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Author Topic: Color-first character, part 2: Getting this far  (Read 12615 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: January 06, 2009, 10:20:20 PM »

img]http://www.bloodredcomics.com/Frostlick-inkedcolored.jpg[/img]

now another series of questions about something else<another series of questions about something else
« Last Edit: January 07, 2009, 04:23:03 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2009, 10:22:48 PM »

b] [Sorcerer] Cascadiapunk post-mortem<almost by definition<utilized<please limit your answer to one or two of the most important things, not a blow-by-blow of every detail.

Solicited input: The White Shadow (Julie/jrs), Xocotzin (Jason), Eagle Sky (Michael/Vulpinoid), Jelena the Hired Blade (Raven/greyorm)

Again, once we get the discussion rolling about two or more of these when their authors respond, then it opens up to any of the characters as well as to extra ones.

Best, Ron
edited by me to add a username - R [Sorcerer] Cascadiapunk post-mortemalmost by definition<utilized<please limit your answer to one or two of the most important things, not a blow-by-blow of every detail.

Solicited input: The White Shadow (Julie/jrs), Xocotzin (Jason), Eagle Sky (Michael/Vulpinoid), Jelena the Hired Blade (Raven/greyorm)

Again, once we get the discussion rolling about two or more of these when their authors respond, then it opens up to any of the characters as well as to extra ones.

Best, Ron
edited by me to add a username - RE
« Last Edit: January 07, 2009, 04:24:50 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2009, 04:55:12 AM »

OK, when I looked at that picture I thought she was sexy and dangerous-looking.  I think that's largely because she's looking directly at the viewer, sort of returning the male gaze if you want to get all second wave feminist about it. 

The Fantasy Trip is a point-buy system prone to agonizing choices in character generation (and that incentivizes optimization heavily), so I looked right away for pointers that would guide that process:  Sword, clothing (or lack thereof), ornament, and of course her body - noodly arms, wide hips, she looks tiny.  I thought about making her a Halfling.

Another critical and sorta unique feature of TFT is its obsession with employment - you get jobs, they pay a wage, there's risk and reward in working for a living.  Everybody has a job, at least at first.  So if you build a really esoteric character, they may be employable only as (subsistence) farm help - unacceptable!  This limited my options a bit in an interesting way. 

I think I built her around that sword, which seems so incongruous - she doesn't have a warrior's build, she's not dressed for a fight, but she's got this bad-ass sword strapped (somehow) to her back.  It seemed like cheating to build her as a social monster (an obvious and viable choice in the system) and have the sword be color she couldn't actually use without a -4DX penalty, so making it functional equipment in her profession drove my process.

These factors (sword, appearance, need to be employable) resulted in my decision to make her a wizardly thief .  I gave her a name that means "Revered Youngest Daughter" in Nahuatl.  That was my one concession to cool; the rest of the process was very workmanlike. 
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jrs
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2009, 05:21:27 AM »

Jason and I had a very similar response to her gaze. And for me, it is not just the eyes, it's the whole stance which is straight on to the viewer with no turning asides. That is what inspired the Control and Bewitch motivations that I used for The White Shadow character.

You also can't miss the sword. I was particularly captivated by the bird beak on the pommel. It appears to be some form of large raptor, and I wanted to specifically include that in my character write-up.

I'm sure I also allowed my knowledge of other James V. West art to influence me, but I tried to limit that where I could.

Julie
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2009, 07:26:51 AM »

Jason, The Fantasy Trip is probably the single biggest influence on me as a role-player and eventual designer-publisher, so it's excellent to get a closer look at it.

I think it's fascinating that a sword in the picture led directly to the creation of a wizardly thief via the twists and turns of the point-buy and job component. Not a belt of lockpicks, not a magic spell opening a door, but a relatively scary-looking, no-nonsense sword.

There's a section in the rules in which players are enjoined to give their characters personality - as I recall, the example describes an elf who's "not merely an elf" but also loves animals and yells at other characters if they threaten or hurt animals (something else, too, I can't recall). What would you write for Xocotzin at that depth of description?

(You and your whacked Aztec names ... for the quintessential Welsh-looking or Icelandic-looking babe, yet ...)

Julie, all of that makes perfect sense. I was also interested in how the Motivations were all built lower than 4. (To clarify for others, in this game, low values are more powerful for Motivations and all Skills, but high values are better for Traits.) In our past use and discussion of the game, we've both been inclined toward at least one Motivation set at 5 - the most iffy, conflicted, and specific application of a verb. So the directness of the character as you see her seems to have played into that as well, possibly. Another thing is that a number of phrasings or possibilities in character creation lead to the presence of NPCs or organizations, and those are absent for the White Shadow.

