Author Topic: Connecting with your characters  (Read 2999 times)

Offline mcjomar

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Connecting with your characters
« on: February 24, 2017, 02:45:10 PM »
So this is only sort of a lore discussion.
It's not rules, it's not P&M (directly, anyway), and it's definitely not a battle report.
So that leaves it here, as I guess it's more of a philosophy question. Sort of.

So - how do you connect with your characters?
What makes you want to write about them, or build games and campaigns around them?
What makes you excited to play them on the table top? Or anywhere else?
What gives you the drive to model, paint, write up, and actualise these visions or ideas?

Conversely, do you ever look at a model or character design and realise you're tired of it, or that you don't even know why you built it/painted it, or that you just don't feel that zing that says this one fits?
Do you ever look at something and say "this doesn't belong" or "I can't use this" and just want it gone?
And what do you do if you do?
Do you try and rescue it, or just pass it on to someone who can?
Do you try and make the best of it after all the time spent working on it?
Or just write it off as a bad idea and pass it into the arcadian smugglers ring (or equivalent - even ebay?) for someone else to rescue?
How do you tell if you've reached this point?

Does this happen with aesthetics, or writing it up, or both?
Does one rely on the other?
Which is more important?
"Heretics are like cockroaches - annoying to find, and even more annoying to kill." - unattrib.

Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Connecting with your characters
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2017, 01:49:21 AM »
I have occasionally fallen out of love with characters. Three come to mind:

A navigator I can't even remember the name of any more.
Renatus Neuvler, psyker
Jax Lynn, bodyguard / pilot / (secret) mutant

The navigator was just too valuable in-character and didn't have any real motivation to get stuck in, so he often ended up more or less sitting games out, neither helpful or brave enough to actually get involved in anything.
I've yet to decide what's happening with him. Probably a personality re-write to make him a bit more reckless.

With Renatus, I was neither satisfied enough with his model (an early sculpt of mine), and I decided he was not dependent or skilled enough on/with his psychic abilities. He had only a few possible approaches with his powers, and had instead ended up relying more on shooting or close combat.
He got retconned and expanded into Maya Avens, who had much more psychic punch, but was a lot less tough in a mundane fight. (Not that she'll have a mundane fight if she has a chance. Between her psychic senses, emotion reading/manipulation and enough pyrokinetic power to melt power armour to slag, she's entirely capable of defeating much more experienced opponents in close combat).

Jax Lynn always felt like he was in the background and less than entirely unique. He didn't really have much of an identity beyond minor regenerative ability that he was generally trying to hide.
He got retconned into... well, Jax Lynn, but with a sex swap, mottled skin, a tail, considerably more powerful regeneration and an entirely re-written backstory, albeit still a similar role in the group).

Her more abnormal appearance forced her to be a lot more open about being a mutant, which proved a much more interesting personality. Her increased regenerative capability also gave her more of a reason to be in the group. (Given she now borders on immortal, it's easier to understand why the Inquisition might want to keep an eye on her).

I don't imagine there are any fixed rules. All I can say is that when a character isn't working, try taking a look at which parts have to stay and which have to go.
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Offline Drubbels

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Re: Connecting with your characters
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2017, 08:34:39 PM »
In my 'early period', so to speak, I kit-bashed loads of plastic 28mm models that were decidedly 'meh' and had very little going for them in terms of character. Most of those, I fell out of love with almost instantly upon completion. Some of them I tore apart for bits, and others are still gathering dust in the deep recesses of my hobby desk.
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Offline Lord Borak

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Re: Connecting with your characters
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2017, 09:25:50 AM »
For me, I'm kinda backwards. I have an idea of a model I want to convert and the background comes from that or develops as I build it.

Sector Express happened because of the models I had in my bitz box and a few random models left over from ebay buys. The Kashrak model I had left over in a 'lot' with some spares from the Box, the Hypno Toad I saw as a kick starter and Fry was another random purchase on ebay. As I was building the toad it kinda all clicked and the backgrounds started being formed then.

