Kuma_From_Argentina (Level 14)

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Wow I reached 5 blogs of Toku…. I really thought I would stop halfway through, but I pushed on (better said I found free time to do this) so let’s continue the quick look to Kamen Rider!

Today we will start checking the Neo-Heisei (Decade technically is part of it, but it’s too focused on the anniversary to showcase some of the main traits associated with the Neo-Heisei or Heisei Part 2 series)

The Neo-Heisei era is more of a fandom coined term, yet there is an evident division between the Pre-Decade series with the Post-Decade series. From the official side the main changes are the change in their schedule making the series start around the later half of the year and end around the same time it ends.

This means every Rider series now shares the timeslot with 2 Super Sentai series and vice versa, allowing more Crossovers. Crossovers are an important thing in the Neo-Heisei series, the movies and the series have them in spades, something that didn’t happen in the early Heisei except in joke videos.

Another production change was that for the first time since the series started the romanji version of title said Kamen Rider instead of Masked Rider, not a big thing for us, but signaled the difference between Heisei and Neo-Heisei as a new time to experiment.

What was the experimentation about? They cherry picked elements and concepts from the Heisei series and formed a list of traits and common ideas that all (or most) Neo-Heisei series share. Let’s list them, shall we?

1. Gadgets and Gimmicks: Every Neo-Heisei Rider has some sort of collectible element to his powers. Memories, Medals, Switchs, Rings, Lockseeds or Shifts Cars. All (Except Wizard) share the same denomination for their Henshin Device, are all called Drivers. W Driver, OOO Driver, Fourze Driver and etc… Most of them also have some sort of robotic or miniature pet.

2. Riders with the Same powers: All the Riders and Secondary Riders in the Neo-Heisei era tend to have similar power sources, they can use it on different ways but all their powers are similar.

3. Multi-forms: All the Neo-Heisei Riders have at least 4 forms, sells more toys

4. Monsters and Riders with the Same Powers: The Monsters tend to have a similar origin to the Riders. Makes it easy?

5. Shouting the Attacks: Every Neo-Heisei Rider has a classification for their final attacks, Maximum Drive, Scanning Charge, Limit Break and etc. All of them tend to be shouted by the Driver itself

There are many more but this are very noticeable. Yet I can see a couple more from the design, as all the Riders seem to be more colorful than in the Heisei Era, their supporting cast tends to be more “toon-like” and the humor is also aimed to younger children, yet there is a positive, as most of the series are pretty damn good with relatively good writers (Except for Wizard… fuck Wizard)

Another interesting thing is the numerical correlation between the series

· W: 2 (2 Memories to activate the powers, 2 individuals join to create a Rider)

· OOO: 3 (3 Medals to activate powers)

· Fourze : 4 (4 available switches for weapons and powers activation)

· Wizard : 5 (5 Magic Rings, a hand as a belt buckle (5 fingers)

· Gaim : 6 (Lockseed (The Henshin device) are locks, in Japanese roku (6))

· Drive: 7: (Between Drive and his car there are always 7 Tires)

There are many more stuff in this numerical correlation, but I won’t spend your time talking about all of them.

Finally there is a single element that can be counted but unluckily it was abandoned after Kamen Rider Fourze, so we will cover it only in this blog. Foundation X.

What is Foundation X? An evil organization that popped from time to time in W, OOO and Fourze, trying to learn more about the powers of the Riders and their enemies. They served as the main enemies for the Crossover movies between Riders. They were a hint of a joint Universe, but that went to the drain thanks to whoever was the idiot writing Wizard….Well I’ll stop ranting and cover the first three Neo-Heisei series…

Kamen Rider W (or Double) 2009-2010

Kamen Rider W is a detective story, our protagonists (yes plural) are Shotaro Hidari, young private detective and sharp dresser, and Phillip, a mysterious guy who was rescued by Shotaro and his late mentor Sokichi Narumi, the single classiest, most badass and amazing Kamen Rider in the fucking franchise. (Yes my mancrush is even larger with him than with Kenji Matsuda)

Shotaro and Phillip team up, Shotaro puts the hands on investigation and instinct while Phillip puts his intelligence as he seems to have every piece of knowledge known to man inside his head, but can only be properly accessed by using the correct keywords to find the information needed, that’s were Shotaro investigations enter to the equation as he tells the keywords.

