Top Ten JRPG Playable Character Tropes

Japanese role-playing games have traditionally been associated with complex storylines, linear plots, and a cast of colorful characters. Of course, there’s a limited amount of time for character development in a video game, and developers will often use familiar character types to quickly establish who everybody is and how they will fit into the group dynamic. When I play these types of games, I always try to pick out who is playing which role (no pun intended) and decided to make my own top ten list of the most common tropes that I’ve seen.

Keep in mind that all of my examples come from JRPGs that I’ve played and am already familiar with. Also, these are just my opinions and are not necessarily meant to be criticisms of these games, although some of them definitely do a better job of character development than others.

10. The Tomboy
Examples: Aika – Skies of Arcadia, Penelo – Final Fantasy XII, Lucca – Chrono Trigger

Description: What male hero wouldn’t like to have a beautiful friend since childhood who can be one of the guys and has nursed a secret crush on him all this time? Pigtails are not required, but they don’t seem to hurt.

9. The Demure Female
Examples: Yuna – Final Fantasy X, Fina – Skies of Arcadia, Sophia – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Description: With all this killing and looting of monsters, every party of adventurers needs a softer, gentler side. Bonus points if she’s pretty and can cast healing spells.

8. The Perky One
Examples: Oerba Dia Vanille – Final Fantasy XIII, Rikku – Final Fantasy X, Jansen – Lost Odyssey

Description: Lest we forget we’re playing a game, this character will always be around to make jokes and generally try to lighten the mood of any setting, regardless of how serious the situation really is. You do realize nearly everything here is trying to kill us, don’t you?

7. The Overly-Sexed Character
Examples: Queen Ming –Lost Odyssey, Fran – Final Fantasy XII, Vashyron – Resonance of Fate

Description: Is the objectification of women, either through costume or attitude, significant enough to be a major character trait? Maybe. Do we need it to enjoy great gameplay and an engaging storyline? No. No we don’t.

6. The Old Person
Examples: Sazh Katzroy – Final Fantasy XIII, Auron – Final Fantasy X, Eldore – White Knight Chronicles

Description: When nearly every playable character is 17, just being in your early thirties could qualify someone for this trope. Of course, since everyone performs exactly the same, the only way we can tell that one of the characters is slightly older is if they mention it. Over and over and over.

5. The Child
Examples: Peppita Rossetti and Roger S. Huxley – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Cooke and Mack – The Last Odyssey, Hope Estheim – Final Fantasy XIII

Description: How do you explain an eleven year old who can kill dozens of trained soldiers and/or ferocious monsters? “The needs of the story.” That’s how.

4. The Tourist
Examples: Tidus – Final Fantasy X, Leonard and Yunie – White Knight Chronicles, Fayt Leingod – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Description: We all know that dialogue is one of the easiest ways to give exposition. Result? We get a character that knows absolutely nothing about the world around them, regardless of whether they’re a native or not.

3. The Tour Guide
Examples: Fran – Final Fantasy XII, Eldore – White Knight Chronicles, Cliff – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Description: What’s a tourist without a guide? This inevitably helpful character is always ready to give the player a brief description of a location, magic system, or type of monster. Fluency in mystical languages carved into ruins is a plus.

2. The Brooder
Examples: Auron – Final Fantasy X, Basche – Final Fantasy XII, Captain Drachma – Skies of Arcadia, Kaim – Lost Odyssey

Description: Every team needs a man or woman of mystery. Someone with a tragic past, a dark backstory. Someone who will offset the obnoxious jokes of the Perky One.

1. The Bland Protagonist
Examples: Chrono – Chrono Trigger, Fayt – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Edge Maverick – Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Leonard – White Knight Chronicles, etc. etc. etc.

Description: I get it. It’s hard to make the player feel like they are the hero in a game where they have no direct control over the protagonist’s personality. Nearly every JRPG that I’ve played solves this problem by giving the hero as little personality as possible. While they may have other dialogue, it always seems like most of their vocabulary is based on three themes, “Whoa!” “Huh?” and, of course, “NOOOOOOOOO!” Oh well. At least we have this colorful cast surrounding him…

 

Did you think of another example of someone falling into one of these tropes in your favorite JRPG? Leave a comment below and we’ll see how many we can list!

Thanks to Raven Oaks for giving me the idea for this blog post.

Christmas-Themed Fake Quotes from My Stories

“Keltin, is there such a thing as a snow mirage?”
“What are you talking about, Jaylocke?”
“I’ve heard that in the desert, you can get so hot and thirty that you begin to see things that aren’t really there. Do you think you can get the same thing out here?”
“I doubt it. Why?”
“Look.”
Keltin turned to look where his apprentice was pointing and saw that one of the evergreen trees on the far bank of the Wylow river had been festooned with decorations. Delicate glass ornaments hung from every bough as small woodland creatures scattered silvery strands of tinsel along the green needles. Keltin turned back to Jaylocke as the squirrels and rabbits began laying brightly wrapped packages around the tree trunk.
“I think we’ve been out in the cold too long,” he said.
– (not from) Into the North

“No! I don’t want to!” shouted Vin, the talking sword. “You can’t make me!”
“I can, and I will!” said the knight holding Vin. “Now get in there!”
“No!” screamed Vin as he was plunged into the still body before him. “You monster!”
“Oh hush and carve the turkey,” said the knight.
– (not from) Magic, Mystery and Mirth

