Kathy's All-Purpose Blog

I guess some people have different blogs for different subjects, but this is it for me, baby. One blog to bring them all, or something.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Let Me Tell You About My Character: Poppy

When I first began to play in the RPGA, there were several different campaigns to choose from, and I wanted to try all of them. One of the more imaginative was Living Arcanis, based on a setting created by Paradigm Concepts. Like Kingdoms of Kalamar, which I wrote about previously, the setting of Arcanis is based in history--in this case, in the declining Roman empire. Politics and intrigue are everywhere in Arcanis. Secret societies abound, and players who sit down at the table with you may be given a "secret mission" to fulfill that may or may not place them in direct opposition to the rest of you.

It's a setting that calls for complex characters (not to mention players mature enough not to take all the double-dealing personally), so I spent some time creating my character for this setting. I decided it would be interesting to create a household spy, somebody who had been trained by one wealthy and powerful family to spy on another. She would be skilled sneaking and spying, of course, but she would also have been trained to be an excellent servant. Then, for whatever reason, that job fell through and she had to take up adventuring for a living.

I decided to make this character a Rogue, and set about building a skill set I thought was appropriate. I thought about an appropriately servant-y sounding name for her, and hit upon the idea of naming her for a flower. I did not (yet) have access to the complete campaign setting, so I didn't know what the naming conventions might be like, but women named for flowers is usually a safe bet. Plus, it sounded so countrified and fresh-off-the-turnip-cart. For my own amusement, I decided to name her after the poppy, an innocuous-looking little flower that can knock you flat on your back if you aren't prepared. It seemed to fit.

Roleplaying Poppy is a fun challenge, because she always comports herself as the perfect servant. Everything is "yes, sir" and "no, Miss" and "just as you say, my lord." Even when she technically dosn't have to be "on," she tends to keep up the facade; she is very cautious. After all, you never know who might be listening.

I don't get to play Poppy very much, though, because the local RPGA group doesn't run Living Arcanis modules very often. It's too bad, because it's an interesting settting and I really like my character. It's hard to say, though, whether she's one of my more successful characters, because I find that her effectiveness kind of depends on being at a table with other players (and a judge) who get her, who understand what kind of character she is. Some players hear "Rogue" and think "aha! somebody who can tumble and backstab and disable traps," and that's really not what Poppy's about. I've had some depressing conversations about it.

Gamer: You don't have ranks in Tumble?

Me: No, see, the whole point of this character is she avoids conflict.

Gamer: But you're a Rogue; you should have ranks in Tumble.

Me: But that's not who this character is. She's a spy.

Gamer: But you could Tumble.

Me: *sigh*

On the other hand, I've had players call Poppy the "best character ever!" Admittedly, that was right after she was able to pull the group out of a particularly nasty situation by looking innocuous, but still it made me smile. I'd like to play Poppy some more, if only I had the time.


  • At March 8, 2005 at 10:51 AM, Blogger Beverly Marshall Saling said…

    Poppy sounds like a lot of fun, to play or even just to watch. I can quite imagine her in a number of periods and settings, particularly Regency England or McCarthy-era Hollywood.

    So few people ever "get" high-concept rogues. First one I ever drew up had been raised in a theater troupe: big on Balance, Tumble, Disguise, Bluff, etc. but not so much with the pickpocketing or dealing with locks or traps. So what did the party keep asking for?


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