February 26, 2004
WISH 85: Character Inspirations

This week, Ginger asks...

What inspires you to create characters? Do you have partially-developed characters in mind for use when you get into a new campaign? Do you shop characters around, or do you come up with new characters when you get into a campaign? Why? If you GM, are you bothered by receiving a solicitation for a “generic” character, or does it enthuse you to get a solid proposal even if it’s not closely tailored to your game?

Mmph, loaded question.

For one thing, six months ago I would've told you I don't reuse characters. Then I did.

I used to think that each character had to be completely unique. Spring from a new source in my brain, a new personality, a new voice. Then I realized I had some characters who had been SO short-lived that I wanted to give them new life. I have found homes for the two now -- Jinx has a new home in SoM and Devon in Galren (the only thing that transported was the attitude...).

I prefer to come up with something suited to the game. If I do draw inspiration from my own past Voices, I have to make them different somehow. Tailor them. Otherwise they get all muddled up.

But I've realized something. I'm not terribly unique. I have a pattern, and it has been pointed out to me before. And I knew it anyway, I just didn't like to think of it as a flaw. Now I begin to wonder if it is ... if I have become boring and predictable.

I play the innocent in Amber. Naive. Often a bit self-centered (okay, often a LOT self-centered). Many many traits the same between my characters (i could list them all -- it ain't important). Different pasts, different motivations, but when it comes down to it, they are all heart, with a logic all their own. Trouble, usually. Catalysts. But still, in some heart of the matter, all the same.

And while that disturbs me that perhaps I am typecasting my own playstyle, I have realized that hey, I have fun. And I try to make sure the GM and other players have fun. Use me... I try to create characters that are in the middle of things and can *become* catalysts.

I'm rambling.

Switching topics to GMing.

I prefer a unique character, crafted to fit my game. I need to have hooks, some way of getting inside the character. I run a character oriented game, and if I can't "get" you, I can't give you a good time. Y'know?

That said, there are several characters in RoP which *were* brought in from other games because it first ran as a one-shot at ACUS. People didn't realize it was going to be a campaign so they brought characters they loved, who then got adapted into the game. And it has worked. The characters have changed and diverged from their original selves.

I think a character can be reused IF it is made new at the same time. If it does not bring baggage with it. If it becomes a part of the new game, and nothing of the old game remains.

What I really want to see is someone who cares about their character. Someone who gives me hooks to hang a plot on, and to hang character interaction on. When I was given Rhiannon (who is the young Brieanne from SB actually), I was told that she was Random's shadow. Which worked PERFECTLY. She had a history that fit into the game, and the pieces that didn't fit, we tossed out. Those that worked, we kept. And she has grown in her own directions now.

Rambling back into my own head now.

I've been inspired by movies. By seeing a picture (Leigh was inspired by watching That 70s Show and seeing Donna). By music (Kale was based purely on the Leah Andreone song in her soundtrack). And sometimes I just open my mouth and a character comes out. Romance novels, yes. Adrienne was inspired by the concept of the heroine with seven elder brothers all protecting her, when she was bloody willful enough to kick their asses and protect herself. Devon? Heh. He came from a twist in my head and just started talking to me.

I think this is why I usually find it so hard to play the Elders in an Amber game. They aren't mine. I have to MAKE them mine before they become workable for me. When Arref proposed the double-Dara idea to me for GA it inspired everything that Dara became. Because I suddenly had a way to make her mine all mine instead of having to be what the books said she was.

It is often that... a phrase, a side conversation, a sudden thought, and the character is there. Another Voice in my head.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:26 PM
February 16, 2004
Book Review: Something Unpredictable

Something Unpredictable
by Barb Chepaitis
Hardcover, from Atria Books, 2003

As always, Barb's writing is enjoyable and quick reading. I love the way she draws her characters, the way they live and breathe. Her last book, These Dreams made me cry. Through half the book. When this one came out, and I picked it up at Albacon, I asked Barb if it was as serious. She said no... after the depth of These Dreams she wrote something light and uplifting and fun.

She was right.

(possible spoilers behind the cut)

Delilah always knew her mother was adopted. She grew up in a slightly off-kilter family, where her mother brought home people and causes, and Delilah was the odd one when she went into science. It wasn't a perfect life, losing her twin brother when they were ten, to lieukemia.

And then she found out her mother had found her birth grandmother. By accident. And Delilah was elected to go see her and make contact.

Barb's writing is fresh and sometimes comic. Delilah's mistakes are painted without embarassment, and her triumphs bring joy. The book isn't all happy (yes, she still made me cry) but it *is* a story of happiness and love and finding what you need when you least expect it. And where you least expect it.

I love that about it. I always say... stop looking for something, and you'll turn around and it will be there for you. And in many ways, that's what this is about.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 05:13 PM
Books from Boskone

As we left for Boskone, Kevin informed me we wouldn't be buying many books because he didn't have too many on his "must buy" list.

He was right. For himself. He bought 3 1/2 (the 1/2 we are sharing) books. Of course, all his were hardcover, which certainly upped the total bill.

