Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roleplaying, the characters I've played-part 1

So, this will be a splendidly self indulgent post, as I review through characters I've played as, both in one shots and campaigns. We will ignore npcs for the purpose of this, as my npcs are rarely as fleshed out as a pc (most npcs have "plot" motivation, rather than character motivation).

I first roleplayed when I was around 12-16, playing every thursday afternoon after school for an hour, with a teacher as a DM. It was a fun experience, but I really didn't do a tremendous amount of roleplaying. Never getting beyond level 1, I tended to play wizards who really had very little do after casting their spell for the day. We seemed to face overwhelming encounters that butchered us all. I'm not sure anyone ever leveled.. all in all it was a little sad as an experience.

While at Bath I didn't roleplay at all. Bath doesn't have a games society. It does have a sci-fi club. To my mind the societies at Bath were a little less vibrant. There were some good political societies, and I do miss that scene a little. Oh well.

When coming to Southampton I looked ahead, and was pleased to see a gaming society. It seemed like an opportunity to meet likeminded people, and also to roleplay again. I am quite good at having infeasible amounts of knowledge about cultures I don't actually participate in, but its more fun to actually be participating in them.

My first ever character of note, then, was Borthas. A character for WFRP, he was an entertainer, barely an adult (aged 16!), he was swept up by events into a fight against a conspiracy to summon a powerful daemon of chaos. As he progressed, both he and I became more outspoken, as I became more comfortable with roleplaying and the character I was playing. I like to ground characters, at least first characters in a system, in stereotypes. So Borthas was a typical member of the Empire- racist, a devout follower of Sigmar and with strict notions of justice for mutants and criminals. I had no great notion of the character initially- his siblings had gone to fight in the Storm of chaos, leading him with an abiding hatred of the forces of chaos, and anything associated with them. Typically characters need to grow with the events that happen to them, and Borthas was exactly this. After a while playing him, it was fairly clear as to what he would do in any given situation. One of the most unfortunate aspects of his character was his prejudices were often proven correct- the wizard DID betray the party, and the halflings WERE serving bad food... As for the countess of Nuln... well...

Along the way were a couple of one shots. Its pretty hard to get past just a simple concept in one shots, and on reflection I do think its best to try and come to a one shot with a good idea of who your character is, as you don't have time to learn during the session, and shifts in your personality will be more noticable. So I played a reserved mage who had little to say (and tried to kill a lunatic paladin who was getting in his way), and an infuriated monkey samurai who had to deal with the most sociopathic bushi anyone has ever encountered ever. Both were little more than basic ideas. The Monkey worked fine for the session- there weren't many situations where his choices weren't obvious, but the mage could have used more thought.

Kakita Mito was next. A kikata duelist, he was, perhaps, the least equipped for the intrigues of Winter Court than any of the others there. This campaign ranks as one of my favourite that I've played in so far, being almost entirely based on intrigue and discussion. The ONLY fighting occured in the confines of duels (which I enjoyed, but wished there were a few more options to make them more tactical- Mike has made some changes to the dueling system to make it more system, however), which Mito was tasked to do. Mito's character was entirely changed by a roll for random generation. With the result of driven, I decided I needed to completely change many of the characters drives. Still brash and jealous, Mito's main goal now was to find some way to kill his ancestor who had dishonoured his family. Assuming that the reason I hadn't just gone myself yet was that my great uncle controlled a fortress in the shadow lands, I would need to gain enough political favour to gather an expedition. Having been outwitted in the courts of the crane (having focused most of his life on begn a duelist, Mito hadn't had much time for the intrigues of court), he had learnt more, enough that he might survive winter court.

Survive he did. Mito remained true to my initial vision of him throughout- the stuck up, honour ruled, driven bastard, who disapproved of others, and became jealous of those he felt bested him when they shouldn't (leading to an obsession with Go, then helping bring about the destruction of a poor Phoenix duelist...) He was a fairly simple character to play, happily alienating his allies as he acted the "perfect" samurai...

Steven was a promethean tammuz. Prometheans are kind of interesting to roleplay. They are effectively blank slates- they have in built skills (which may or may not have been inherited from their previous bodies, the rules are distressingly unclear on this), language and understanding, but little concepts of social norms, morality, the way to act in any situation. Steven was a tammuz, so intrinsically opposed to notions of servitude, something he was forced to struggle with throughout. He didn't get a good start- his first lesson was that of vengence, from his insane creator, and he was angry initially, determined to right what he perceived as wrong. As he grew and learned, he became calmer, and his initally demand for wrathful justice mutated into the desire to protect those who had become his friends- particularly Judy (Gemma's character, I think the name is correct?) whom he failed once before. Following this path went well for him, he felt that following the path of righteousness would lead him to humanity. There was a dangerous moment when he became connected to power- the staff of the first golem threatened to corrupt him, but he managed to resist, and used it to defeat Osiris in the end, and got his progeny (something he had initially resisted, but gave into when he realised it was the only way) to return the staff.

Promethean is at the same time an excellent system to roleplay in, and at the same time frustrating- its really not clear how much of who the character is should be decided by experience, by the type of promethean they are, and who they were. I guess its left up to the player, but it'd be nice to have a little more guidance on that.

Right, this post is long enough for now, and takes me up to the summer of 2009. Concluded in next post.

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At 11:28 am, Blogger Mr K said...

Apart from it now has a games society. Mega sigh!


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