Believe it or not, I do not spend every waking moment thinking about pokémon. I have some other hobbies as well. One of the includes being a Dungeon Master in three games. Though of course one is a pokémon, another one is a classical high fantasy D&D 5th game. The type where you face dragons and crazed goblins side by side with your friends using twenty sided dice to overcome any challenge along the way. Over my years of playing and mostly hosting campaigns I have noticed something however, no matter what campaign you play, who you play with or even how long you play… each campaign has “that guy’. Several of them even.
My fellow OWLS came up with the topic of Fantasy to be the theme of October.
“The genre of fantasy focuses on telling stories about our external and internal environments. There are many ways we can interpret the word, fantasy. For example, we can talk about how a fantastical place could glorify what reality should be or the dangers of ideal expectations. Fantasy could also be seen as taking a “wild journey” or a “hallucination” and how that can affect our psyche and well-being. Fantasy can also focus on our personal dreams and expectations and how those expectations do not align with our reality. “
My post will focus on a combination of these aspects through the beautiful medium of Dungeons and Dragons or other tabletop RPGs , answering how and why we play it. How we deal with fantasy and D&D can be divided into ‘Classes’ a trope that is very connected to pen and paper, or even any , role playing games. We can not colour outside the lines to much because in these games we SHARE our fantasies. So not only do we have to live up to our own expectations, we also have make sure the others see that same character we want to be. When we push our fantasy outside of the limits, people will think we are bad at this whole fantasy theme.. so as a result we have developed certain arch-types which always work for enjoyment. As a DM however I also see how these ‘Classes” can create ‘Broken Parties’.
The anime ‘Konosuba’ portrays this wonderfully well and the main heroes of the story really resemble the types of players one can get in a D&D. So let’s examine this .
The first archetype I wish to discuss is the noble hero. The knight in shining armor. Players who follow the path of the hero usually choose character classes in D&D like Paladin, Fighter or Ranger. That being said, your class doesn’t always have to be one of the three but people are naturally inclined to gravitate towards these roles. Oftenly they prefer to play fairly standard races, like Humans or Elves but basically any race is a possibility to them because everybody can have a good heart. Oftenly they come from noble backgrounds but got fed up with the injustice in the world. Sons or daughters of people who matter or mattered. They follow the path of Bruce Wayne or oppose their “tyrannical noble father and have been outcast. The characters are often very religious with strong moral fiber. They have denounced love or have created a loved one NPC that drives them to do what they do. Characters developed by the ‘Hero’ will oftenly abstain from drinking alcohol and will relatively have few vices. Yet most of their story arcs revolve around redemption.
Players in this “class’ will be recognisable by always taking the ‘good’ option. A friend got kidnapped and they demand ransom? They will at least show up with whatever the bad guy wants in return as well as set up a trap for them.. so that evil will not prevail that day. They will try try remove the corrupt from their seat of power and try to turn whatever fantasy world they are into a utopia. Their characters are often played as naive OR overly cautious and aware of everything. This is the archetype that is most appealing to new players. They follow the DM’s story very neatly and their own goals are made to align with that of the campaign. They are by far the easiest players to deal with, but the easiest to disappoint when the DM throws a spanner into their plans. They do enjoy their comedic moments from the more chaotic party members and make sure they can aid them at all times. The hero does like the serious moments a lot better though.
Lalatina Dustiness Ford, better known as Darkness, from Konosuba highlights what creates chaos with these types of players. Your average hero is extremely self sacrificial, putting themselves in harms way to save the rest of the party. They have little to no self preservation and would give their lives to save a party member from a low level imp creature , if it was bluffing it had an instant death curse. They are tension breakers, who like Darkness have some masochistic tendencies. If someone loses their character first, it should be them, if someone has to be punished for the rogue stealing things.. it should be them. Darkness loves being punished and it arouses her. While I am not implying this goes for every hero player they do share a lot of similarities.
