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  • Pete Davison 12:18 pm on March 1, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    I believe I’ve told this story before, but it doesn’t hurt to share it again.

    My favourite non-CRPG RPG experience was using a “freedom” system a friend developed. It was very simple — the rules were only two pages long and you only had two stats.

    A week or so before we started the campaign, our GM asked us to send him our character concepts, stressing the fact that we could be anything we wanted, with any skills, within reason.

    Our party ended up consisting of The Last Elf On Earth (he came from the future and was constantly pursued by mysterious men in black who wanted to squeeze out all his magical juices), the Luggage from Discworld (who was very useful in combat as he tended to simply devour weak enemies), an animated suit of armour, a cloud of pink amorphous gas that enjoyed strangling people from the inside, and a fallen angel loosely based on Tyrael from Diablo II.

    Because we’d sent our GM our backgrounds and abilities beforehand, he was able to put together a custom adventure that weaves its way around all our individual quirks and histories. It was an immensely fun, if ridiculous, experience. Most memorable moment was my Elf (for it was me) running up to the top of a huge skyscraper pursued by the men in black, while Tyrael proceeded to “create a distraction” by standing in the lobby and spending most of his power on turning into a 200-foot tall fire demon.

    The day we can do that in a CRPG without it being prescripted, I’ll be a happy man.

  • Shingro 5:10 am on March 1, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    @bowlisimo I have a terrible suspicion that this is the result of a fan being far more enthusiastic and clever the publishers are willing to take risks, but god I hope that’s not true.

    Character creation! I guess I started it so I might as well bring it home.

    For myself when I started making D&D characters in high school they were somewhat bland self-inserts, in those days of AD&D you didn’t have a ton of choices, ‘elven wizard, maybe with a special familiar’ I found that this made me super cautious as I might myself be when exploring a dangerous ruin or dining at a norse god’s table

    Then a friend of mine who I went to school with and later met again at a gas station job (and is a hilariously good GM) invited me to be part of his newly revived “Furiken High” game, a Big Eyes Small Mouth 2nd Ed edition high school mecha-league game with one very specific rule, anything goes, but the team must have at least one mecha to field, and you absolutely must play a female character. I was not particularly comfortable about this at the time, since I was still super shy and awkward, but I quickly found that distanced me enough from my decisions that I was able to take great risks, do strange/rad things and generally be a much more fun and exciting presence in the group, and since that character was so rad that’s informed all my characters since.

    Since then the only non-female characters I’ve played have been monsters (treant, hound archon, pixie) or BORING (a Solar in Exalted, and… god if there were any others they’re too boring to be remembered.) interestingly, my characters have consistently been becoming more and more ‘mascot-ish’ damned if I know what that means… When my group moved away and my D&Ding went to IRC channels the trend continued and Two of my favorite oddballs were

    • a Japanese-horror type little girl who is half made of condensed void to cover horrible injury, carries a bunny and is protected by an enormous shadow wolf named Muffins
    • a tiny half-snake goddess as long as a normal human’s forearm, she was worshiped by an old tribe but since civilization came and her tribe was destroyed her power has dried up to the point where she’s lvl 1 PC, on an eternal quest to regain her godly might and smite the great evil of STAIRS and unbelievers (which she still can’t get past without help, and yes that is in order of priority. >_>)

    I find being ‘interesting supporting cast’ in someone else’s story is a lot more fufilling then successfully taking center stage. It’s not always great, and can be slow sometimes, but it seems to make the characters more ‘real’ to the other players. I mean, the day one of the guys in my group told me a character of mine was in a dream of his, I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically.

