llamaenterhear
Username: Password:

Author Topic: Characters not to play: *  (Read 2650 times)

0 Members and 1 Lonely Barbarian are spying on this topic.

Offline MoonHunter

  • Waunderer
  • Emperor
  • ****
  • Posts: 3525
  • Awards Questor Article Guild Systems Guild Society Guild Locations Guild Item Guild
    • Awards
Characters not to play: *
« on: November 07, 2004, 10:23:04 AM »
MoonHunter says these are Characters not to play

MoonHunter, who has an opinion about all things gaming (and seems to have this problem about speaking of himself in the third person) has been asked numerous time about how to deal with certain problem characters.  Most of these characters are "of a type".  Those types are:

The Uncaring "Heroic" Badass is a difficult character to game in a group with. The UHB is easily recognizable - grim, deadly, antisocial, unlikeable, and a deadly killer. Yet, somehow, he or she is the hero and the other characters are supposed to like him/her, even though the person is a complete destructive jerk. The UHB has two parts: "I can kick anyone else's rear end, and no one can stop me." and "I don't care about anyone or anything. I have no social ties and mock them. Aren't I cool for having no concern, care, or attachment to make me weak?" This is an interesting protagonist for a testosterone drive star vehicle movie or novel series. This is not a character type that is useful in a group environment that most roleplaying games exist in.

The Weirdo is a character that is just soooo different from the rest of the group and any "normal" people in the game environment. The Wierdo might have useful skills, but has more liabilities. If you would not hang around with a person who dressed in a green plaid suit, with a bright yellow shirt, who insulted women, spoke in rhyme, and talked with its' imaginary friends, why would your character? Now a character does not have to be "normal" or be what is "expected", but it does need to be functional in the real world of the game environment.

The "Mysterious Character with No Past" is cheap plot device in poorly written novels and bothersome characters in games as well. In an attempt to be mysterious, the MCwNP appears from nowhere. It will not speak of his past, nor make any reference to anywhere it has been or anything it has done. The MCwNP normally storms in, solves the issue, disappears, and comes back chapters later to save the protagonists again. That is how it works in the novels. In a game, they hang around. The character is normally dark and brooding, but is always quiet and violent. These attempts to be mysterious make the character untrustworthy (the players are supposed to accept this character without questioning its motives or reasons?) and difficult to plot for the GM. (Without a history or reason for existing the GM is supposed to come up with plots and subplots for it?) In addition, GMs are supposed to accept this pile of character mechanics without any explanation as to where it developed its abilities and why it should be allowed in? In most cases, these attempts at generating mystery are actually attempts to run a character without having to create a conception or history. Every character needs to be part of the world it is in. Even if the character does not tell the other characters about itself, that history and all the elements that make it part of the world need to be there.

The One Trick Pony is a character that specializes in just one thing and can not operate outside of that limited area. The most common examples are Combat Monsters and Computer Geeks that have no other abilities beyond killing things and hacking computers. They don't have abilities in other areas, they just sit around waiting for their abilities to be needed. Most of the time, they don't have connections to the rest of the group, no social interactions, and less in the personality department. If there is any variation in the types of adventures the GM creates, these characters become useless and their players bored.

Insane characters. It is a mad, mad, mad world out there, but there is no reason to play a madman. Most insane characters are nothing more than excuses not to have impulse control. Players of the insane do what ever they want with the excuse of "well I'm insane". Insane characters are actually easier to play than well adjusted characters. They have no real depth and simply follow some basic rules of conduct. As a general rule, insane characters are nothing but twinks with a lame excuse to play to excess.

They of Power and Might. Many self absorbed and wannabe roleplayers develop detailed character histories that invariably includes Gods or Lords or Kings or Deamons or Dragons or AIs or anything else that will increase the perceived status or coolness of the character/ player. They try to make their character more important and more real through association. By the way, this never works. These characters inevitably do not have the skills, abilities, perks, etc to back up these histories. Without some support, the character becomes hollow and empty. Tying your character to the game world is an admirable goal. Just make sure that you have the contacts, the skills, and the abilities to live up to the history you have created.

The Emotionless One: These are the characters that have "eyes that betray no emotion" or "faces without feelings" or their histories/ descriptions include the line: Never shows emotions. These characters are boring to interact with, and most players avoid trying to roleplaying with them. In addition, most players are unable to be emotionless during play (if they are human that is). The emotionless one is normally a feeble attempt to be "tough" and "cool" by not being hampered by feelings. They are also not hampered by roleplaying either.

