Friday, February 4, 2011

[RPG] Characters

In talking about game development last week, I got some great commentary and insights. I loved the conversation and wanted to discuss the foundation for any game, the characters we play.

We all have a favorite character- that one manifestation of our imaginary selves that we hold near & dear to our hearts.

What makes that character more special or unique than any other? What causes them to be held so dear? is it a personality quirk? An awesome roll in a fantastic adventure? A plot hook that bit into you and just wouldn't go away? A release from the reality you were dealing with at the moment?

I'd love to hear about your characters and what makes them so fun and enjoyable to you! Please share your stories, because I LIKE hearing them. I'll be glad to share mine, if folks ask.


  1. Wow, what a good theme. I think our RPG characters let us explore what we "might" have been in another life, time, or space. I have several favorite characters. My two favorite Champions characters are Spirit of America (a Captain America clone), and Ferro (a female Iron Man).

    Of the two I have played Ferro for the longest time, in several different campaigns. Ferro was the first female character I played. Our Champs group was all guys at the time, and I felt that we needed at least one female character, so I created Ferro. Who knew that she would become my favorite character to play?

    Sharon Fields was a scientist who was crippled when there was an explosion in her lab. Paralyzed from the waist down, she "borrowed" the plans for a military exo-suit and created the Ferro armor.

    Then there was Spirit of America, created for a Washingon DC based campaign. My fondest memory was rolling a 3 on a danger sense roll and backhanding his shield at the source and rolling a 3 to hit!

    Fond memories.

  2. Migellito was a tall, white-haired snow elf in a campaign world based on Europe in 1447. His full name was Migellito Findakano Torino. He was a prince from a small elven kingdom. When I say small, I mean it was one village up on a high mountain near Torino, Italy. Centuries earlier, they had been more numerous, and their area of stewardship actually extended across the land where the city of Torino later rose up. But now, it was just one tiny village in the snow.

    The larger part of Europe had been set under a continual and gradually expanding overcast. A sorcerer had discovered a means of doing this so as to embolden and strengthen the efficacy of his troops, the majority of which (orcs, goblins, etc.) suffered adversely under sunny skies. He was also quite skilled at making diplomatic connections with (quite minor) members of the lower planes. These two factors (and perhaps others) combined to make him well-nigh unstoppable in an otherwise relatively low-magic late-medieval Europe.

    Migellito began adventuring when he decided he could no longer stand by and watch or hide while the world fell around them, so he left his village and set out to see what he could do to help.

    Other than these overarching concerns, the game world was basically pure sandbox, with virtually no evident hooks or threads of any kind, not even for a dungeon. Additionally, random wilderness encounters were rolled once an hour, and included MM1, MM2 and the Fiend Folio. (This was a 1e AD&D game) All this meant that it was incredibly difficult to make it past level 2 or 3 alive. I managed to get Migellito to level 7 over the course of about 2-3 years, and in the process made some very strong bonds with a handful of other characters, as well as making the best shot I saw in my time in the campaign at actually making any difference in the unfolding of larger events.

    However, in the end, the evil sorcerer won.

  3. I don't think I have a favourite player character. It's not really my preferred side of the screen.

    As far as favourite NPCs go, I think it comes down to 'the one who was one of my players' IC and OOC dream girl, and whose romance was played out while we were both drunk enough not to let any awkwardness stall the story - also, she was a cultist in a Call of Cthulhu game', or 'the one who was scheming to remake the entire human species into some sort of post-human cyborg thing of living metal and nerve tissue that was just human enough to constitute 'human' by the terms of the setting's prevailing doctrine'.

  4. I've mentioned a few times on DLWDG my Dark Heresy character: the adept-turned cleric (and in his mind the 'living Saint') Boris Sevastopol.

    In & out of game, Boris is a textbook example of a sociopath and its a LOT of fun playing as one of those! Periodically he (re)takes control of the situation when 'the so-called leadership' is at a loss for direction and distracted as such, isn't able to keep him in line.

    A goodly (if not majority) portion of his character is actually out of game, when he sends in his reports to the Inquisition (i.e.: everyone in the group via email, which always results in an entertaining exchange). During gaming sessions I take almost continuous notes during our game sessions. Indeed Boris often (in character) runs & hides from a confrontation and then takes notes (often I 'hide' with just my eyes above the edge of the table) as the others fight for their lives. Boris then recounts these events in his reports. While more or less in the form of a travelogue, Boris often (read: always) twists of facts of any situation in which he was in the wrong, instead placing the blame on the party, namely our team leader (often referred to simply as 'that accursed woman'). He is in fact the epitome of the Imperial propaganda machine.

