Campaigns are about characters. It doesn’t matter what plots you weave or how clever your battles are or what house rules you wrote if the players aren’t excited to apply characters to them. I wanted to avoid gushing about my players’ characters like a proud grandmother, but a lot of what we’re doing in Faith is about them, so if I don’t describe them at all you’re just going to be lost. I’m still not going to do a blow-by-blow of the campaign, though. You’re welcome.
For character design, I only gave the players a few directives:
- Each character must have a different deity, and the only acceptable deities were the character who ascended to godhood at the end of a previous campaign, The Great Tower of Oldechi.
- Each character must be from a different era in history, as determined during our Microscope session.
- The campaign’s high concept is anime, specifically but not exclusively shounen combat anime. The characters were encouraged but not required to fit a Five-Man Band.
They came up with this:
Name: Sildroag Smith
Think: Kamina (Gurren Lagann) meets All Might (My Hero Academia)
Deity: Meisha, goddess of beauty, freedom, and bangin’
Sildroag is a former slave from a time when that sort of thing was still okay. He’s an archetypal hero: strong, determined, a little dense, and with no self-preservation instinct. His gimmick, goal in life, and combat style are going up to destiny and socking it right in the schnoz. Unlike most characters who dedicate themselves to fighting the system, he’s actually good at it, which his good because in his case “the system” is somewhat literal.
Sildroag is our leader not because he leads but because he’s the most shounen character we’re seen in a long time. Mechanically Sildroag is a bloodrager, a barbarian/sorcerer hybrid. He’s reskinned his rage from simple anger to a confident attack on destiny: whenever it looks like he’s supposed to lose a fight, he rejects that version of reality and substitutes his own. He’s the party tank both by virtue of his high defense and because he can take a ton of hits before going down, and he’s planning on making that whole “going down” thing negotiable at higher levels.
Name: Jace Alleron
Think: Lelouch vi Britannia (Code Geass) meets Vegeta (Dragonball Z)
Deity: Scourge, god of tyranny, strength, and unnecessary violence
Jace is as serious and even-handed as Sildroag is irreverent and explosive. He walks a strange line between compassionate, as he’s well-versed in healing magics, and ruthless, as his favorite trick is dominating his enemies and forcing them to kill each other. As a noble nearly killed by his family’s politics, he wants to *verb* his way back to the top and he may not be too picky about what that verb is.
Jace is probably going to end up being the group’s primary healer. As an oracle he’ll get a decent number of spells slots he can spend on cures, and his main combat focus will probably be a specific first-level spell he’s going to power up far beyond what the rules expect. Right now he’s also the face of the party because his player speaks up the most, and he’s a primary damage dealer through a combination of a two-handed weapon and suspiciously good rolling, but he’s the lancer. It’s in the nature of lancers to slowly move from “competent rival” to “outspoken backup” over the course of a story.
Name: Liam O’Shay
Think: Mio Akiyama (K-On) meets Komatsu (Toriko)
Deity: Tela, goddess of storms, loyalty, and exasperated sighs
Liam just wants to perform. He’s not terribly excited about saving the world even if his goddess does recommend it. He avoids combat unless absolutely necessary, lashing out at enemies with his guitar like some sort of flustered El Kabong. He even writes letters home to let his parents know he’s okay, already longing for life after adventure. But for all the panicking and the jokes at his expense, he is always there when you need him.
Liam is a bard, full stop (technically he’s a skald, a less-studious version of a bard, but the whole “savage warrior” thing doesn’t really work for him). He is the least shounen-like character in this campaign and possibly my last three campaigns as well. His player even brings a guitar to sessions and actually plays whenever Liam does, which is…certainly a thing, you guys. But his jack-of-all-trades class fits with his party role. He can heal in a pinch, he can attack if need be, and he doesn’t collapse after a single hit, but he’s happiest buffing allies and providing bonuses that make them better at whatever they do. He’s the quiet background character, giving the others a +1 bonus here or two points of healing there, and I can’t wait to see how he handles it when the pressure picks up.
Name: Sarai Srisai
Role: Big Guy
Think: Nico Robin (One Piece) meets Rock Lee (Naruto)
Deity: Lao!ze, god of family, individuality, and other contradictions
Sometimes it’s easy to forget Sarai’s there. She doesn’t speak up much, she moves in the background, and she pieces together what’s going on and acts without a lot of discussion. It’s not because she doesn’t have opinions, she just doesn’t want to inflict them on anybody yet because everything is going smoothly without her. When things do go wrong, and when it’s time to leverage some of that combat skill or magical energy she’s been saving for a special occasion, watch out.
We are four sessions into the campaign and Sarai has only cast one offensive spell. Considering she’s a magus, whose job is casting spells in unreasonable, difficult-to-adjudicate ways and destroying game balance one way or another, that’s impressive. It’s because her player is committed to a specific trope in shounen anime: the escalation. Sarai fights almost laconically most of the time, but when there’s a serious opponent or the rest of the party is hurting, she spends all those spells she didn’t use in the last three combats. Of course, the Pathfinder meta hates his concept, so I love it all the more.
Name: Angeline Kane
Role: Smart Guy
Think: Tamaki Suoh (Ouran High School Host Club) meets Sailor Moon (…Sailor Moon)
Deity: Velius, god of fitness, lying, and himself
Angeline is better than you. Whether it’s casting spells, charming cute guys, smashing opponents with her magical girl powers, or doing pretty much anything else, she not only has you beat, she has enough style that you don’t even feel bad about it. Just acknowledge her superiority and she’ll get along with you just fine. Oh, and never point out that she’s actually a boy under all those frilly dresses. That would ruin the fun.
Angeline is the smart guy mostly by omission; Liam is a bard so he has better knowledge skills and Sarai is a researcher so she has a bigger interest in learning, but I couldn’t convince anybody to play an actual smart guy so here we are. She’s a sorcerer, which has a pretty rough go of things at early levels, but as she powers up I see her increasing in utility and variety of powers far more than anybody else.
Those of you well-versed in Pathfinder may have noticed that we have four Charisma-based spontaneous spellcasters. You are wrong: because our magus selected a specific archetype, we actually have five Charisma-based spontaneous spellcasters. Everybody in this party could be the hero of a typical adventuring group, but instead they’re all shoved together. I’ve never heard anything more anime in my life.