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Storyboard: Archetype discussion -- the Strawman

Eliot Lefebvre

We've saved the best for last in our archetype discussions, because this character is the best. Without a doubt. He is pure, unadulterated awesome distilled into walking, talking form, and you could only hope to be half as great as he is. He saves princesses, slays dragons, and wins kingdoms, even if the game doesn't feature any of the above, because he is just that great. Whatever you do, he knows about it, and whatever you think you've mastered, he's even better.

Don't hate him just because he's outdoing you at everything you try.

The Strawman is our last archetype out of the initial round, and he's without a doubt better than any of the other loser types that we've covered up until now. After all, they all had one crippling flaw or another, and the Strawman neatly sidesteps all of those problems. He's the man with the plan, the dude with a justified attitude, and the solution rather than cause of all the problems your group of fellow players will encounter.

What is the character?

Simply put, the character is pure awesome distilled down into sauce form. He's usually had a tragic past in which his parents, siblings, and several loved ones were killed, not to mention something involving a cool scar. Forced servitude often features heavily. Despite this, he still found time to perfect a variety of skills, including but not limited to combat, philosophy, magic, history, geography, politics, and possibly motorcycle riding while playing shred guitar. (If neither motorcycles nor guitars exists, he will invent both.)

Of course, all of these things are intensely easy to learn during your spare time while having the requisite Dark Past, so you don't have to ever check up on whether he's better than you -- he just is. In fact, if you do anything alongside him, he'll probably screw up or downplay his astonishing skills just so you can feel like you did something important. After all, he's a magnanimous soul. He's also usually single, so ladies (or men as appropriate) should feel free to flock to him due to his rugged good looks and charming wit.

What's the angle?

So why does this brave Adonis seek adventure? Well, because he has a duty to all of the lesser lights in the world (galaxy, universe, etc.) to make their drab lives just a little bit better! Plus, it's not as if mundane life can offer him a great deal of challenge any longer. And there's something about his nature that just inspires him to keep wandering into the sunset, away from each town he's visited, which is most definitely not worse off than when he arrived.

There's fortune to be won and fine damsels (or fellows) to woo, of course, but the Strawman would never think to cite either as his main objective as he travels, even if the people he inflicts his help upon occasionally need to be reminded about the promise of a reward. (Multiple times, even.) But he does it purely for the glory, glory which he's sure to share with everyone else in fair amounts and which he'll make sure is known the world over purely for educational purposes. He doesn't need to be the center of attention; it just happens independent of anything he does or any amount of winking and nudging.

And let's not forget his brave companions, of course, people who are inspired by his bold figure and struggle to distinguish themselves. Sure, they might not have the Strawman's ability and they might be deeply flawed in various ways, but the Strawman honors their efforts and their inevitable noble sacrifices, surely made to prevent the world from being rid of the true hero.

What makes it interesting?

What makes it interesting? You're the best! Playing this character means you've won -- what's not to love? And really, isn't that the most important thing in roleplaying, to start off as an incarnate deity without flaws who makes everyone else smaller by his radiant presence?

Of course, some people will argue that the Strawman isn't actually as awesome as he appears. After all, despite being repeatedly proven awesome, he's often less articulate and skilled than he claims, frequently causing problems and raising the ire of others. These scandalous claims sometimes extend even further, accusing the Strawman of being a drain on the roleplaying group as a whole in both gameplay and storylines, a juvenile character created by a player with a desperate need to overcompensate. They might even suggest that playing one straight is interesting simply because the Strawman is all bluster and no talent.

People who talk like this are probably communists. Or fascists. Or both. The point is, the Strawman is super-great and certainly doesn't prop up his player's ego in the slightest, nor can he be played for laughs unless he chooses to make a joke at someone's expense.

What should I keep in mind?

Tragically, most players can't remember at all times how awesome your character really is, so it's helpful to remind them. Do so frequently, in fact. Let anyone in the midst of any task know that the Strawman could do it better and faster, possibly while also curing cancer with the power of his mind alone. Everyone likes knowing that there's a standard to live up to. Similarly, you should remind people that your character has no flaws, because flaws are for failures, which the Strawman is most definitely not. If he splashes acid in his eyes, he'll develop super vision and shoot fire from his tear ducts or something.

Should some poor jealous soul accuse your character (or you!) of having an ego, patiently explain that your ego is entirely in step with how supremely awesome your character is. You may wish to mention that said character owns several leather-bound books, just to reinforce the fact that he is as awesome as advertised.

Oh, the archetype name? Science shows "Strawman" is the most awesome name ever. It certainly means nothing in any debates, and you needn't bother looking it up on Wikipedia or anything. Seriously, you shouldn't even bother.

If you've missed one of the previous archetype columns, here they are, even though none of them is as good as the Strawman:

Next week, I'll probably talk about something significantly less interesting. Maybe wrap up the series or something. Whatever. Comments are down there, and I guess you could mail me at

Every Friday, Eliot Lefebvre fills a column up with excellent advice on investing money, writing award-winning novels, and being elected to public office. Then he removes all of that, and you're left with Storyboard, which focuses on roleplaying in MMOs. It won't help you get elected, but it will help you pretend you did.

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