Both live in Fuuto City and fight against the evil organization Museum, that searchs to perfect the Gaia Memories, small USB memory like devices that hold a concept inside of them all of them codified with a letter of the Alphabet like A for Accel or W for Weather or I for Ice Age and so on. Whoever uses these memories turns into a monster called Dophant. Shotaro and Phillip must fight them.

But regular humans can’t make the cut fighting against these monsters, so using the W Driver (two belts) they transform into Kamen Rider W. Just like while investigating Shotaro puts the body while Phillip puts the brain and they combine two memories Cyclone and Joker to turn into W. They can shift Memories and turn into Cyclone/Trigger or Metal/Joker and many more combinations.

I highly recommend W, is a really good series, it may have some goofy characters and episodes but the villains are pretty cool and the designs are awesome. The W movies are some of the best Kamen Rider movies around with Kamen Rider Skull (my favorite Rider ever) and Kamen Rider Eternal being exclusive to them.

Kamen Rider OOO (or Os) 2010-2011

Eiji Hino is a vagabond/waiter/Adventurer that stumbles upon an ancient relic of a forgotten Kingdom usually referred as a Driver he will use to transform into OOO’s , an armored warrior created by said Kingdom to battle the sinister Greed a race of creatures with their own language and…. Well they don’t have hierarchy but this really sounds a lot like Kuuga ain’t it?

Eiji is guided in this war by Ankh, one of the Greeds that betrayed his kin in the previous war and sided with the previous OOO’s. The Greeds as their name indicates are consumed by desire, not just material stuff, but everything. Their principal desire is the Core Medals, powerful artifacts that are linked to animal groups and allow the Greed to return to their full power.

OOO’s uses the Medals in groups of three, allowing him to make weird combos, like his basic form, Taka-Tora-Batta (Hawk-Tiger-Grasshopper) or the combo forms that include medals of the same color to grant him powerful skills and abilities. Eiji will fight against the Greed and the Yummy, their servants with the help of a private organization that was studying the Core Medals and the Cell Medals (their cheap brothers)

OOO’s is another awesome series, it has a rocky start but it gets really good. It has some similarities to Kuuga but with a deeper more developed main character and all the Neo-Heisei traits.

Kamen Rider Fourze (no or) 2011-2012

Before anything let me make something clear, Fourze is the first Kamen Rider series I watched… and trust me when I say to you this is one of the corniest, more POWER OF FRIENDSHIP!!! Centric series of the franchise. But I just fucking love it, is like my relation to G Gundam, I know it’s ridiculous and corny but that is what it makes it good.

Our protagonist is Gentaro Kisaragi a new student in Amanogawa High School, making him the youngest Main Rider in the franchise. Gentaro is a friendship obsessed, delinquent looking, eternally optimist guy who expresses his desire to become friends with every person in the school (that is focused on training people to become astronauts)

He ends up protecting fellow students (one being a childhood friend of him) from a monster and ends up getting hold of the Fourze Driver, turning into Kamen Rider Fourze and kicking ass. His fight style is the most unorthodox of the franchise, most Riders kick and punch while outboxing the rival, meanwhile Gentaro does wrestling moves, headbutts and knee attacks with gusto.

He starts collecting the 40 Switches that grant him weapons and altered forms while he fights the Zodiarts, students or teachers that use a “Switchers” to turn into creatures based on constellations...with fucking awesome designs. Gentaro doesn’t only beats them, they tries to befriend them afterwards…

For a child friendly series some of the finishers are pretty hardcore, like Rider Kicks with a drill attached to the leg or punting an enemy through a wormhole into space. Meh it’s clean. I recommend it, pretty good but really Corny, you have been warned.

Well this is everything for today! I'll do another one before the end of the year and catch up to the lastest series.

Previous Blogs

Kuma's Toku Corner I

Kuma's Toku Corner II

Kuma's Toku Corner III

Kuma's Toku Corner IV

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Hello lads and lasses! First of all I apologize for the hiatus, but I was deadlocked by my job so I couldn’t get time to do this, but let’s go back with full force, shall we?

Today I’m not going to cover 3 series as always, but I’ll cover one of the most polarizing series in the Kamen Rider Fandom. Kamen Rider Decade, that run from 2009 to 2009, as is one of the shortest, if not the shortest, Kamen Rider series.

What’s the reason to spend a full blog on the shortest series? Well there are many reasons for that. Let’s get to it.