    One day, when he is martyred, he will finally be raised to his rightful saintly status and will offer his personal guidance to the Almighty Emperor of mankind. Then these missives, penned by the hand Saint Sevastopol himself will be published as his collected works, distributed amongst the Imperium, and taught as scriptures to the ignorant masses of humanity. I'm not sure of the page count, but collectively I'd say its in the 20-30 page realm

    Now I ask, who wouldn't want to play as a madman like that?

  5. I have had so many characters that I have loved to play for diferent reasons. to pick a "favorite" would be unfair. so instead I"m going to list my top memorable ones.

    -Deken Scorch (Forgotten realms, 3.5 D&D) I loved that I got to grow this character in a fairly specific way. every fight it seemed had some sort or Ick, Goo, nasty liquid covering my Mage. He felt that he had been cursed by the god of oozes, and respectively devoted his life to destroying a god. He became devout in his seeming of power and fire, the only source he found to deal with the oozes. he was well on his way to become a fire elemental, and had already found a means to travel between realms. I miss that game.

    - Ganone the quick (lunar, exalted) this character was my attempt to grab one aspect of a game and be the best at it. I devoted every ounce of this character's being into NOT being hit. and it worked! via skills, RP and dice rolls my character dodged and danced his way through every scene. in a party full of solars, that is a feat. and for the longest time, I had many of the party convinced I was a solar also, funny.

    - Steven, Stevie, Stephen (Empathic superhero, Aberrant) This was the shortest lived character I have ever had and still love. lasted 2 sessions, his primary ability was the manipulation of emotions of others. his drawback was that he had multiple personalities. he was aware of 2 other personalities, steven who thought he was normal, and stevie who was very childlike and innocent, stephen was the "hero", little did I know I had 4 MORE personalities, all of which were villians, murderers and plotting to control the world. I especially loved getting my teammate out of jail by talking to the receptionist about a sexy ad in a magazine, thus turning the emotion into complete lust of which he ran into the bathroom with the magazine! GREAT!

    Azazel Creed (Cult of ecstasy, Mage) I owned a night club, got to do drugs and play music for magic, also had the CAHONES to seek out a vampire in a mass crowd and interview him WHILE he was trying to feed off of an innocent. (I augmented a pair of polarized sunglasses to filter out life instead of UV rays, since vampy's are dead, it worked great) luckily enough, and unknown to me, I was marked as a supporter for vampires with my club. apparently my style was very easy to hunt in or something. I went back to the club and found at least 30 "dead" things in my club that night. it was trippy.

    - John the Paladin (paladin, AD&D) my first character. this guy lived through several campaigns in high school. I love the fact that I was RPing the complete opposite of my personality. straight laced, do good, save the world kinda dude that believes whole heartedly that good will prevail (ironically the first campaign he/I were in was themed after Castlevania). It gave me the experience to choose a role that I may not agree with personally and run with it.

  6. (Extremely long post was too long. Here's the TLDR version.)

    My favorite character ever was Troubadour, a swashbuckling, womanizing martial artist in a Champions campaign. He'd legally changed his name to Troubadour and his business cards actually read "Warrior, Poet, Lover." I conceived him as a slightly younger take on Peter O'Toole's character in "My Favorite Year," though a bit less boozy and more jazzy (he owned a jazz club that bore his name).

    He was also hunted by the Troubadour Revenge Squad, a group of superpowered women who he'd spurned in the past. (Some of them went so far as to seek out superpowers AFTER he dumped them, just so they could join the Squad.)

    In short, he was meant to be a bit of a joke. A has-been. And then, the campaign happened, and over time, he developed into a strong leader. He found himself in a steady relationship with Gorgon, a fellow member of the team. And when her secret ID was exposed and her career as District Attorney wrecked, the two of them hopped on a motorcycle and left town to "Find America. The real America," in perfect "Hard-travelin' Heroes" style.

    To my knowledge, Troubadour remains the only character I've ever retired because his story was done and not because I was tired of playing him or the campaign ended. I'd never planned for him to take the path he did, and our game was better for it being a surprise for all of us.

  7. This is easy. My Dark Heresy character Kai 'Al Sun
    Kai was a feral world psyker that had a tendency to pull down perils of the warp with a terrifying frequency. That resulted in many, many death treats made against him by the other party members. My favorite moment though has to be when I took out three members of a boarding party in one combat round. I got three swings a round and using the power "Hammerhands" I did 1d10+22 damage to an opponent. These guys could only take 25 damage before dying. I knocked one of their heads clean off their shoulders and the other two I put my hand through their chests. I have his backstory and some small profiles of other characters of mine at (shameless plug) check 'em out if you're so inclined.

  8. I have none. I've never gotten to play long enough to get attached to one.

  9. My favorite characters are usually those that the other players (and GM) like too. The ones that interact well with other PCs and NPCs ("well" in the sense that there is significant interaction, even if it's argument!), and that others talk about outside of the game.

    The interaction and the shared storytelling are big parts of the gaming experience for me, so the characters that fit in and contribute to that tend to be the most memorable.

