Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rex Does Kongai: The Characters

Alright, back at it again. If you'll remember from last time, we left off with some design guidelines for the four groups in this set – the Necros, the Psychos, the Gangster, and the Rock Stars. At this point, we've got just basic outlines for the development of the prospective cards within those groups. Now, I'd like to press on and lay out some likewise simple plans for those characters.

As I've said in the past, I try to have a little redundancy at the start of the process. So, for each group I ideate more than the five characters strictly necessary. At this stage, coming up with new character ideas is easy and the concept for each group usually suggests more than I need anyway. As the process of design moves along, some of them inevitably fall by the wayside. I get attached to certain cards, others prove unworkable, mechanics and skills shuffle back and forth as the picture takes shape and, eventually, the list of cards gets pared down. At the moment, though, we're going for volume.

And since I'm also going for speed, we're going to keep this nice and brief. So, I'll spare you a lot of where each of these cards comes from and how I plan to deal with them. I've tried to aim for six characters for each group, giving me one extra that will eventually have to be discarded. The Necros, Psychos, and Rock Stars both met that mark and have six characters each, while the Gangsters shot over and have seven characters in the concept stage. Each group will have five item cards along with the traditional six to add to the general pool (I'm a firm believer that expansions should support old content even as they add more. Tossing new general items for the older cards to play around with is an easy way of making sure that players don't feel like their decks have been devalued. There will be new combinations and new strategies to try out and some of those old cards are going to be right there in the mix.)

That's 25 characters for the hard of counting, to go along with 26 items out of which we'll eventually want to have about 51 cards. Here's the rough list of what I have so far, and then we'll go through with a little more detail and explain where each of these cards is headed. For ease of reference, since names and titles tend to change on the fly and everything should be considered a working title, I've numbered them. But don't consider that any sort of ranking or indication of which characters I think are best at this point, because it's not.


  1. The Animator
  2. The Reanimated
  3. The Undying
  4. The Minionator
  5. The Ritualist
  6. The Gravedigger

  1. The Mimic
  2. The Copycat
  3. The Nightmare
  4. The Slasher
  5. The Shadow
  6. The Torturer

  1. “Tony Montana”
  2. The Thug
  3. The Made Man
  4. The Hit Man
  5. The Stoolie
  6. The Gun Moll
  7. The Vamp

  1. The 50's Rocker
  2. The 60's Rocker
  3. The 70's Rocker
  4. The 80's Rocker
  5. The 90's Rocker
  6. The Garage Band Rocker

You'll notice that although I've laid out all the characters, I haven't touched on any items yet. I've got a few ideas, don't worry. But I don't tend to worry about items at this point. It's a little pointless because a group's items depend on what characters are in that group. Items are what you can use to round them off, to compensate for their weaknesses or emphasize their strengths. Reinforcing the group's guiding principles is another important goal that can definitely be achieved with items and there is a certain sense in whipping up items now and using them to help create those boundaries into which the cards must fit. But, to me, it all depends on which cards are going to make the final cut. And what their skills and abilities are. And since those are still in flux, I don't want to make items now. Not without knowing how they're going to interact and affect the game's balance. If, after all, you've got a character who's innate is that when they crit, it's the second coming and the reckoning of man is at hand, all sinners should repent and all faithful should be rewarded, you've probably been pretty careful to make sure their crit chances are very carefully maintained so that the apocalypse doesn't happen. You don't want to have an item laying around that can pump their crit rate up so that the lakes of fire are opening up every other turn.

At this point, I have no idea whether I've built the Mayan death clock into one of my cards or not. So, rather than make a potential Hadron Collider that I'll only have to revamp later, I'm just going to skip it. Items will creep into the process as I build up good ideas. Some of the things that I toss away from my characters can be picked up and itemized, after all, while other items will suggest themselves as the characters come into sharper focus.

Let's focus a little bit more on the characters then, and get into a little more depth. Some of these characters will be more fleshed out than others but that's just how it goes.

