Thursday, January 29, 2015

Back Issues #16 - Variations on a Theme

Building a character from scratch can be difficult. Sometimes they spring to mind fully formed for the game at hand, the perfect "I want to play this!" character idea. Sometimes though you just have an idea, a theme perhaps, or an iconic character from that genre you want to emulate. In supers games, its Batman, or Superman, or any number of others (Wolverine anyone?). For pulp games its The Shadow, or even Indiana Jones. Etc. etc., but what happens when your idea doesn't immediately lend itself to a specific "build"? Then you can get creative ...

Issue #16: Variations on a Theme

So you sit down at the game table and the GM says they he's got an idea for a supers game. Heroes in the modern comic book sense, sometimes a little dark, often complex, but good people who help others. Everybody likes the idea and gets to brainstorming. You sit there with an immediate idea, a hero based on the legendary Chupacabra!

You mull the idea over and when the GM turns to you you decide to stick with it and tell the GM. He nods, and then asks, "OK but what kind of hero is he?" Now you're in it. You've got this idea, but you need to build it. The immediate thought is build it like a totem. Claws, teeth, scaly hide. The GM & other players point out that a monster might not be entirely appropriate. Now what?

Give the idea some thought. What about it do you like? What don't you like? How can you make the name work without ending up with a ravening beast? Well how about ...

El Chupacabra! - The luchador hero! Wearing a stylized mask and a lightly armored outfit colored to match the character takes the name of the fierce creature as an example of his brutal close combat style of fighting as well as honoring his heritage, possibly even taking over the mantel from the previous El Chupacabra. Quick strikes with an emphasis on both grappling and speed allow this character to make the most of his enemy's weaknesses and exploit them for the greater good.

No? Perhaps ...

Steel Chupacabra! - The battle-suit hero! Donning a powerful power armor or robotic suit designed to look like the monster the hero uses active and passive stealth systems to hunt down his prey before attacking with overwhelming force from the shadows. A mysterious enigma, the hero is seldom seen, and often feared, but his reputation as a crime fighter keeps the public on his side. Concealment powers and other boosts to stealth would be a must, as would advanced sensors to take advantage of the darkness he hides in. Hit and run tactics and specialized attacks meant to blind and bind would be key.

Or maybe ...

Chupacabras el Demonio - The supernatural hero! Lots of options here, but we're going to go with a vampiric hero. Killed by supernatural evil and brought back as a vampire the character revolted against his master and fought back. Now as a hero he uses criminals to slake his undying thirst for blood. His powers afford him inhuman toughness and preternaturally sharp claws, and when he grapples his foes he can leech away their blood, and their stamina to resist. As a hero he always leaves his victims alive to suffer justice under the law, but he struggles with the beast within who always hungers for more.

One idea, and three possible interpretations of that idea for a supers game. Sometimes the obvious way to use an idea or pay homage to a character isn't the only one, or even the best idea. Part of the process is deciding which aspects of an idea of character to keep and which are negotiable. From there you need only look at the various superheroic archetypes and the ideas begin to unfold.

There ya go folks. How would you build the Chupacabra? What comic book heroes have you re-imagined in completely new ways?