Oct 12, 2011

[Gaming] Playing Fictional Characters

So ever since I got together with my current partner Tobie Abad, I've also gotten into the fun hobby of gaming. While I had generally played games before, what I had not done was get into classic tabletop RPGs. This is obviously no longer the case given my partner is a Storyteller (or GM / DM, depending on your system of preference).

Now I could write about all the crazy celebrity characters that he's introduced into our games like the time the devil took on the form of Zac Efron to try and seduce my character or that instance when a character who just happened to look like Ryan Reynolds happened to have had a significant relationship with my character that I seem to have conveniently forgotten about, there are other interesting cases worth discussing.

While most times we create our own characters with the option of using celebrities and other personalities as visual pegs, there are those interesting cases when we try to step into the role of existing characters and famous members of fictional worlds. At times I feel this is a bit more difficult than the other instances given you are now bound by the common perceptions of that character and thus people assume you will only behave in one way or another. And if you don't behave like the character, it sort of disrupts the game.

In more than two years of gaming, here are a few of the interesting roles I tried my hand at...

One of the first characters I was given a chance to try and fulfill was Fiddler's Green from the Sandman series of books. It was one of those instances when I was performing the "function" of what is called a "first mate", which is a player that works somewhat in collusion with the Storyteller since I know aspects of the plot beforehand. It's like a magician's stooge, to borrow another term.

It doesn't necessarily mean I can only do certain things - I just have more knowledge than the rest of the players, which may or may not work to my advantage.

Given this was a one-shot game, I didn't get to explore this character all that much. Heck, personal demands drew me away from the game before I could even find a chance to say "Hoom". But it was a good first sampling of what it's like to try to play an established character - and it doesn't necessarily get easier.

For another one-shot I got to play Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. It was another one-shot, but this time using the DC Heroes system and so it was a nice chance to try out the flexibility of the character.

The game did help me appreciate the nuances of the DC Heroes system. The added element of "hero points" really goes a long way towards balancing out characters and letting even those without actual superhuman abilities to still be able to fight toe-to-toe with the big guys, just like what we see in the comics.

Working with Hal Jordan was pretty fun (provided you ignore the complications of Parallax) and it was one of my first adventures with a non White Wolf gaming system, which is always a good thing for any gamer. After all, we should always try to expand outside of our comfort zones, right?

In another DC Heroes one-shot game recently I finally got to step into much "bigger" shoes in the form of taking on the role of Bruce Wayne's Batman. Believe me, the mere thought of taking on the character was pretty scary given Batman is really one of the heavy hitters in the DC Universe. But the game was designed to be a sort of Trinity game with other players taking on the roles of Superman and Wonder Woman as appropriate.

The way the character was designed really supported the role and made for a very flexible play style. Batman is an amazing close-in fighter with a variety of weapons and gadgets that can resolve almost any situation.

Plus being Batman means you get to be sort of a dick at times by not directly answering questions (if at all) and getting to leave conversations suddenly when things don't seem to be working for you or if you have other priorities to consider.

Recently I've joined another of Tobie's on-going games as a first mate as Elijah Snow from Planetary. While it's not officially a Planetary game, Tobie has drawn influences from the comic book along with other titles like Global Frequency and popular TV shows like Fringe but all using the New World of Darkness system by White Wolf.

I think I had a greater challenge here since I needed to design the character for a change. With all the other cases, the character came pre-generated so this was an interesting exercise in trying to translate a comic book character into one that worked with the system allocation of attribute and skill points. I'd like to think that my design more or less worked - but man, even with over 100 years of experience, the points STILL never seem to be enough.

Thankfully this game is an on-going chronicle, so I'll be able to play with the character a bit more than the others, provided I can work these mid-week gaming sessions into my schedule. Given my call center life, that's never really easy.

And finally we come to my latest "famous" character - the role of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly using the Serenity game system. Now this was pretty intimidating too since this required that I actually take on the role of the leader of our little party. In other games I've always been a good supporting character, but this time around really demanded I put myself forward. Heck, the guy had abilities that were tailored to my being a leader.

This was another pre-generated character, and he was pretty fun to use I have to admit. Plus in order to earn more plot points, it really helps to act in character and do the sort of things that only Mal would do. That means I always had to put my crew first and live out the values of a Browncoat and all that good stuff.

It's a good thing this was a one-shot - I think I can only take so much of living the life of Mal. But at least we survived the session - especially Tobie had designed it to be a Doctor Who mash-up game complete with Weeping Angels.

So this is one of the big things that keeps my weekends busy.

Fun, yes?
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