They oftenly reject quest rewards because taking payment for saving people is wrong. During campaigns it means these people can easily get undergeared while still throwing themselves first into danger. They have tend low self-esteem in real life and value them and their character less over the enjoyment of others. However since they are often very armoured they can be incredibly difficult to hit. Creating stalemates where they are to undergeared to hit anything properly, but are too to take damage. Exactly like Darkness! She can’t hit a thing, but can survive critical hits from bosses like it’s nothing. While players do not flaunt their masochism as much as Darkness does it will always be them who pays toll for their fellows who are either short on cash or unwilling to pay. When someone has to drink a poison to move through a trial it will always be them, and if someone has to take a cursed ring that can eat on one’s sanity it will ALWAYS be them. At times their noble and even corrective behaviour can really put other player out of play. However these people are often the heart of the party, and can bring balance between the more serious and the more wacky players. They enjoy this experience with their friends and alongside the DM they will try to make sure others have a good time as well.
The High Roller
The second type is the High Roller, this type of player doesn’t really care about being noble nor does he aspire to be evil. In fact this one doesn’t even care about the story all that much. The High Roller just wants to outdamage everyone. They want to roll as much dice as possible and maximise their damage output. If someone deals more damage as them, they’ll have a bad session. The High Roller mostly sticks to classes who deal magic damage. Wizard and Sorcerer are very popular with them but they may also dabble with Rogues and are the first person who will ask the DM if they can use third party classes. They play races which benefit their chosen class. So if they play a Wizard, they will choose a race that has an intelligence bonus. Characters they play have less of a fleshed out background , because their story is not that relevant to the numbers they roll. More often than not they play edgy loner characters. The ones who do not make friends easily, who sit alone in a dark corner in the tavern where everyone starts their adventure. For a DM these are the hardest type of characters to get involved into the main story. Be prepared for some creative storytelling. High Roller players have optimal stats for damage , as a result their characters are not very versatile. They can’t use a sword because “strength” is a dump stat, they can’t talk their way out of things .. because Charisma is a dump stat. Characters of the High Roller almost disappear when they have some time off from slaying goblins and oftenly just pick up a book and read until it is time to kill again.
The High Roller player are very driven by the printed game rulings, they do not take kindly to homebrew rules and other interpretations and are the ones who will argue with the DM the most. High Rollers know which spell they will take for many levels ahead. From the moment of creation their character is already fully build out. They know what spells to take, what feats to select and they know what sort of enemies not to hit. They want to be the one that kills the boss of each session, they want to be praised for that 72 damage they did when the ranger only did 20. It’s the big hits that count. Even if the rogue hit the enemy 5x with 15 damage .. that single 72 roll is still better. The high roller doesn’t like to spare enemies as it means they miss out on the kill. These are people who love to track how much relevant kills each player has made and more often than not they will be on the top of that list. While most High Rollers do not care as much for a place in the spotlight there are those who do. Because they do so much damage a lot of those tend to get “protagonist” syndrome where they inflate their own importance compared to the rest of the group, oftenly resulting in the character and sometimes the player being less liked. In puzzles they also want to be the one who finally solves it, even if their friends actually solved the riddle, they will take credit for opening the door.
Megumin is the character in Konosuba who fulfills this role. She is an archwizard who has learned the most powerful spell EXPLOSION. Due to it being a spell that is over her limit however she can only cast it once before falling to the ground completely useless. However she is so in love with casting this damage spell she will oftenly put herself in harm’s way to be able to do so. This is a classical high roller player problem. They do not always play that nicely as a team. The High Roller has to do the biggest number each session so sometimes even though he is frail he has to put himself in harm’s way just so he can roll those dice. This can create chaotic situations where everyone has to save the glass cannon all of the sudden, forcing them to turn their backs on enemies and they can find themselves up a creek without a paddle. Plot Twists that the final boss, was not actually the final boss can be extremely dangerous for your party if the High Roller is baited into using all his good spells early. Megumin embodies this so well, even the fact that she almost “steals” screen time. Her odd ‘non immersive’ name is another indicator where she doesnt care if she even fits in the world. It’s all about that damage.
