Posted by: Sean | August 20, 2008

Do It Different: Warriors.

Archetypes are a wonderful thing. They act as a literary shorthand, quickly getting across to your potential role-playing partners what kind of a character this is and how to appropriately respond. But stereotypes can go to hell. I like to see a bit of variety, which is  why every so often I’ll be trying to show how a radically different archetype can apply to either a class, a race, or a race/class combination. Today, it’s the Warrior.

Stereotype: The classic stoic, a hardened pillar of a man who stands before great danger and does not flinch. He is hard to open up, secreting his fears and feelings away because he sees them as weak or dangerous. If he has a sense of humor, it will be dry and dark.

Alternatives: The Grunt. Ooh-rah! The grunt is, much like the stoic, a hardened soldier of many campaigns, fighting for one of the major forces in Azeroth. He’s seen plenty of combat and has developed a close affection and care for his comrades, who’ve saved his life as often as he’s saved there. But where the stoic is quiet and reserved, the grunt is an exuberant type, especially out of combat. A combination of testosterone (either literally or metaphorically; there are plenty of women grunts out there,) good pay and frequent danger have made them louder and more aggressive than most people in life, which becomes expressed in dirty jokes, shouted battle cries (Ooh-rah!) and drunken woman-chasing while in the city. Yet on the battlefield, they’re an experienced pro. Sure, you might have to deal with the occasional shout of “Oh yeah!” and rampant FIGJAM behavior with them, but there are few people you’d like to have more on the front line of fighting. Best Talent Specialisation: Arms. These are the guys who, when they one-shot some nasty, are going to dance around for a minute afterwards. Go for big spikey damage.

The Foppish Nobleman. Born, silver spoon in hand, the nobleman may be part of the noble houses of Stormwind, the favored son of a Thunder Bluff elder tribal elder, or any number of other situations. The point is that he grew up quickly into a society that would easily and without shame shield him from the world of war that it existed into. Most of his friends relished this, taking up a dainty smarminess (in the case of the humans) or putting on faux-wise man personas (for the Tauren) to emphasize their exclusion from the dirty world of combat. But not you. Something in you baulked at it; the casual sending out of young men like yourself to die horribly on a foreign battlefield while you comfortably ate Alterac Swiss and crackers. You learned swordsmanship or how to swing warhammers in secret, and then one day snuck away from the safety of home, either openly tying to attach yourself to the most rugged, scarred group of adventurers you can find or hiding your noble identity and pretending to be one of them. The problem is: You’re not one of them. You’re going to get terrified in your first few battles, you miss the little comforts of home, you whine and complain a lot. But all of this is made up for by the fact that deep down, you know you’re becoming a better person for this. More engaged, more active in the world, and fighting the right fights. Best Talent Specialization: Fury. The image of duel weapons, particularly rapiers for a human, is dead on right for this type of character. As a side note, this archetype is definitely a male one – Women who try this kind of backstory become adventuresses and feel distinctly different.

Combat Mom always knew the combat, but hasn’t known the mom for that long. She may once very well have been The Grunt, but whether by accident or love, she had a child. Perhaps it was an accident and she had intended to give him up, but couldn’t once she saw him. Maybe she fell in love and had a child, intending to give up combat and be a proper mother before the rat-bastard father ran. For whatever reason, she has a hungry mouth to feed, nobody else to rely on and no sellable skills than her ability to swing an axe with the best of them. She left her child with a member of her extended family, or perhaps at the orphanage, and set off back into mercenary work. This character can also be a combat dad, (an image done spectacularly well in the comic-book Road to Perdition,) but it’s the combat mom that’s stuck in the popular consciousness best. The idea that a mother can be absolutely ferocious in the defense of her child ties into this archetype, as does the compelling nature of a strong woman. What makes this archetype really appealing for drama junkies is the dual nature of it: Incredibly strong, controlled and focused on a battlefield, but brought to her knees by the knowledge that she’s missing out on seeing her child grow up and the sinking realization that he’s perhaps more tied to his carers than her. Children’s Week, with this character, can be a chance for some absolute bombshell level role-play. Best Talent Specialization: Protection. This definitely ties into the idea of the protective mother-bear.


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