Idea: A team of lightly armored dark magic users who work as a team and exploit dead cards.
Name: The Necromantic Guild
Color: Dark Gray or a Putrid Green-Gray
Design: The Necros don't fear death, they embrace it. Able to use and exploit dead cards and even their own demises to fuel their skills, the Necros have such powerful effects that they need to be limited by cooldowns and time limits. As a rule, the Necros should be lightweights. Low health and armor casters who make up for their vulnerabilities with extreme levels of power.
  1. The Animator: My Dr. Frankenstein character. A card who's a mad scientist, an alchemist of some sort, who's big mechanic will be the ability to bring dead teammates back to life. For a time. With a price.
  2. The Reanimated: If there's going to be a Dr. Frankenstein then we need to have his monster. This will be the shambling corpse reanimated by the Animator. The exception to the rule that the Necromancers are a bunch of low resistance softies, he'll be a big, well-padded bruiser. A close-only heavy that can protect his teammates from harm.
  3. The Undying: A mummy or an ancient Egyptian sorcerer. He's mastered the secrets of death and can resurrect himself. With an ability to return from the graveyard, he won't be out of any fight for long. When he's killed, he'll be able to regenerate – but only so long as at least one of his teammates is still alive.
  4. The Minionator: Needs a better name but the idea here is a Kel'Thuzad or an MM Necro. He'll be a token character who's cycle is to create and use up small undead minions. He'll exploit corpses in order to create bigger and badder menaces, like ghouls and maybe even zombies. And then, once he's established himself as a one-card army, he'll be able to use them to fuel his most powerful skills.
  5. The Ritualist: A twisted, evil sorcerer, a shaman, someone straight out of a Howard or Burroughs story. The scheming, plotting, evil vizier type. His big mechanic will be to sacrifice his health and his teammates to fuel his casting. He'll suck up hit points, putting them all at risk, in order to drain them away from his foes.
  6. The Gravedigger: A cranky, creepy old man. Smokes too much, doesn't get enough exercise, and, in general, hates everything and everyone around him. He poses the keeper of a cemetary but, in reality, he's a powerful dark magician whose knowledge of the necromantic arts is rivaled only by his fellow Necromancers. He'll be less of a caster and more of a straight up brawler. Something like a Tafari that uses dead foes to get inside of and subvert an opposing team.

Idea: A collection of vicious attackers, fiends and villains who bring their opponent's worst nightmares to life.
Name: The Psychopathic Kill Crew
Color: Dark, dark red.
Design: Subversive cards, the Psychos don't just fight their opponents, they destroy them. They use mimicry and reflection to turn their foes strengths into weaknesses. And they specialize in exploiting weaknesses. Slippery, tricky cards that will have a high degree of randomness to their workings. Based, ever so loosely, on famous horror movie monsters.
  1. The Mimic: Reworking of the failed Warlock card, the Psychic. The Mimic specializes in turning an opponent's skills against them. I'm picturing something of a mental or dream theme here. Making him something like Dr. Destiny or, of course, Freddy Kruger. Someone who invades dreams and steals hopes.
  2. The Copycat: Reworking of the failed Wrestler card, the Unknown Wrestler. The gimmick behind the Copycat is that he plays like a random card. Any random card. You don't know what you get until you set him on the field or spin the wheel with his randomized skills. As for the characterization here, I'm thinking of the silent stalker, a mute killer like Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers. A masked, faceless axe murderer with an air of inevitability about him.
  3. The Nightmare:A character that's his foe's worst nightmare. Able to make good use of their weaknesses and preventing them from getting anythign done.
  4. The Slasher: Escaped from a lunatic assylum, this character is straight out of a slasher flick. He's Lector, he's Bates, he's Manson, he's a crazy person with a knife and that crazy gleem in his eyes. He'll be a viscious physical attacker who'll weaken his opponents before finishing them off.
  5. The Shadow: One with the shadows, this character excells at teleporting and surprise attacks. She loves backstabs and delayed damage. I'm thinking she'll be a slight girl, looking like that one from the Ring. Little more than a pale face wrapped in shadows and a shift.
  6. The Torturer: A character that turns opponent's weaknesses against them, exploiting them with terrific debuffing. Based on otherworldly, demonic tortuerers, like Hellraiser's Pinhead. A cerebral monster, the thinking man's serial killer.

