May 13, 2013
Uncommon Gaming Archetypes
In addition to the more common archetypes found among gaming characters (namely the tank, sneak, healer, and mystic), there are also a few less known/used character types that crop up time and again that I feel are worth mentioning.
The first among these is the face archetype, or socialite. This is the character that can talk their way past guards, negotiate with hostiles, and get you the best deal on that shiny new piece of gear you’ve been looking at. Less important to non-existent in purely “kick down the door” style games, this character can be just as central to a party as a tank or healer in games where socializing is a big part of play. In games where socializing dominates the game-play, such as in games like Vampire: The Masquerade/Requiem, every character will likely have some ability to coerce, but it will be the face character who stands out even among them.
The next archetype exists only in games with an appropriate level of tech associated with them, but when they are an option, they tend to be a vital one. These are the hackers, computer experts able to bypass security systems, swipe files from digital archives, and sometimes even traverse an entire world of virtual reality. In games like Shadowrun, the hacker is a vital part of a runner team, as it doesn’t tend to be something a character can just “dabble” in and expect to get by. Much like the more common mystic archetype, hackers are often looked to as sources of information. It isn’t so much that they are expected to already know something, but that they can find out given some time and access to their tech.
Next, you have the wheel-man. This can be anything from the guy who knows how to dive in The Dresden Files, to your getaway driver in Shadowrun, to the guy who actually knows how to fly a spaceship in Star Wars: Saga Edition. Basically, this is the character that gets everyone around. Playing a character of this archetype depends heavily on the game in question and how much detail has been put into its vehicle sections, as well as how interesting the game’s system for handling vehicles is. Often, it is overlooked in gaming, but when you do have one, your team is better off for it.
Finally, there is the psychic archetype. Often, this archetype is rolled into the mystic archetype, but I mean to differentiate between the two by looking at where the psychic archetype stands on its own. While a pyrokinetic may not be too dissimilar in function to a wizard with a spell of fireball, psychics who focus more on the control and manipulation of others, as well as mind readers, clairvoyants (those able to see/hear things far away), and telemetrists (those able to read psychic impressions) are what make the psychic archetype its own unique sort of character. In games where characters might play as sentient Artificial Intelligences or individuals with digital components of their brains, this archetype can be crossed with the earlier mentioned hacker archetype, and it is often still linked to the mystic archetype since the two can still often be one and the same.
There are likely many other gaming character archetypes, but aside from the big four, these four less common archetypes are the ones I have noticed most often in the games I am a part of. Though not all are required for a group to function, their inclusion always adds a flare all their own.
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