Wednesday, August 19, 2009
A Test of Character - 8/19/09
So, it being Wednesday, it's new column time! Today's column is something I hope both I and THEBRO will be able to contribute. Basically the premise is for the author to come up with an interesting character concept and post it so others can either use it straight-up or find inspiration from it.
The character can be an archetypes (Vengeful Lover!), genre-specific (Hedge Wizard With an Attitude!), or even game specific (Chewbacca! image courtesy of Life Lounge)
Anyway, today's character concept will not be "wookie" or even modestly-shocked Leia. Today I'm going to post a character concept for the fantastic RPG Mouse Guard
Quick background: Mouse Guard is a game of small scale first and foremost. Nature plays a large role in the game and a quick turn of the weather can mean deadly results for the Guard. A melting spring puddle can mean flash flooding and uncertain terrain. A porcupine can be deadly, but so can a simple hare. The Guard is sort of like the Jedi in that they have specific parameters for their missions whether it's trailblazing, delivering the mail, or maintain the scent border (a line in the dirt covered by a chemical that works to keep wolves and other predators out of the territories). Really if you haven't heard of the game by now, you need to check it out as soon as possible as it is both adorable and kickass, a rare combination indeed.
So, what does a character in Mouse Guard look like? Well, each Guard Mouse must have a trade, an enemy, an ally, and certain traits. I don't want to make the concept so specific that you have to use it in mouse guard or use mouse guard's rule set, so instead I'll tell the story of my character here. One more note: MG takes place in a medieval English - level cultural setting and all the names should be appropriate to the setting.
Locke grew up in the small port town of Port Sumac. His mother and father were simple boat crafters and would even give tours to the local Guard members visiting the town on the way. Brynden, Locke's older brother followed the family tradition but soon was called away as a recruit for the Guard. Locke was very young when this happened, Brynden was just a young mouse at the tender age of 14 (early 20's for a human character). Locke doesn't remember much about Brynden other than that he would sneak Locke little sweets from time-to-time that he would trade for with mice just passing through the busy port town.
Locke never saw Brynden again after he left for Lockhaven, home of the Guard. Several years later, when he reached the age of apprenticeship, Locke knew where he was going. He wanted more than anything to pursue his brother's path. He learned a lot about boat crafting from his parents, but he felt destined for greater adventure.
His apprenticeship flew by while he learned how to contribute to the Guard as an apprentice to the Armorer Willem. Willem taught him to be patient and how to forage to find the best materials for Guard armor. Locke pursued an unpopular martial path of wearing thick armor. He learned how to protect himself in combat by exposing parts of his body that would normally be fatal mistakes. The parts, once exposed, where actually more strongly armored, and it was through this seemingly reckless style of combat that Locke earned the nickname "The Front Line."
He was quickly grabbed up as a tenderpaw by a senior guard mouse who took great interest in his peculiar, bold style of fighting. Rook, his mentor taught him to be harder than even he could have anticipated. They would purposefully fast on the road even amongst the bounty of summer so they could go on the most dangerous missions of Winter.
All the while he would take the opportunity to take senior guardsmembers aside and ask about the status of his brother. Always being told that his brother was a coward and died not following the tradition of the Guard. This almost unheard of obituary amongst the Guard troubled Locke more than the actual information conveyed, and he dug deeper.
Every opportunity he had he would try to talk to Gwendolyn, matriarch of the Guard, and get information about how exactly Brynden's death cursed his legacy.
It took him 3 years of trying, but once he graduated into the Guard as a full-fledged member, Gwendolwyn found him one day in the dead of winter at Willem's armory. She took him to a local tavern, deep into a backroom where she knew her words would not travel and ordered Locke a stiff drink. The only words concerning his brother she gave him was "deep undercover, stop asking of your brother or you'll destroy his work."
Locke was shocked. He didn't even know there were enemies of the Guard posing enough of a threat to be infiltrated by a member of the Guard. From the look on her face, Locke shut his mouth and looked at his drink without emotion. Gwendolyn was a rock no mouse could get blood from.
Years later, now Locke is a Patrol Mouse, a mouse entrusted with independent, dangerous missions. He follows his orders and always completes his mission for the Guard, but the longer he's gotten away from that day with Gwendolyn, the more distracted he's gotten by the secret of his brother. He's heard so many old mouse tales he's beginning to believe that Brynden will never be found.
His last mission, however, provided a tiny piece of information that's given him hope that he may find his brother someday. Something that's nagged at him that he can't figure out exactly why, but it's a feeling. Rumor of the Yellow bandits, a group of mice who appear out of no where on the small waterways of the territories and strike like lightning, have finally found a new leader. A leader who leads the quick strikes but instead of striking terror in the hearts of smallpaws everywhere, often gives them small sweets to mark where he's been...
Hope that was at least a little fun, and if you have a character seed you'd like to turn into a full-fledged concept, even if I don't play the game, I'd love to turn into a character concept!