Players who follow this path oftenly feel unrecognised and invisible in the real world, a trope that oftenly is liked by the ‘number’ guys of gal of the group. The “smart” ones as it were. People who like this role tend to flaunt their intelligence in real life a bit, oftenly choosing more serious table conversations than the other three categories. Not exactly the life of the party but these people are very grateful towards the DM because they are granted something by them that they lack. Their loyalty to the game is oftenly unsurpassed and with some health cheating from a DM (and we all do that) they are among the easiest of crowds to please, which will give them actually great joy. In most groups the High Roller feels like the odd one out, yet we all need them to keep the game into motion because….
D&D is a game where characters can and in case of long campaigns, most likely WILL die. However there is one type of player who above anything else is very afraid to lose their imaginative character. I call these people the survivors. They tend to play versatile classes, which have access to self heals, ranged attacks and even some melee possibilities .. just in case they ever got forced into such a situation. They like to play healers as well as those tend to be targeted less (unlike in my campaigns where enemies ACTUALLY have eyes and will take countermeasures) . They tend to play some of the more relatable races like humans and elves again. Oftenly very beautiful and sweet. They aren’t adverse to picking another good looking race though, if it gives them better stats. The survivor tends to choose a background story that makes their character beloved and popular or at the very least desired by their beauty. They are oftenly the rightful noble ruler of a land who had to flee or got taken off the throne by some mysterious force. These characters fall in line the fairytale tropes a lot. Even when played by non-females they prefer choose to make a female character. I have seen male survivor characters but they occur significantly less. These characters tend to be very fleshed out, with players even being able to describe what scent their character have or how they move their eyes, in an instant . They tend to be obsessed with even the smallest details of their looks and will describe every single outfit within fine detail. Characters like these blossom in downtime/ free time , making themselves very popular in towns and being kind to most npc’s, as long as they are not evil.
The Survivor themselves however is not nearly as strong or confident as they make their character. Ruled by a constant fear of losing their character they would wish their character was a god. In terms of building their character they are the exact opposite of the High Roller. When A survivor gets in trouble because of poison, the player will tend to choose a spell or gain new equipment to counter that in the future. They “patch’ out their weaknesses as it were but tend to lose oversight of the bigger picture trough their fears . When I as a DM send you through a poisonous bog, it will most likely mean you will not encounter a similar challenge for a good while after. However the survivor is paranoid by nature, they saw they were weak to this.. they know I saw, what if I use it to finish them off now better patch it out. The Survivor tends to demonise the DM , sees them as a heinous monster just out to kill them in the most brutal way possible.A survivor oftenly refers to their character as themselves . They also tend to suffer from protagonist-syndrome even more so than the High Roller. They are unmissable to the story in their eyes and will make an effort and play to actually be that.. They will carry the macguffin, as long as it does not harm their character. They will offer to be be the leader of the group, as long as that doesn’t put them into additional danger. They will do anything to inflate their character’s importance as that equals survivability in their eyes. To kill the character would be to kill the story. They keep looking backward instead of forward, taking abilities to overcome trials like the one they just overcame and banking on importance of NPCs they befriended when they already moved past.
Aqua, the former goddess from Konosuba is a bit of a spoof of the classical survivor trope. While we do not see her take useless skills in the form of “after event skills” she spends all her skill points in their magical world on party tricks. Which she uses to make herself more popular and beloved. Claiming to be an actual goddess (which in her case is true) and very much disliking the current god Erris (Which is basically is sort of the DM of that world) she even goes as far as to blackmail that god into bringing back a dead character for her own sake. Her over reliance on ‘useless’ skills can make her extremely situational and sometimes even completely offside her, which we see happen when she tries to punch some toads. During her dealings with the poisoned lake we also see the typical panic that goes through a Survivor type player. She is portrayed whining a lot, and crying , overvaluing herself and her items.
