Thursday, 20 December 2012

On the Inevitability of Archetypes

We realised today, after playing a quick one-shot of LotFP, that the different members of my gaming group always seem to play the same character, in different forms.

N is always a murderous, sociopathic fighter. D is always a diffident rogue who acts based on obscure, whimsical motives. P is always a clever, cunning and amoral creep. And I am always a power-hungry religious lunatic.

We don't do this deliberately; it just happens. I'm sure we're not unique in this.

It makes me think of The Eternal Champion. Our characters are different people in different realities, and yet they are somehow akin. Like in The Years of Rice and Salt, they are a troupe of souls who somehow end up inhabiting bodies in the same area at the same time throughout the history of a thousand worlds.

It makes me want to run a game based on that concept, but I fear it might be a little too 'meta'.

13 comments:

  1. Ever read Robin's Laws of Good Gaming? There's a lot in there about how individual people tend to play games the same way regardless of system. About half the book (pamphlet, really) is taken up with discussion of identifying your players' "types" and anticipating/playing to same.

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    1. That's interesting, and probably true. Never read it though - is it worth getting? $7.99 seems steep for a pamphlet.

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    2. Well, like any good pamphlet, it's short (32 pages and staple-bound) but packed full of good stuff. I re-read it every couple years.

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  2. Not only that but you managed to turn a Magic User in LOTFP, probably the most unholy class to exist, into a christian religious maniac.

    It's a pity you weren't there for Dog in the Vinyard as that's essentially the whole game.

    I need to make a better attempt at actually playing my character in future.

    (Plus you just used the word 'meta' in a blog post, wherever W is he just twitched in silent recognition. I actually had to ban him from ever using that word again a year ago.)

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  3. Was I a murderous sociopath in Cyberpunk? Je refute!

    In Apocalypse World fair enough... But the character class was Gunlugger. And Eki Ulele was just confused.

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    1. Do the words "prostitute" and "lift-shaft" mean anything to you?

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  4. I try to vary my characters from time to time, but I do tend to eventually drift back to my favorite types after a while (sneaky battlers like aggressive thieves or ranger types).

    Other friends are more consistent. I think it comes from them not being satisfied with their character concept and "wanting to get it right this time." They will keep playing basically the same character until they find a campaign in which their concept is satisfied before moving on to a new idea.

    I've only got anecdotal evidence to back it up, but from what I've seen, and can say about myself, this seems right. Maybe not the whole story on why this happens, but part of it anyway.

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  5. I noticed the same thing happening in my previous group in my home town, couple of years back. I desperately tried to encourage them playing other types of characters without succeeding and, more importantly, realising it's just part of the game.

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  6. I find that I'm contrary to whatever the group is making. If they're going for heroes in white hats I'll make a pirate... if they're doing murderhobos I'll want a lawman.
    I'm not proud of it, it's just how my brain works.

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  7. In my Rogue Trader campaign, the players were going to need the help of a sorcerer of Tzeentch in order to solve a major crisis, after which he was going to escape.

    He was then going to turn up in a WFRP game, at which point he was going to recognise the player-characters as having "the same souls, but different faces".

    Both campaigns ended before the crossover could happen, and I still don't know to this day if it's a bad thing that they did so.

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  8. Hmmmmm, for me it would be the brave well-meaning dumbass?

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  9. Ever since a set of wacky hijinks revolving around what was meant to be a forgettably incompetent and small-time criminal named Rudy Tanner my players demanded that Rudy Tanner be in every new game from now on.

    I've been on a long DMing hiatus since then but when I return so will Rudy Tanner. There's something satisfying about that 'same souls, different faces' vibe.

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  10. In my campaign setting this is just passingly explained by a religious belief in reincarnation, with the underlying sense that the chief god created only a certain number of heroes' souls in the beginning that return again and again through time in different forms.

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