1. Decade is the 10 Heisei Rider Series. The Heisei Riders are the ones I’ve covering in my previous blogs. Decade is a celebration of those series.

2. Decade’s plot features interdimensional travel, to alternate versions of the previous 9 Heisei series and some Showa.

3. Decade as I mentioned is extremely polarizing thanks to its second half, just like Hibiki the production team was changed halfway and the story was altered.

4. Decade is the first series in what is called the “Neo-Heisei” Period and from this point onwards many production themes remain through the series (like a numeral relation I’ll mention later) and new technology was brought in for the cameras.

5. For Comic-book readers one could compare Decade with Crisis on Infinite Earths, as it tries to destroy all the worlds and regroup them in a single cohesive world (as we will see that was more or less successful in the first half of the “Neo Heisei” series.

Kamen Rider Decade (2009-2009)

The story follows Tsukasa Kadoya a young photographer that seems unable to take pictures of anything, as every time he reveals them the pictures are warped and with altered colors. He is saved from a discussion with a customer by Natsumi Mikan, daughter of the owner of the Photo Studio Tsukasa is crashing in.

As the discuss the world is engulfed by walls of silverish energy and they are transported to an alternate dimension. Tsukasa discovers the DecaDriver and uses to transform into Kamen Rider Decade. Natsumi has been having dreams in which she saw Decade fighting the rest of the Kamen Riders, being called the “Destroyer of Worlds”

With his newfound powers Tsukasa exterminates a series of “greatest hits” monsters from previous series, using a set of cards to turn into the other 9 Riders. But every time he uses a card it turns gray and he can’t access it anymore.

After saving Natsumi the time stops and they are confronted by Wataru Kurenai (Kamen Rider Kiva) who cryptically hints that Decade must travel through the dimensions and regain the powers of the different Heisei Riders and ask him to fix the dimensional chaos in each world.

Thus Decade journey begins travelling to altered versions of the previous Rider series (you could consider them What if? Of Kamen Rider) in which he meets and helps the alternative versions of Heisei Riders, regaining his powers as he does.

But as he travels he is followed by Narutaki a self-proclaimed prophet who declares Decade as the guilty party of the Chaos he is trying to fix and tries to kill him through manipulation of the natives to each Dimension.

During the Travel Decade meets Kaito Daiki, Kamen Rider Diend, another Dimension Hopping Rider who enjoys stealing important articles from each word he visits. Diend seems to know Tsukasa’s mysterious past, that is one of the greatest enigmas of the series.

The later half of the series requires a degree on understanding bullshit, but is quite enjoyable only for the Mythology gags and references. Yet Decade’s Journey finishes for real on the movies, specially the true ending Decade vs. All Riders.

Decade can be taken as a bloody mess or as a love letter to the Kamen Rider Franchise. It’s not a perfect series but it has great moments and cool ideas, especially when it comes to the Alternate Worlds.

Decade himself is aloof and cool, always trying to seem as the smartest and most badass in the room (considering he can do almost anything (except for taking photos) and can summon the powers of almost every Rider he does come out as a badass)

The actor who portrays Decade, Masahiro Innoue, is one of the most faithful actors to his role. He appears in almost every movie and crossover and tends to have an important role. And when he can be physically he does the voice work. This is mostly helped that his character serves as a plot device to join up multiple Riders or other heroes through Dimensional Travel.

Well that’s all for today, next time we cover the first 3 Neo Heisei Riders, W, OOO and Fourze. Then we will cover the next three, Wizard, Gaim and the currently airing Drive. From that point onwards we will see.

Don’t forget to ask any questions….

Kuma out!

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Okay people! Let’s start this Toku Corner with a bang, as the sign of baddassery is upon us… KENJI MATSUDA IS COMING…

Yes, I know I have been speaking an awful lot of Matsuda, even that he never was a main Kamen Rider, but let me explain a bit about him. He is indie action movie star in Japan, having parts in a shitload of B ninja movies; yes they have those in Japan as well. His big break was in the movie Versus (2000) in which he plays a character only known as “The Yakuza with the Knife” and gives a performance that is Heath Ledger’s Joker 8 years before it. He acted in two Kamen Rider Series and in Makai Kishi Garo (A series I will talk more about later)

