Sunday, August 9, 2020

30 years of gaming characters

Inspired by the great Throne of Salt, here is a list of some of my characters in my nearly 3 decades of playing RPGs.  I also got a comment in a previous post inquiring about my gaming history, so here we are.

This is pretty long, so you can skim, there is a conclusion at the end :)

High school and undergrad:

A fire wizard.  (Advanced Fighting Fantasy).   I don't have a sheet of this character, only some memories, and I think this was my first character.  Based on The Elves and the Otterskin, which had an interesting fire mage at the begining.  There were probably a few others (a dwaven fighter I think? Maybe that one was the first?) but it's too long ago.  Interestingly, the Advanced Fighting Fantasy is what gave birth to Troika!  We played in this system for about a year then switched to 2nd ed AD&D.

A dwarven Cleric probably named Durin  (2nd ed AD&D).  Played from level 1-5 ish.   My first D&D character.  Clerics where not great back then, but hey we have to have a healer!  After 5-6 levels I got fed up and we got a henchman to do that instead, and I switched to my next character which was:

Ajax  the wild mage - my first "really good" PC, wild mage from level 5 to 9 (when the campaign ended). 2nd ed, still fond memories.  We did some undermountain, we did some ravenloft, some underark...  Had a cloak of the arachnid and frequent user of Wall of Ice.  Gave my DMs nightmares with the "there-not there" spell.  We had a really good campaign going - 2 fighters, an invoker, a wild mage, cleric henchmen, a psionisist and a paladin.  The GM alternated between the paladin, the invoker and myself - when the party had two wizards going... we could dish out mad damage.  Once near the end, we were attacked by a pirate ship and just... obliterated the enemy ship.
hand drawn PC photos are the best no?
(looking at this image made me realize he had a toad familiar).  I'm surprised I never brought him back...

Shoshiborg :   a Gnome thief illusionist in a Ravenloft campaign, level 3-5 2nd ed.  Had a golden dagger +2.  The 2nd ed thief was weak by itself, but as a multi class it was quite good and really explanded your gaming *and* roleplaying potential. 

 Dain? Nain? A dwarven war cleric using the 2nd ed skills and powers rules, in ravenloft  *very* OP, was almost as good as a fighter with almost full cleric spellcasting.  He was the first character with "I don't want to be here, I want to go back home" problem that would cause him to find ways to shortcut adventures.  (the GM and I had to have a talk).  Level ... 3-7?

Off to gradschool!

Durin (?), a dwarven fighter, a mountain guide.  He really should have been a ranger, but this wasn't allowed in 2nd ed (good riddance on that rule!).  Short campaign but fond memories of it - first one after I left home, introduced me to new friends (who started a high level campaign).

Shoshiborg :   a Gnome thief illusionist 2.0! The abovementioned friends wanted to do a high level campaign, so I brought him back!  (level 11-14)  This guy had escaped Ravenloft and was very paranoid, but relieved to be back to the forgotten realms… and then become stuck in this temple of Helm a few hundred miles from Waterdeep, stuck because it's being sieged by a demonic (devilish?) army (probably the hordes of dragonspear castle module?).  Tons of players (8?),  but eventually fizzled out because we kept killing demons and it kept making no difference.  This ended up being our last 2nd ed campaign, and also my highest level campaign ever.

Cedric:  A human cleric in 3.0 then 3.5, level 1-9, in a *great* Greyhawk campaign.  Cleric of St-Cuthbert with memory problem.  Full on COD-zilla, but also very good roleplaying character - zealous but also pragmatic, a hard balance to navigate.

I could write a post about this campaign alone.  For a while our two main fighters had raven-lycanthropy.  So in a hard fight, they would get so hurt they would shift, the rest of the party would run away, and the 2 ware-raven would *demolish and eat* the opposition.

