Monday, September 1, 2014

A fun look at Aspects: Trickster

The penultimate article on aspects from me. Hope they've brought some enjoyment and understanding :)

Preamble
Remember that most Heroes also don't display only one aspect. A Hero is usually a good blend of a couple/several. Someone with only one Aspect would be like Q from James Bond, Yoda from original star wars, or The Mountain from Game of Thrones. They definitely are still characters, but they aren't "the Hero" and one of the reasons for that is that characters with minimal skillsets are less interesting over long periods of time. They're definitely not uninteresting, per se, but hard to follow and write for for long periods of time. For this series though, when I look at pop culture figures, I'll be highlighting characters who are exemplary at their Aspect, whether or not they are successful at other Aspects as well. Also, remember that I'm not as eloquent as my better half... by like leaps and bounds.

Definition
The Trickster is the master of misdirection. Misdirection could be on the smaller scale of tricking your friend into dumping his girlfriend so you can try to court her, but it can also be on the largest scale, causing a complicated series of events that ends in the hierarchy of Olympus changing. Some Tricksters are easy to find because they are overt about their skills, but a great Trickster won't let you know they were doing anything until the trick was complete, and the best Tricksters never let you find out that you were tricked at all. The heroic Trickster uses their powers to help and teach others, while often also getting their jollies in with a good prank.

Problems
Tricksters pose a problem in group play because their iconic plans are often very solitary and sneaky. Even with the best roleplaying groups, it can be difficult to sneak around the other players, and often that requires the player of the Trickster to have real life manipulation, poise and tact. That's not really fair to the player of the Trickster - the Warrior's player doesn't have to get in shape to play his character, so why does the the Trickster's player need to have all these outside skills?

Ok.... so the Trickster is tricking.... but what else is he doing? He's got a lot of sleight of hand and ability to manipulate people, he is becoming different things, he's changing who he is.... but what else is he doing?

Solutions
Anyone who has dots in Trickster gets to set up plots that guide the world a bit. Between games (or right after or before), the Trickster gets to work with the GM alone for a little bit to set up some "plots" to have in motion. Over time, these will come to fruition, but unless the Trickster lets the other players know he was behind them, these won't seem like things he did. Rather, they'll come off as parts of the story that the GM wrote. The Trickster will be involved, and observant characters might figure out what happened, but it should provide a much easier chance for a Trickster to be tricky.

The Trickster also has Streetwise. Cities/towns are where the most people live (obviously...) and manipulating the ins and outs of the city is part of what a Trickster can do. This lends itself to vehicles and other modern modes of travel as well. While the Hunter controls traveling as a concept, the Trickster can work the smaller minutia of using vehicles and traveling inside a city. A Hero possessing both would be a force to be reckoned with in a modern metropolis.

Powers
Reminder that these haven't had a final balance check. So be kind to them :)

Skin-Deep (Disguise Talent)
Labor: Chapter
Roll: None
Speed: Dedicated
Sometimes Heroes need to pass undetected in a variety of situations, and this Blessing helps them do so with surprising ease. By using this Blessing, the Hero may alter their appearance for a single Chapter; they may change their eye, hair or skin color, add or alter their hairstyle or makeup, and add or hide any other identifying physical markers such as moles or birthmarks. The Hero must choose what form they change into when the Blessing is used, and must use it again later if they wish to change their appearance again. Once the Chapter has ended, the hero reverts to their original physical appearance.

Now You See It (Legerdemain Talent)
Labor: Episode
Roll: Legerdemain
Speed: Dedicated
With this Blessing, Heroes can not only dazzle their onlookers' eyes but quite literally make things vanish from their field of vision completely. When a Hero uses this Blessing, they may hide any item small enough to fit in their hand on their person in the blink of an eye; it becomes essentially invisible as the Hero constantly moves perfectly to obscure it from any prying eyes, and no one who cannot defeat the Hero's roll with their Enlightenment is able to find it, even if they perform a thorough search of the Hero's person. The item remains hidden for the rest of the Episode.

Nine Lives (Streetwise Talent)
Labor: Saga
Roll: Streetwise
Speed: Instant
A Hero with this Blessing can survive almost anything, even if the odds are stacked against them to a truly staggering degree. Whenever a non-natural disaster (accidental, intentional or otherwise caused by people or things built by people) strikes an area the Hero is in, they may use this Blessing in order to avoid becoming one of its unfortunate casualties. Thanks to their quick thinking and knowledge of civilized terrain, the Hero is able to duck, dodge, seek shelter and otherwise totally escape any dangerous effects caused by the disaster, from miraculously avoiding falling masonry during a building collapse to managing to find a place to hunker down seconds before an explosion goes off. This Blessing cannot help Heroes escape natural disasters, which obey no laws that they can manipulate, and provides no protection from any danger that is being intentionally directed at them by hostile parties; if someone intentionally caused the disaster through magical means but did not directly attempt to harm the Hero with it, the Hero may roll against the disaster's creator's roll to attempt to avoid its effects.

Characters
Malcolm Reynolds: Firefly
Bugs Bunny: Looney Toons
Aladdin: 1001 Nights, and also Disney
Dr. Who: Doctor Who
Jack Sparrow: Pirates of the Caribbean

I had to pause my neverending list of male Tricksters here to find a lady... and this took far longer then it should have.

Mystique: X-Men
Catwoman: Batman
Lisbeth Salander: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

After much searching and some research... there is some sort of deep-seated issue here. I don't want to go too in-depth here, but it seems, culturally, we don't really think of women as archetypal Tricksters. Writers often write them doing their tricking more as a Lover, using feminine wiles, instead of traditional Trickster tactics. Also, it might have to do with Tricksters often being androgynous males, so writers don't "feel the need" to make female Trickster characters? I can't speak for any individual authors or writers or society in general, but there is definitely some underlying issue here.

Moments
It's difficult to show the "long con" in short video clip form. :(

Amazing sleight-of-hand dude. Where are the cards coming from?


Loki transforming.


Mystique transforming.


Welcome to Port Royal, Mr. "Smith".


Dr. Who. Its impossible to find scenes without annoying music in the background... my apologies. It gets REALLY bad at the end... not sure why.


Disney's Robin Hood doing all the Trickster things.


Disney does Trickster pretty well.


See you guys next week for our final blog on the Aspects! :)