The rest... which were numerous... are mine. So, I'll share here what I picked up for books, in case anyone's just dyin' t'know what I'll be reading. And these will get added to the other 200-300 on my to-read pile. *smiles*

From the freebie table...

Joss Whedon, the Genius Behind Buffy
_Blood will Tell_, by Jean Lorrah

To be given away to get other people hooked...

_The Black Jewels Trilogy_, by Anne Bishop

As I already own the originals of these, and utterly adore Anne, I feel I must share her and get others hooked. I happened upon a half-price copy of the omnibus edition and it will be traveling to ACUS with me. Have to figure out the best direction to point it. *grins* My husband has tried to convince me that I should keep it as a loaner copy, but I like giving books I love.

And mine, all mine (except the Wen Spencer, which is mine and Kevin's)

_Trickster's Choice_, by Tamora Pierce
_A Perilous Power_, by E. Rose Sabin
_Seduced by Moonlight_, by Laurell K. Hamilton
_Tinker_, by Wen Spencer
_Spirits in the Wires_, by Charles de Lint (half price)


_Absolutely Captivated_, by Kristine Grayson
_Kissing Frogs_, by Laura Marie Altom
_All Night Awake_, by Sarah Hoyt
_Holder of Lightning_, by S.L. Farrell
_A Wizard Alone_, by Diane Duane
_Clade_, by Mark Budz
_The Magician's Guild_, by Trudi Canavan
_The Secret Country_, by Pamela Dean
_The Hidden Land_, by Pamela Dean
_The Whim of the Dragon_, by Pamela Dean
_Master of Ecstasy_, by Nina Bangs

And some of my comments...

I picked up three romance novels because they all just looked like fun and entertainment and well, quick light reads. I need those once in a while, especially after I've spent a half hour crying over a Connie Willis ending or two weeks plugging through the richness of deLint description.

_Master of Ecstasy_ is a time travel vampire romance novel. C'mon, how could I resist???

In _Kissing Frogs_ the back cover describes a biologist who finds a unique frog that will make her famous, and gets so excited that she kisses it, releasing a trapped prince! But she wants her famous frog back!

_Absolutely Captivated_ is a romance story with a 150 year old mage at the center of the story. Loving that.

The Pamela Dean novels caught my eye because of the title of the third book (some of you will get that amusement). I picked them up because they are a YA trilogy and were on Glen's table (and he's got good taste in YA) and because I have a weakness for crossover novels (five people get transported into a game... you know the type).

_Clade_ and _Magician's Guild_ are mysteries to me... their back covers sounded interesting, and they intrigued Jenn too. Kev is interested in those as well, so once I've read them, I'll toss them onto his to-read pile.

I've been waiting to pick up _Tinker_ and the Laurell Hamilton. So I'm psyched to get those. _Spirits in the Wires_ I've been resisting, so when Kev bumped into a half price copy he jumped on it for me.

All in all, quite a few books, and I'm really looking forward to the reading. Right now, though, I've got to finish up _Paper Mage_, which I started during Boskone when I finished up the Barb Chepaitis novel I'd been reading.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 04:29 PM
February 14, 2004
Marriage is love is marriage

Most people will know that I'm woefully undereducated when it comes to life and politics and the real world. I'm just not up on current events.

But I have my thoughts on things.

I have always believed that marriage should be about love, and about protecting those you love. About supporting those you love.

I have always found the concept that someone could not get married simply because of gender horrifying. I've always found that while children may be born to heterosexual couples who do not love them, or even beat them, children of homosexual couples are considered endangered.


Think about it, world. The word is love. Yes, it's that simple. Love.

People talk about family values. But I'm not so sure that some people have the same view of family that I do. To me, a family is a group of people who care about each other. Who would take each other's pain upon themselves in order to take that pain away and make life better. Family is about love.

Family is not about abuse or hate or staying together just because the world says it should be that way. Family is not about the dark things, nor should it be.

If we want to promote family values (and I would love to promote those sorts of values that I think *should* be valued), then we need to look at what makes a family a family. What makes a family worth BEING a family. And it comes back to love and loyalty and caring. Whether a family is a heterosexual couple, or a homosexual couple, or a triad, or a commune. Do they care for each other? Are they a *FAMILY*? It they are, then let them marry. Because THEY know what marriage is, as opposed to that couple that had the restraining order and where he knocked her down the stairs or she ran down the street after him to bash his car with a baseball bat. Hate is not family.

I want to see the people I care about able to express their love by making a committment if they wish. I want to see them able to protect their family members by bringing them under the umbrella of insurance and power of attorney when they are ill. If a couple has the devotion to be together for twenty years WITHOUT being able to be legally wed, why is the couple who marries on Wednesday and divorces on the following Tuesday somehow better, just by being heterosexual?

I think sometimes that the world has an odd view of family. An odd view of love. Me, I'll vote to support what I see as love and family. Because to me, that's important.

I support marriage (whether the members of the marriage are het, gay, or otherwise). Because I support love & family.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:56 PM