good place for an OC...or you can make Draco Malfoy's twin sister who's in love with Harry Potter! (hello 14 year old me! Good Job!)
Pretty much, if you have read all of the above, and follow it (What is relevant)...you should be cool. AUs are so varied, it's hard to give really good advice without looking at the specific AU, but just...respect people's boundaries, think things through, and yeah, you should be good to go!