MrBlue (when ever I get around to finishing him) was more of a painting challenge than a gaming character. As I painted him I wanted the background to be more about the suit rather than the man. So I came up with the idea that the suits Machine Spirit was incredibly powerful and that each incumbent within the power armour leaves 'echo's of themselves in the armour (like Titans). He's still on my painting table waiting for the day I get a day to myself (concentrating on painting with a destructive 1 year old is not easy)

I do go from project to project a lot though and there's a fair few unfinished warbands in my case (looking at you mutant resistance). Every now and then I will go back to them and finish a model or convert a new warband member. (I have about 10 models in various stages of completion on my desk).

Offline mcjomar

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Re: Connecting with your characters
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2017, 01:11:16 PM »
In my current case (figurative and literal) I've got  a situation where I no longer really "get" some of the builds, while others work for me.

Inquisitor Samantha, and Interrogator Jack work for me quite well.
The recent Sicarius operative will join that team, and I'll write up stats sooner or later.
And finish off with their Aquila pilot.

Inquisitor Helena is one I've had built and painted for years which currently sort of works, but with the addition of the two alien models brings the character count up to 7, and the model count up to 8, and I'm wondering if that works or not, especially given some of the characters in that group are just heavily altered characters with massive inspiration taken from a few computer games (in one case with a character which is a blend of several other big game/film characters).

I think her warband, especially with Rogue Trader Jacey Jomar (ably played by a Kal model which needs some paint improvements).

That leaves my recent painting efforts for Inquisitor Jack and his warband.
Outside of the scummer conversion of the barbaretta model, I'm finding I'm no longer particularly enthused with the other three.
The Eisenhorn conversion works, as such, but something about it doesn't quite sit right.
Or maybe when I take another look I'll change my mind.
Ditto the plasma gunner, and the assassin - The Sicarius Operative model(s) (aka, the Mass Effect female operative) capture the feel of an assassin in skin-tight suit better than the death cultist does, for my taste/money. And the plasma gunner is a nice model, but just doesn't quite work in some way. I can't put my finger on it.

E: The thing is, I'm not sure if this is actually a model-related issue, or an "I haven't written the background for these characters, what is wrong with me" thing. Perhaps if I tried writing up background suitable for each character, continuing Jack/Samantha's first person narrative style, I might solve the issue that way for this group. Well, maybe, anyway. But I do think some paint/modelling tweaks might help (I'm currently wondering if dorian's legs would be a good replacement for the eisenhorn bionic legs...)

I'm tempted to put the scummer in another warband somewhere else and then just replace Inquisitor Jack with the Sicarius warband I built based off Ghost in the Shell, as the models seem a bit more fitting (pre-paint. I'm still mentally debating the presence of the ex-commissar in that group...). But I'm wondering if that would fit Jack's potential "current" self better?

Given that I have an all-female warband elsewhere (except for the presence of a guardsman with bashed heavy stubber and autopistol), I could remove the male guardsman and replace with the scummer, making it an all-female group (and then backfit with "reasons").

That would open up a bunch of space in the carry case, and admittedly remove three models from my collection.

I've also got another warband mostly made up of models built from a bunch of spare left over parts, which I threw together, but again don't know what to do with. They need painting though so I guess we'll see? They'll probably go, though.

Kind of a situation where I'm wondering what I "need" and what I, well, don't anymore.


To provide a little more in the way of content, I'll cover the ones that do speak to me, or why some of the others did work for me.

Samantha Arianna Morannon as an Inquisitor works, from the model perspective, because of the unique combination of parts, and also the helmeted head. You don't really know who is under there, save from the background. Between one thing or another it could as easily be a man under that breastplate as a woman (in theory anyway). It sort of calls to mind the unknown identity of the Doctor, for me (referenced on the model by my use of a wand-like widget hanging from her belt, as much as her hidden or disguised identity (as such)), and also that of Master Chief  from Halo, and others with relatively faceless or somehow "hidden" protagonists.
Then you have her background (or the official one, anyway) which gives her more depth, and (I hope) humanity, making her relatable and understandable, in opposition to the facelessness of her appearance on the table.

