I know this might be weird, but I think I’m going to add a blogpost about RPG theory. I know, I know, everyone wants to see my True Dungeon Red Ranger, Blue Bow build or get my take on HoR4 crafting, but I need to let some ideas just spew.
While Flash is nowhere near as good as first part of season one, the other CW superhero shows are doing pretty well relative to where they’ve been. The first season of Supergirl was one where I often wasn’t that interested in watching an episode but felt like I should.
Second season has been far more appealing to me. Reducing Jimmy’s role helps immensely as everything with him is just so forced. But, it’s Superman that inspired this post.
Some folks love the cheery Supergirl Superman. Some folks complain about how it’s a boring take. Ultimately, why I like him is that he’s likable.
Characters in movies, TV, plays (hey, I can fake class), books that are likable sell me on the product no matter how plotholeful something is, how cringeworthy some scenes/dialogue can be, and so on.
But, what got me thinking, because occasionally I think about gaming, is does it matter if PCs are likable? I’ve run into the problem of unlikable NPCs that weren’t villains, but distinguish from that.
Do I even notice whether I like someone’s PC or not?
In convention play, where you get strangers and some people just dominate with their enhanced personalities, if you like, you like, and, if you don’t, you whine to your friends later. My liking Gun-Bunny-Babette makes for a more pleasant experience than being annoyed by Gun-Bunny-Bambi.
Accents, mannerisms, amusing decisions, comedic timing – please.
But, home and/or living campaign play. Do I even notice?
So much of the time, the focus in my play becomes on mechanics. Sure, I may like or dislike mechanics. I may get tired of abuse of grappling. I may wonder why I bother doing anything when completely overshadowed or wonder why I have to do things I don’t think are my responsibility when others don’t manofsteel-up.
But, that’s not the point, either. Actual, character likability.
In our Conan play, I liked cowardly Rald. Maybe it helped that the GM liked him, too. Maybe it helped to have the contrast from Hak. Maybe it was because my character and he were kind of suited for taking very non-Conanesque roles. Of course, as much as Rald and Ty might seem like good ole lads who favor a pint, a drag, and nubile women (one much more than the other), mechanically, 18th level characters are not good ole lads … come to think of it.
I rooted for our Princess Police PCs (most of the time). Over time, PCs just gain depth and relevance to your own character, which is why long campaigns are preferable. But, I don’t know that there was that much standing out of any particular character.
I hope my PCs are likable. I know I can be frustrating in my wants.
But, does it matter? Does your play really change based on liking another PC or not?
Speaking of another, I do want to like my PCs. I liked Ikoma Jun. I liked Hoshi Takumi. I liked Usagi Kidai. I don’t know that I ever got to liking Moshi Shigeo – he didn’t really accomplish much that was interesting, which was why I enjoyed playing Takumi more.
Let’s say likability does matter. What does one do to improve it? Have a coherent hook? Have particular personality traits or avoid particular ones? I don’t really know. I tend toward supportive, sidekickish characters, as I’m not interested in intraparty conflict. What about mechanics? I also tend to have underpowered characters, and that can frustrate people.
Is it as simple as “save the day a few times” and everyone will like you just fine?