  10. First post got eaten... grr!

    Anyway, my favorite characters have all been very talky. I quickly realized that combat just took too long in pen and paper to get any enjoyment and by talking I could develop my character's personality much more easily.

    My first talky character was Gabryjel, a Tzimisce vampire who used blood bonds and fleshcrafting to convince poor mortals that he was an angel sent from Heaven to command them. I had a lot of fun with him, particularly since he was my first try at being a bastard while in character, doing absolutely rotten things behind my coterie's back. Favorite moment: a mortal business man had been giving my Coterie trouble, so me and my hounds went to his house to teach him to "Sit... stay... BEG."

    Sam was the character that I got closest to true role playing. He was a cancer patient who bought a "cure" from a random stranger, then was surprised when he woke up on fire the next day. That first session was amazing amounts of fun role playing him as a complete noob, trying to drink beer and vomiting it up, "accidentally" using Celerity when shuffling cards and convincing himself that his tribal tattoos were turning him into a Yeti or Sasquatch when Protean claws started popping out of his fingers. I also got to play the addict side of a Vampire for the first time, made much more important as he needed his victims to smoke a cigarette before biting in, occasionally at gunpoint.

  11. thanks for sharing guys! I'm really enjoying reading these!

  12. My favorite character is one who was just a blast to play. I got to be creative and a little out there, broke me out of my shell some.

    Ethan Harrington, Malkavian Vampire.

    Derangement: Fantasy

    Ethan's derangement translated everything he witness into the medieval ages. While in reality he wore a motorcycle helmet and a flakk jacket, as far as he was concerned he was in a suit of armour. He road around on his trusty horse.. motorcycle. Carried a sword, but was learning to use repeater crossbows. (pistol) He even slew a dragon once - a giant gold one.. ok, so it was actually a giant yellow crane.

    He was an Anarch and saw the Anarch leader as his Queen, meaning he had to swear allegiance to her.. help her Toreador lover fend off the advances of the untrustworthy Ravnos and his ilk, etc.

    He wasn't that powerful, it was the roleplaying that was fun. Create a good character, and it doesn't matter what abilities they have.

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  14. My favorite character was a D&D 2nd edition Holy Slayer (assassin) named Khalid. The game took place in Conan's world (so everyone was human although there was plenty of magic/fantasy involved). Looking back now, everyone being human was fantastic. Nobody focused on min/maxing characters via races/classes. There was more room for focusing on character development and story.

    So Khalid. By day he was a typical roguish character. He dressed well and proclaimed himself a dealer in fine antiquities and luxuries. To the party, they assumed he was just an uppity thief. At times Khalid was just that.

    Over the first couple months of the game, the DM would occasionally pull me aside privately as we played out a side-adventure (basically the assassin guild sending me orders to kill some official or businessman). These lasted maybe 5-10 minutes while the others took a break. Nobody knew what these were all about (and their characters constantly questioned Khalid about them). As a good soldier Khalid never budged.
    Eventually they found out the true nature of Khalid (through some plot line twist where a party enemy exposed him).

    But for awhile the only people that knew of Khalid's darker side was the DM and myself. In fact for awhile the other players/characters thought I might have been a "plant" from the enemy to spy on them. They thought that maybe those secret rendezvous' were Khalid reporting back to the bad guys.

    The DM really sold the idea and it really added a lot to the intensity and realistic nature of party interaction and overall internal conflict.

  15. You know, I'm so used to being on the "wordy" side of the screen, its hard for me to pin down a character that I've played as one of my favorites.

    To slightly circumvent your intention here, I think one of my favorite NPCs to run as a DM was Mad Monkey from the old Oriental Adventures module Mad Monkey versus Dragon Claw. In my early roleplaying career, he was the first NPC that I really got into playing, hamming it up, and playing him as an old stereotypical kung fu master from a Saturday afternoon martial arts flick.

    The most fun was coming up with the goofy sayings that he was suppose to spout instead of actually answering any of the PCs questions.

    I think if I were to look at an honest to goodness favorite PC that I played, I have to go way back to my 1st edition ranger. He was gruff, rugged, did what was right no matter what, grumbled about anyone that groused at not doing what needed to be done, and complained about people talking too much.

    In the end, in a lot of ways, he was a combination of what I want to be (heroic, not afraid to do what's right no matter what the consequence), and how I saw my father (no non-sense, down to business, gruff but lovable).

    I also played a wizard once that I got a lot out of, as I played him as a totally fastidious snob that was constantly worried about his looks and how other perceived him. He was constantly buying new clothes, and when he had to (back in the day) roll for his familiar, he got a toad.

    It was perfect. He was mortified, and named it Blight, complaining about the toad constantly, even though he secretly loved it. It actually was a major turning point for the character when Blight was killed.