Liana K, Characters, Their Stats and Female RPG Characters

There are a lot of good and interesting points in this, including some justification for base stat differences between male and female characters in RPGs.  For those without time to watch the video, the major point she brings up is that the female character, despite having a completely different non-martial background from the male character, has all sorts of inexplicable combat skills and physicality without any justification beyond delivering a 1-for-1 play experience.  That and the female character might even be lactating throughout the game…

In VG RPGs that let you customize the default protagonist, I tend to go for a 3:1 ratio of playing female to male characters, in part because physical stats are easier to grind up than social stats.  DCC , however, is the first time in tabletop I’ve played ‘a little girl’ (or even a female PC at all), and that was entirely the luck of the roll (random gender, random alignment, 3d6 straight down). So I play to that character’s strengths, which mostly entail her being small and inconspicuous. Would it make sense for me to play a large ripped muscle-bound fighty man with those 7s, 8s and 9s in all of my stats? Absolutely not!

In tabletop RPGs, I think characters emerge from their stats much moreso than with VG RPGs. With VG RPGs, the stats often don’t reflect (or aren’t reflected in) the physical appearance of the characters, so you CAN end up with lithe bruisers and ripped frail mages. In a lot of games with default protagonists without fixed race and gender, phenomena like Liana described can sort of jar you out of your suspension of disbelief, but games are expected to deliver the same sort of experience regardless of your ‘cosmetic’ character choices even when those choices should NOT be cosmetic. Despite being an incredibly unfun mess of a game, I think the first Killzone actually pulled this off to an extent (big ripped muscle dude carried giant chain guns, while lithe assassin girl carried scoped pistols, etc.), but that wasn’t a game with a default protagonist.

Something that would be interesting to see would be an attempt to make characters in a game better reflect their stats. Ironically, one of the few games I’ve played that really attempted to do this (and in a way that gamified fitness no less!) was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. CJ could get fat and pudgy if he ate junk food, didn’t work out and only drove places, and it would translate into reduced stamina; conversely, if he got into shape, his physical stats would improve along with his character model. Perhaps rather than having a character look like whatever regardless of starting stats, those starting stats would be determinant of possible appearance and characteristics. You wouldn’t be locked in, of course, but it would be the difference between playing a small thiefy street urchin and a weak out of shape dude. Or hell, a tough broad and a square-jawed man.

The thing is, what might be average for one person could be exceptional for another. Let’s throw out some random, but average stats:
Str  9
Dex 11
Con 8
Per 12

Reasonably strong, reasonably fast, reasonably likable, maybe can’t quite take a hit as hard as some people. Kind of ‘meh’, right? Now apply them to a 5-foot nothing girl who weighs just over 100 lbs.

Saori-Ishioka
This character just got a bit more interesting, right?

Your ‘average’ stats for one character could just amount to ‘some guy’ or a Saori Ishioka (Japan’s #7 ranked strawweight woman fighter) depending on the human frame you’re applying them to.  Of course there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a female character with 18s in Strength and Con; just keep in mind that it would make sense for her to look more like She-Hulk than your typical professional woman fighter.  Even in the world of professional boxing, 18 STR and CON would be more along the lines of a Klitschko than a Mayweather.  Weight Class is a very real thing, which is why fighting uses pound-for-pound ranking.  So remember, you can play a character with so-so stats that could easily be a pound for pound champ, and in the end I think that’s more interesting and has more possibilities that playing a maxed out monster.

Anyway, have a good Thanksgiving weekend.

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