    Same thing basically happens with MMOs, I played a gnome first, then a draeni, I’ve become oddly attached to freaking out other people who ‘don’t get it’ with character choices or my reasons for them… For example when asked why a female draeni I’ll tend to say something along the lines of “oh DUDE, her legs bend in THREE PLACES *exaggerated eyebrow waggle*” “W-b.but she has HOOVES 8|” “Damn straight she does ^_^”

    Shhh… it’s a secret to everybody =P

    • Class picking order: Monsters -> Mages -> women -> rogues -> archers -> anything but fighter -> god don’t make me pick fighter pleeeease -> … maybe I’ll play something else -> fighter
    • Like beige, I immediate priority in games is things that will help me explore and learn the secrets, if I can do it without missing things I’ll instead get the ‘xzibit’ skills (here’s a skill/item/perk/feat that gets you more skills/items/perks/feats over time) I suppose I play the stats of games like an economist, but only as far as my own brain will take me, I never copy builds.
    • I’ll take adorable over beautiful, but either’s fine
    • As exotic as I can possibly get within the confines of the world. Be that class choices, stat gains, specialties, etc. I just love unusual things, and I will desperately avoid ‘normal’ choices, (humans, fighters, soldiers, any variant of ‘it’s a man holding a different tool’ makes me head for the hills)
    • I unerringly play chaotic, waaay chaotic. I found out very quickly it doesn’t even matter what I’m trying to do, I will always pick the option that I think will lead to the most excitement. If I was in a Temple of Doom, or Lord Octyoch’s Throne Room the moment anyone turned their back on me I’d pick up the idol, or touch the soul gem, not for money or greed, but to see if it did something, and only the far off grind of whatever death trap or hum of doomsday weapon was triggered and my character’s aghast shout of “I DID A THING! D=” or exuberant “I AM A HELPER =D” warns them.

    Oh and here’s the images I stole for my tiny snake

    TOO much fun 😀 Legends *abound* of the craziness she got up to. XD
    Don't let her fool you...
    She's not much of a monster anymore =P

  • Pete Davison 12:24 pm on February 29, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , Character Creation   

    As for the Baldur’s Gate thing, the full stupidity of the Games Press Rumour Mill is in force. I saw an article yesterday that basically said “it might be a new game. Or a rerelease. Or a Facebook game. Basically we don’t know.” It took about a thousand words to say this.

    Supposedly one of the Beamdog (ex-BioWare) guys has said it’s nothing to do with the Baldur’s Gate Complete thing that’s coming to Steam.

    Maybe it is a third-person shooter. Or a free to play MMO. Or — God forbid — a Facebook game.

    Anyway, onto other matters. Character creation!

    • Redhead female. Always. Usually long hair. I like having a pretty person to look at in cutscenes, particularly if they’re voiced by Jo Wyatt.
    • If I have the choice of clothing colour, blue or purple is usually my preference.
    • Archetype varies depending on what type of RPG we’re talking. In MMOs and Dragon Age-style things, I enjoy playing mages. In Elder Scrolls games, I like playing backstabby stealthy thiefy types. Fighter-types are a bit dull for me, though I’ll often go with them in action RPGs.
    • Silver-tongued conversation skills. Always.
    • Lots of Charisma. Always. The only game it’s ever helped significantly in is Planescape: Torment, but that was enough to make me always want to play charismatic characters.
    • Dual-wielding is always fun.
    • Where dual-wielding is unavailable, a fancy one-handed sword will do the trick nicely.
    • I used to habitually play Chaotic Good but have moved more towards Lawful as time has gone on. This makes occasional Chaotic outbursts all the more satisfying, as it reminds me of myself — patient and Lawful most of the time, but if you piss me off you’ll get a blast of Chaos all up in your face.
    • I tend not to think of “backstories” for single player RPG characters because inevitably it’ll clash with the background the game wants you to have. In MMOs, however, it’s another matter, particularly if you’re playing on an RP server. I have some very fond memories of RPing with my World of Warcraft mage and paladin, who were related but hadn’t seen each other in years. (Convenient, since it was impossible for them to be in the same room.) The RP my friend and I had going on made our eventual arrival at Stratholme a pretty awesome story event in our minds, despite WoW being beyond crap at storytelling.
  • unmanneddrone 4:04 am on February 29, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    @shingro No Shingro CliffsNotes character creation version?

