The Islands: Characters
by, 09-14-2012 at 12:07 PM (617 Views)
Characters are unique to the player and, often, the campaign. I don’t want you to sit down at the table and think, “You know, the next fighter we encounter could be me.” And I certainly don’t want you to be outclassed by an NPC that I, purely by accident, made more effective than you made your character. That’s shitty policy in a role-playing game of high fantasy adventure.
So your character is special.
You tell me what you want to do, and I build your character class.
When I say, “You tell me what you want to do,” I don’t mean in a mechanical, numbers-oriented kind of way. I want you to have an idea of what kind of character you want to play on a wholly narrative level. I want you to think about the novel that would be written about that character and the cool shit he’d do, and tell me that. And then I’ll make that happen. You also need to consider what your endgame character looks like—at the campaign’s near conclusion, when all the stops are pulled out, what does your character do? Let’s do that. Let’s make that happen.
I like high adventure. I like being a fan of the PCs. I don’t like you having to muddle through, doing things you don’t want to do because they’re more effective than doing the things you want to do. Playing any class means you’ve changed the rules. If what you want to do is mechanically unsound but awesome, let’s make it mechanically sound instead of forcing you to lump it.
But there needs to be some kind of concept behind it, and you should be able to summarize that concept in terms of archetype (“I want to be the brawler”) or action (“I want to poison God”). If you can’t, then you’re not thinking large enough. Your class should occupy significant conceptual space in the campaign, wherein I have to move things around that are already in it to accommodate you. It needs to be big enough to fill 100 episodes of a television series. If you wouldn’t watch 5 seasons about your character, why would you want to play that character for 5 seasons?
Have you read astral spell? At level 17, a wizard or cleric is, essentially, immortal for a pittance. The game has 3 levels left, and the wizard or cleric can’t die. Consider that when you consider your end game.
Thanks for trusting me with your class. I will make mistakes that we’ll need to talk about. That happens when you try to customize anything, so be open when I inevitably say, “Wow, I didn’t realize you were going to do that with that. We have to tone that down.” It’s not because I don’t want you to be powerful or effective. It’s that I want you to have a good time, and you’ll have more fun if the campaign can punch back, and I want other people to have fun; if your special abilities are spotlight hogging, no one else gets to be cool. That’s the crux of this exercise: everyone should be equally cool for just as long.
Oh, yeah, you’re human (unless your class is something special like being the ultimate gnome or something), and you don’t multiclass. If you’re not excited about just gaining your next level of your class, or you’re dreading the slog of having to gain 3 or 5 levels until you’re cool again, I’ve built your class wrong. Let me know if that’s the case, and we’ll change things around. You should feel awesome every level. Most games don’t run until level 20. Playing in a game wherein you’re a chump until you’re cool is stupid.
The Betrayer: I want to poison gods.
The Dragon: I want to become dragons.
The Fist: I want to punch everything.
The Gnome: I want to gnome a lot.
The Scoundrel: I want to be luck.
Note: This is not a debate--not even a formal one, wherein rather than trying to convince me you're trying to convince the (very small) audience--where you explain that my fun is wrong. You might not like this; you might think the D&D 3.5e fighter is just as viable as the 3.5e druid. That's an opinion; keep it. Instead, deal with the idea that this is how my game goes and people have been having fun playing it.
Next: House rules.