A dwarven Evoker an a dwarven druid.  level 2-7 maybe?  We did a portion of the mega-dungeon return to the temple of elemental evil.  Eventually we had a fight with 2-3 members escaping and the rest dead or captured.  This "halfway to TPK" became an effective TPK as we discussed ways to rescue this and just gave up.  (added this in edit, completely forgot this).

A dwarven ratcatcher (in warhammer frpg 2nd ed).  Fun game, but the players wanted to stick to D&D

A Dwarven fighter/rogue (warhammer setting, 3.X system), also a sort of holy warrior of the god of death (more neutral funereal god, not kill everyone god).  Pretty brutal combo.  Low level D&D works for Warhammer but past level 5 it doesn't really work anymore.

Barracuda, A "leader/spy" in an Archer game, a d20 spy/combat system.  Very high tech system.  One of the very few female characters I have played.

My contact with this group ended a few years after gradschool

Sometimes during this time I also joined a new group, that did *not* play D&D

In the introductory part of the campaign, a modern "fey live among us" urban fantasy, I played an arms dealer.  We used the gurps system.

Rupert, the professor/hermetic mage.  Still in Gurps, still same campaign.  Human, British, an academic with a sword cane, very fun to play.  Even then, 15 years ago, I was interested in old grimoires.  His moment of glory was saving a critically injured party member on the roof by casting a short but very strong defensive spell on said member, pushing him off the roof, then doing the same to myself and jumping off too.  He then managed to drag the injured character to safety while evading police that were converging on the very *loud* battle scene.

I think we ended up blowing ourselves up?

Robert the half-japanese street samurai.  Still the same urban campaign but we are now switching to the far more complex Hero (champion?) 5e system.   He is recruited by an arm of the RCMP that keeps an eye on the fey living among us.  Very sneaky, very powerful in a melee fight.  Also very determined and disciplined.

The campaign ends in an attempt by our heroes to stop "the end of the world" but we explode because one player *didn't tell us about the bombs*.  This player, which I still play with to this day, never lost this habit of sometimes not telling the other PCs crucial bits of information.

the "saving the world" doesn't quite work.  Aliens - "angels" - come to earth and take over.  Things are very messed up, much destruction etc.  A new campaign in this world begins...

Julien Flamel.  (Hero 5e revised edition) A slightly mad, very determined and *extremely paranoid* mage.   His main shtick was beside some fairly basic magic, was, due to a summoning mishap, he could "exchange place" between his normal self and a multi tentacular being from the 5th dimension.  This thing was a combat monster and surprisingly sneaky for a 800 pound land squid.  It usually ate foes.   This was inspired in part by the Words of Changing from a Tad Williams novel.

The character evolved by having more interesting spells, like the ability to summon flying turnip golems, or turn incoming bullets into mushrooms.   Unfortunately, we came to a point where we had to gamble with the goddess of death to get a very important macguffin.  Another PC was *designed* to be a great gambler.  But the player *choked*.  He couldn't risk his precious character.  So Julien, aware of the extremely high stakes and very determined, gave the other PC a disgusted look and took the gamble and... lost (without those gambling bonuses, it was a 50/50 chance).  wan-wan-waaaaaan. 
Jacob:  The replacement character.  A gunsligner with a cyborg eye and a huge revovler, who saw the "angels" as an affront to God.  Given that this was Hero 5e, his gun hit ridiculously hard.  The GM took it away but it didn't really matter.  And that was the end of this long urban fantasy campaign - 2 systems, 4 PCs and over 5 years of gaming.

Edward the Eel Lawyer (hero 5e).  We are switching to super heroes.  My character has aquatic powers, which we all know are lame.  So I also made him a lawyer!  He once stopped a fight dead in its track by shouting "I WILL SUE YOU!!!".   Eventually he had to fight in another battle, and the other PCs (and the GM, who had forgotten), were horrified to realized that he had an inner second jaw like a Moray Eel that could bite the heck out of people.

We switch gear to a simple system and D-level superheroes.