  • unmanneddrone 3:10 am on February 29, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    I can’t really play along with the WRPG/D&D character creation business, only for the fact the last WRPG I played was…uh…Good Heavens, I can’t recall. Last P&P RPG I played was even further back with the strange but breathtaking Blue Planet IP. BUT, perhaps another slant to it…

    • I put civil and infrastructure research above that of military. Trade and commerce follow.
    • In design, I favour ballistic and kinetic weaponry over laser and energy.
    • I prefer human or some similar proxy to that of alien races.
    • I savour the greatest of defeats with the same relish as one does the swiftest of victories, because the cost itself holds psychological importance, rather than strategic gain or loss.
    • I cannot abide by anything but combined arms. If you’re not going to revel in variation of force composition, I have no business doing business as an ally or opponent of you. Good day, sir.
    • There is nothing worse than an all-powerful empire.
    • The enemy within is something to savour.

    If I had to choose a traditional creation modus operandi, I’d say @cgrajko is the man closest to where I stand. It is driven by mechanics. Operational prowess. I don’t care for inserting meaning into my creation to any great length, outside of accepting adversity and acknowledging my own mortality.

  • scribl 1:08 am on February 29, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    Heh, I like this. Let’s see…

    • Typically female, as discussed below.
    • Swift, agile, dual wield — yes please.
    • Rarely play with two-handed weapons. That big-dumb-bruiser style of play (high strength, high con) never interests me.
    • I always take talky/persuasive abilities too, though I’m not totally in love with systems that let you talk your way out of anything just because your stats are high enough. I much prefer systems like DXHR’s or The Witcher 2’s where conversation is more strategic.
    • Sometimes I let myself get seduced by the idea of playing a stealthy character, but few RPGs have a robust enough stealth system for it to be fun in the long run.
    • I really like stealth games where the main motivation for hiding in shadows is that the darkness makes you deadlier. I’m a big fan of the stealth in Batman and SC Conviction. I basically played DXHR as a lethal Batman with guns.
  • feenwager 11:30 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    I’m digging the character creation stuff. Gets me inside the minds of you nutbags.

    Most of my characters will bear at least a passing resemblance to me, mostly because in real life I sort of look like a generic bald space marine. I also find most hair texture unconvincing and distracting. That said, my Reckoning character was a black guy with grey cornrows. Why? Because.

    Side note: I actually aged my character in Dragon Age 2 in between every chapter break. In the story, time passed, so it made me feel that much more into the character. I’m a weirdo.

    • I will always, always take perks/options that let me talk my way out of stuff. 100% of the time, never fails.
    • Stealth never, ever, ever…ever.
    • Dual wielding whenever possible.
    • I’ll always pick passive bonuses over active because it makes the game easier on my brain.
    • Anything that boosts the amount of XP I get is a must.
    • Anything that opens up/auto discovers the whole map for me is another must.
    • I always go for constitution/strength out of the gate because you can’t win if you can’t stay alive, yes?
    • I always think I want to snipe, but in reality I never do.
    • Sword & Shield over Greatsword. Hammer over staff. Shotgun over pistol. M16 over Uzi.
    • Any perk that lets my character move faster is a early get.
    • I always have to find the most effective crowd control perk in every game. I like killing many things at the same time.
    • Mercantile perks are always a waste of time.

    That was fun. Who’s next?

  • RedSwirl 10:47 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    @cgrajko @bluesforbuddha I did the same thing for my second Mass Effect character. Both my male and female Shepards are of color. What’s strange is that in the game they end up making a lot of the same choices, but in my mind they are completely different people. If someone watched me playing both characters I’m not sure they could tell the difference. I don’t know if that means too much of these characters is in my mind and not in the game, but I’m enjoying the direction so far.

    Originally I resisted playing off-gender, but as I started thinking about a FemShep, I realized the appeal of the protagonist being the female special forces leader in a sci-fi setting. That, plus being black, is about as “different” as you can get. The problem is that because I don’t really project myself into the character in this case, I thought and realized that I really didn’t have archetypes to base her off of. The two closest things I arrived at in terms of personality were Captain Janeway and Motoko Kusanagi.

    Stats-wise, I always, always, ALWAYS end up with a high dexterity stealth build whenever I actually invest in my characters. If I’m just winging it like my first Skyrim and Fallout 3 characters I end up with a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none, but I still end up gravitating towards the thief/assassin character. Both of my Shepards are scopin’ droppin’ Infiltrators.