“Huh,” said Keltin.
“What is it?” asked Bor’ve’tai.
“Nothing,” said Keltin, looking at the still beast he’d just brought down. “I’ve just never seen a serpent stag with a glowing red nose before.”
– (not from) The Beast Hunter

Well, Journal, there’s good news and bad news. It’s Christmas Day, and against all odds, Santa did come! Unfortunately, instead of six months of food and a shotgun, he brought me dress socks and a sweater with a bird on it.
– (not from) Lost Under Two Moons

Ten Christmas Gifts for the Writer in Your Life

1. A cat video filter for her internet browser

2. A “Cliff Notes” version of a book on the craft of writing

3. A word processor that auto-corrects telling instead of showing

4. An instant-inspiration pill that is not harmful, habit-forming, or fattening

5. A mobile desk so she can pace and write at the same time

6. A voice-activated graphic design program that will take an infinite number of vocal commands to design the perfect book cover

7. A music app that syncs up the type of scene she’s writing with the appropriate mood music

8. Special glasses that can scan people’s brains and instantly know whether they’ll be interested in her book or not

9. An automated candy dispenser that will only release a piece of chocolate for each time she writes another 1,000 words

10. A keyboard that makes typing feel like she’s petting a dog

Top 10 Things a Writing Coach Doesn’t Want to Hear

10. This session didn’t count, right?

9. I’m going to warn you up front that I don’t take criticism well.

8. How many books should I expect to sell in the first week?

7. I’m not looking to hire a writing coach, I just wanted to send my manuscript to you to get your feedback.

6. I never realized how effective semi-colons are.

5. My writing group thinks you’re wrong.

4. How many copies of my book are you planning on buying for your friends?

3. What are your rates for writing college research papers?

2. Can you help me get my fan-fiction into Barnes and Nobles?

1. I’ve got the cover image done, now I just need to write the book.

Can you think of any more? Leave a comment below.

Ten Easy Things to Check Off Your Daily To-do List

1. Get out of bed feet first.

2. Hold the correct end of the fork while eating.

3. Wear more than one article of clothing while driving.

4. Spell your name correctly on the first try.

5. Turn up the volume when a good song is playing.

6. Look at your phone at least once.

7. Say something funny (at least, YOU thought it was funny).

8. Open doors before going through them.

9. Have at least one idle thought an hour while awake.

10. Resolve to get something done tomorrow.

Another Ten Weird Writing Prompts

1. Contrary to what the experts might say, it’s surprisingly hard to dress a live chicken in a tiny tuxedo.

2. “Ha! the joke’s on you!” I shouted. “I’m not wearing any pants!”

3. All stories have to begin somewhere. This one starts part-way through the middle, skips to the end, then goes back to the beginning to see what we missed.

4. The early morning light glistened like liquid gold on Larry’s bald head.

5. There is a prophesy, as ancient as time. But those things are never right anyway, so never mind.

6. I woke up, hanging upside-down over a pool of lava while fiendish bug people danced the Macarena nearby. “Not again,” I thought.

7. I suppose you could say it all started last Tuesday. You’d be wrong, of course. It all started on Thursday, but you can say Tuesday if it makes you feel better.

8. The quest was over. You missed it.

9. Magic was thick in the air. Either that, or someone had recently spritzed the room with Febreze.

10. Nobody suspected the armadillo.

Fake Quotes from My Stories

Jaylocke inched closer to Keltin, doing his best to remain silent in the deep snow.
“Aren’t you going to take the shot?” he asked, nodding towards the beast moving along the far bank of the icy river.
“I can’t,” Keltin whispered.
“Why not?”
“I can’t pull the trigger while wearing these mittens.”
– (not from) Into the North

“Die, foul wizard!” screamed Eric as he launched himself into the room, only to be met by a young man in strange clothing with some sort of puppet on his knee.
“Err, I think you’re in the wrong story,” said the young man.
“Oops, sorry about that.”
“Try knocking next time!” said the puppet.
– (not from) Magic, Mystery and Mirth

Baron Rumsfeld turned to Keltin.
“Captain Moore, I need a brave volunteer for a dangerous mission.”
Keltin nodded somberly. “All right. Let me go look for one.”
– (not from) The Beast Hunter

This world is completely alien. the sky, the land, the moons. Two moons. How can that be? I must be on another world, as impossible as that sounds. Alone and stranded on an alien world. And before you ask, no, I don’t have any cell coverage here.
– (not from) Lost Under Two Moons

Ten Weird Writing Prompts

1. The fishbowl felt surprisingly heavy as I placed it over my head.

2. In all my years as an arborist, I never had a tree hug me back. Until today.

3. “Of course I can babysit your walrus,” I said with a forced smile.

4. It’s hard when anyone’s ex comes back for a visit. Mine came back as a zombie.

5. I doubt anyone will believe the fantastic adventure I had last summer, so I’ll tell you about the weekend I spent binge-watching Netflix instead.

6. I went to Australia to find myself. Unfortunately, it turned out I wasn’t there.

7. It wasn’t until my first concert that I found out I’d been blowing into the wrong end of my saxophone.

8. You don’t know me, and that probably won’t change by the time you’re done with this story.

9. It goes without saying that I also got a flat tire on the day that my house blew up.

10. The mongoose said this would happen.