Procyonor, ex lab assistant who gained powers after biting an activist who was bitten by a radioactive raccoon.  He can summon racoons.  LOTS of them.  But he doesn't control them!  Another PC, Cheese Lord, is *very* nervous.

A fashion police hitman:  Hitman on the run, part of a mob that was involved in the world of fashion.  Now part of a cleanup crew.   Has a carcano rifle he stole from a museum that was involved in a very famous crime.   Part of the cleanup involved tons of raccoons.  Campaign ends with world destruction.

kangaroo-like necromancer.  A time traveling game. He became his own great-great-great-grandpa

We then started playing in exalted

A solar exalt - a diplomat/swordsman/sailor.  Could attack 8 times in a round rolling 18 d10 each time.  Dear lord.

A starfish alien ("hiver") in a Traveler game that fizzled out.

brawler/coatch driver , exalted 3e this time.  Would get his clients to their destination no matter what.

At this point, my association with this group ended, after a good dozen year together :/ 

Gamil, dwarven alchemist part of a very decent Eberron campaign that went from level 3 to 8.  The character was tough as nails and fun to play.  I was using a PF class in 3.X and it sort of worked, except for alter self which turns out to be quite broken due to huge AC boost...

Meanwhile, one of the player played a bard who was pretty good at boosting the party but had middling dex, light armor, no defensive magical item, refused to use defensive magic and had *no* constitution bonus.  I built my alchemist knowing that our "fighting line" was mobile and skirmishy, so he was tough.  The bard had to be rescued *all the time*.

A civilized goblin mechanic mage:  Part of an Iron Kingdom campaign that went on for a few levels (2-6?).  It was very interesting - I think that Iron Kingdoms is better than Eberron.

A starwars clone heavy gunner:  In saga (I think?) system star wars game.  We played crammed in one guy's bedroom... not ideal.  It was a good game though, but as many campaign, it eventually fell apart.  A bit too much combat, a bit too samey... PCs... but I have to give it to the GM, there was a lot of good stuff too.

I wanted to try playing 5e, so I joined a number of Play By Post games on the EN World forums:

Darwinimar:  a great bout of collaborative world building.  I really wanted to play a gnome ranger, and we really needed a tank, so I made a sword-and board short sword wielding character.  It was fun, but campaign fizzled out.  Level 3-4
Darwinimar (made with Heroforge)

Grassnoll, a goblin warlock.  He pretended to be a dwarven wizard (mask of many faces).  He also had a patron elder god, the king in yellow, that *already had been summed back to the world*... just hadn't arrived yet, it's a long way!  Campaign fizzled out.  Level 3
Grassnoll (source?)

A Dwarven alchemist.  Nautical campaign, fizzled out fast.  Level 4?
what was your name again? Source?

Lal Kalandar.  Mystical Barbarian  I grew tired of making characters for nothing in PBP, and this guy was in *three* campaigns - one level 1-5, one level 3, and one level 11-12.  They all fizzled out, but overall it was a good experience - I wanted to show that the barbarian class had a lot more roleplaying depth than what is usually depicted (stats weren't great though).  He wasn't an ordinary barbarian, he had the hermit background - a dervish type, a mendicant.  He also was a planar traveler - it was the same person in the 3 campaigns.  The last one was an Al-Quadim campaign and I'm sad it didn't work out... although I mean it lasted almost a year and had a few very cool scenes so... that's a win?
Now Lal I remember! Hisorical documents

Udit the riverman  a thief (level 4-8) who was an NPC in my Yoon Suin campaign.  He wasn't well optimized because he was meant to duplicate the Yoon-Suin version.  In this one he was in one of two campaigns that did the same dungeon at once - I think at one point we had 3 groups going, eventually merged into one.  This was the first time I played a single class rogue, and you know what?  Bravo WotC, bravo, you nailed the rogue in 5e.  We were in a dungeon with various factions, an undead dragon etc... it was *wild*.  Great GM, feel grateful for his hard work.
Udit was a pessimist

Kalorn.  Warlock hexblade5 /eldrich knight 3.  Very tragic, hard hitting Gish.  A bitter mercenary with a "demon" leg that was grafted on him against his will.   I wanted to try something new so in a new arc he replaced Udit.  He had a bat familar - he would kill anyone who hurt it.
Now *this* is an image! by theDURRRRIAN

Rodrigo.  1-5 dex-based battle-master fighter with the spy background, fought with a rapier .  Very fun character - we all made PCs "blind" and we ended up with an archer, a ranger, a paladin, a monk and a fighter.   Played Tomb of Annihilation.