  • scribl 10:45 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    I generally play female characters when given the choice, if only because female protagonists are rare, which makes them unique and interesting to me. I basically follow Joss Whedon’s philosophy on that front. (More specifically, around the 6-7 minute mark in that video, but it’s worth watching the whole thing.)

    I’m a Lady Shepard snob. My brother and I were talking about it recently, and he was telling me why he didn’t get how great she is. His attitude is that Shepard is just a generic space marine, regardless of gender. My attitude is that a generic female space marine isn’t actually generic at all.

  • ckim 9:28 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    I am one of those people who will spend hours rolling a character (or characters) in games like Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Fallout, and such. I tend to look at characters in WRPGs as the physical embodiment of traits and attributes rather than personality and narrative potential. Obviously, there are exceptions (PS:T comes instantly to mind), but I’m more interested in creating a character in these types of games who is mechanically interesting to me. (It is also worth noting that it is very, very hard to make a character who looks like me, so I almost never have a close visual representation on the screen.) In that respect, much like Mark, I tend to roll the same sort of characters time and time again, and I almost always end up rolling a rogue of some sort. I like playing the reticent loner who only reveals their presence once they’ve dealt the killing blow. I also think it’s hilarious to steal from NPC’s (or in the case of Fallout put explosives in their pockets).

    I build characters in CRPGs based around what I think will work well with the mechanics of the game rather than the narrative. In ToEE, which isn’t a story heavy game by any stretch of the imagination, I thought back to the time I spent playing 3.5, and I created a party that would work harmoniously in combat. It was amazing to be able to trip an opponent with a fighter and then deal extra damage with a rogue while the enemy was prone. (Like Mark has said a million or so times, 4th ed. would have leant itself super well to a game like this, but we never got it for some reason.)

    I do enjoy playing with my character’s appearance, but it’s actually hard to create a character that looks like me. The template for men is almost always big and broad shouldered, neither of which describes me well. I’m petite, and it’s a pain in the ass that I can’t make a character who looks like me. (I should also note that my complaint is nothing compared to the myriad difficulties I would encounter if I were a woman trying to create a character who isn’t tiny with enormous breasts. Again, exceptions do exist, and they’re nice when they come up, but it doesn’t happen enough.)

    I haven’t played many recent WRPGs. I think the list is just the first two Mass Effect games and Fallout 3. For Mass Effect, I created a woman of color, because I figured this was one of my few chances to see a space opera starring a woman of color. I haven’t been disappointed by my decision, and it’s refreshing to have all of the sci-fi tropes we see throughout the game get a little bit subverted by having an awesome hero who would never get her own movie/series/etc… Also, the fact that you play one generic character (I believe the only difference is voice acting and romance options, yes?) also works in the game’s favor, because I feel like a game that was designed from the ground up for the character that I created would invariably involve something done in poor taste. (I’m so, so afraid it would be Star Wars IN THE HOOD, YO!), and that would be a shame. Then again, maybe I’m just a bitter curmudgeon, and I don’t give people enough credit.

    My Fallout 3 character, as with all Fallout characters, is very, very good at conversation and not as great at everything else.

  • rampantbicycle 5:01 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    @shingro I usually find that despite my best efforts to Do Something Different, I end up creating a character who is either very similar to myself or a strong reflection of some facet of my real-life character. This is particularly noticeable in the D&D campaign we’ve been playing; I regularly make some comment about my character only to realize it applies with equal force to me.

    In the electronic-entertainment context, oddly, I generally do not devote a large amount of time to character design. I’m always happy when I get to play a girl – that doesn’t happen nearly enough for my tastes – but the protagonists in electronic media are of necessity often cyphers, customizable in skills but with very limited personalities or options for what I would consider actual roleplaying. (There are varying degrees of egregiousness to this, extreme cases giving me the choice “murder this grandma or pet the kitty.” But that’s a discussion with which we’re all familiar.)

