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Reverb Gamers Prompt #6

Atlas Games is doing this thing called “Reverb Gamers 2012″, with 31 question prompts to kick off 2012. I’m going to post one up each day, including weekends, throughout January. I invite you to do the same! And check out @ReverbGamers on Twitter or Facebook.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #6: Describe your all-time favorite character to play. What was it about him/her/it that you enjoyed so much?

I come from a play culture where we do short games. Always have, since my first run-in with gaming. I do a lot of one-shots, and in the past short campaigns, rarely lasting more than six sessions. So I have played a lot of characters, and this questions really highlights that for me.

See, I can’t think of one. I can think of a couple dozen, and narrowing them to all-time favorite is impossible. I will instead briefly name a few.

Shep, an Eladrin Rogue in 4/e, was my take on Conan if Conan were an elf.[1] He was from a people enslaved by orcs, forged into a child pit fighter, and sent off because of Epic Plot Quest. Part of said plot involved returning to his homeland and slaughtering his captors. I enjoyed playing Shep because he was “badass single-minded guy with a sword” (one of my favorite archetypes to play) and he was going through a transformation, from seeing the world as slave-or-master to a more nuanced, freer world.[2]

 

Brother Jay was my one multi-session Unknown Armies character. He was a homeless Urbanomancer and True King of L.A.’s Homeless. I tweaked the magick style to make the taboo from “touch the soil of the city” (which doesn’t work for the character) to “cannot sleep in living structure” — he couldn’t sleep in a place that people lived or whatnot. He was a man of peace, and playing him was an interesting experience, both to me and others in the group. One of the first scenes he had, I asked the GM to describe people around on the sidewalk. I went up to a couple and blessed them — a random homeless guy saying “The City provided. You two have a good day” and throwing some positive mojo at them in the form of a minor charge spell.

Daniel Solis tweeted a few days ago that NPCs in roleplaying games are either allies or foes. I disagreed based partly on that experience — those characters, who never came into the story again, were neither friend or foe. They were mirrors to see the character. And Brother Jay was a really chill, peaceful character to play. I enjoyed the complications of playing a pacifist of power in a harsh, bitter world of sorcerers.

 

I wish I could remember his name, but there was Son of Ether I played in a Mage: the Ascension chronicle. I stated up his gear and did all sorts of funky stuff…to discover that apparently we were all simulations in a Technocractic construct, and we eventually hacked the system to create clone bodies and transfer consciousnesses to them. So I was stuck on a horizon realm with some other folks…naked. No gear. Half a session revolved around teaching me that it was okay to do magic without my tech (which I only caved on because this part of the game was “the Matter guy need to do Matter things”).

What was amazing about playing him were how much we could interpret those Mage boundaries. Being a Matter/Forces guy, I would charge up rocks and things to make them explode. That was fun. And became especially fun when a Paradox effects in Autocthonia took the form of turning parts of our Life pattern into cybernetics. In other words, Matter. I intentionally did magic to get Paradox so that would happen. Everyone wondered why…until I revealed that I was going to denotate myself like a nuke if my demands weren’t met. Like I said, the space around those boundaries were interesting.

 

There are so many more. I could talk about Chaplin, my Gunlugger in a fantastic game of Apocalypse World that was dealt cards that he couldn’t solve with violence…and chose to tackle without violence anyway. Or Jonathan Nobel, my baal shem in a GURPS Cabal game, that was devoid of emotion and obsessed with occult knowledge. Or the interstellar tycoon-mage in a Nine Worlds game that was cursed by Aphrodite to uncontrollable lechery (which sounds like a gag until I brought in the “oh, and his wife, the champion of Apollo, will never forgive him and owns 50% of his company and is, you know, the fucking champion of Apollo).

Then there are the NPCs I’ve played that have been fun. So many characters. I cannot see how to choose just one, for the next one I play will be one I will treasure, one I feel I love the most. I guess that makes me a serial monogamist when it comes to gaming. And I’m okay with that.

– Ryan

[1] And since Conan, at least the movie version, is far more of a rogue than barbarian in D&D terms, the class fits to a T.

[2] That’s also my personal rebuttal to “there’s no roleplaying in 4/e”. I did it, and it worked well. But that is perhaps a blog post to come.

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