What if Aragorn was a musketeer you say? (seriously, from the Alatrise film)

At this point, after the pandemic bringing me down, and growing frustrated with the PBP method of play, I left Rodrigo and Kalorn behind.  BUT I didn't just disappear from the face of the earth like some people do - are they alive? Did they die? I don't know!  I had a farewell post.  Remember folks, if you decide to leave a PBP campaign, SAY SOMETHING.

About 2 years ago, one of my players and good friend invited me to his face to face campaign.  It's Pathfinder which... is not my favorite... but the gaming has been good.

Malbung Ikrum:   Level 7-9 bladebound Magus.  I had been intrigued by the Magus, and my friend told me they needed more melee oomph.  So I made Malbung, the half elf half eldarian magus.  His father was a bodyguard of the now dead Eladrin Godess of war.  He hits hard, debuffs, is sneaky and has extremely high intimidate *and* the enforcer feat.  Casts no shadow and can speak with the dead.  Uses "defending bone" and claims it's Mr Magoo, the old janitor now helping him on quests. The campaign is Zeitgest and it is *very very* good.  My only wish was that it was in 5e - Malbung is already restated as a bard college of sword 6/hexblade 3, I'm ready!  :D
The clothes are wrong but the feel is right.  By Matt136

Telchar (dwarven alchemist level 1-6, juust reached 7 I think) The same group has a rotating campaign, so I decided to bring back the dwarven alchemist, this time in a proper PF game.  We are doing the Kingmaker campaign and it's been pretty good.  Trap-breaker template

So is that what 30 years of gaming looks like?  Not quite!  I didn't include the games I ran as a GM... but that's for another post.  Furthermore, There are a host of one shots, trials, short games that didn't last etc that I essentially forgot about or aren't worth mentioning.  Not to mention a quite a efw hundred hours of Eve Online...

(edit: scroll down for more characters!)


So what can learn from this:   There are definitely some commonalities in my characters:  I like playing dwarves, I like playing spellcasters, I like playing characters that are tough and can fight (it's not rare for me to have high saves and AC).  Roleplaying wise there is a strong element of paranoia, determination and *discipline*.  The paranoia is natural - our PCs are under threat!  But I think that the disciplined, hard working/training PCs reflect a desire that *I* was that driven and disciplined.  Oh well.

I'm also realizing that I almost never get to *play* the specific system I want to - if I want that, I have to *run* it.  I've yet to play a 5e game as a player that wasn't play by post....

Very few campaign last more than 2 years, so the GM shouldn't lollygag too much if they have plans.  My GMing technique, when I have "no plan" is to have 2 introductory adventures *max* and then take a moment to scope the land - where is this going?  Has a theme, a trend, a party goal emerged?  If so, let's go in that direction!  If it's utterly directionless, then you need to give some direction.  Use or write a module.