When rolling a dice you average about half of it rounding up, effectively. This means if you can roll a d6 for damage you average 4..This is not the case in the eyes of a survivor. They will always assume the worst. A survivor will ‘never’ risk their character even if there is only a 1% chance of death. I once saw a Survivor player flee a dungeon, leaving the party behind causing one player death because there was a 0.16% chance that she would be finished off before she could end the fight. In the eyes of a survivor they will always get the worst outcome possible and they will act accordingly. This can drag on encounters a lot longer than they need to be and the survivor will always take the longest to finish their turns. Players who follow the path of the survivor are oftenly uncertain in real life and their fear can cripple themselves as well as your game. However this type tends to heal and find more confidence in themselves trough games over time. The survivor is the easiest to spot as he or she will be the player who will have the other players reaching for their phones. They can not plan ahead because they need all information before they can decide on any play. Survivors are among the greatest of roleplayers though, they make sure you care about their character and really make it a part of this world. They are the easiest of characters for everyone party member to hang out with and where the hero united players out of character, the survivor does so in character.
The Hero can break your tension arcs or force you into using overpowered monsters, the High Roller can risk party-strategies and is not very well equipped for sudden twists and the survivor can make your game very panicky and long winded. The ‘worst’ one however and the true “that guy” of them all is the disruptor. They will always be there in any fantasy game and their goal is to break your story. Where the other 3 classes try to follow the game’s story the disruptor actively tries to make your adventures NOT about what the DM planned. Rogues and Bards are by far their preferred classes, but they also Barbarian. Disruptors rarely play humans, they like to play races like Orcs, Goblins and alcoholic Dwarfs. Their backstories are loaded with vices, be it ale, women or recreational herbs, gambling or a knew crazy thing they invent themselves. Regardless if their character is a rogue or not .. they always have skill points invested in Sleight of Hand (which is pickpocketing) and the law means about as much to their character as the DM’s will to the players. They are extremely quirky and quite cartoonesk. I DMed for a goblin named Scruffy ones, who lost all sense of reality after he fell in some sort of hallucinogenic potion as a result he had a pet he named Ugly Batstard.. a bat that didn’t exist. Within the first two minutes of the campaign he walked over to a table with the bulkiest dude and said “Hey Ugly Batstard” get your fat ass off, Chaos was born. In another campaign there is a guy who plays a chicken, he robbed a store quite early in the game.
The disruptor type player is the one who enjoys the game the most though, come high or come low rolls, the disruptor is the player who is always entertained. The disruptor lives for the RP using it to act out like they can not in real life. They don’t play to win, they play to break some rules and have fun doing it. If you as a DM describe “a tavern and a man sitting , he is reading a treasure map of sorts scratching his stubbles with a dagger while he has a cloak that seems to fancy for him,” the disruptor will ask ‘who else is there?. If you say ‘some random goblin by the name of Skurft the disruptor will go talk to Skurft. If you say no one, they will walk outside to talk to random people there. They do not want to play by the rules and they WILL find way to skip encounters or even complete dungeons. They will cost the DM hours of work by simply, not going to the route you had planned before them and someday they will succeed. Each DM learns about the ‘Illusion’ of choice trough disruptor type players. Sometimes you only have to make players think they are making a game changing choice. While the rest of the archetypes described play against the game, the disruptor plays against the DM, they want to stump their creativity want to dumbstruck them. A DM drawing a blank is their victory.
Kazuma is 100% a disruptor, so much even that the guy who played that Goblin (and the chicken too) made him his avatar for about a year. From the moment we get introduced to the man he is a clear and plain disruptor. Sometimes by his own design, like when he choose Aqua to be his weapon in this new world and drags her away from her god status, too random moments where his high luck stat causes things to move in a very unexpected path. ‘I’ll cripple the enemy by stealing their weapon!’ He ends up crippling them by stealing their panties instead. ‘A magical powerful weapon comes onto your path?’ Sell if for money so I can booze a lot. Kazuma feels very detrimental to the story progression of Konosuba, where they plan to stop the Evil Demon king, but Kazuma’s action basically constantly creating ‘side arcs’ and side quest that have to be resolved first. Because of their massive impact and alterations on the story disruptors often end up becoming a sort of main character of the campaigns they are in. Kazuma again fills this role quite well. They are always deeply flawed characters and I do not think that I need to convince anyone who saw the anime that this boy is a flawed character.
