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Guest Column: Roll the Dice and Be a Hero!

Many of us have taken various personality assessments from the Meyers-Briggs to the daily horoscope to Quizzilla’s “Which Firefly Character are You?” test. These allow us to pinpoint character strengths and weaknesses in ourselves. But results may vary.

Depending on the internet quiz, I’m Zoe, Snake Plissken, Han Solo, or Wile E. Coyote. More professional type assessments are often just as vague. This doesn’t really help me much. That’s why I think roll playing game companies should make personality assessment, based on various d20-type rules, where they take one’s personal attributes and career aptitudes and paint a more accurate picture than what we currently see with other tests.

This is what I rolled up so far, complete with Player’s Guide explanations:

Name: Clint
Character Name: Clinton A. Harris
Race: Human
Sex: Male
Class: Writer (Specialization: SF)
Level: 3 (Aspirant)
Armor Class: 8 (5 against Rejection and Criticism)

Strength: 12 (I should be working out more)
Dexterity: 13 (I can make coffee in my sleep without spilling!)
Constitution: 9 (I’m a cheap date, okay?!)
Intelligence: 15 (I’m no Cormac McCarthy, but I do okay)
Wisdom: 16 (You call it cynical, I call it “wise”)
Charisma: 14 (as a Writer, gain +2 with written word, suffer -3 in personal interaction)

General Information on the Writer Class

Special Abilities: Wordsmithing, Grammar and Spelling, Reading and Comprehension, Research, typing, surfing the web, pointing out flaws in things, other various talents acquired from various forms of strange employment.

Limitations: Obsessive-compulsion when it comes to self-editing (mistakes are always discovered), leans towards procrastination, and suffers a -3 to attack without caffeine. Must Save vs. Insanity every time Self-Addressed Stamped Envelopes are opened.

Many writers suffer from vices, whether it is substance abuse (roll 3d6 to select from chart: Choose Yer Poison! Nicotine through Heroin on page 119 of the Players Handbook), self-esteem issues, chattiness, reclusiveness, being a wiseass, arrogance, and/or emotional insecurity.

Overview: Writers can create stories out of the ether, and often entertain, amuse, and crush those around them with feats of wordsmithing. Most wander from town to town, trying to find a job that will continue to pay for their mead and bread. As writers add followers (children, spouse, cats, dogs, and other henchmen), writing decreases whilst sub-campaigning increases (see Don’t Quit Ye Olde Day Job on page 242).

Writers gain experience with basic survival of every encounter. If they can laugh about it, or live long enough to cry about it, they can probably find a story in it someplace. Some writers actually put themselves into harm’s way to increase their ability (see Journalist or War Correspondent). Other writers are hermetic in nature, and through time may become social inept in social circles, including other circles of writers (see SF Writer and Horror Writer.) Other writers gain experience and wealth at an alarming rate, sometimes long after they are dead, regardless of talent (see Nyt’s Tome of Best-Selling Mythological Heroes).

Unlike the Bard character class, most writers have some social skills outside the company of others of their own kind, usually due to the number of occupations they have attempted. From floor cleaners to chinchilla groomers, writers probably have some common ground with just about anybody; with or without a pulse.

As NPC: Writers are often cranky, tormented souls, and/or drunks. It is advisable that PC’s take them on only if they need someone to proofread term papers, help with writing newspaper articles (byline not needed, depending on level), or to novelize an upcoming movie on the cheap.

To defend against writers, it is advisable to have at least one Editor in the group. Editors can often defeat writers by holding aloft their Holy Symbol (usually a Blue Pencil or Form Letter) and calling out “ALAS! Your story did not hold my interest! Best of luck in your future endeavors!” In the event an editor cannot turn a writer, the editor must pay them per word and stroke their ego until a time in which they move on to other markets.

As Player Character: To level, writers must be published regularly, otherwise, they tend to think their adventuring success was a fluke and may become multi-class characters. Examples multi-classes are Technical Writers, Bloggers, Local Newspaper Editorial Writers, RPG Designers, Graffiti artists, Person Who Shouts at Television Screen When They Have Already Figured Out the Plot Early On, and even the common Internet Forum Troll.

To gain followers, writers need professional publication, or at least small press publication with reviews by known reviewers in their chosen genre. At higher levels, encouragement from Mom, Spouse, Significant Other, Mailman, Psychologist, Paid Creative Consultant, Agent, Aspiring Writer’s Group People, or Community College Creative Writing Instructor (see also Multi-Class Characters: Writer) cannot maintain the amount of attention/recognition/motivation needed for some writers. In which case, fans must either be gathered, or the writer must change character classes. Lawyer, Medical Transcriptionist, Pharmaceutical Test Subject, Hazardous Materials Handler, or Homeless Person are good suggestions. Some writers are known to have joined Revolutionaries and disappeared from history altogether.

However, the writer class is hard to leave entirely, and many of various character classes often hold in their possession a list of published works and at least one manuscript they would like you to read.

Habitat: Any (with internet connection). Prefers solitude, quiet environs, interrupted with celebrations of blind-drunkenness and partial nudity (see Kahn’s Guide to Cons). A source of caffeine is also essential for survival.

Special Talents/Attacks: Roll 3d20 for acquired skills through various professions (see Chart of Menial Tasks and Occupations). In Addition: Typing. Staring. SASE generation. Filing. Borrowing. Recognizing literary fads and trends and exploiting them. Random trivia (roll 2d10 with 85% chance of knowing the answer to any trivia. Lying and Bullshitting.

Writers can often disarm and eviscerate opponents through the use of their rapier wit or higher intellect. Often this talent backfires and unemployment or hospitalization usually results.

Miscellaneous: Formal education is encouraged, but not required. Higher levels of education can often corrupt a writer’s talents, requiring them to make “citations” and “quotes” and “footnotes.” Reliance upon forbidden and arcane tomes such as “MLA Style Manual” and the “Chicago Manual of Style” can lead to this. In which case Academic Journal Writer would need to be chosen as a specialization (see Sad and Lonely Life in the Ivory Tower module for more information). Requisite intelligence and insight is also recommended. Charisma can help with publication, but a writer can be an orc-ugly shut-in and still produce quality work.

What would your character sheet look like? Tell us in the comments.

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