Thursday, 25 October 2012

Creationist - Age of Conan

I love a character creator.

We all do. It's such a compelling piece of PC culture that some games have a separate standalone launcher for theirs, and some even release them as the game's demo. How many glowing reviews were there of APB's technologically stunning character creator compared to the final game? However, more than just allowing you to have ownership over your story's lead character, it also opens up a world of possibilities for undermining the game's narrative and theme.

I'm a big fan of creating characters that in no way fit their class's archetype.

Making a soldier? Make them as tiny and thin as they can be with a kindly face.

Making an assassin? What about a big fat character with obvious and identifiable facial scarring?

In The Old Republic my rampant and evil (and secretly gay and self-loathing) Sith juggernaut was a massive fatty called Beefchest. Along with Ben's equally fat and unpleasant womanising Imperial Agent, Harold, we ruled the galaxy, and the dinner table, with a chubby, iron fist.

Conan though, is a teenage boy's world, and as such all characters fall into classic fantasy tropes: busty harlots who flirt with anything; giant, shiny, oiled meatheads and evil fat people. How can I subvert this most effectively?

I have chosen to roll a barbarian, since it's the only ranger archetype available for non-subscribers. In order to avoid just rolling Conan himself (the barbarian, not O'Brien) I pick a female, and pull the body slider all the way over to the fattest point. I know this game is going to be full of objectified, nubile sluts with hearts-of-gold so I want my character to be as unpleasant looking as can be. In Dragon Age I rolled a tiny, big-nosed, female dwarf and it gave me great pleasure to see Alistair flirt and fall in love with her (even if he did describe her non-existent hair as beautiful. Come on Alistair at least try to make your chat up lines apply!). No game maker would ever make a lead character so unattractive, which is sad really, so I feel it's my duty to redress the balance. Even the female characters that people applaud as good role models like Jade from Beyond Good and Evil are as super sexy as they are super competent. (I am the best feminist ever, much better than the female ones).

Conan is on to me though. It turns out 'fat' means 'porn star with slightly large thighs', 'muscular' means 'porn star with abs drawn on' and 'slim' means 'porn star'. So I make her as muscly and tall as possible, give her tattoos on her tits and a fashionable haircut and this is what we end up with. Sigh.

I look like the lead in 'Simmerin' Cimmerians IV: Barely Medieval' :/

She'll be covered in drab, repetitive armour soon enough I suppose.

Next up - names. I HEARTILY enjoy a non-canon name. I start off with the world-melding 'Charlottebronte'.
This not a valid name.
Not a valid name.
Not a valid name.
Not a valid name.

I'm starting to sound like Scroobius Pip. This game really doesn't want me to do anything which might undermine the IP. "Rules help *control* the fun!". In the end I take a punt on Haroldswife as a callback to Ben's ill-fated imp agent, who's name was tragically lost in a server merge, and it accepts it. Hmmph. I guess a name which denotes women as the property of men is misogynist enough for Hyboria.

Right then! Let's see what I can do with these skimpy undies and this broken oar...

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