Character Types

Author: Andrew /

Hey all, I was doing some thinking on a new post and I thought of the idea of character archetypes and the idea of "categories" in characters that so many of us players seem to fall into. This was brought to mind for me when I was playing Dragon Age: Origins and I looked at the way they did their character classes. There's three of them. The warrior, the rogue and the mage. So, rather, the way I've been looking at it, "The strong one", "The agile one" and "The one that uses magic."

This kind of brought me back to thinking about how we are about character creation and how we tend to design around a character's function in battle. "How is my character going to down the bad guy?" (or at least contribute to it).

After giving it a little thought, I don't really think there's anything wrong with that. As things are, combat is a big part of the game, like it or not. If your character can't cut it in a fight somehow, no matter how much you like role playing, he's probably dead-man-walking. Encounters are much more the "game" part of the game.

Note: As of 4th edition D&D, more focus has been put on Skill Challenges and making some role play situations more like encounters, but that's an instance that is a maybe, from what I've seen. Skill challenges tend to require some contrivances from what I've seen and done in my DMing and what I feel to be true role play feels much more organic. When it comes to a situation that's dire or intense, I'll use skill checks, but designing a skill challenge for role play feels like too much focus on dice, using a difficulty system for something that I feel should be more organic. That's not to say that I don't like skill challenges, but I feel it's much easier to think on your feet and ad-lib without them, more often than not.

Anyways, as I was thinking, the thing that occured to me was that those three things really do seem to encompass all the functions of "action" in a D&D game. I couldn't figure out how I really felt about that. Was it good that things could be broken down so simply or was it bad? I like to think that there is so much customization available in role playing games when really, when I look at it, it's rather simple, with lots of little options; which seems to be 4th editions modus operendi.

I suppose that when it comes down to it, I just like when there is variety. I like when you can pick something that can really and truely be different from the eight previous things you've played. It all changes with role play but it really forces you to rethink "I hit it with a sword." There has to be flourishes. There has to be embelishment. There has to be all sorts of things to differentiate things from your old characters.

I just look out at the RPG landscape right now and find myself unable to wait for a revolution where there's a breakthrough instead of all of us treading on ground that's been walked a thousand times over.

When I look at Dragon Age, it comes off, to me, as a refinement of a refinement of a refinement of what's been done already. Is it good? Yes. It's exceptional. Does it break the mold? Not really. The origin stories, I think, are the biggest point. That's moving us in the direction of real organic pen and paper RPGs. You have 6 completely separate starting stories that contain a few hours of content that set you apart from the other stories available. It's not cookie cutter, where you'd just plug your generic character into a plot that isn't really going to change no matter what you do, you're an individual with craftable motivations and choices that all relate to where you are and where you've been.

I can't wait to see video games expand to do what a pen and paper RPG can do. It won't replace the fun you have with your buddies around a kitchen table with books all over the place, but it'll be awesome none-the-less.

Thanks for reading!



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