Every gaming character I have falls neatly into one of two types: the moody bruiser and the flippant, charismatic iconoclast.

Really, it’s just that simple.

To call the latter “The Roderick Line” is actually a misnomer, because it started with Whitten some nine years ago. These characters are largely sass & flirtation, rebels eschewing social norms and blowing kisses the whole way home. They tend to be deeply moral but utterly unethical in their behavior patterns.

Whitten (1997 – Present): Half-Elf bard, originally a fanatical follower of Charess (the Faerunian demigoddess of pleasure). He tends to back-talk and blow things up when he doesn’t understand them, despises propriety but values genuine innocence and good faith.

Roderick Surrett (1996 – 2000?): Hippie Malkavian living in Seattle, WA. He was a vampire for 30 years before he made it to his first local conclave. Living on a large inheritance, he tended to back-talk and shoot things when he didn’t understand them, also despised propriety, had real issues with authority and reveled in immoral behavior when he felt it served a greater good (he frequently sought out and fed from book-burning conservatives, primarily because he took pleasure in their suffering but also because he felt society was better off without them).

Roderick Calhoun (1996 – 2002?): Malkavian Prince of DC in a large, long-running online game of 20 or 30 players. Yes, I am shit at coming up with new names. He was a burned-out drag queen megalomaniac, obsessed with destroying anyone who didn’t hold him in high regard and climbing the ladder of authority. In that regard, he was the diametric opposite of Roderick Surrett, who had zero tolerance for those who sought power for the ego-trip of its pageantry. Roderick Calhoun’s only concern was for pageantry, for feeling worshipped, for holding power over others. He was terribly evil and I loved playing him and I honestly don’t think anyone figured out his derangement.

Charles Fitzgerald (1998 – 2000): Electrokinetic member of Aeon Trinity. He was officially a member of Aeon’s PR wing, but in truth he was a highly trained agent for anti-Aberrant and anti-Chromatic activity. He was a 1/8th Chinese hacker kid from Southern California with at least three different identities that had all the proper, official paperwork available to them. His favorite thing to do was break into the lairs of his enemies and steal something from them. He was utterly unethical but deeply and sincerely moral and hated to kill humans. Charles may actually be my favorite RPG character; stripped of all powers, he was the star of two of my entries in NaNoWriMo.

Banilas (2001 – 2002): A very minor noble and Chosen of the Sun who actively fought against the Jade Empire and hoped to displace its leadership. He (and each of his companions) were reincarnations of an ancient ruling cabal, and he sincerely hoped for a diplomatic solution to the rebellion but focused his gifts solely on destructive powers. Prone to throwing snits. At the very least, when I tried to draw pictures of him to go in my gaming notebook, he always came out looking annoyed.

Maxwell von Frank (2005): A mad scientist I played in a game of Deadlands. He built ghost-rock-powered robots called ‘Frankenmen.’ It was a one-shot, which is a good thing, because by the time the night was over I was so thoroughly disgusted by the Deadlands system that I actually requested that a bad roll kill him instantly so I could stop having to deal with it. Still, I made a brochure for his robots and everything. Yes, I am a huge nerd.

Leeritan Vaz (2004 – 2006): High Elf druid/thief/wizard. Eventually I ran a one-shot in which everyone got to go through the Re-Leveler and he came out just a druid/thief. His main mission in the desert empire of Mulhorand was to study what bizarre life might be native to the desert. To kill time between caravan journeys, he would take jobs doing landscaping in the capital city and then plant invasive, destructive species which accelerated the decay of man-made structures. He was not above resorting to more direct acts of demolition if he felt they were warranted. He also ran a small gang on the side.

So, there you have it, since I just know you were dying to hear about all these gaming characters. The Roderick Line is perhaps best summarized by saying they are troubled troublemakers. Each of them felt powerless in some way, despite each of them being very, very powerful, and they tended to express it through violence or, at the very least, trespass. This tends to be the most interesting thing about any character, for me: setting them up to have tremendous capabilities but putting them in a circumstance where they feel their s00per p0wrz do not, in fact, help at all. In that way, the character isn’t all about “I attack with fifty dice!”* or whatever, but about exploring their psychology and trying to unearth their motivations and goals. I like to get at the people behind the powers, and have found that a good way of doing so is to somehow negate or minimize the powers themselves so that only the person is left.

Lots of gamers who put hand to heart and swear that they’re in it for the roleplay, not the rollplay, will say this, yes. I will be among the first to admit that one of the reasons I loved Charles was because, gods, he was just absurdly powerful by the end of that Trinity game. On the other hand, the resolution of the Seattle by Lava Lamp chronicle, our extremely-long-running Vampire game, was a handshake between characters. I’m not sure many games can say that.

The other main branch, of course, is The Withrow Line. Withrow was Roderick Surrett’s fat, brooding, bruiser cousin. The number of characters who fall into The Withrow Line is pretty absurd, especially if I include the Withrow-variants I played in a succession of MUXes-in-decline.

No time for that tonight, however.

* However, it is worth noting that one of Mr. Pink Eyes’ characters, who actually would attack with fifty dice, was very emotionally complex and he is an excellent roleplayer.