The last thing I'm realizing reading this is how privileged I am regarding pen and paper RPGs.  I miss the good old days where we would have a 12 hour session every week... but on the other hand, I play in one session 4 hours a week and run a 3 hour session every 2 weeks (so 6 session per month).  That's... pretty good!  It's only possible if you can make gaming a priority - and not everyone can do that.

edit:  Throne of Salt inspired others: , , , probably others... it's trending :P

edit part deux:  this trip down memory lane made me realize that the system issues of yesterday made me appreciate some of my modern games more.  But I now have very fond memories of the old games! :)  That's why 5e does for me a little, it has echoes of 2nd ed :)

edit part three:  MOAR blogs! ,   , ,

edit part 4:  Well the pandemic did my blog not a lot of good - but I have managed to *play* a fair bit at least, and I finally got to play 5e :)

Telchar is now level 9, nothing too much to report.  Malbung got himself killed, but was too stubborn to die and his spirit lingered in the Bleak Gate.  Once the rest of the party showed up in the Bleak Gate with his body; Malbung's spirit just reanimated it.  He's now level 10 "+1" , where the +1 is the shadow outsider template.

Mariah: Level 10 Spiritualist: the game where Malbung died has a "death has consequences" style, so I had to make a temporary PC.  But this was difficult because this is a game with a fair amount of "secrecy" - so the new PC was a "spirit medium" who could contact Malbung's spirit.  This way I didn't have to worry about what Mariah knew - Malbung was guiding her, and she was using the power of  his blade.  How was she able to pull that off?  Little do they know, they are half siblings!  Game design wise, I had a bit of "fun" making a PC that was very different  yet almost identical - pathfinder is strange like that (see ... wow).

Doshma:  Inspired by an old starwars NPC, this was a level 7 mercenary soldier in a short Starfinder game - the "scifi" version of pathfinder.  I was not impressed with the system to be honest, but at least it was fun to game with my friends

Determined to play 5e "for real", I started looking online for a 5e game.  And I was successful!  During this time I also played in a short bastionland game (a charismatic bruiser) and a Drakenduer Glog game (an antling petty swordsman)

Hector di RundaTaurĂ«:  Level 3 half elf hexblade warlock.  A short lived 5e game where we played as incompetent/corrupt cops trying to do good and line our pockets.  He was the "face" of the party and pretty fun.  It can be a mistake to make a hexblade *only* combat focus, and I made sure he had a few "tricks" in his arsenal.  His story was that he was a bastard son in a noble family who had been sent to military school (for Eldritch Knights) but had limited aptitude for it ... until he med a Gith traveler who showed him other ways to reach power (hexblade).  Hector thought his problems were solved, instead he got kicked out of the academy.  Now he works as a city guard in a rough part of town, but Hector plans to use this as a base to rebound and once again reach the higher levels of society!
... well that was the plan.  Alas, scheduling problems killed the campaign.

I am not done updating - there still is Melenvagor, Soronto and ROBO to talk about!


  1. Now that's a resume right there.

    1. Thank you. I think it's perfectly fine to have a favourite edition, and play mostly that. But you must spend a portion of your time - 20% maybe? - trying other things. If only to make you appreciate your favourite more!

  2. It's funny, I started with 5e, and my first characters feel similar in approach to yours despite 1e/2e and 5e being so different. I played a half elf Bard named Stefan and an evil Halfling cleric named Ser Chutney, both of them from lvl 1 to about 12. I feel like I made them with very little in mind for who they were as characters. They just sounded fun to play in a superficial way. That ended up making me come up with that information as my group played, and made for some pretty memorable stories. Lots of fun with that kind of style. Anyway thanks for this post and I hope you end up getting to play a 5e game in person!

    1. I feel it's good to let your character grow organically at the table - Sometimes you think your character will be one way, and he changes into something else.

      Also, even though 5e and 2e are, as you say, *very* different, there is a sort of "spiritual" link between the two. This is especially apparent with the backgrounds and subclasses (a callback to kits?) and magical items. A healing potion doing 2d4+2 healing? That's very old school!

  3. Thanks for sharing these memories.

    Like the immediately previous respondent, I see that these characters might come from any fantasy system. But then again, D&D has established the baseline of fantasy, and D&D editions are really quite similar one to another, so if they all fit the same kind of fantasy, that makes sense. May you have many more!

    1. I'm grateful that I was in a group that did a lot of "modern/urban" fantasy, it helped expand my repertoire.