    Lots of computer-RPG characters just don’t HAVE that much personality on their own, I guess, is what I am saying. You have to read it in. This is a strategy authors of all kinds have been using since the dawn of time: by not giving your protagonist that many points of distinction you theoretically make it easier for your audience to identify with them. Often, this works, so I certainly can’t blame game developers for using it. (This is where Gordon Freeman and arguably Link come from.)

    On a less extreme level, CRPG characters have more of an illusion of freedom in terms of their interaction with the world than actual freedom. (Dialogue trees say hello.) That’s totally fine, it just means that I’m by necessity playing a character someone else designed. It’s cool. I will never regret playing the Nameless One. He’s not MY character but he was fun to be. The same goes for Nathan Drake or Guybrush Threepwood.

    So the options for treating an electronic-media character as either an extension of myself or as an exercise of authorial power are limited. This is, I guess, one of the reasons I enjoy the flexibility of tabletop games so much. But there’s goodness to be had in both styles.

  • bowlisimo 4:43 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    @shingro My escapism typically works through inhabiting someone other than myself, whether it’s a character someone else has created, or one I imagine. I think I used to, but nowadays I don’t fantasize about being IN the game as ME. It’s very immersion breaking. I don’t want to see my face kissing Morrigan in Dragon Age or something, that’s too weird. In fantasy games (table or video) I tend to roll Dwarf instead, because they’re just fun all around.

    I’ll play these characters the way I think they would act, often to extremes. Like I said a few posts ago, I cannot abide by a Solid Snake who acts like a mass murderer. Or say I carry out a mission sloppily in AC2, I’ll restart it, thinking, “Ezio would do better than that”. But, the fact that I’m driving these characters, like @impynickers mentioned, means my personality and moral compass does bleed through here and there like a reverse Animus, even when I don’t really want it to. It’s inevitable. My Renegade run of Mass Effect 1/2 was not 100% Renegade, and that’s because *I* was playing.

    Dark Souls is an exception. You’re given a blank slate, and then you’re forced to try, fail, and learn on your own, which makes the lessons and experiences very personal. You really have no choice but to be YOU… well… if you were fit and could swing a weapon with some modicum of skill and grace, etc.

  • Pete Davison 4:00 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    @shingro If given the opportunity to create a custom character, I will without fail create a redhead female. I’m not even sure why any more (besides the fact that I’m a fan of redhead females) but it’s kind of become my go-to visual identity in games. I enjoy playing as females, particularly if the devs have bothered to make the experience as a female character distinct from that of the male. Also, I like Jennifer Hale’s voice, and Jo “LadyHawke” Wyatt’s sultry tones make me weak at the knees.

  • RedSwirl 5:58 am on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    @Shingro I’ve started to flow towards “create a consistent character” whenever I start WRPGs now.

    My first Shepard actually started out as “sort-of me” but slowly evolved into a dude of his own that I’m now taking for his final run through ME2. Like I said earlier, neither of my Shepards is pure paragon or renegade. I just do whatever I think they would do in each situation. My FemShep in particular is completely divorced from my own personality which has been a really interesting venture.

  • impynickers 4:28 am on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    @Shingro You pose an interesting question. I always fall into the trap of identifying with the characters I play no matter how strange. When I create them it is usually as some extension of my own personality.
    This brings up another tendency I have in games, and that is typically to play a male character
    (though this has been challenged occasionally for curiosities sake).

    I like to be able to identify personally with a character, and make decisions based on my own gut.
    I do however have friends who don’t find that interesting, but rather create a consistent character. ie. this is what this commander Shepard would/wouldn’t do. and they enjoy the story that unfolds.
    This is also why I tend toward the good side of moral choices in games. I find it hard to separate myself from the scenario. Some games do let me assume a different mindset where I separate from the character and go nuts, but story driven games usually catch me.

  • Shingro 3:38 am on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Character Creation   

    So, since the topic of D&D has come up I’d actually like to ask something of the various squaddies.

    When you make a character, (Whether tabletop, MMO, or WRPG) Do you make a character in the spirit of “This guy is cool, this guy is me” or do you approach it more like an author writing a character for book?

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