Thursday, December 31, 2009

Player Characters - I find Survivors More Engaging Than Badasses

Superman is boring. He's too powerful, he may be a great symbol and I think it's a great concept but I just don't find superman engaging. Aside from convoluted corner cases he can accomplish almost anything sans risk.

I don't find Jedi engaging either. I'm not into superheros. My Conan is the vulnerable, human, literary one. I prefer the Ash of the first Evil Dead movie. I think Aliens kinda sucks compared to the Lovecraftian terror of Alien. I don't like it when a video or computer game is too easy, I prefer desperately conserving my ammunition while crawling behind cover a half mile away from the vastly superior enemy.

The Road Warrior. Indiana Jones. Snake Pliskin. James T. Kirk. Fors the "Star Mans Son." Hiero. Dirty Harry. Ripley. "Blondie" and "Tuco the Rat." These are the heroes I find engaging. They may have been high level characters, some even bad-asses, but they were human characters that often failed, often got hurt, and pretty much got to high level by using good tactics and consistently making the important saving throws. They were no Batman, Wolverine, Lobo, Lone Wolf or Rambo. They weren't perfect.

Perfection is boring in large doses.

I grew up on a steady diet of science fiction with plenty of adventure fiction. Most of this stuff was from the public and school libraries and generally it was old. They had a distinct smell. In many cases the artwork was almost alien in it's difference from the modern art I was used to. In most cases the protagonists of said fiction were "ordinary" people. Sure they may have been genius scientists or tough soldiers, but they were human, and they were frail in the way real people are. They could twist an ankle or break an arm. They plans could fail, catastrophically even. They often got lost deep in hostile wilderness without full kit. They got sick. They didn't want to get into a gunfight or even a two-on-one. They got beat up or overpowered and if they got shot they usually woke up in a hospital or tied to a chair in a basement.

That's what adventure meant to me as I grew up. That what I want when I play D&D.


  1. Amen! That's why Batman will always be cooler (well, the original "The Bat-Man" version, not the Mr.Gruff Whispers body armor Christian Bale monstrosity) than Superman, or even Aquaman.

  2. Was there something in a recent game that precipitated this article?
    --Just curious if there is an anecdote. :)

    Hoping your 2010 is good.

  3. Good to see I'm not the only one totally underwhelmed by the Christian Bale version of Batman.

  4. Although I largely agree with your point, I don't think the power level of the characters in question is the entire issue; the nature and pussiance of the danger they face is a huge factor.
    Superman vs Lex Luthor: BORING, what are you going to do next, Clarke, beat up Lee Iacoca?

    Superman getting his ass handed to him by Darkseid (As in the animated DCU shows): AWESOME! Kirby also had Superman getting the shit kicked out of him (several times) in his run of Jimmy Olson. Kirby's Orion and Thor are two other mega powerful characters that are still cool, and despite being gods manage to retain their humanity- and get their asses kicked regularly.

  5. Totally agree. Summarizes why superhero comics never did anything for me.

  6. @ Timeshadows: Not really, just musing about chargen.