Best, Ron
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Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2009, 07:55:17 AM »

The Gaze, for me as well.

There was no denying the curve of those hips, but her attitude seemed to be, "Hey, Bub!  Up here!  I'm looking at you!"

I was struck by the craziness of the outfit: the string of little tiny somethings, the sword, the attitude, and knew I was in some sort of Boris Vallejo land, where practical aspects of combat didn't matter and I'd stepped into one of his covers from a John Carpenter of Mars book I'd seen years and years ago.

The Pool seemed a perfect fit for making the character, since the system would in no way penalize me for having a warrior running around with g-string, so when I ran out of systems and thought of that it was suddenly less of a default than a "Oh duh, this is perfect," moment.  I could get away with this character in the Pool without a moment's thought of logic.

That's where the Barsoom riff came from. I did exactly as I wrote out, scribbled some notes about the world background first, and then looked back at her to see what I would see...

And it was the eyes.  Purposeful, a touch pissed off.  Everything flowed from that.  You'll note Baroosa is almost all personal relationships -- even with the purple moon god, even the sword, which belonged to her father.   For me those eyes said, "I'm on business.  And the business is all personal."

Christopher
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2009, 08:05:57 AM »

There's a section in the rules in which players are enjoined to give their characters personality - as I recall, the example describes an elf who's "not merely an elf" but also loves animals and yells at other characters if they threaten or hurt animals (something else, too, I can't recall). What would you write for Xocotzin at that depth of description?
To be fair I probably didn't do the most brilliant job of optimizing the character, but I was trying to stick with the visual cues I had.  She'd be hell on wheels as a high-DX swordswoman, but she just doesn't look the part to me.

Well, crap, I balanced the line between advice and direction, and there are some imperatives in there - on page 5 of In The Labyrinth it tells you to work out your character's background and think about personality.  There's stuff on page 7 that gives you random personality tables, but it also says that if you have time, you shouldn't use them.  They suggest rolling 2d6 to determine various facets of personality, so I'll use that as the benchmark and pick my own numbers:

Bravery (12 is very brave):  Xocotzin is 8
Honesty (12 is very honest):  Xocotzin is 8
Freindliness (12 is likes everyone):  Xocotzin is 4
Appearance (12 is babetastic):  Xocotzin is 10
Mood (12 is aggressive extrovert):  Xocotzin is 9

So in my mind she's the youngest of many daughters of a regional lord, making her way in the world with no place at court.  She's learned the ways of the hoi-polloi, though, and uses that to her advantage, and as nobility (even the least of it), she knows how to demand deference.  Her absent father at least filled his court with wonder-men and mercenaries, and Xocotzin took what instruction she could.  She has a low opinion of her privileged class and has set out to make a profession of robbing them blind through a combination of flattery, craft and seduction.  Outside of her immediate work Xocotzin is scrupulously honest and goes to great length to keep her word and preserve her growing reputation among the  criminal elite.
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Graham W
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2009, 08:26:32 AM »

I thought she looked like a fantasy babe, but I'm not really into fantasy. I wondered about non-fantasy systems. Then the sword reminded me of a Poison'd character I'd had, who had a hatchet as a weapon. Or perhaps I consciously thought: oh, wait, maybe Poison'd would work. Probably a mixture of the two.

So it became a Poison'd character, with a "fucking huge hatchet" as one of the weapons, and "wiry strong and vicious" as another, because that's how she looks. Her position on the ship is "Surgeon", because she had a hatchet.

As a tongue-in-cheek observation: I wonder if anyone will outline their process as "After seeing the picture, I saw the perfect opportunity to advertise, by drawing up the character using my game".

Graham
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ejh
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2009, 08:53:12 AM »

To be fair I probably didn't do the most brilliant job of optimizing the character, but I was trying to stick with the visual cues I had.  She'd be hell on wheels as a high-DX swordswoman, but she just doesn't look the part to me.

She looks confident and smart but not really strong or agile.

This puzzled me.  Not strong or agile?  Not a high-DX swordswoman?  I could totally see her as exactly those things.  Maybe I'm too big a James West fanboy,* because in the James West universe, a woman who is built and dressed exactly** like her is potentially an unstoppable combat monster.