Why do I focus so much in this particular actor? (Apart from my mancrush for him) is to show that in Kamen Rider, in the end, is not about the suits, the gimmicks or the powers, and is about the people involved. If your actors really want to play the character it will make it even better and Matsuda is an example when it comes to that. It’s one of the main advantages Kamen Rider has over Super Sentai, the characters are more developed and leave more breathing space for the actors to do their thing. Super Sentai characters are always typecasted into roles, Kamen Rider can have a creepy sinister rapey looking guy that is comic relief and it works…

Well, now that KENJI MATSUDA is explained (but not forgotten), I can talk about the different types of Rider. Is quite simple, as there are three main categories

Tech Rider: Any rider with powers coming from technological means, most of the Showa era Riders full under this category as most of them were either Cyborgs or wore armor, or both. Is not as common in the Heisei era, but is still pretty common. Their powers vary, as some have different themes assigned to them, but hard tech is usually a thing, like Space Travel or Military Hardware.

Bio Rider: Riders that have organic powers, possibly the least common type, there are two main Showa Riders under this category (Amazon and Shin) while there aren’t any main riders in the Heisei era with this particularity. The Armors tend to be like an exoskeleton or some sort of membrane and tend to be the goriest riders.

Mystical Rider: This are also a minority, as there isnt anyone like this in the Showa Era (maybe Amazon, but he is mainly bio) yet in the Heisei there are quite a few. (Kuuga, Agito, Kiva, Wizard and maybe Hibiki) They tend to have elemental powers most of the time.

Ok, after this brief explanation let’s jump to the end of the Heisei Stage 1 with Riders 7 to 9, Kabuto, Den-O and Kiva.

Kamen Rider Kabuto (2006-2007)

A meteor struck Tokyo 7 years ago killing many people and causing mayor damages, yet the worst part was just starting. The meteor brought with it the Worm a race of Metamorphic beings that can disguise themselves as humans and try to consume the original model and replace them. Fighting them there is the ZECT Organization, that hunt this creatures trying to stop them from maturing and shedding their larva state forms as when they do they evolve into their adult form and can access to an ability called Clock Up, which allows them to move at near light speeds.

Enter Arata Kagami, agent of Zect our….secondary character for this series, he will be the point of view we will have to see the show of Souji Tendo, our protagonist. Under any notion of common sense and narrative integrity Souji Tendo, our titular rider should be poison for the story as he is, lacking any other term to describe him, the Ubermensch, capable of any feat or skill he needs to, all while giving perfect advice under the “My grandmother used to say…” phrase. Souji takes the mantle of Kabuto, something, that according to him, was his destiny and he was preparing for to battle the Worms.

From this point onward shit starts to get real with Riders fighting Riders, intrigue coming from ZECT and their relation to the Worms. Kabuto is an outstanding series, with great characters, great Rider designs and incredible fight scenes as the Riders and Worms fight using Clock up and everything slows down around them. It has flaws, the story has some holes, Tendou gets a bit to mary sueish from time to time and the ending could use work, but is a pretty damn good series.

Kamen Rider Den-O (2007-2008)

The most popular Heisei series by far Den-O is interesting yet flawed. Our protagonist is Ryotaro Nogami a weak, cowardly and shy teen that works part time on his older sister café. While being bullied as usual a strange being made of sand tries to help him by possessing his body and controlling it. This starts a chain reaction that involves the shy and meek Ryotaro in a time Travelling adventure as he fights the Imagin, the same race of the being who possessed him, trying to stop them from making contracts with humans in exchange of controlling them in a certain day.

Ryotaro evolves through the series as he befriends more Imagins like the one at the beginning, each one fighting to get his body for a stroll from time to time as they help him to fight. Den-O has the most movies, thanks to the popularity of the Imagins, clearly aimed at children. The Time Travelling plot they handled also allowed them to do crossovers with older riders and stuff like that.

Nice humor, a large and good cast, decent designs and a bit of wackiness was the mix that exploded in Japan like a powder keg and managed to make more than 3 movies. And even until today the Imagin still are part of the Crossover movies with more airtime dedicated to them than to Main Riders, not exactly fair, but they sold more toys. They even sold Fish sausages…. Good series, but can get trippy with the Time Travel.

