The plan for this blog post was to ask you who your favorite action hero is (character, not actor). While I am still interested in knowing, I have a feeling that if you think about it, your favorite character is not always going to be the guy who does the most damage in the movie. Right?
Most of us like a hero who is interesting. I have said before that my favorite “action hero” is Allan Quatermain. If you only know him from one of the many horrible film interpretations of King Solomon’s Mines, you owe it to yourself to read the actual book(s). In MMO terms, Allan is the hunter/DPS. Sir Henry is probably the “tank”, while Captain Good would be the “off tank”. He’s intentionally described as being a little scrawny, and not all that handsome. What he is, is an exceptional shot with a rifle. He also has a way of dealing with people that normally leave them feeling like they owe him a favor or at least some respect. He is incredibly interesting, even though he’d die in his first minute of showing up on Dragon Ball Z.
My favorite movie is Kelly’s Heroes. Yeah, it’s 3 hours, but it’s worth it! Here there is a squad of soldiers trying to survive in WWII when they get involved in a bank heist, yep! a bank job 13 miles behind German lines. Only Big Joe and Kelly would be characters that anyone would want to play in most RPGs, but even they show that their importance is not in how much damage they can do, but in how they lead and how they think. They are interesting - see the theme here?
Think about the “parties” of adventurers in Cowboy Bebop, Star Wars, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings or whatever your favorite action/adventure movie is. Your favorite(s) - are they just the ones that do massive damage or are the ones where the writers put a little extra effort in and created interesting, “cool”, multi-dimensional characters? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you really do want the massive guy who can punch through everything or the guy who isn’t that good but has the best magical weapon. Hey, those are easy to play in FRPGs! But if your favorite characters are always the ones who are well developed, shouldn’t you be doing the same in your RPG?
Sorry this was kind of preachy, but I hope it holds up.
As I was about to post this, I thought about X-Men. Sure, most people like Wolvie, but not only because he’s a huge damage dealer. It’s his back story. His striving to not just be the berserker, but at the same time maintaining that truly abrasive attitude. I like Cyclopes, who is another massive damage dealer, but I like him because he is the “paladin”. They specifically wrote his back story to make him unquestionably loyal to the Professor, and only when forced to start questioning that does his character really start to grow. These are role-playing games we’re playing; let’s make sure there’s a role to play instead of just dice to roll.