Monday, March 11, 2013

Character Pittraps: Never Lost/Seen it All

So I want to bring up a criticism of a type of character, or maybe a certain type of player, but I want to do it by pointing out that I have guilty of it too.  It's something I see all too often... that's not to say such character's shouldn't exist, but they should be created with the OOC understanding that they are flawed, and how.

I've written characters so they are perfect. I remember a Malkavian, childe of an Elder, the coolest guy ever.  They made every decision right in their back story. Every challenge he faced he has beaten.  And of course, anybody who did anything less, are to be derided, and exploited.  No forgiveness, no understanding.  And worse... I as a player judged people who's character's fucked up the same way... and when, inevitably, I failed, I wanted to play a different character.  because the character was broken.  He could never recover.

It's very easy to make a character who never failed... or who, if bad things happened, happened only because of things that were beyond his control.  We all want to play clever, skilled, smart, socially skilled fighters that have never lost a bout.

And of course, if you have never failed, if things have gone wrong only because of others... then any individual who has failed, who makes a mistake... is to be judged.

Don't get me wrong, characters should be successful... they should have something going for them.

But if you only play characters who are successful in their backstory, who don't understand failure, then you should do it with the out of character understanding that, your character is flawed.  Never having failed means never having learned to learn from one's mistakes.  And that is a flaw.  You've been perfect?  that means you never learned how to deal with failure.  In fact, you may be unable to admit you failed.  You should plan for success, and not allow for failure.

The super villain that can't understand how they were beat...  yeah, that's you.  And it's okay to play that character.  But please do it with your eyes open.

You Never Lost.

Because It's one thing to play a character that never made a mistake.  It's quite another to be a guy who thinks that their character is better for having had a back story where they never failed.

Anyway, like I said, eventually your PC will fuck up.  Or find a new mistake,  Or he/she won't, but something will go bad and your first thought will be... this character is no good anymore.

And that is the really sad thing... because in the best stories, the best characters grow... and you don't grow by being perfect... you grow by learning from your mistakes.  Your perfect character found out they aren't perfect... that's when the fun begins.

Not to mention, the perfect back story character is kinda boring... it's successes are based on stuff you wrote, which means that as soon as it has to interact with other characters, it's failing because it's not being awesome.  When you see people coming in an doing nothing at game just waiting on XP... that's this.  

That means that you should never work with others.... since they may fail.  And right then, you've built a PC who belongs on a shelf like a trophy, not in play.  In play they will only get tarnished.

Heck XP represents what your character learned... if you aren't doing stuff, if you know better, then you shouldn't be getting XP.

To me, the best characters are tarnished... They've seen horrors, and they've failed, and they've lost.  And having been broken.  But they aren't done being broken.

There is a variant that perhaps goes too far the other way... the too wise cynic who has seen everything.  That character may have failed, or at least had bad stuff happen, but now they have no more mistakes to make... they are perfect.  Nothing will ever change them, make them care, because they know better.  Every other character who is still trying to do stuff is a failure because they haven't learned the lessons they have. Again, I meet players who play such characters without understanding, or at least without acknowledging, that they are also flawed.

You have Seen it All.

Again... if your character has seen everything and nothing effects you... why the hell are you playing it?

Where is the story?  It's okay to be arrogant and think you know everything... but again, it's a flaw.

So, if you are going to play a character who either never makes a mistake, or knows every mistake you can make, at least now you can do it with open eyes.  And when I play with you, and you say OOC that a PC is a screw up because they didn't know better... I'm thinking you don't know better.  Fucking up is better story, and makes for better characters, then the perfect character that never screws up.  The character that goes home after an adventure without changing or learning anything is a boring and sad one.  And when I've done that, in the past, I've missed out.

We play characters... often vampire characters... and we treat stasis and the status quo as a good thing.  But it's important to remember that what IC is a good thing may OOC make for less valuable characters and less interesting story.

And if you have never made the same mistake, never never lost, or never saw it all... well good for you... Maybe you as a player never screwed up, or maybe you've seen it all.  I hope that makes for good stories for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment