Character A-Z (Chaska)

Chaska, answering an altogether arbitrary abecedarian account.

(In background, Chaska was an Amberite character, born in the Tir.  Her height changed slowly over the month with the phases of the moon, she started as (if I remember right) a 120 point character with a 100 Psyche, and she didn’t wholly understand day to day things, like causality.  Over the years, she took over a magical tower in Thelbane and has grown to be, in *our* Amber universe, probably the foremost seer – in many ways more of a plot element than a character now.)

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RG2012-17: Best Reward

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #17: What was the best reward you’ve ever gotten in a game? What made it so great? How much do you need tangible rewards (loot, leveling, etc.) to enjoy a game?

the LintKing says:

I’m not entirely sure about the `best’ reward – “winning” comes to mind, though. I’ve actually, distinctly won a few Throne Wars (and Throne-War like games), and there’s a very nice feeling to that. But for the in-game rewards, I have to note that for a long time, mostly I’ve played one-shot games, generally at conventions – so the character rewards are either fleeting or irrelevant. In a longer term game, though, yes, they’re something I very much look forward to and enjoy – especially in a system that gives you choices as you advance. (Incidentally, I find that’s a big factor in how much I like CRPGs, in particular.)

the Fierce says:

The best rewards are those grown organically by the game, and are usually in the realm of special reputations or funny character stories. Heck, a memorable quote is sometimes an awesome reward in itself, especially if someone else brings it up years later. Honestly, experience points are pretty passé by themselves in my way of thinking. I mean, if the system requires them, sure, you can have them for gaining experience at something…but I’d much rather invest them immediately into something that happened in the game. Like the giant weasel my daughter’s character just got. Far more interesting than simply treasure xp, if you ask me, and especially at her age, less pointless math and more interesting drama.

RG2012-15: What Happens In Game, Stays…

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #15: People often talk about the divide between what happens “in game” and “in real life.” Do you maintain that divide in your own play, or do you tend to take what happens to your character personally? Why?

the LintKing says:

Well, yes and no. I do think it’s important to keep that line, especially, for example, in a more competitive game – in a Throne War, for example, I’m not going to get mad at someone because their character betrays mine. But at the same time, I do get sad if something bad happens to one of my characters, and happy when something good does – I’m not sure what the point of playing would be, in a lot of ways, without some level of vicarious identification.

the Fierce says:

In general, I don’t believe in ‘vicarious identification,’ but I have known some people who have insisted on making it personal. Sometimes I do try to put in little bits that I know someone will like because of how I know them “in real life,” but in general I do my best to respect some strong boundaries. I can play with thresholds on my own time; placing other people into the kind of chaos with which I have familiarity is nonconsensual and akin to assault.

RG2012-14: Adventure Style

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #14: What kinds of adventures do you enjoy most? Dungeon crawls, mysteries, freeform roleplaying, or something else? What do you think that says about you?

the LintKing says:

Another `favorite’? Kinds of adventures…hm. I like to have room for socializing `in character’, but you can find that in almost any kind of adventure. Again – it depends on mood and the group, and, I suppose, the system. About me, it probably says I’m totally not stubborn.

the Fierce says:

It’s not the “stubborn,” it’s the “discerning” we wonder about… [tease] Or the desperation. I’ve been really wanting to play some highly political games, but I’ve been running dungeon crawls. Sometimes it is cathartic to play Moria-style where, “If it moves, kill it,” is a reasonable expression of your character. Sometimes we decide that the little Hat would totally buy the Electric Company, but would pshaw against paying the price for Baltic Avenue. My orc in Skyrim had to make a completely irrelevant-to-the-game-play choice last night of supporting a daedra lord or telling the lord in question to take her sword and shove it where she doesn’t shine. [ahem] Let’s compare it to how we loved “The Witcher” because the game choices included sarcasm… that’s hard to do. [I love KotOR, for example… but the light side and the dark side of the force ought to be more than, “I’m going light side because the other choice is to be rude. Where’s the Polite Sith option?”]

And yes, this all has to do with what kinds of adventures I enjoy because I won’t enjoy the adventure with the wrong character or the wrong game play. We’ve done the multiple play throughs of Dragon Age, and boy it would have been nice to have some actual choice in events along the way. Then isn’t that the major complaint about Skyrim? That your event choices are nigh infinite but they still don’t really matter? I like dungeon crawls that do affect the political structure. That’s how I design them, anyway.

RG2012-13: The Best GM Evahhh

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #13: Who’s the best GM/storyteller/party leader you’ve ever had? What made him/her so great?

the LintKing says:

Well, she does this thing with…oh, great *as a GM*. Right. Meera really is my favorite GM. And I don’t just say that because she knows where I sleep. Admittedly, my overall feelings about her may color my perceptions, and I’m sure some of it is that a lot of my playing style has shaped, over the years, around her GMing style, so of course it works for me, but…whatever the reasons, she’s decidedly it. She’s exceptionally descriptive. If you’ve read any of her writing, it’s like that – evocative and poetic, and she does that without having to spend hours polishing. Combined with her otherwise fairly casual attitude, and her style lets me slide in and out of immersion pretty smoothly. And for all that one way her GMing has hugely improved over the years has been in her game planning skills, she’s brilliant at improvisation. As long as she hasn’t had any Nyquil recently.

the Fierce says:

I asked tLK and apparently, the next couple of words were, “[his] cerebral cortex.”

Over the summer I was doing a slow series on my favourite games, and the GMs had a lot to do with those, of course. Picking a “favourite” or “best” doesn’t quite work. I could do the “honourary favourite” which would be my Dad, of course, because he got me into gaming and made me laugh (hysterically at times.) I could do the “long-term favourite,” which would have been our friend Samir, who was just twisted (and encouraged me to be twisted as well.) Roger, the GURPS guy was just fabulous at knowing the system and really emphasized what I learned about “system matters,” and Doyce, of course, ran just the right balance of “system knowledge” and “story” that was excellent. I could probably say good things about all the GMs I’ve played under, even if for a few I would be stretching it.

I like that it included, “Party Leader” because I’ve loved the “Loremaster” role from Dream Park for a while. and I’m really considering setting up a LARP with a couple, maybe.

RG2012-12: Compete or Collaborate

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #12: Do you prefer collaborative or competitive games? What do you think that says about you?

the LintKing says:

Hm…I’m not sure it’s a legitimate dichotomy. Any game is collaborative, almost by definition – if people are competing, it’s because they’ve agreed that’s what they all want to do. But on the more `overt’ level, I like both, really, it depending on my mood and the group. Of course, when you step past “competitive” and into “cutthroat”…well, I still certainly can enjoy that kind of game, but it starts getting harder to find a group I’ll enjoy it with.

the Fierce says:

Despite my saying I had broken up with someone over a game of Illuminati!, that was just because the game play was a reflection of the reality of the relationship. And I did give this person a chance afterwards to determine if that was the dealbreaker. As tLK knows, I don’t play ultracompetitive, because if I have to play to win, I will win, and I don’t like the person it makes me become. Which isn’t to say I don’t like the occasional throne war or board game, just that it does have to have a certain remove to it. For example, I like the recent deck-building games because while it is a competition, I feel like I’m playing against the board more than the other players in general.

RG2012-11: Good Ash, Bad Ash, I’m the one with the Pikachu.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #11: Have you ever played a character that was morally gray, or actually evil? Why or why not? If yes, did you enjoy it?

the LintKing says:

Absolutely not. All of my characters are completely pure and honest, and if you ever game with me you should totally trust them, every one.

the Fierce asks:

“Hey, hon, have I? I don’t recall doing so…”

“–Well, there’s Samantha. (Phblt…hehe…) I could make a case for Pikabu, too. But that I can think of offhand, as a *player*, no, I don’t think you have, actually – you gravitate a lot more to the Paladin-esque. Sometimes (like with Pikabu) to the point where they could be argued as wrapping around, but even there, an actual argument would have to be made, and I’m not sure it would hold up very well. I’m thinking that in all our games at ACNW, there must have been *one*, but, you know – only Ariel comes to mind, and I had Zephyr’s viewpoint…still, in fairness, I couldn’t see either of those two as being actually much better than `gray.’ They were a little too focused on `winning’ to be overly concerned with morality.”

“I keep thinking I must have, as a GM, run someone who was evil. As a player, I mean, Jinx-Jobina thought nothing of eating someone if it was in context. She’d never be impolite. Satyr thought morals were for suckers, but he’d never do anything malicious, just playful. Damascus, well… I kind of think she operates on a different level. Maybe I’m just good at all of them having the delusion they’re the good guys?”

“Given a more realistic take on morality, you could say that about anybody; but no, I think `grey’ is the worst your characters get. Despite [the Rainbow Kat]’s immediate `yes’, she can’t think of any, and neither can either of us, and I think that’s a pretty strong point -and even those are usually in places where it’s part of the context. Like, May certainly sounded to have her bad points, but, you know, [the game was] `Hellcats’ – I was frankly having a hard time thinking up anything bad enough for Kokone to be involved in to fit in. So you might think about why not, because I think that’s where your answer to this one really falls.”

With that in mind, I think the truth is that “good” and “evil” aren’t destinations for my characters’ development. They will do good and evil things in order to get to their goals, but I don’t think the descriptors really apply… and that’s kind of where “paladin” comes in for me. It’s not the “lawful good” paladin situation, it’s the faith-driven goal-inspired passion of a paladin. My characters in general do what they believe is the right thing to do in the given situation, even if they’re wrong. I don’t like apathetic characters, although I’ll occasionally run a character who is paralyzed by choice.

Thinking about it, the character (Sienna) I ran in Doyce’s “Ironwall” game was supposed to start out evil – her quest was for redemption. She sold her child for power… yeah, that’s evil. So I found one…but she did repent.

She also tore hearts out of her enemies. So yeah, paladin.

Last night in picking up a session with the kids, the boy tried again to draw his sword on his sister’s character for being annoyed. I took a deep breath and looked at him. “If you want to attack your party members, you character will become evil.”

Now, this is a huge step forward for him, because he always wants to play evil characters. That this actually stays his hand is a “win” for me.

RG2012-10: Characters from Another Mother

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #10: Have you ever played a character originally from a book/TV/movie? How did the character change from the original as you played? If not, who would you most like to play?

the LintKing says:

I have, although not often, and not really by choice – i.e., only in games where that was basically the basis of the game. As a rule, I don’t like pregens, and those kind of fall into that, to my mind. At AmberCons, some games are based on playing variants on the characters from the books, so that’s probably the most common, and, well, they’ve changed in all kinds of different ways, depending on the game – it’s important, I think, to make them `yours’.

the Fierce says:

As an Amber player and GM, of course I’ve run my versions of the Elders. I’ve even written Amber fanfic. I’ve played in other people’s worlds, both from traditionally published to, “I liked this thing and I’m incorporating it into my game.” (Even if I’d love to run a Darkover campaign, I don’t know enough people who would enjoy it, and I’m afraid some of it would overlap the sorts of things the Elfquest campaign did. I’d love to run an Exiles (Rawn) game, but, um, no one else has read it, or will until Captal’s Tower comes out. [snort, grin]) With that in mind, I’ve played some characters from these others’ worlds. I was a fine Granny Weatherwax. I was an okay “V.”

But, and here’s the catch… I generally don’t like original characters in my fanfic, and I generally don’t like other people’s characters in my gaming. I refuse to say it’s a matter of respect, or even the difference between thespians and improvisation types, because I don’t believe in those simple answers. Maybe I’m simply not comfortable living up to the expectations other people have of the character versus how I read them. I don’t want to have to smack anyone with the, “This is how I’m playing [X],” stick… and that’s why when I build pregens, I don’t have preconceived notions of personality. You are making the pregen your own, and if it’s transforming, “cut off jean shorts and a tank top,” to “a halter top and daisy dukes,” well… go for it.

RG2012-9: The Gender Spectrum

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #9: Have you ever played a character of the opposite sex. Why or why not? If yes, how did the other players react?

the LintKing says:

Quasi- exclusively. It’s certainly my preference; if I don’t, it’s probably to make Meera happy. (phblt) There are probably Issues and stuff involved, but basically, I just prefer it. But I’ve never had any strongly bad reactions to it. Sometimes the pronouns get a little confused, and that’s fair enough. I’ve been told that I do it well, even on the occasion that I make a character that plays to assorted stereotypes.

the Fierce says:

It depends on the character, for me. I’ve played all over the spectrums of gender, with differing success, I suppose. No one’s ever come after me and said, “That’s not what a guy would do,” but I don’t know that I’ve played in too many campaigns where the gender’s been so important. I do find myself adhering to my own gender when playing with new people who might find the pronoun problem an issue, but I have to admit that I have resented the feeling that I had to do it, too. (I did end up wearing a strap-on in a session once to remind folks that my character was in possession of a penis, but it fit the context of the group.)

I think part of it is that as GM and as a writer, I sometimes run into having to “play” characters that aren’t me. In fact, there’s only a handful of times I’ve run or written myself… maybe even in real life. [grinning] Sometimes I latch onto a character that has a particular gender feel. “This character only works for me as a girl,” happens, but generally the context is flexible, so I’ll listen to what a GM wants, too.

And despite the teasing from tLK, I have a woman friend who pretty much exclusively plays men, so I figure it balances out. I figure you ought to play the character you like… but I will sometimes make the gender matter.