E.g.:

http://www.webcomicsnation.com/jamesvwest/sevenarrows/series.php?view=archive&chapter=11099&name=sevenarrows

I'm not saying you're wrong to read it that way; obviously this is all about everybody's different reactions.  I just was startled by the incongruity between your reading of the image and mine, and how that constrained and drove your character creation work.

(And yet for all that I'm perfectly happy with the way your writeup of her did turn out -- I'd be happy to play, or play in a game with, Xocotzin.   I think she rocks. You just got to that point by working within a constraint I would never have imagined.)

* If you think you dig James's work more than I do, in the words of Ron Burgundy, I WILL FIGHT YOU.

** well almost exactly; Fawn Rainchild's bikini is chainmail, but I think the point still stands. Smiley
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2009, 08:57:36 AM »

Differences are definitely worth noting!

After all, Jason considered making her a halfling and Ed made her nigh-seven feet tall.

Best, Ron
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jrs
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2009, 09:06:28 AM »

Julie, all of that makes perfect sense. I was also interested in how the Motivations were all built lower than 4. (To clarify for others, in this game, low values are more powerful for Motivations and all Skills, but high values are better for Traits.) In our past use and discussion of the game, we've both been inclined toward at least one Motivation set at 5 - the most iffy, conflicted, and specific application of a verb. So the directness of the character as you see her seems to have played into that as well, possibly. Another thing is that a number of phrasings or possibilities in character creation lead to the presence of NPCs or organizations, and those are absent for the White Shadow.

My personal kneejerk reaction to creating a character for The Path of Journeys was definitely to have a 5 motivation, but I just couldn't make it fit for this character.

As for associated NPCs or organizations, I have the idea that she is affiliated with a nomadic gypsy band. I did not have the chance to flesh that out at the onset of character creation. I blame my need for group input to establish such things.

Julie
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lumpley
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2009, 09:09:24 AM »

Here are all the character sheets I have so far: Color First Character Sheets

PM me with additions and corrections.

(Well I saw the perfect opportunity to advertise, of course.)

-Vincent

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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2009, 09:26:33 AM »

Different strokes, for sure.  And this illo - she's got the physical dimensions of a child but the sexual dimorphism of a babe built to a very particular fetish-y order.  Or maybe on her planet people just have enormous heads.  I just tried to imagine what a real person who looked like that would be good at, and it isn't hacking people to death with a sword. I definitely didn't parse it in context to James West's other work. 
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2009, 09:41:16 AM »

I find the emphasis some folks put on the visuals interesting. Cartoon conventions must be relatively transparent for me, considering that I all but ignored the weird hair color, body shape and other such details, assuming that they're just quirks of the artist's style. (Really, you can't read comics artists literally when it comes to female body types; they're all taught to idolize the female shape.) Alternatively I just don't know how to get strongly inspired by relatively minor Color details; I just took the whole image in, chose a character concept that worked with it and ignored the details - added a sword as an afterthought when I noticed it, but otherwise the details were incidental. Specifically, now that people remark on it, that hair color is strange - however, when making the character I just assumed that it's an image of the character through the James West filter and she's just an exotic blonde in setting terms; for all I care all Ammeni nobility can have blue hair, it's no skin off my nose.

Those minor details being the things that didn't strike me here, I probably should also mention that the functional inspiration I got from the image was simply that she seems primitive. Basically the rest of my chargen process was just predicated on the random flash of insight that she'd go well with the Qek campaign framework I'd been writing about lately. This was when I decided to actually make the character for Ron - the first steps were just idle musing, only when I'd already latched on the combination of setting, campaign frame and character concept I decided to actually write her down. After deciding on those I didn't draw influence from the picture itself before adding the sword at the last stage.
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Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2009, 09:45:02 AM »

[cross-posted with Eero, responding to Jason's last post]

I just tried to imagine what a real person who looked like that would be good at...

This was a really important point for me, which I touched on in my first post.

I had originally wanted to stat her using Pendragon's Beyond the Wall, a pict warrior.  But Pendragon is a mix of fantasy and "real" -- and there was no way, to me, that this person was real.

This wasn't a shortcoming, to me, by the way!

I reminded of some art critic talking about the portraits of Matisse, and how if he saw a woman walking down the street who looked like a woman from one of his paintings, he'd run fleeing!  But as a painting, they were great.

So, using this particular image as a starting point, I simply surrendered "real" and said, "What world would hold a woman like this?  What system would let me easily slip past concerns of reality to build a woman like this."  Again, The Pool's loosy-goosy nature allowed me to get there pretty fast.

It was a stated goal of mine after I dealt with the picture a bit to skate around reality.
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