Designing the Perfect Character

When I was running pen and paper RPGs, I noticed that some players always want to create the same type of character. It won’t matter what genre they are playing, or what ruleset. In their imaginary worlds, they have some kind of perfect platonic character, and that’s the one they want to play.

At first, people get bored of having The Man With No Name, CombatWombat the min-maxed fighter, Amnesiac Ubermage, DrizztClone #51, Mister Useless (there’s always one person who picks all the most useless skills available), and Spot the Comedy Dog turn up in every single game. After awhile it gets quite comfortable, like a RPG version of Cheers.

I see this in MMOs as well. People pick out some concept, look, role, or play style and decide that for them, that’s The One. In every game afterwards, they will play some variation on the same theme.

I have one friend who has this in a particularly strong way. She always wants to play male elves wearing plate armour who dual wield. They must also have long hair and a bishi look. World of Warcraft has let her down in this respect, Blood Elves cannot be warriors. She tries womanfully to make up for their mistakes – she plays a Blood Elf Deathknight and a Blood Elf Retribution Paladin (both plate wearing melee classes, but they both use a two-hander, the DK used to dual wield but she wasn’t happy with how it performed on the damage meters). She even has a Night Elf warrior but she’s not that fond of Alliance and the character model is way too buff for her taste.

I was commenting that if/when Blizzard do relent on the whole Blood Elf/ Warrior thing (and there’s no special lore reason why they shouldn’t exist), it could be her perfect character. “Not really,” she said forlornly, “Fury warriors dual wield 2-handers now, and I wanted a character that could dual wield normal swords.”

Sometimes you just can’t win for trying.

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13 thoughts on “Designing the Perfect Character

    • You know, that’s exactly what I thought! And this is kind of where this post came from.

      She was reluctant to try the beta because she had heard that it didn’t have WoW-style talent trees, and apparently that was a potential deal breaker.

      Then she tried it and agreed it was quite fun, but wait! Now she has heard that there is a possibility of world PvE and there might not be any PvE servers. Catastrophe!

      (I laugh because sometimes people are so fixed in their ideas of what they want that they won’t even try something else… just to see if they might like it.)

  1. Yeah, people that don’t like PVP should probably stay away from Aion. But tell her there is a talent tree of sorts in the form of the Stigma system. If she has the chance to try it out in the future beta events, at least one of those should be concentrating on the level 25+ PVP content in The Abyss. A good way to get a taste of the PVP content that might change her mind about such things.

  2. The BE racial AOE silence ability may or may not be a bit overpowered on a warrior in PVP.

    It will be interesting to see whether the class/race restrictions are relaxed at some point down the line. Blizzard can be very stubborn on relatively minor points in the lore – the Dwarves of Ironforge don’t do arcane magic, so Dwarf mages have to go. Then they’ll throw the lore out the window if they think it would be fun to infect the entire world with the undead plague, which, the lore has repeatedly established, cannot be cured or reversed.

    • I doubt it’s any more overpowered than having AE silence on a rogue, or tauren warstomp on a warrior, to be honest.

      I won’t be surprised if they do relax a lot of the race/ class restrictions someday, I figure at the moment, nothing is completely off the agenda. And since every other race can be warriors, this would be one of the first combos I’d expect to see allowed.

  3. I can’t say that I have a “perfect character.” The old-school cprgs always had me controlling a full group, so I was “everything.” When I started playing Morrowind, I tended to go with a fighter/mage type of player. In SWG I found I liked to heal and thus was a doctor, but then I also had a toon that was strictly combat (various iterations of Teras Kasi, pistoleer, commando, and Bounty Hunter) which I tended to play even more.

    In EQ2 I tried about a bajillion different race/class combos. My “main” has changed over time — it was originally my SK, but then my warlock took over, then my mystic, then my fury, then my inquisitor, then my warlock again, and right now it’s my coercer. And I’m working up a dirge which I plan to play the hell out of once I hit 80 also.

    Thing is, I enjoy them all, so it doesn’t really matter to me which one is “main.” And so I can’t really say that I know my “perfect” character, though I’ll admit I still do lean a touch toward healing. Even with that, whenever I start a new game, I tend to try out melee fighters 1st while I get a feel for it and the mechanics, then go back and make my “real” character. Unless I happen to like the fighter-type. . . . .

  4. Frost DKs in 3.2 will be dual-wielders. They added Threat of Thassarian, a 3-pt talent deep in the tree that makes your major strikes hit with main hand and off hand. As a result, Dual-Wielding DKs will again perform decently on the damage meters, though they’ll like be Frost-only.

  5. The methodology of play directs my character creation. I like more tactical play, generally from range for mobility. I’ll play a Mage or Hunter with about equal affinity. I also like hybrids who can dabble in all sorts of playstyles, so I wind up playing Rangers in D&D or Druids in WoW. It’s less about what I think the perfect character is, and more about how I want to play the game.

    …but yes, my approach tends to be pretty consistent. One ranged tactical character, one “jack of all trades” hybrid. I’ll dabble in other things, like my WoW Rogue experiment, but at the end of the day, if I’m playing for fun, I want to play my way, and it’s based in mechanics.

    Nice article!

  6. I know what you mean…

    Every time I’m think I’m out of my archtype, he pulls me back in: The big guy with savvy (savvykind depending on the game), or the small & quick guy.

    IRL, I’m pretty short. I thought that was behind me, but that does not seem so much, in the end.

  7. I like the Battle Mage idea. In Stratholme (origninal) the Scarlets have Battle Mages that dual-wield, and also in Ulduar in the Formation Grounds, the Elven Battle Mages there are also dual-wielding.

  8. I’m guilty of picking the same old stuff in games. I just can’t help it! I’m obsessed with being the biggest, meanest race and some sort of warrior class. It’s odd too because when I first started playing MMORPGs, I used to only play casters. Somewhere along the line though I decided melee was a heck of a lot more fun :) I’ve played EQ2 for 3-4 years and I’ve never tried a caster class for instance.

  9. I usually play smaller, female type characters. I don’t seem to have an archetype of class anymore, but usually adapt to the games mechanics. In FFXI i’ve been melee, tanker, and ranged dd. I used to be a strong healer before that, but FFXI healing is not like EQOA healing, we don’t have strong HoT spells, and its harder to regen MP.

    On a related note, dual wield is a plague in all MMOs and needs to die. It’s one of my most hated mechanics.

  10. I don’t think anyone should beat themselves up over having class preferences! It’s like I hate shooters and like puzzle games. Some play styles just don’t really appeal. And MMOs like to offer a broad range.

    I do find it funny when some people (like my mate) have such narrow preferences though :)

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