Idea: A family of flexible scrappers with the ability to bypass defenses.
Name: The (?) Family. (?) is some kind of Italian sounding surname like Gotti or Luchese but I haven't settled on one yet.
Color: Light Purple
Design: Trapped in a world gone mad, the Gangster have to fight to survive. Fortunately, long years of scrapping and wrestling for control of the underworld means they're no pushovers. They're a group of flex-range, physically-based scrappers. They get to work from either range. And they get to ignore resistances or otherwise get around a target's defenses.
  1. “Tony Montana”: A Tony Montana-esque, Scarface-like gangster. The family's underboss or otherwise one of its leaders. A vicious fighter who'll scrap tooth and claw, with guns and knives. Able to lay down some DOT, he won't be the game's hardest hitter, but he will be one of its more flexible ones.
  2. The Thug: A big, burly leg breaker and arm twister. A big galloot, a great dumb lug, thicker than a bag full of hammers and twice as strong. They call him the ox because it'll take a boltgun to the head to bring him down. A close-only heavy who'll rely on his fists because he sure won't be relying on his speed.
  3. The Made Man: A slick, pin-striped suit wearing, fast talking hustler. A smooth operator always on the hustle. I'm thinking Ray Liotta here or, at least, Raffles the Gentleman Thief. A fast card with, perhaps, a mugging mechanic that lets him take from an opponent even as he harms them.
  4. The Hit Man: A dark, silent, bald man in a trenchcoat. The gang's button man, their assassin, the silent, competent one who always gets the job done as long as the pay is right. An overdrive killer, he'll take a few turns to spin up but once he does, he'll be a stone cold killer. Something of a close-range version of Ameythst Weapon.
  5. The Stoolie: The snitch, the stool pigeon, the shifty one that nobody likes. He's Joe Pesci with just as short of a temper. He's not big, he's not all that tough, but he's learned to be devious and shifty as he's scraped to survive. Able to debilitate his opponents, he'll also be able to steal from them. Somehow.
  6. The Gun Moll: Have you ever heard of Bulleta? Yeah, well, that's kind of the idea here. A seemingly cute and angelic girl who's really insanely violent and packing enough of an arsenal to equip an army. She'll be a high damage, far-range, heavy hitter that deals a lot of damage. She'll also be, in the game's lore, one of the gangster's girlfriends, the Bonnie to their Clyde.
  7. The Vamp: The lounge singer in the sexy dress. The woman with the husky voice and the pistol in your back. The femme fatale. I see her as being the daughter of the gang's boss. And I picture her as being a card that seduces and distracts, rendering her opponents unable – or unwilling – to attack. And that's when this black widow can strike.

Idea: A group of light magic using rockers that specialize in teamwide buffs.
Name: The Monsters of Rock
Color: Silver / Pale Gold / Platinum
Design: A group of rock legends pulled through time and ready to face off against evils of all kind. Their music is their power as they use it to bolster their spirits and finish off their opponents. They'll be made up of loose homages to various famous rockers throughout the ages, sort of a whirlwind tour through the rock of ages.
  1. The 50's Rocker: A send-up of 50s, sock hop era rockers like Elvis Presley or the Bip Bopper. A big large man with an barely contained personality and a barely contained waistline. A high health heavy.
  2. The 60's Rocker: Okay, well, not 60s exactly, but a glam rocker. An experimental magician in the mold of Bowie or Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles. A trippy, freaky character with lots of sparkly, freaky deaky effects. I'd like him to have a focus, especially, on energy.
  3. The 70's Rocker: My tribute to musicians like Alice Cooper or KISS. Even Gwar. Those heavy metal groups that dress up in outlandish costumes, covered in spikes and bits of gore, whether it's 70s schlock or 80's hair bands all I know is he has to have one of those guitars that's shaped like an axe. And that he'll be a high damage scrapper with a nasty edge, too.
  4. The 80's Rocker: From the era of hairspray and hair bands, she'll also be a bit of a reference to I-No, the rocker girl from Guilty Gear. Generally speaking, a rocker chick with a head full of spunk and a mouth full of filth. She'll play fast and hit hard.
  5. The 90's Rocker: From the Seattle scene, modelled on someone like Curt Cobain. Or maybe something more recent and emo-tastic. Either way, a character filled with angst and apathy. Able to debilitate and weaken foes with his songs.
  6. The Garage Band Rocker: A golden youth, the every-man draw into events thanks to discovering a magical guitar and a hidden talent for the rocking. An all-arounder whom we'll try to make into a poster child for this expansion.

There. 25 characters and some of them even sound halfway interesting.

I'm working a bit ahead, so I'm already past this point, having gone from basic concept onto a stage where I have shadow bars put into place for all the cards. Not quite fully realized, but a bit more than “this skill will do x.” But, since we're about showing the process here, we'll resume in the fullness of time with the first steps on that process, and the basic construction of the first group.

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