- Fursona is also the title of a series of rule books for the Pathfinder RPG.
A fursona (pl. fursonas, sometimes furson) refers to a character or identity assumed by a person or player normally associated with the furry fandom. It is a furspeech portmanteau derived from the terms furry and persona.
The fursona itself consists of a name (usually fictitious) and a species, as well as any distinctive colors, markings or body features. An artist's typical commission is a rendition of a fursona.
 Conceptual origin
The origins of the fursona concept within the eventual furry fandom are difficult to pin down to specific dates, and it is not known if similar concepts of personal fictional alter-egos exists outside of the furry fandom. What can be said is that the growing clout of roleplaying gaming (including live-action, tabletop, computer multi-player, etc.) in Western society in the 1970s and 1980s induced the adoption or self-creation of highly-stylized, often genre-specific alter-egos for RP purposes among specific audiences. As the first large furry parties took place at large science-fiction or multi-genre speculative fiction conventions, such venues often served as meeting places for both RPers and costumers as well as artists and writers, the latter two of whom had often honed their skills in the funny animal art scene's APAs. Thus, when RPers and costumers happened upon the Art Show exhibits for "funny" animal artists, the latter were soon in demand from RPers and costumers for commissioned renditions of their RP or costume characters. As the customers were often not writers or artists but had envisioned these characters as being more than just under their ownership, detailed specifics for such characters (see "Elements") were often provided by the customers so as to give as much narrative-independent life to such characters as possible.
As a result, when the first furry parties were held, the first costumers and RPers of what would become the furry fandom had already developed the awareness of their favorite RP or costume characters' artistically-rendered exteriors, what they acted like, and in what they were interested or disinterested. Such characters often did not need to be written into written narratives, but were instead buoyed by being a general-purpose alter-ego for the RPer or costumer. This difference from the traditional idea of the character as being driven by stories of fiction allowed for the "favorite character" or "custom-made character" to be shifted to the "alter-ego", "alternative persona" or "fursona".
 Elements of a fursona
Depending on the level of personal identification the description of a fursona typically consists of the following elements:
Many fursonas are based on 'typical' animal species, such as cats and wolves, but are often only limited by the imaginations of their player, and can include more extraordinary types of creatures such as aliens, angels, demons, vampires, and mythological creatures (a popular offshoot of mythological creatures is to have a hexapedal, taur-based fursona). Hybrid fursonas are also popular; furries who like characteristics of more than one animal will combine them into one creature, such as a cat/fox or wolf/raccoon cross. Some give these hybrids portmanteau names, such as "drynx" for a dragon/lynx, or "hedgefox" for a hedgehog/fox.
A visual, kinesthetic, or textual realization of the player's mental impression of their fursona. The most common form of realization being an illustration or textual description which may be described by the term furry art.
Since many fursonas have complex fur patterns or other interesting anatomical details, not all fursonas are necessarily clothed or always illustrated with clothing on. As such, there will often be several details about the appearance of a fursona; first, its physical body, and secondly, whatever clothes and accessories are worn over such a body.
Depending on personal preference the behavior of a fursona can range from that of a typical human being zoomorphic only in appearance to behavior which is identical to that of the animal represented by the fursona. These general behaviors usually form a framework inside of which a player may mold their character's behavior to their liking. As fursonas are typically a furry representation of the player the fursona often inherits many of the player's character traits.
 Fursona history
Fursonas are often used to roleplay or in other story-based mediums, and as such, often have some sort of history, whether it is merely the history of the player behind the fursona, a backstory within a world of another person's design, or a story within a world of the person's own design.
 Levels of personal identification
An individual may identify with a particular character in a variety of ways and with varying degrees of closeness.
An avatar is typically a character created by a player as an alias. Typically this alias is used by the player as a trademark or symbol of their role playing identity. Hence, players typically do not associate themselves with their avatar outside of that specific realm of experience. A single player typically has many avatars; however, some players may prefer one character over others.
 Personal furry
A personal furry is a fursona that a person or player identifies with on an intimate level.
 Personal furry vs. avatar
The description of a personal furry typically possesses all the hallmarks of a complete fictional character. This may include the physical description of a furry, the character's beliefs, moods, and temperaments, and all stories that support and expand the understanding of the furry character. Drawings of the character are very common, and personal furries are often used online to role-play with other characters, sometimes with the aid of an avatar.
While a person may play several characters and have several fursonas, the personal furry often has greater significance — it will often be a better representation of the person's "real" personality, if only because they tend to use it more often. Many individuals with a personal furry will primarily use that character to represent themselves online and within the fandom, and may actually go by that character's name as their primary nickname or handle, both on and even offline.
 Fursona as a metaphor
A personal furry often reflects elements of their player's real-life appearance or dress, or what they would like to wear and is also referred to alot as a Fursona. Also, there may be clues within the personal furry as to how that player sees themselves; to have a cat furry may symbolize a thirst for independence, and likewise a fox furry may symbolize perceived wit. Coat/Scale/Feather coloring may also represent the personality of a person; for example a pink coat may represent girlish behavior.
 Relationship to other furry concepts/practices
It is generally considered to be in bad taste for others to depict a personal furry (and to a lesser extent, any character) participating in activities such as "yiffing" that they or their player would not normally be involved in.