Recently, I took the Pixelles Writing Portfolio Program (which is free and great, check it out here). I’ve played with game writing before, I have a massive unfinished Twine game with documentation in spreadsheets, all that. But I wanted to purposefully attack and learn about it.
The first assignment was making a character design sheet. I put it off for a while, but once I actually sat down to do it, I saw there was hardly anything left on it and all of it was easily scraped from a character sheet I’d made for my on-hold Twine game.
The thing I did need to do was write a few more barks (short lines a character says in reply to certain game triggers) to fill in what I already had. Because of course I have a spreadsheet with the dialogue for my game, I’m not a barbarian. The reason I have one, mind you, is because when I started building the game I modelled the character sheet off of the Fallout Wiki character pages because I could see how they were a great starting point to figuring out a character’s place in the story, and their quests. Part of those pages, for most of the main companions anyway, is a txt file of their dialogue. The one I like to use as an example is Craig Boone’s, he’s a primary companion and the first one most players encounter. Honestly dry little grid is SUCH a masterclass into not only how branching dialogue works but how to create character depth quickly and efficiently.
Below is the character sheet, in the game writing section is a PDF of this character design sheet that contains all forty barks, for which I only needed to write like eight, because again, I was pulling things from already existing work.
This was a neat exercise and also one that made me feel surprisingly competent, the lesson explained well what I didn’t know already and it felt good to see that my instincts, honed from playing and thinking about games (and other types of writing) were on track.
Pixelles Writers Workshop Assignment 1 – Character Design
Action Role-Playing Game
Party Member/Possible Ally
Name: Lupe Vega
Sex & Gender: Female
Race/Origin: Human, West Coast Latine (Mexican-American)
Archetype/Inspiration Character: A post-apocalyptic Zorro.
3-4 keywords: Foolhardy, cunning, loyal.
Wants/Needs/Motivation: To avenge the deaths of her parents.
Summary that best describes your character: The Regretful Vigilante.
Voice Notes: Lupe is dryly sharp-tongued, like a lazy papercut. She’s fond of needling the PC, and will default to sarcasm for even simple questions – both as a defensive method to prevent further investigation and as friendly banter.
Audio Voice Quality: A higher but scratchy voice, think Martha Higareda as Kristin Ortega in Altered Carbon.
Quote: “A guy like that, one vengeful act doesn’t fix the problem. It just makes all the other problems more clear.”
Biography/Background: The youngest child of a merchant family, Lupe was only ten years old when her parents were killed by a raiding gang member who was, at the time, suspected to have been the hired gun of another merchant family.
After her parents’ deaths, Lupe was then sent to live with an aunt, close to the edge of civilisation. When she returned to her family home at the age of 19, it became clear that her eldest brother had arranged their parents’ deaths so that he could take over the business to secure financial connections.
Though she attempted to bring her brother to justice and regain control of the family business, Lupe found herself thwarted by bureaucracy and the social stagnation of the area. In disgust, she left and returned to the border town, which became the base of her later operations.
Continuing to assist her aunt in running and managing her tienda, Lupe also began leading small caravans. Using her role as a merchant as cover, Lupe started a campaign to ruin the businesses of those who profited off of her parent’s death, eventually expanding her targets to include any unscrupulous people of power.
Unique Look: Lupe wears a black panama hat with a red band and an attached red hood/scarf that covers the neck and wraps around the front for dust and sun protection.
Iconic Weaponry/Ability: Lupe is primarily an edged weapon fighter. Her primary weapons are a dagger and heavy rapier, with throwing knives as her ranged weapon. Although Lupe does not initially carry any guns, or projectile weapons, she will use them if equipped.
- If the player character gives Lupe any faction armour she will refuse it and say “I thought you had better taste than that.”
- If player character gives Lupe any guns, laser or plasma weapons she will laugh and say one of the following lines:
- “I’m not sure you should trust me with this.”
- “I guess it could be useful if I lose my sword.”
- “Pew, pew, pew!”
- If the Courier is female and I Will Miss These Daily Bouts is completed, the option to sleep with Lupe will become available. Sleeping with Lupe will give the player the Well Rested status on any sleeping surface.
A version of this post was initially published in a locked Patreon post on February 12, 2021.