21 August, 2013

Names for the Comic

A lot of the walkabout explanatory comic will be drawn from actual events that have occurred during playtest sessions or convention session. But the whole sequence will be an amalgam of various incidents that help illustrate the specific rulings that need to be illustrated.

Since different people were present in different games (and to protect the innocent), the five characters in the comic will be given new names.

I like the idea of sequential starting letters for names, it makes things easier when illustrating things...Alex, Bill, Charlie, Daniel, Eric; these can be quickly rendered as A,B,C,D and E in images such as relational diagrams or showing how two players interact with one another.

But these are all male names, and pretty western/European (that's not to say there aren't asians, aboriginals or members of other ethnicities with these names, it's just stating that the names have fairly european origins).

For the comic, I'm looking at bringing a few cultural types into play, and obviously there are members of both genders involved.

A is for Alice. Alice  She's the GM and she's fairly new at the whole thing. She's GM'd a couple of traditional games in the past, so she does a fair amount of prep work and sees the story heading in a specific direction. Alice probably derives from a lot of my mannerisms and play, but also draws on traits I've seen in many of the female GMs who are prominent in the Australian freeform and LARP scene. She starts a bit unsure of herself, and while she doesn't want to "prove herself to the boys" she instinctively wants to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves and participating in the story. She knows her pop culture, especially television shows like Dr Who, Firefly and Defiance.

B is for Ben. (I really want to call him Ben Chang as a pop culture reference to "Community", especially since he is the pop culture expert on the table). I'm definitely thinking that he should be Asian so that he can play out a scene where someone asks if he likes anime and he gets all offended at the ethnic stereotyping ("Oh, I must love anime must I...you're just saying that because I'm Asian...I'm not Japanese, I'm Chinese") and then he reveals that he has indeed drawn the inspiration for his character from a specific anime. To continue the "Community" references, Ben will be the "Abed" of the group. In addition to this, he's a homage to the high proportion of Asian-Australians, especially those who frequent various conventions and gamer groups. There are quite a few players I've met over the years who will be integrated into this character at some level.
C is for Carl. He's been playing for years, probably started in high school and now that he's in his late 20s, he's been through at least three incarnations of D&D/d20/Pathfinder, he's seen Old and New Worlds of Darkness, he's dabbled in GURPS, and plenty of other systems. He's the regular GM for the group, and is Diana's boyfriend, he convinced Diana to come along while he wasn't the GM...that way the other members of the group wouldn't complain that he was favouring her (I've seen this happen). Carl has been the centre of the group for a while, so he finds it hard to step back from the spotlight, especially when it comes to rule related questions. He'd probably rather be playing a gritty mechanically-heavy game, but feels that Walkabout might be a good introductory system for the new GM and his girlfriend. He's a little condescending toward women but doesn't realise it, he thinks he's being chivalrous. I've met plenty of gamers like this.  

D is for Diana. Diana is new to the group, if anyone was to fit the "manic-pixie-dream-girl" trope, it would be her. She's written fan fiction, but has never had to compromise her ideas based on the stories of other people or the whim of random game mechanisms. Diana is Carl's girlfriend, she relies on him to know the rules for her at first, but quickly gets the hang of things and branches out on her own to follow her own ideas and stories within the wider narrative. Diana is the kind of girl who enjoys a bit of cosplay and would wander into more comic and game stores if she didn't get all the weird looks, and didn't constantly get barraged with geek-trivia questions to prove she isn't a "fake geek girl". She's based on a few females I've met in gaming circles, girls who've long enjoyed fantasy, cartoon and computer games, but have only been dragged along to LARPs or tabletop games through their significant others.

E is for Ed. I don't want Ed to be a flamboyant, overly-dramatic homosexual caricature; but I think I'll throw a couple of overt and covert hints in.  Ed has aboriginal blood, and like most members of his community he is at best half-blooded, but more likely a quarter, or some other odd percentage due to mixed ancestry. He's interested in a game which claims to have aboriginal values and spirituality at its core, but is also very interested in the social aspects of play that manifest through the stories. He's always disliked a lot of games where the story always seems to be about fighting and treasure; he sees roleplaying as a form of improvisational theatre where the twists in the story are generated by playing off one another and the results of the dice/game-system.  

I realise that I've still stuck with very European/Caucasian names, maybe some of them will change a bit (I'm not sure, I just tried to keep them simple and not make them seem too forced). I could have applied the traditional anime conventions of giving each of the four players an elementally inspired personality (with the GM being a central balancing point), but this also seemed a bit too forced.

If I've made any glaringly obvious faux-pas with this set up of players, feel free to let me know. If you think these might make an interesting group to follow, I'd love to hear that too.

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