Anyone who’s played a tabletop RPG for any amount of time is going to have a favorite character. Today we ask our three guests about theirs.
DovahQueen: Bend the Knee
Since 2015, the DovahQueen has been taking your questions and giving advice to improve your games. Now the tables are turned in this DovahQueen series; Loren is asking the questions and a panel of three guests—an RPG-industry veteran, a Know Direction network staff member, and a fan—answers. It’s time to Bend the Knee!
First, let’s meet our guests.
RPG Industry Veteran: Robert Brookes
I’m Robert Brookes, contributor to the Pathfinder RPG and creator of the Aethera Campaign Setting, ditch-digger, word-writer, and other sundries. I’ve also directed an independent film, worked in video games, and probably other stuff I’ve long since forgotten.
Know Direction Network Staff Member: Cathy Dolan (Online alias: Imladra)
I’ve been playing tabletop rpgs for…I’m not sure, really. 15 years? Maybe? I started with D&D, but these days, it’s Pathfinder. Currently, I’m playing Karrock Sena on Adventurous here on Know Direction. You might also have heard me on GeekTogether! Outside of roleplaying, I’m a book-reading, horror-movie-loving geek who was an early childhood educator for 13 years before making the move to my current job at a public library.
Fan: Will Attar (Auntben)
I’m the post-production manager at Laughing Dragon Studios and I’ve been playing Pathfinder since….
probably 2013. I started with organized play and had a short-lived Runelords campaign going. I now mainly GM and am running Hell’s Rebels and Against the Aeon Throne. When I’m not running games, I’m usually playing video games, wood working, video editing as a freelancer, or dealing with the woes of being a homeowner.
“The stale air of this ancient, dying forest tastes acrid, but you haven’t the time to worry about such unpleasantries. Your party’s boots push dark indents in the soggy soil while you plod your way to the lich’s castle. Xandarion may think he’s got the upper hand, but you know something he doesn’t. The hostage in his dungeon? A plant. It was all part of the plan to allow the old fool to put *this* person behind bars. As you and your comrades near the dilapidated fort, it’s not the life of your agent on the inside that you’re worried about. It’s your own.”
Xandarion’s hostage is your favorite PC or NPC character that you wrote. Who is it and why are they your favorite?
Robert: As someone who GMs a lot I have too many favorite NPCs to really count. Picking through them is like a parent picking a favorite child, it just isn’t possible. But I don’t often get a chance to play a PC, so the handful of times in the last ten years or so that I have really stick out to me. One in particular was a character I played at my first Paizocon back in… 2011 or 2012? I leapt into the first (and one of the only) times I’ve played Society games and whipped up a tengu summoner with the story summoner archetype named Kutayak Shikrya (Koo-tie-ak She-kree-uh) whose eidolon (back before we had Unchained Summoners!) was a quadrupedal feathered stag with the head of a crow named Shukantayak (Shoe-con-tie-ak) that I played off as a kind of psychopomp.
Kutayak was an excitable, loud character. So loud that I nearly lost my voice the day after playing him the first time while I was shouting over the raucous noise of the Paizocon PFS ballroom. Kutayak is second-generation immigrant from Tian-Xia living in Varisia and a worshipper of Pharasma. I decided the minute I opened my mouth that he’d have a shrill eastern-European accent and was constantly raving about the cards — his harrow cards that he consulted for every in-game choice — while I gestured wildly around the table. I played Kutayak in two PFS scenarios and one session of Emerald Spire a year later at my second Paizocon. Everyone loved his wild antics, and I used the deluxe harrow deck as a prop for his soothsaying. Kutayak was one of those characters that came together as I played him and was just over the top and exaggerated and a little shifty. I think he’s basically become my go-to convention-play character for whatever it is I’m doing. He’s just too entertaining and brings a sense of mystery and amusement to the table.
I just need to, you know, go easier on my vocal cords next time.
Cathy: It’s difficult to pick one pc when I love them all, but in the end I have chosen my most damaged pc to share with you all. Opal Quinn survived the unsurvivable as a young child by the grace of Pharasma, and was deeply scarred emotionally for the rest of her life. She was a Bones Oracle/Harrower who was haunted, chosen by Pharasma herself, wielded incredible power over the undead……and was deep in denial over it all. Items moved around by spirits she had simply ‘misplaced’, noises from spirits were ‘unheard’ and when, panic-stricken, she demanded that undead turn around and leave her alone, it was ‘coincidence’ when they did. Mostly emotionless and deadpan, Opal’s only real display of feelings was when forcibly confronted with undead and/or cannibalism. (Don’t ask…..or do! A story for another day?)
I often play characters with connections to a god, but Opal is my only character who refused to acknowledge it. It was great fun playing a character who stubbornly clung to the idea that she was just a circus fortune-teller with some clever tricks, and not an incredibly powerful woman saved and blessed by a goddess of death. It was also a challenge to portray someone fairly emotionless who tried to keep up a façade of saying and doing the expected things in order to make others feel more comfortable around her, while still being clearly ‘off’ as a result of her childhood trauma. And, of course, as a lover of horror, Opal was a way to incorporate that love in a slightly different way than I had in the past.
Will: Who is the hostage eh? Since I mainly GM, I don’t have a ton of characters that I’ve played. I have a ton in the tank ready to go though. I love all my characters but Ol’ F’st, my half orc monk and my first ever character is probably my favourite. He’s big, quiet, pensive, and deflects arrows out of the air wonder woman style. If he were to get captured, he’d be in there biding his time and then smash out of those chains and get to work. No one would have to worry about him for too long. Out of everyone I’ve played, he was the easiest to fall into and the most fun the play.
In terms of an NPC I’ve made, my favourites are based on player reaction and attachment. Right now, my top guy would be the Tour Guide of Dunrok Prison in Vyre: the orphan Half Orc Kenneth Parcell. He’s completely based on Kenneth Parcell from 30 Rock and seems totally delightful but will occasionally off handedly say something straight out of nightmares like it’s no big deal. If this guy were being held hostage, he’d enjoy every second of it. He may also get Stockholm syndrome within the first 5 minutes. You never know with Kenneth!
Each Bend the Knee features three guest writers. One is from the RPG industry. Another is from the Know Direction network. The third guest could be you! Leave a comment on Know Direction’s Facebook, Discord, or Twitter, or you can send an email to DearDovahQueen@gmail.com for your chance to be featured on the next Bend the Knee or Dear DovahQueen.