Saturday, April 14, 2012

Heros... Pfft.

While reading an excellent post over at ROFL Initiative about the consequences of killing, I came to a realization. A lot of RPG material -in fact the vast majority of it- refers to player characters as "Heroes." This is something I don't normally do and I think this difference in thinking has an effect on the games that I play.

While some of the characters in our games could be described as heroes some of the time, I more often refer to them as adventurers or sometimes even just the party. When I think of the word "hero" I imagine the guy who jumps on a hand grenade to save his buddies. I think of Mother Theresa or Superman. I picture people and characters who go out of their way to do good for the sake of doing good, or to help others. 

I do not view PC's in the same light.

Most RPG characters are what I would call accidental heroes and at their worst - downright criminals. Let's face it, we are talking about people who have foregone the idea of getting a normal job and have decided that they would much rather adventure for a living. A profession that's primary focus is obtaining wealth and power through killing things and taking their stuff. 

Think about this: Indiana Jones conquered the Temple of Doom, saved the nearby village, rescued his friends, destroyed the Thugee and recovered the Sankara stones all for the sake of research! I would categorize that under heroic any day of the week, but that's only because he didn't sell the Sankara stones on eBay to buy a +5 whip and a few potions of snake repellant. 

That's the difference for me. Heroes help, adventurers help for profit.

I believe this way of thinking adds a lot of flavor to our games; it gives the players more to work with in the role play aspect and keeps the ego's from getting too big. Townsfolk aren't always willing to help and some are downright untrustworthy of adventurers. While the local fletcher might beg for help with a spider infestation, the blacksmith next door is making sure his family mausoleum is locked safe from any wandering "treasure hunters."

I wanted to post more but it's late and I have a solo adventure to run soon.

Until next time, Happy Gaming!


1 comment:

  1. The characters in my game are reluctant heroes at best or, as you say, accidental heroes. They are the Snake Plisskens of the world - they save the day only when it's their asses on the line too, or if they're being really well paid.

    This attitude is one of the conceits of old-school play that fell by the wayside, or, rather, got kicked to the curb when TSR got all squeaky clean and heroic with AD&D 2E.

    So 'pfft' to gallant knights and their epic quests. I'll take may self-serving band of rogues and ne'er-do-wells any day.