The Cliché. There are a few "standard character types" who show up so often in movies, stories, and games that they quickly become boring. (Unless you do something different with them, which makes them NOT a cliché.) There are dozens of these: The Tortured Hero (Angsty Guy/Gal), Dumb Grunt (Mindless Warrior), Secretive Wizard, Unsocial Hacker, Thief who pretends they aren't, and more too numerous to mention. If the GM sighs, rolls their eyes, or looks very unenthused about the character, you are probably running a cliché. Unless you have a twist to give to them to make one that's really different, avoid them. And even then, be sure about your twist.

The Drow. Do we need to go into this one?

All of these character types become problems in play.  While you might be able to work around some of their issues with careful play, MoonHunter says there is really only one way to deal with them: DON'T PLAY THEM. These are not good character types to play in a group game.  So don't create them. If you are a GM, don't let players create and or run them. If everyone follows those two simple rules, everyone's gaming experience will be better.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2005, 12:44:13 AM by MoonHunter »
MoonHunter
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©

Offline Scrasamax

  • The Rogue Scholar
  • Emperor
  • ****
  • Posts: 3517
  • 20% Cooler
  • Awards 2013 Most Submissions 2012 Most Quest Submissions Elite Systems Guild Gold Creator 10 Elite Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Scras' Blog
    • Awards
Doddering Old Mage
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2004, 07:54:50 AM »
A cliche that I have never liked, but is nearly omnipresent in fantasy, though never as a PC. The DOM is always a tool of the DM/GM/ST and needs to be either made un-cliche or done away with.

Gandalf was the first one, but Dumbledoor, Fizzban (Or whatever in the Hell his name was from the Dragonlance books) and Santa Claus fit the bill. Old guy with a big white/grey beard shows up with a big pointy hat and a hell of a bag of tricks. Plus, they are all eccentric and kooky.


Stout Lagerale of the Dwarven Guild
STR: 4 | END: 4 | CON: 4 | DEX: 2 | CHA: 2 | INT: 4

Tentacle Tentacle Sanity Schmanity

Offline Maggot

  • Insectoid Horror Of Canberra
  • Strolenati
  • King
  • *
  • Posts: 947
  • Awards Questor Society Guild Elite Society Guild Item Guild Lifeforms Guild Locations Guild
    • Awards
Characters not to play:
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2004, 10:13:18 PM »
But Gandalf was also a charismatic leader and hero who played a very important role in defeating Sauron's forces.It wouldn't be fair to call him a cliched old mage.
“I'm yet another resource-consuming kid in an overpopulated planet, raised to an alarming extent by Hollywood and Madison Avenue, poised with my cynical and alienated peers to take over the world when you're old and weak.” -Bill Watterson

 Authentic Strolenite®©

Offline Ancient Gamer

  • Hammer of the Citadel
  • Emperor
  • ****
  • Posts: 3897
  • Enough about you, let's talk about me!
  • Awards 2013 Best Play By Post Game Elite Plot Guild Elite Systems Guild Elite Item Guild Golden Creator Hall of Heroes 10
    • Coldforged Home
    • Awards
Characters not to play:
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2004, 03:24:19 AM »
I actually plan to exploit the cliche last mentioned... What about a hopelessly kitsch loving old mage, his walls filled with paintings of crying gypsy children, lots of wine bottles filled with dripping candles, cats everywhere and a general "Gandalf-look and feel"... Wheeeee!
Authentic Strolenite™©®

"Secretly a Squirrel"
Guild Master of the Squirrelati
Scourge of Nutanuns!
Harbinger of Acorns!


Offline Scrasamax

  • The Rogue Scholar
  • Emperor
  • ****
  • Posts: 3517
  • 20% Cooler
  • Awards 2013 Most Submissions 2012 Most Quest Submissions Elite Systems Guild Gold Creator 10 Elite Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Scras' Blog
    • Awards
Characters not to play:
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2004, 06:17:52 AM »
The thing about cliches is that they become cliches precisely because they work well, and are often done easily. I love Gandalf, but he started the cliche, and it has been well exploited since then. I mean ot one point, the drow assassin with two silver swords was original idea, and one that worked well, otherwise it wouldnt have bred so many copycats. Are there many barbarians that arent at least partially drawn from Conan the Destroyer?


