So some time ago my best friend and I would do role-plays of our characters, mine being an archaeopteryx, and his being a snow leopard. Well, not too long ago we had to part ways, but I still loved the role-plays we did, so much that I wanted to make new stories while keeping the same characters.
The complications came with the use of his character. The thing is, I don't know whether it is okay for me to use (if I own the character) or not. This character was initially created by him, in terms of the character's name and the fact that it is a snow leopard, but I designed it from scratch, as well as contributed to the character's personality, and if I were to continue using it, I would overhaul the character even further, so that its personality is entirely my creation.
I absolutely would never consider using this character if there hadn't been signs that my friend didn't much care for it; I know it wasn't his 'sona, and he didn't seem to care at all about it when we weren't role-playing together, though I still do not think this would justify me using it, if it were the wrong thing to do. I don't just mean legally either, I do not want to do something scummy. I know how devastating it would be to find out somebody stole/started using your character without you knowing. However, I am caught between feeling like the character is mine because I was solely responsible for bringing it to life, but also knowing I wasn't the one who initially created it, and unfortunately I am not on speaking terms with my friend and am unable to work it out with him. Although the design is mine and I feel I can still use that, it is very significant to me that I am also able to retain the character's original name, but regardless of that, I just want to do the right thing.
EDIT: Hi all, thank you so much for the responses! While I am still unsure as to what my final decision will be, the advice definitely has me leaning towards changing what isn't mine about the character. However, I feel I must make this edit to talk a little bit more about the circumstances of our friendship. I didn't wish to say too much about it, since this is not the place to bring up relationship drama, but it has been mentioned as a reason keeping the character could cause greater tension, when the truth behind our friendship was a bit different than that.
Let's just say the friendship wasn't ended for malicious reasons, on either of our ends, and the reason retaining as much of the original character as possible is so important to me is directly because I want to honor his memory in a positive light, by continuing using these characters which were such a positive aspect of our friendship, when we were still friends, and although I cannot be for certain since we are still not on speaking terms, I am confident he would know my using the character is not out of malice, or an attempt at backstabbing. I do not say this to argue towards using the character as is; I still want to do the right thing and will change it if I absolutely must (I also realize my reasons may be too sentimental and more hindering my judgement than anything), but it has always muddied the water for me, and made it difficult to come to a final decision.