Take a Chance on Me: Playing Possibly Non-Optimized Characters

The latest video by Spoony for his Counter Monkey series is about probably his most controversial statement as he sees it, about rolling 3D6 for stats, in order, and playing that character. Love him, hate him, Spoony definitely says stuff that makes people think from time to time. He’s a lot like John Wick and others in that way, that he’ll say something about Game Balance or the lack of it and how it doesn’t affect the fun of the game and people will take up arms against it without even trying it.

I look at the idea of 3D6 in order and playing them as ‘All the more power to it’, but then I’ve commented about how I like to play challenging and weird type of characters. However, I think people need to consider this sort of idea a bit more, coming up with new types of characters they might not have considered. Cyberpunk 2020 had the Lifepath Generator as part of the character generation to give you different backgrounds and personality twists. There are various generators in Pathfinder and similar, so that’s quite a cool option I think. There’s lots of examples out of there of background generators that will pitch story ideas of the sort, and sometimes it is coming up with reasons and ways to make the character work for you.

Look at the numbers, come up with a reason why they work out that way. How many people have exactly the skillset they needed for the job before they started out, in real life? For example, books like Sun Tzu talk about how to use tactics, terrain and even psychology to your advantage, while other sources talk about options to use guile and other tactics to your advantage when the numbers are against you. To quote from the page:

[T]here is an old Japanese story of a samurai who is ordered to go and kill a group of six bandits.  Knowing he isn’t skilled enough to win against six, he still seeks them out as ordered.

                 Encountering them, he tells them why he has been ordered that, but that he doesn’t want to fight.  One of the six bandits, hearing what he thinks is cowardice,  attacks and is killed in a lightning exchange.  The samurai continues to say he doesn’t want to fight, but another of the bandits charges and is killed by the samurai.  A third bandit, seeing his two comrades killed by such a “coward”, also charges in and is struck down.

                 Suddenly, the samurai’s attitude completely changes and he says “Six against one I didn’t stand a chance against.  Three at one time I can kill”, and proceeds to finish off the bandits.

                 In other words, it’s not a scenario a fighter would normally seek out, but when encountered a warrior must do whatever is needed to survive.

So you’re playing a fighter who has baseline stats like 12 Str, 13 Dex, 10 Con, 18 Int, 12 Wis, 12 Cha for example. Play someone who does hit and run tactics, play someone who uses their smarts to prepare the battlefield ahead of time, like littering the house with traps in Home Alone gave the kid an advantage over the adult burglars. Sure the idea of taking out burglars with paint cans may be ridiculous but it was all part of the storytelling. Isn’t storytelling what roleplaying games are about? So, have your fighter rig up a few ale jugs that they can cut down or shoot down to then set on fire causing damage and making the enemy filter to other key trap spots. Maybe hire a couple of hunters to wait in windows with bows to peg the enemies with arrows as they come after you. Tucker’s Kobolds especially with Lycanthromancer’s options from the linked thread, is an example of this, but many other examples can be seen.

So, I guess what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to take risks, play outside your comfort zone, try new things and you may find something that is quite interesting than what you were initially expecting. Some of my best characters began that way.

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