Stout Lagerale of the Dwarven Guild
STR: 4 | END: 4 | CON: 4 | DEX: 2 | CHA: 2 | INT: 4

Tentacle Tentacle Sanity Schmanity

Offline Maggot

  • Insectoid Horror Of Canberra
  • Strolenati
  • King
  • *
  • Posts: 947
  • Awards Questor Society Guild Elite Society Guild Item Guild Lifeforms Guild Locations Guild
    • Awards
Characters not to play:
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2004, 09:36:02 AM »
Point taken.
“I'm yet another resource-consuming kid in an overpopulated planet, raised to an alarming extent by Hollywood and Madison Avenue, poised with my cynical and alienated peers to take over the world when you're old and weak.” -Bill Watterson

 Authentic Strolenite®©

Offline Ancient Gamer

  • Hammer of the Citadel
  • Emperor
  • ****
  • Posts: 3897
  • Enough about you, let's talk about me!
  • Awards 2013 Best Play By Post Game Elite Plot Guild Elite Systems Guild Elite Item Guild Golden Creator Hall of Heroes 10
    • Coldforged Home
    • Awards
Characters not to play:
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2004, 05:43:54 AM »
Every setting must implement some clichés, or else they will seem unrealistic. That is my opinion anyhow. A setting just consisting of cool new "stuff" is unconvincing, we need our redneck farmers, gandalfy old mages, corrupt constables or pointy eared elves to have something to relate to. (imagine a world full of feminine, fashion oriented farmers who only grew vegetables for the "fine cuisine", tattoo-covered mages who worshipped the "Khaun-Helog sisters of fate", and three-headed floating villagers... :shock: It would be too "cool" for my taste)

After a while our new ideas might have gained acceptance, or might even have become clichés themselves, like the drow, Gandalf, Hobbits and dragons... To non-roleplayers, dragons might seem the biggest role-playing cliché of all! (I like them though!)

Me, I like clichés and new inventions both!
Authentic Strolenite™©®

"Secretly a Squirrel"
Guild Master of the Squirrelati
Scourge of Nutanuns!
Harbinger of Acorns!


Offline Scrasamax

  • The Rogue Scholar
  • Emperor
  • ****
  • Posts: 3517
  • 20% Cooler
  • Awards 2013 Most Submissions 2012 Most Quest Submissions Elite Systems Guild Gold Creator 10 Elite Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Scras' Blog
    • Awards
Characters not to play:
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2004, 06:19:15 AM »
Hmm...an entire realm full of feminine fashionista farmers, who are vegetarians, and magic is done only by tattoo covered mages who are also in effect the clerics of the Khaun-Helog sisters of fate. That could be something...something cool.

So many questions come to mind, I like it, I do.

As for the three headed floating villagers, dont all realms have those, mine do?


Stout Lagerale of the Dwarven Guild
STR: 4 | END: 4 | CON: 4 | DEX: 2 | CHA: 2 | INT: 4

Tentacle Tentacle Sanity Schmanity

Offline MoonHunter

  • Waunderer
  • Emperor
  • ****
  • Posts: 3525
  • Awards Questor Article Guild Systems Guild Society Guild Locations Guild Item Guild
    • Awards
Characters not to play:
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2004, 12:00:50 PM »
There is a difference between a tired, rehashed cliche and a fresh take on a cliche.  So if you give me a grey bearded, wize man, Gandalf clone I will sigh.  If I get a cranky grumpy, grey bearded, wiseman, with a I-should-of-retired-120-years-ago-but-you-young-pups-can't-be-trusted-do-it-yourself, kind of old wise wizard (played by Billy Crystal in the same make up he had in Princess Bride) attitude, that would be a good cliche.  

Some cliches move into Archetypes.  These are AG was commenting on. These Archetypes (Brawny Warrior, Stoic Peasant, Secretive Wizard) are things that commonly occur and are built upon by the GM/ PCs to make characters.
MoonHunter
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©

Offline CaptainPenguin

  • Bastardo!
  • Squirrel Strolenati
  • Emperor
  • *
  • Posts: 5869
  • Awards Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Awards
Characters not to play:
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2004, 05:39:47 PM »
Generally, you must be careful not to confuse archetypes and cliches.

Archetypes are, basically, cliches, only better. Mythical archetypes are cliches that are repeated through all cultures, for whatever reason. Ooh, ooh, speaking of myths, shameless plug for my Myth-Writing 101 thread!
Myth-Writing 101
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist

Offline manfred

  • His Manic Majesty, blesseth by Mathom
  • Emperor
  • ****
  • Posts: 2462
  • Awards Questor Systems Guild Society Guild Locations Guild Item Guild Lifeforms Guild
    • Awards
Characters not to play:
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2004, 05:22:52 AM »
Just to add, a very nice list (or more a study) of Archetypes is here:

http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/collists/archetypology.html
Do not correct me, I know I am wrong.