Why did I do this to myself?
How in the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth I am supposed to pick just 10 PCs from the hundreds, perhaps thousands I've seen in 42 years of gaming?
I have been exceptionally lucky to have played with what I can only assume are the greatest RPG players in the world. Seriously. The entire world. Possibly the galaxy. Maybe even the universe.
From hilariously funny to deathly serious, wild action heroes to sublime character actors, I have seen players who have made PCs that actually made me stand up and cheer or sit down and tear up (It was something in my eye. I'm not crying, You're Crying!).
I wish I could list my Top 100 favorites but I guess you and I will have to settle for 10.
As before in previous posts, these are in alphabetical order that has no bearing on how much I like the character. I love them all. I should note that this is focused on the PCs and not the players themselves. Nearly all the characters played by my ex-wife, our dear friend, the late Allen Halden, and my pal Jeff are freaking awesome.
Not that it really needs to be said but the Gamemaster in most of these cases was yours truly. Only the Savage Worlds Western game, run by my friend Dan R., stands as the exception.
Here goes nothing...
#10 - Belarus Hosta
(Traveller - Classic/MegaTraveller House Ruled Variant, Played by William L.)
It pains me to say that Will and I are no longer speaking. Frustrations over each others play styles eventually lead to us parting ways. A shame. As a person, I like Will very much and as a gamer he is capable of amazing things, such as his character, Belarus Hosta.
A 38 year old single mother, former diplomat, and heir to a powerful business position with the Solomani genetic engineering megacorporation SuSAG, Hosta was the driving force of the early part of our Traveller campaign, 'Operation: PALADIN'. As time went on she went from driving force to the glue that held it all together and the one element that could tear it all apart.
What a deep, rich, layered character. Also, the best portrayal of a female protagonist by a male player I have ever seen in all my days.
See these entries for the merest glimpse of how good this character was. Honestly these posts don't even scratch the surface. It was amazing stuff. The campaign lasted three years of real time and the character evolved, changed, and yet stayed true to its origins.
#9 - Buddy Thatcher
(Savage World - Modified w/ House Rules, Played by Alex B.)
My own character in our Western game set in Dunton, Colorado, 'Professor' Milford Thatcher, ranks as one of my favorites largely due to my pal Alex's PC, Milford slow, sweet, well-meaning to a fault nephew, Bartholomew 'Buddy' Thatcher. We only learned Buddy's 'Christian Name' recently, as indeed Uncle Milford and Buddy himself thought Buddy was his given name.
Strong as an ox and nearly as smart, Buddy is one half of the duo of 'THATCHER & Thatcher' ("I'm the lower case Thatcher", Buddy is quick to point out), who are out to mine silver using Uncle Milford's 'Thatcher Process' ("Scientifically speaking", notes Buddy, not completely sure what that means and totally clueless as to how the process actually works).
I love Buddy. Love him! He is a breath of fresh, the perfect sounding board, and often a much needed laugh in tough times. At the same time, he is a more nuanced character than is immediately apparent, as his innocent and naive romance with a Native American girl and his belief that all of Humanity share the same faith, views, and emotions deep down completely elevates the material.
Kudos to you Alex. Kudos. Beautiful.
#8 - Ceren-Dee WindDrake
(Dungeons & Dragons - Advanced 1st Edition w/ House Rules, 3rd and 3.5 with House Rules, played by Selina W.)
No list of great RPG characters would be complete without my dear friend and ex-wife's incredible character, High Elven Warrior/Wizard Ceren-Dee WindDrake. The character enabled me to share my favorite hobby with someone special to me and reignited my enjoyment of D&D for a brief time. It also got me to resurrect one of my best settings, the World of Aerth and the Order of the Winghorn Guard.
What can I say about Ceren-Dee. Empathic, determined, and three dimensional to a fault. There were sessions which made Selina cry and others where she laughed so hard she could barely breathe. I have never enjoyed Dungeons & Dragons so much and it's not been easy recapturing that level of awesome.
I could spend time writing a dozen posts detailing this PC, her trials, tribulations, and triumphs and probably only scratch the surface of all she did and all she is.
Like all good Aerth characters, she remains a part of the world's lore and can be encountered in sessions set there to this day.
It's also Selina's birthday today so, Happy Birthday Selina!
