Hello everyone, this is what I am going to call a “Get Involved” post, and by that I mean I would very much like for people to read this post, think about it and then comment about themselves (so long as they feel comfortable to do so). I am looking at favourite characters/character types that I like to read about, view and play. It is more than just gaming!
My favourite books are the Wars of Light and Shadow Series by Janny Wurts. They are High Fantasy, which is my favoured genre to read and write, and are truly epic in scale spanning 500 years (so far). I won’t tell you any of the plots, but I will describe my two favourite characters. The main protagonist, Arithon is the exiled heir to a pirate kingdom (who ultimately learns that he is also heir to a much larger kingdom on the world of his exile), a trained mage, and frequently called master of shadow due to his power over elemental darkness. Arithon is cursed with a geas, as is his entire line, that means he has forced empathy (and as misfortune would have it, his mother’s line gives him the second geas of foresight). This manifests in an extremely powerful conscience and sense of guilt, which means it is very hard for him to be near near any individual without feeling their pain. As a result he has a vicious temper that he uses to drive people away in order that he better protect himself. Here is the thing, he is loyal to a fault and carries the weight of everyone’s burdens and is a brilliant strategist. This causes him to make horrendous choices in the name of sparing lives (He orchestrates what amounts to a war crime because his talents showed him it was the path with fewest lives lost).
My other favourite from the series is Sethvir, a seemingly immortal sorcerer of the Fellowship of Seven. Appearing as a caring older man who lives in Althain Tower, an ancient fortress on the planet Athera. Sethvir is the Warden of Althain Towerr, which stands on the grave of the previous Warden, Shehane Althain – a Centaur. Both Sethvir and Shehane hold/held the title Warden of Althain, and Guardian of the Earthlink. Sethvir is supremely powerful, as with most of his fellowship companions, however the Earthlink is what sets him apart. He is gifted with the knowledge of everything that passes on the planet. It is remarked that a sparrow cannot fall without his knowledge, and allies of the Fellowship often call for help by inscribing runes in blood on stones and dropping them in water. He also has a past – but that is spoilers.
The Prestige is a very intricate story about two rival magicians, played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. What I like about this film is the fact that when magicians are rivals, their plots against one another become more and more elaborate and clever. If you have never seen the movie, I thoroughly recommend it though it is one you need to pay attention to. Cracking performances from Jackman, Bale, David Bowie, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansen.
The Count of Monte Christo is based on the book by Dumas, which I still have not read yet (one day), about a young man betrayed by his best friend, imprisoned, and given the gift of knowledge by a fellow inmate and partner in an escape attempt. I really enjoy elaborate revenge stories, and that is the Count of Monte Christo through and through. The protagonist escapes his imprisonment, and creates the Count of Monte Christo in order to trap and defeat his betrayers.
Over the years I have read many comics, but without a doubt my favourite character is Doctor Strange. He has been my favourite since around about the time he got a carton movie back in 2007/8 – which was awesome, but sadly never followed up. I like Doctor Strange as he has a journey to go on to become who he is, learning humility along the way to becoming the Sorcerer Supreme. I think I tend to find his character appealing because I am slightly physically disabled and therefore rarely identify with the physically powerful hero types. I tend to relate more to the characters that use brain and wit.
I don’t play many traditional wargames, though I have dabbled in the past and I currently play Star Wars Armada. I will talk about it and Warhammer 40000.
Star Wars Armada, for anyone who doesn’t know is a fleet battles game set in the Star Wars Universe. I play as the Empire and have done numerous unboxings on this blog. I think I like the Empire as there is a sense of order in the Imperial Ideology, though it obviously fell from any grace due to the intervention of the Emperor
In Warhammer 40k I have bits of a Dark Angel Space Marine Army. I chose the Dark Angels because they are exceptionally competent soldiers and strategists, that are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their objectives (Including fighting dirty), and they have a shadowy objective that most of the Universe doesn’t know; the secrecy of which appeals to me. And, as you will find out in the roleplay section, I am a fan of Clergy type characters, and the Dark Angels have what are called Interrogator Chaplains. Imagine a 10 foot tall supersoldier in near impenetrable (by today’s standards) black armour with their helmet made to look like a skull. They protect the ideology of the army, and their presence is terrifying.
I am going to talk about Descent here. More often than not, I play the Evil Overlord, though that is a result mostly of circumstance. I own the game and know the rules, so I tend to play the villain. On the rare occasions I get to play one of the heroes I tend to pick Leoric of the Book , or one of the other Wizard characters.
In my entire life of roleplay games, I think I have played a character that was built to be a main combatant once. His name was Gabriel, he was a Vampire and the concept behind him was a modern day Grail Knight.
One of my earliest Characters was Zack, the fixer. Zack was the guy you went to when you needed stuff or information. He had it or could find it. And he had people to do his dirty work for him.
I have played multiple wizards, usually morally ambiguous, but willing to adhere to the law in the pursuit of their darker goals.
I use this descent miniature to represent my current wizard, Felix, in the game I play in. He isn’t actually a skeleton, though he is physically feeble and sickly. Plus this miniature was painted to look like Skeletor. Nyehhh!
I have played two priestly type characters, a Dwarf Priest of a War God and Moon Knight from the Marvel Universe. In both cases, they were closer to line fighter characters than I usually play, but their story was about building a flock. In the case of the Dwarf, it was a community we built of the dispossessed in a castle that my group had assaulted. In the case of Moon Knight, it was basically a cult of the disenfranchised praying to a god of healing, protection and vengeance. And I was that will made manifest.
And most recently, I play the character Mycroft – which you can read about in my ongoing series The Mycroft Journals. Mycroft starts as a peasant in Dark Ages Wales, though he is unusually smart for his time. I have said to my Games Master that his journey is about him becoming a master strategist and politics type character. Early in life he is a hunter and an artisan, but later he will be much more shadowy, mysterious and the sort of person who avoids physical conflict where possible.
I look at all of these characters and see small parts of myself in all of them. I see the desire to succeed by means other than force. I see the desire to be smart about things. I see the desire to build consensus and community, and I see my desire for there to be order. I also see various examples of where words are more powerful than weapons, and that appeals to me.
I think I am most drawn to characters that are smart, that win by their wits rather than their flesh. I think I slightly identify with the outsiders, because I sometimes feel like an outsider (not in a bad way). I am drawn to characters that deliver good dialogue (ok, that is a no brainer…) and after years building confidence I think I prefer playing characters who spend more of the session talking than fighting.
I don’t think every aspect of every character represents some characteristic of mine or other. I think each character I enjoy reading has at least one trait I identify with, whilst the characters I play do this plus a few things I don’t – just to see what happens.
And here is the part where you can get involved.
This is a long post, and I certainly don’t expect anyone to replicate it. However, have a think about characters you enjoy in fiction, and characters in games that you play. Do you pick characters based on traits you identify with? Or do you have different criterion?
What do you read/watch/play, and why?
All the best!