April 23, 2010 – 9:27 am
This is one of those amorphous blog post ideas that I’ve had rattling in my head this week. It may or may not make a successful post – I’ll leave that up to you guys to decide. (Or rather, I’ll wait to see if I get a bunch of confused comments. )
Character strength can be a really hard concept to define. Sure you can pick up on a few things that make characters “strong” – defined, consistent personalities, depth of personality and story, the ability to be an agent of change and to change and grow themselves. But those are all pretty “fluid” topics, and we could go into huge lists of ways to make a character stronger, or ways to increase their depth, or whatever.
A lot of times, though, people suggest giving your character a weakness to make them stronger.
Which seems, quite honestly, counterintuitive.
Giving a character a weakness doesn’t mean necessarily that they become weak. It’s almost more applicable to say “give the character balance”, but since people usually have no trouble giving their character awesome-traits, the discussion usually boils back down to giving your character some not-so-awesome traits. While you can always throw an unrelated weakness into the mix, it’s possible to have weaknesses grow from strengths (and not in that really kitschy way that people talk about for job interviews).
One way to do this is to take an event or situation and answer a few questions about the character, to see how it works out.
As an example, since this sort of thing came up in RP this week, let’s poke around in Aely’s brain a little (if you don’t mind my presuming that Aely is a strong character).
Aely’s backstory contains some pretty dark times. That’s not unusual, since most of Azeroth has been involved in wars for all of recent human memory (the Elves get a bigger perspective on this one). Within those dark times she experienced some pretty heavy trauma that left her both physically and emotionally scarred.
That event left her stronger – she rebuilt herself physically and mentally, is a much more solid, stable person, and has very concrete beliefs because of it. She also has strong motivation for being a better healer, particularly of certain types of wounds, and is extremely protective of the people she cares about. But that event also left her weaker – heavy trauma like that has far-reaching mental implications, and if she is surprised by someone else suffering from something like what she went through, it makes her extremely upset. If that person is someone she cares about, it’s worse, because then she feels guilty for not being able to get past her own physical and emotional reactions to be able to help them. She wants to be able to protect the people she loves, and when she fails to, compounded with her own mental issues getting in the way of her being able to care for people, it makes her pretty upset.
Looking at the description of Aely, there’s kind of a formula that can go towards helping other characters:
1. What is the event? (Obviously this should be something significant for the character – either good or bad)
2. How does the character react before, during, and after the event?
3. How does that event make the character stronger?
4. How does that event make the character weaker?
5. How does the character think about and relate to what happened? How does that affect future events (if it affects them at all)?
From that formula we can take an Orc that spent time in the internment camps (a horrible event). He suffered from the lethargic lack of energy and mental fog due to lack of demon blood. During the internment, he became almost mindless, afterwards he hated himself for not fighting more strongly and developed an ingrained hatred of Humans, and a distrust of all Demonic and Shadow magic. He also took to training himself in the shamanic arts, and is extremely loyal to Thrall and to his comrades in battle.
This, in the end, makes him a stronger character – he is thinking about what happened and reacting to it, being introspective about his own reactions, and acting on what he finds. He is stronger physically and mentally, and will be very hard to dupe into any sort of subservient position in the future. But it also makes him weaker – hatred and irrational fear can blindside even the most stable of characters, and while that might not come up in every single story or situation, if he is written and played consistently with those traits, then that one event is responsible for character growth, character depth, character strength, and character weakness.
When people talk about how to build good RP characters, they often suggest creating “balance”. Hopefully this will help spark some creativity towards dealing with character creation.
Life-defining moments don’t all have to be good, bad, happy, or sad – but every life has a few defining moments and experiences. (Obviously not every event will be life-defining or life-changing – that will depend entirely on the character.) Sometimes those happen over a period of time (like both Aely and our Unnamed Orc), sometimes they happen in a sudden moment. Either way they can affect a character from that point forward.
Thinking about a character’s defining moments (and how they react afterward) is a good start toward creating depth and believability.
Since it’s Friday, feel free to take the formula and use it like a “Friday Five”, either for a character you already have developed and active or for a new one you imagine up in your head.
Comments Off on Featured Post: Blunt Trauma – Arthas
April 20, 2010 – 10:07 am
Within the TRI leadership, there are two healers.
Zalbuu, Dwarf Priest, Angry Beard extraordinaire, and my partner in crime healing, has been with TRI much longer than I have. In fact, I didn’t start stepping up as heal lead until one fateful summer, right at the crux of Kael’thas, his job decided he needed to be working on raid nights. Zalbuu and I, while we get along very well and have a good bit in common, have very different personalities and leading styles. He’s a lot more direct, I tend more towards silly and conflict-smoothing, and we make a good cat-herding team.
Anyway – Zalbuu has a blog.
He doesn’t update it too terribly often, and sometimes it’s quite ranty (as should be expected from someone who is known as the Angry Beard), but he recently made a post about the Arthas fight after his 10 man raid “Won WoW”.
Now, I’m not in that raid – I help Yva lead the other Monday-night 10 man. Due to several people having made vacations recently, we’re about two weeks behind Zalbuu’s group. Which is to say, we’re due to off Arthas the next time we raid (in two weeks), since we’ve missed several weeks of raiding, and will miss another one due to travels. (Note: It’s hard to find four geared people to fill out a well established 10 man raid when there are three other 10 mans already running in your group of friends, raiders, and assorted yahoos). We spent last night working on the fight, and are consistently getting through Phase 3, occasionally into Phase 4, (and one great run into Phase 5) so I think we’re in good shape.