#7 - Ipperius Witspear
(Dungeons & Dragons - Advanced 1st Edition w/ House Rules, played by Pete H.)
The late, great Pedro 'Pete' Hernandez was a natural born character actor. He could instantly create a character, oddly accented voice and all, and make said character come to life in no time flat. Unlike a lot of my other wonderful player who created characters with developed stories based on research or knowledge, Pete was a build-as-you-go type. His PCs came about their origins through playing them. He detailed them in the moment and then built on what he'd made as he went forward.
This is especially true with the swashbuckling, often wildly eccentric Ipperius Witspear, an Elf of initially indeterminate origin who went through numerous riveting, harrowing, and yet often hilarious adventures before being retired as we moved on to our next game project.
Of course, no longer being regularly played is not the same as dead. Ipperius Witspear, 'Ip' to his friends, popped back up in other Aerth campaigns from time to time, eventually becoming a major NPC when I brought the Winghorn Guard back after a long hiatus (see Ceren-Dee WindDrake above).
I love Ip because there is so much more to him than meets the eye at a passing glance. He comes off as a typical devil-may-care, somewhat foppish scoundrel. In truth his personality is more robust, his tactics more subtle, and his story much richer than the usual roguish hero. Also, he is just so fun to play as an NPC.
There have been a few references to Witspear on the blog, though not nearly enough.
#6 - Jeard’en Kaine
(Star Wars, The Role Playing Game - 2nd Edition (WEG D6), played by Keith C.)
Like so many of my favorite characters, this one was played by a true character actor player, the amazing Keith Conroy. A multi-talented fellow with a portfolio of both great artwork and excellent RPG Player Characters, Keith has the ability to make the mundane seem amazing and the amazing just another day at the office. Case in point, Star Wars Smuggler Jeard'en Kaine.
Jeard'en Kaine can best be described as a Blue Collar Han Solo or the Working Man's Buck Rogers. He isn't the coolest guy, the best looking guy, or the greatest pilot in the galaxy. He is cool, he cleans up pretty well, and he is A great pilot, don't get me wrong. What makes him special is...well...his normalcy. He's you or me in the Star Wars universe. Just another Joe Blaster trying to make a living and stay out of trouble.
Unfortunately for Jeard'en he has too big a heart and trouble has a way of finding him. His generally calm and level-headed demeanor was as real as seeing him freak-out or even faint when things just weren't within parameters he could wrap his brain around. The addition of Jeard'en Kaine to a game is adding 100% pure, grounded humanity.
You can read a bit more about Jeard'en Kaine in this post here.
#5 - MAN-2
(Star Wars, The Role Playing Game - 2nd Edition (WEG D6), played by Martin K.)
It saddens me to note how many of these characters are tied to friends who have passed on. What memories remain are sweet but also serve to remind me they're no longer with us.
MAN-2, or more properly IM-MA-N2, started as a quirky R2-like repair droid but grew in capacity, depth, and scope throughout the course of the campaign. The character was comic relief early on in the 'series' and it worked thanks to Martin King's incredible skills as an improv actor and comic. However, as with many others on this list, MAN-2 became more than the sum of his parts if you'll pardon the pun.
Great visual design work went into him as well, with players Martin King and Nelson Marty sketching out a number of concepts for MAN-2's ever evolving appearance throughout the course of the campaign.
MAN-2 has been mentioned here and here.
#4 - Night Knight
(Champions - 4th Edition, played by Dave C.)
Dave C. should not be confused with David C. Simple right? Riiight.
OK, Dave C. refers to my buddy Dave Cotton, whom I first met at my FLGS about 10 years ago or so. Wow. Have Dave and I really known each other 10 years? Anyway, he joined in a Mutants & Masterminds game I was running at the store and he's been a regular part of my groups ever since.
Dave has a lot of great characters, especially Superhero characters, but Night Knight is probably my favorite. His character Impact is a really close second but I only have 10 slots and have to spread the love.
Night Knight is the type of Superhero I am not generally into at first glance, falling into the vein of Daredevil, Batman, and other brooding, grim, street level crimefighters. At the same time, he does have powers, an origin he related directly to the world/setting mythology, and played him as reluctantly accepting the bigger role of being a member of the campaign's major Superhero group.