Disruptors unlike most of the other archetypes are relatively more socially outgoing, they like to mess with their friends , they aren’t that insecure about themselves and they are the most socially capable of all the Player Archetypes, in general. They aren’t necessarily socially strong either though. Disruptors tend to be people who tend to be “bored” in reality , who feel suffocated by having to be normal and that usually does mean they can’t really let themselves go in a bar either. They tend to be a bit more random in real life though too , perhaps being a bit shunned because how strange they can be. The real disruptors can not 100% hide that they are a bit goofy. As a player I myself am a disruptor, you notice I am socially “odd” in real life but when I rp I can let that side out and be myself. I played an heavily Autistic Draenei clumsy in World of Warcraft and I played a pink wearing , singing cheery Sith who claims Friendship is Magic in Star Wars the Old Republic. I like to break the mold. While by their very nature they cause chaos the Disruptor also makes your game so much more vibrant and alive. They make all other classes better at their roles and stronger roleplayers, because they always have to expect the unexpected and they can boost your creativity. They pay close attention to every word the DM says (to use it against them) and really can bring a game-table alive.
Order and Chaos
So even in the limitless world of fantasy we are somewhat bound, by who we are, no matter who we play or where we pretend to be, there is always that part of who we are that we can not truly shake. No matter if I am an kawaii evil space wizard or a dojikko demon girl , I am a disruptor. No matter where my best friend her boyfriend plays his campaigns he will always be a hero. There is a thoughtprocess we can not shake even if we shed ourselves of our limits. There order even in imaginatio and fantasy. No matter who you pretend to be, deep down you do it because of who you are. You can never truly betray yourself and this is why tabletop roleplay will always feel so therapeutic.
While I do think your typical hero does have little self esteem, trough rp he can see that he in fact IS needed. We can rationalise it and say.. he is just needed in this fictional game.. but for the survivor this is much more than a game, it’s an escape they truly need. So a hero can ACTUALLY be a hero in reality, even if it is acted out trough fantasy. A disruptor can shed their shackles , even if it is just for a three hour gaming session. The high roller can proof their intelligence can gets them far, because the numbers he crunches in real life might seem insignificant in the big pile of real life, in the small contained world of D&D his numbers visibly matter. In real life he might , if lucky , get a compliment from his boss.. once.. and that’s it, in fantasy he can use that same skill to see numbers explode. He can be himself in a rewarding way. The survivor can get validation, a sense of winning by surviving a game and see their character grow up to be a noble king or queen, their good intentions recognised by npc’s. While arguably an npc is ‘not real’ they still react to the words of the players, they offer them feedback and when Dm’ed correctly they have their own feelings and emotions. The social interaction thusly in a way.. being still real.
We can learn, grow and truly discover who we are through the power of fantasy. Not in the chaos we create by doing our thing but in looking at the order that is left when we take the chaos of both the fantasy world and our own world away. We aren’t defined by our flaws or our quirks, we have those flaws and quirks because of who we are. To deny them is to deny a piece of yourself. So through fantasy and D&D we can find who we are, not though what we create but trough what we bring to each world no matter the world. While our goals may never really align with one another, even if they seem to directly contradict there is a symbiosis between the four archetypes as well. We all have our roles to play, even our flaws allow our party to shine. No matter who are what you are, you will always contribute to the fantasy of D&D , be it to yourself or to the party! You can discover who you are in your very core and be that person you want to be! That way in fantasy and outside it you can build a stronger character.
Question to my Readers:
Which Player-Class would you be in?
Let me know what class you would be in in the comments. If you still want more OWLS check out Matt in the Hat’s post about Kingdom Hearts right here! His profile picture doesn’t show him wearing a hat though? So is he actually in a hat?! That must be a big hat then!
Tomorrow it’s time for Flow. The subject will be some fantasy Light Novels and some angry melodic music called death metal. While that music is not pink enough for me I will take a careful peak, or even better you guys take a peak for me and tell me how angry the music was! I’m scared! Then come back and tell me if the music is too angry for me! Flow’s blog is here! Be sure to check the Youtube channel as well.
Let’s do that! I am counting on you my little monsters!
The pinkest Poké Blogger is Blasting off again!