I’m linking the post for a reason though, not just to talk about Arthas and raids: I quite agree with Zalbuu’s assessment of complex versus hard. There are a few extremely unforgiving mechanics in the Arthas fight, but by and large, the fight is just highly complex.
There is a lot going on, it changes frequently, and every raid member is juggling a number of different things at any given time. Aside from critical stand-in-it failure, though, it’s a fight that the whole group has to work together to beat, and where everyone needs to be communicating, as opposed to a fight where one person’s missed cooldown results in a wipe. Prior warning on abilities (like Defile and Infest) can go a long way towards helping the group avoid them. It’s rarely one person’s fault that things go to hell in a handbasket, and usually coordination and placement are causing our wipes.
Additionally, as a tank healer, there is ALWAYS something going on, but there are moments of regen and moments of throughput, and even after spending three hours on the fight last night, I wasn’t bored. Frustrated, certainly – though we made excellent progress – and definitely fighting a tension headache, but not bored.
So go check out Zalbuu’s post, and let me (and him) know what fights you think qualify as “hard” versus “complex” (and which get the distinct honor of being both: Kael’thas and Mimiron-Hardmode anyone?).
April 19, 2010 – 9:04 am
- Laisrean is 70 and working her way through the Epic Flight Form quest. Yes, I know I can “just train it” at 71, but so far it’s been fun, and it’s getting me some Cenarion rep as well. Purchasing her epic flight skill put a pretty heavy hit on my gold reserves, so I’ll be doing some farming and transmuting to help replenish them.
- Laisrean is also about 50% of the way through revered with the Cenarion Expedition. Goal is to hit Exalted quickly, before too much Northrend work. I’ll be doing the DEHTA quests in Borean Tundra as soon as she finishes up her Epic Flight Form quest. I want her to get the Guardian of Cenarius title, but am only about halfway through honored with the Cenarion Circle. So that’ll have to wait, or possibly just have to have money thrown at it for Twilight Texts.
- Aely is in the throes of the final battle against the Lich King, and is spending all of her time up in Icecrown. All work and no play makes Aely kind of grumpy, and Arrens has been super busy with exams at SWU, so she’s not had much time to even /talk/ to him, let alone spend time with him. That also makes Aely kind of grumpy.
- On top of that, many of the Riders are being haunted by all manner of gross, nasty, disturbing, and otherwise unpleasant ghosts. She had to perform an exorcism on someone she considers a good friend, and it’s not really made her mood all that much better. (Particularly since the … thing … didn’t seem to care so much about the exorcism thing, other than to do a lot of really unpleasant screaming.)
- Annie Mae is gearing up for the fight for Gnomeregan and is probably going to be stopping by Duugvilder’s place this week sometime as well. She has a bit of a weakness for food, you see, and Duugy is learning how to cook. Or rather, Duugy is an accomplished cook with an enjoyment of experimenting, and Annie will eat anything. It’s a good trade!
- Annorah has been spending time in Stormwind, recovering from a particularly draining Spirit Walk, and Angoleth is still mucking about in Howling Fjord. Russ has started waking up from his wintry slumbers, but he’s kind of skinny, so she’s had her lion, Arsaelan, helping her out a little more recently.
Having two characters at 70 will be interesting. Right now I’m tempted to think that the druid will be leveled before the hunter – largely because I just can’t settle into leveling with Angoleth. I don’t know if it’s the spec (Beast Mastery), her pets, the fact that leveling as a hunter is really frigging boring, the fact that I’m looking at characters #5 and #6 to go through Northrend, or what, but I want to see both of them at 80 before Cataclysm hits and right now that seems kind of eye-bleedy and daunting, even with two pieces of heirloom gear on each of them.
Also, I really ought to update the pictures on my sidebar. Everyone needs a new screenshot by now.
April 16, 2010 – 6:07 am
I’ve had a healthy helping of real life that’s been eating my brainpower (and both my time and desire to log in). Things should be back to normal soon!
So Yesterday’s Big Thing was the new Sparkly Pony mount, available for purchase from the Blizzard store. Regardless of the out of character implications of this (if there are any, beyond “People really like Sparkly Ponies” and “People will pay lots of money for vanity items in game”), I think there’s an interesting In Character question to go along with them.
What kind of mounts (and pets!) do your characters choose for themselves? Why?
Are there any mounts or pets that your characters would NEVER seek out, keep, or use?
If there was a particularly relevant Blizzard store pet or mount, would you pay for it for your character?
And, for those of you who got the Celestial Steed, do you have an in character story to go with it?
For Aely, she’ll never have a ground mount that isn’t her charger. She’s just not that interested in having lots of pets or mounts around. She does rather like her Rusted Proto Drake (which I like OOCly because its all ZOOOM!), because he’s kind of a doofus, but she’d be happy with a plain armored gryphon if she didn’t have him around. Angoleth, on the other hand, enjoys having a whole stable of pets and mounts, and pays a good bit of her gold towards making sure they’re all cared for properly.
What about you guys?