This evolution from street hero to world hero felt organic and necessary given the circumstances of the campaign and Dave did an amazing job of showing Night Knight's struggle with his position in the grand scheme of things.
Night Knight appears in this post about my New Age of Champions campaign.
#3 - Omni
(Champions - 4th Edition, played by David C.)
See now here is the other David C., David Concepcion, who has been profiled on this blog and whose characters have been mentioned at least as often as Dave Cotton's, if not more.
While I've know Dave C. about 10 years, I've known David C. since high school. He too has a lot of PCs who could have made this list [being another amazing Player Character Actor] but if one stands out above all the others it has to be the Psionic Alien Superhero OMNI!
I love Omni. He is just so - damn - good. I mean morally good. Just. Fair. Upstanding. Empathic. Kind. Determined. Dependable. He's what Superman is one paper at all times, but only actually is with a great writer. Omni out Superman's Superman in my opinion.
Omni has been addressed a number of times as it was due to this character and its player that I joined in on the original Age of Champions campaign that he was a part of. You can see those posts here, here, and most recently here.
#2 - Owen Blackfjord
(Ars Magica (?) - 3rd Edition, played by Allen Halden)
Boy oh boy this trip down PC memory lane is a rough one. Like Martin King, and Pete Hernandez, Allen Halden is no longer with us. Hmmm. Scratch that. He has departed this mortal coil but he is always, and will always be with us. Always.
Allen and I were close and like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, I miss him most of all.
Though I know it sounds selfish, I especially miss his contributions to our RPG campaigns. There are times when I come up with a game idea and think how perfect it will be, then scrap it because Allen is gone. How will my outlandish ideas work without Allen and his characters.
The Character Actor's Character Actor, Allen was almost the opposite of Pete H. in approach. Allen would do research, plan, and thoughtfully consider his characters before playing them. This was used to fantastic effect when he portrayed the token, weird alien in one of our Science Fiction games or an English Brownie in our Faery's Tale Deluxe outing.
One of his most memorable characters was the Medieval European Warrior-for-Hire, Owen Blackfjord. Of Northern English or Orkney origin I'd wager, with his odd English/Norwegian accent and name, Owen was a lower class, poorly educated, not-that-well-meaning sell sword living some time around the 12th century.
He was most famous for being swindled...um...lucking upon the handle of a sword, a handle with no blade, and being convinced...um...informed it was an enchanted weapon of great power. So proud was he to be the bearer of 'The Sword Unseen', and to have gotten a deal on it I might add, that he became adept at convincing others of it's majesty and prowess.
When he faced off with an opponent of note, he would draw The Sword Unseen and give his adversary pity and an ample chance to stand down. So sure was his resolve that many enemies did just that.
#1 - Sovok (Doctor Sovok actually)
Star Trek, The Role Playing Game - 1st Edition (FASA), played by Joe C.)
I was starting to get nervous that this list wouldn't include a Star Trek character.
Truth is I've seen so many wonderful PCs in our numerous Star Trek campaigns over the years that picking one...ugh. It's like trying pick a favorite child. I love them all! That said, one did stand out when I put my mind to the task and that one is one of the first two I've ever had.
My friend since 2nd grade, Joseph Cangelosi and I have played a lot of a lot of games together. Few as memorable as our very first Star Trek game, and though he had some great characters, I dare say none compare to Doctor Sovok.
Sovok was a half-Human, half-Vulcan doctor serving as Chief Medical Officer on the covert operations starship USS Alliance during The Original Series era. He was raised on Earth by his Human father as his mother was an instructor at the Vulcan Science Academy School of Medicine. It was hinted at, though never made clear, whether or not his parents were estranged.
Sovok was a character with just so much, well, character! He had habits and idiosyncrasies, likes and dislikes, beliefs and things he stood for. He was a wonderful paradox of Human emotion and Vulcan logic, arguing with his owns views nearly as often as those of the Captain or my Andorian Helmsman.
You can read about Sovok in this post here.
Ok, all done. Woohoo! Another post that took way too long to put together. I think I am done with these lists for now. I have other ideas and things I want to discuss.
Here's to another 10 years, Avis willing.
I actually finished this on the 28th of February but put the post up on March 1st as I fell asleep at the keyboard and forgot to hit publish. Heheh.