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Game Dream #3: Us and Not-Us

Doc's third Game Dream asks:

    Some people play RPGs to enjoy a viewpoint or way of acting that they just couldn't do in real life. Others seem to play characters whose motivations are more their own. And some folks do all of the above and everything in between :) What character of yours was most like you "in real life"? Which of your characters is the least like you? Which did you find more fun to play, and why?

Now this one requires a little thought, mainly as I’ve not played too many characters, and none for any particular length of time. Three characters come to mind off the top of my head.

Firstly, those who are least like me.

I think the first time I tried to take a departure from a “me” character was in a friend’s “evil” AD&D 2nd Edition campaign several years ago. Rindy (if I remember her name rightly) was DMing us through a world of her own creation, called “Dharkus”. The idea was to play the oft-neglected side of the Alignment table, in theory as a kind of cathartic personal exploration thing, but I think it wound up being just something different to do.

Now, I’ll admit, I’d seen The Crow for the first time not long before, and whenever I tried to come up with an idea for an evil character, the face-painted Goth stereotype Eric Draven kept coming to mind, so much so that when I made up the character, his name was “Alaric Dravinin” (yeah, quit laughing). Rindy attempted to steer him away from a straight up-and-down copy of Draven (which I was sort of against, because I felt comfortable with the concept – hell, my drawing of the character was of the Crow dressed in dark-coloured fantasy adventuring gear), and within a few sessions I’d changed his name to “Raikis”. Basically, he’d been brought back from the dead, and (dredging through the sludge of my brain here) his soul was, I believe, trapped in a gemstone of some sort somewhere, which he wanted back. I think.

Anyway, I played to the completion of the first storyline (something like five or six sessions) and didn’t really want to continue on. The campaign wasn’t particularly “bad” or nasty or anything; I just didn’t feel like I had a handle on what I was doing. I've always liked playing "Good Guys", even more so back then, and I didn't really grok the idea of being "evil" - the closest I could come was to make Raikis an "anti-hero" and I kept drifting over to the "hero" side of the line. I'd probably do a better job of it now.

The most recent character I tried to make as little like me as possible was Turbine, my superhero in Dan’s OzWatch campaign using the Hero System. I decided to make Turbine’s secret identity, Eddie Barron, an indolent, skirt-chasing uni student who’d only recently become a superhero and was trying to lift his game a bit. He’s reckless and tends to charge in without thinking, which, unfortunately, seems to get him consistently beaten up.

Dan’s OzWatch mini-campaign went for about six or seven sessions, and he’s switched tack to the Bubblegum Crisis Sydney 2033 campaign for the moment. I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to explore Turbine, and Eddie Barron, a bit more sometime.

And, of course, mentioning the Bubblegum Crisis campaign brings me around to the other side of the coin: The character who (I think) is most like me.

When Dan proposed the idea of his next campaign to me, he had no idea that I'm already, or at least once was, a Bubblegum Crisis nut. Heck, if you look in the Thanks section of R. Talsorian’s Bubblegum Crisis supplements Before & After and EX, not to mention the “Global Crossfire” chapter, you’ll see yours truly there. So not only was I able to loan Dan the complete BGC RPG product line, I was also able to hand him a near-complete campaign setting: Sydney 2033.

I also told him, “Dan, I can already tell you the character I’m going to play, if only by popular demand: Slamdance.” (For those of you who don't know, Slamdance is the central character of a Bubblegum Crisis fanfic series I started writing back in 2000. The stories have become quite popular among my friends, especially [oddly enough] my female friends, and I figured there'd be at least a couple of the other players who wouldn't settle with me coming up with a new character for the campaign.)

Neal Stephenson wrote it best in Snow Crash: “Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world.” That’s part of Slamdance – my baddest motherfucker wish-fulfilment. He’s an eight-foot-tall advanced combat Boomer with the standard mouth-laser, Wolverine-esque arm-blades, incredible strength and agility and an array of martial arts techniques to boot. Like Wolverine, and Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, Slamdance is a man with no past – he has no memories beyond waking up in the bowels of the Genom Tower in Sydney after Largo’s particle beam attack. As he’s a manufactured life form, Slamdance probably never had any in the first place.

But then, there’s the other part of him: not only is Slamdance a big combat Boomer, he’s also a big combat Boomer with a heart of gold. He’s the me I wish I was: tall, handsome when he compresses down into disguise mode, personable, self-sacrificing without a second thought, speaks only when he has something to say. Interestingly enough, he also has no sex drive. That was written in when my hormones were running wild and I was scared of being more than just polite with women for fear of being bloody obvious (which, if you ask a few people from my one year at uni and my first IT job, I probably was anyway), but I think it makes for an interesting character angle anyway – how does the absence of something everyone else has affect his interaction with everyone else?

As I’ve already mentioned, I lost interest in being Raikis fairly quickly, so he’s pretty much out of the “fun to play” running. So, between Slamdance and Turbine, who’s more fun to play? Really, I don’t know. Dan tends to run rather slow-paced games – which can’t be helped, with the Hero System’s combat rules – so I’ve not had too much of an opportunity to really explore either. Still, I think Slamdance is a little more fun, simply because at this stage, unlike Turbine, he’s had the opportunity to kick some ass without being taken out of the fight fairly quickly. (Then again, his character point total is 586. Yes, Dan has no problem with that.)

Old Comments

I thought Mike Ryan looked familiar, Rob. ;)

Speaking of which, you've done more, have you? Once I get my website up and running properly, I'll have 3 more stories for you. Fair trade?

Posted by: Peg at July 4, 2004 04:55 PM

Hmm. Well, I still have to finish off Slamdance Vs. Predator. Need more stuff to flesh out parts one and five, not to mention something to go in parts Two to Four...

And work's going bonkers at the moment, so I'll probably be getting home late and wanting to crawl into bed over the next week...

Okay. You're on, Peg.

Posted by: IMAGinES at July 4, 2004 05:50 PM

One of the more rewarding things I'm getting out of hosting these Game Dreams is seeing all the alternative game systems jump to the forefront :)

I've also played an "idealized" me, but it was more like the Riggs character from the Lethal Weapon flicks. Humor over the top, but always on the right side of the law, and always doing things for the right reasons.


Posted by: Doccus at July 6, 2004 04:46 PM

Ozwatch will get its time again. The hardest part is playing without Roger. His character was the leader of the group. But in Slamdances case Combat isn't going to be an issue. What ever is going to happen it should happen very quickly. He is one tough mofo. The hardest part is getting enough play time in and when to play. I have a couple ideas that might add some more depth to the characters when we are not playing, but I need to think about it. I might use the extra off time for other things.

Anyway, Turbine had some intresting quirks. He had this clueless nature which definetley gets him into trouble which I think Rob does a little bit:) Though the girl thing was fun to watch Rob try. Gavins current character has that same similar trait to him and I think Gav struggled a bit with it. I think if I had kept him at it he would have blushed ;)

Posted by: Dan Connor at July 6, 2004 08:02 PM
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