#RPGaDay 2014: Day Eight – Anatomy of a Character


Gmork basically looked like this Reaper miniature, only with a spear and not a dwarf.

Today is ‘Favourite character’ and I have to admit to having some trouble with this. I have characters I like for different reasons, but no one character who I really feel ticked all my boxes. In the end, I went with Gmork because he was the funniest choice, the cannibal halfling with a massive beard who rode a pig, lived in the wilderness and could explode you with his brain (warlock). He was super fun, but not exactly a work of art. However, I could have chosen Magpie, my rogueiest rogue, who was an arcane trickster (and I love, loooooove to play rogues). I could have chosen Creep, a Changeling: the Lost character who I do consider to be much closer towards art, as she has had an incredible arc and has turned out extremely complex. I could have chosen Artesius, a noble Seneschal in Rogue Trader, who has recently completed his quest to provide his crew with Best Quality Whores. It was epic, man. I could have chosen Milt, a middle-aged soldier with a tragic past who is understated but also really interesting to play. There are so many more. I keep thinking of more. None of them are my favourite, though. They all appeal in different ways. Gmork is the funniest – my most original character. Magpie is the one who fulfilled my desire to be really, really good at stealing stuff – she’s my competency character. Creep is the one who had an arc I couldn’t have come up with in a novel, an awesome expression of the weird alchemy of gaming – as well as being similarly competent to Magpie (did I mention I love playing rogues?) she is my arc character, the one I’ve been most emotionally invested in. Artesius is the one where I could get my snark on the most and choose hilarious ‘goals’ that were completely frivolous rather than high drama – I guess he’s my light relief character. Milt is difficult because on paper he actually isn’t a great character. He only has a couple of major conflict points (he’s a soldier from Cyre, so…anyone who’s read Eberron knows what that means) and mainly acts as a kind of wise-mentor -character-meets-Vimes in play, but I can’t define why I like him so much – he’s the mystery character.

gmork 2

This is Shorty from Tangled, or possibly Gmork again. There was for a while a promo picture of him riding a pig, but I can’t find that any more.

Some of these character niches are mutually exclusive. I can’t imagine an arc character and a light relief character being the same thing. However, a competent character can also pair with any of the others (and to be fair most of my characters are competent – the distinction I would draw here is that the primary joy I get out of playing that character is their competence rather than the other reasons in the list). Considering we’ve got a reset in the national Isles of Darkness chronicle in March next year and I’ve got the possibility of a couple of campaigns I’ll be playing in coming up soon, I’m going to take a moment to think about which of these character niches each character serves when I make them. One thing that occurs is that while I’ve played many competent, fun and original characters over the years, there are a number I wouldn’t add to the list, even when they would seem to fulfil roles. In a high-drama Mage campaign, I like my character Gevaudan, but he doesn’t quite appeal in the way my niche characters do. I have lots of fun live game characters, but only one of them made it into my list. Sometimes I won’t be able to figure out what niche a character fits in advance and they’ll have to grow into it. I would have had my Mage character Artemis pegged for my competency niche, but actually she fitted into my light relief niche better (and sadly, not so much into competency, despite the fact that she’s a freaking dual master, due the excessive power creep). On the other hand, I made one of my vampire characters, Ajax, to be a competency character and that worked out super well. She just wasn’t around long enough to leave a lasting impression (because I became an ST for the game). This whole post is a bit self-indulgent. Like many people, I get really bored of hearing about other people’s characters, so I definitely don’t blame anyone for not reaching this point in the post. But if you did, well done! Have an internet hug. Tomorrow I shall try to provide something a little meatier.