With Interrogator Jack, you have a rather dashing (yes?) individual, in a long dark coat, with a nice big gun. Rather stereotypical, but hopefully also calling to mind the modern sherlock's penchant for a long dark coat (the judge having a book in his pocket on the model sort of adds to this as in my mind that little book could be how the Interrogator keeps notes). The base judge model itself needs little in the way of changes, as it is a nicely impressive/imposing model in and of itself.

My recent Sicarius operative does not have stats, so largely on appearance, you have a form-fitting bodysuited model, with a visor and suitable equipment for sneaking into places, and then killing the target (or maybe doing something else, anything could be in those pouches) and while the colour of the suit is a little brighter than I first set out to make it (the effect of washing dark angel green over a white primer was too striking to pass up), I still think it really gives the model a strong look.

Finally, the upcoming pilot model for that group has a nicely sculpted head that I couldn't resist painting up, so the rest of the model came with it, and I decided the aquila pilot would have to be given character, rather than being a faceless mook. I'm also wondering if she'll prove to be a romantic interest for Jack, as we don't always see that appear on the Inquisitor battlefields. Then again, maybe not. I haven't decided yet.

For others, like Helena's warband, it was less of a character and more of a concept I was trying to capture - the feel of certain characters from certain TV shows, films, or games, and then rebuild them on the tabletop as their own unique characters, often amalgamated from the core/interesting features of the chosen character(s). I've kept them as much because of the models, as the ideas behind them, but I still keep wondering if the characters need re-writes.

For Jack as an Inquisitor, and his warband, I think it's a case of needing to draw a mental picture with them and writing the backstory to fit, or using the words to paint the picture. Something like that.

With the Ghost in the Shell Sicarius warband, it's back to the same as Helena's, in that I'm seeking to capture the feel of that show, but creating riffs of the target characters, to a lesser or greater degree, although given that one will end up being a straight up model version of the Major, that will be very difficult. But I couldn't resist the opportunity to model them up once it came across my desk, so there we go. Hopefully I can at least write some kind of an interesting background.

Mordecai and co came from building a 28mm warband, and then rebuilding at 54mm to compensate. They've sort of grown organically, although I still have a little trouble wrapping my head around the monodominant style, at times. I still need to finish the enginseer character though, so there's that.

Then I've got several groups who need to be defined or modified as I haven't quite decided what to do with them yet.
I'm going to have to figure out how they shake out exactly, as currently I need to organise them just right.
Especially given some of my more recent modelling efforts.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2017, 03:22:28 PM by mcjomar »
"Heretics are like cockroaches - annoying to find, and even more annoying to kill." - unattrib.

Offline KaptiDavy

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Re: Connecting with your characters
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2017, 09:47:28 AM »
I tend to work separately on characters and models - simply going with my ideas if they pop up.
Which means a lot of my figs don't have any background, and some characters haven't taken shape yet. But the figs I build are often planned for years (based on bitz availability for example), so when they materialise finally, I usually have some ideas about them (but lots of WIP pieces on the desk too)

For inspiration I go exclusively to the many years of GW publications (and I prefer the older ones, where the art preceeded the miniature design, not the other way like today's codices), and regularly check other manufacturers' kits for bitz:) This means I rarely fell out of sync with the 40K canon while still having some unusual(ly used) details
I also love to include some form of internal conflict in the character, and maybe a chance to be corrupted - this way, character development happens automatically during interaction with other players. That also ensures they rarely turn in a boring direction

Some examples:

I played a mechanicus acolyte (an old RPG character I plan to build someday) who suffered from Body Integrity Identity Disorder. I threw in a good measure of cybernetics as initiatory mutilations and some factory accidents to make it harder to differentiate between his eagerness to prove himself and pure obsession

Another character is an ex-cannibal tribesman now taken care of by a redemptionist (all under a recongregator inquisitor, of course) - let's hope he never sees a death cultist in action:)

Anyway... if you can find anything that you like in the particular character or figure, why not keep it and go forward?