Kamen Rider Kiva (2008-2009)

One of the three narrative heavy weights in the franchise, Kamen Rider Kiva is the gothic monsters series, with a Vampiric themed main Rider, werewolves, merfolk and more crazy horror stuff in the mix. Our protagonist Wataru Kurenai is a shy and eccentric violin maker with a bit of an hygiene obsession, he holds the Kivat Belt that allows him to turn into Kiva, a Rider with a design so cool it should have its own guitar riff every time it appears. He fights against the Fangire a race of Vampire like creatures that killed all the other underworld races like the Wolfens and now plan to consume humanity.

But this is just one side of this tale, as the series also shows what happened in the 80’s when Wataru’s father, Otoya Kurenai, a womanizing world class violinist stumbles upon the existence of the Fangire and joins up with an organization that fights them using the IXA System, an advanced battle armor, while he tries to get it on with one of the female agents.

Yes he looks this awesome...
Yes he looks this awesome...

Both stories have synergy between each other, explaining stuff in the 80’s that comes to play later in the 00’s as the fates of past and present are tied by the Kurenai bloodline and the family heirloom, the Bloody Rose Violin, that can detect Fangire’s attacking humans.

Kiva is one of the best Heisei Riders and possibly has the best story of them all. Except for an epilogue that is one of the most bizarre scenes in the show history, Kiva is a narrative powerhouse. Alongside having some of the best monster and suit designs, being impregnated in fine culture with references, with music, arts and sculpture. Not to mention a kick-ass soundtrack with many violin tracks.

AND KENJI MATSUDA IS ON IT PLAYING A GODDAMN, VAMPIRE KILLING, ASS-KICKING, NAME TAKING, LATIN LOVER?, WEREWOLF…. All hail Matsuda!!!

Sorry, couldn’t control my mancrush, next time we will talk about the 10 Heisei Series and Anniversary, Decade, and a bit about the movies of the first 9 Heisei Shows.

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Hello, my name is Iñigo Montoya, you killed my….no, wrong lines, sorry.

Hello, I’m Kuma_From_Argentina, veteran player and member of the Animevice RPG Hall of Fame, and I’m here today to talk to you about character creation. If you follow three simple rules, it will be extremely easy for you to follow the footsteps of previous players who already made great and influential characters.

Building the Basics

First Rule: Pick a Theme and Concept

Every character has two elements particular to them, their Theme and their Concept.

The Concept

Let’s start with the concept, which is easier. The Concept is the sum of your character expressed in the shortest way possible. If you can’t express through a short concept then something is failing (we will talk more about that later)

For Example:

Gen Shishioh
Gen Shishioh

My character Gen is many things, but he could be sum up into the concept “Hot-Blooded Boxer”

Hot-Blooded gives us a broad description of his personality, impulsive, brash, quick tempered, emotional and more. While Boxer indicates his main “occupation” and evokes images of close combat fighting, rough exteriors, wounds and brawling.

Combining both ideas we can get a better view of the character, A brash boxer surely is an in-fighter, being impulsive means he works on instinct more than on logic, what could guide us to the conclusion that Gen isn’t very bright. With this we can get a more detailed idea about the character. It can also help us to pick a look for him, but that comes later.

The Theme

The theme of a character is trickier, but I will try to explain it as simply as possible. A character’s theme determines secondary elements of said characters; as well it can help us pick the character’s “goal”

Keeping Gen as an example, his theme would be “The Pursuit of Power” Gen wants to be the best on his field, that being boxing. Thus this gives us more insight on him. The character Theme here summed up to the Concept give an even tighter description.

A Hot-Blooded Boxer Pursuing Power, with this we can learn that Gen is searching for power but most likely he is doing it in a straightforward manner, as Hot-Blooded individuals don’t tend to be cowards or impassionate about their goals. So he trains, considering his “occupation” his boxer and his method of achieving his goal is straight-forward he surely trains a lot.

Second Rule: Less is better than more (Without reaching extremes)

When you make the bio you need to start small, overcrowding the character with powers, personality traits and background story adventures make him difficult to use or write with. A character with a basic story a limited yet well established power set and a simple personality is much easier to use and evolve than having a 2000 hundred years old immortal with thousand skills and multiple personality disorder.

This is double for new players, especially when it comes to powers and personality. Having a lot of powers doesn’t make a character interesting; it makes it cumbersome and difficult to put in real danger. Having a character with an overly complex personality makes it very difficult to write about him without accidentally going off character.

Having a shorter yet concise background story allows the character to have the bulk of their adventures in the forum, what’s the point having a character who on paper is veteran of a thousand wars and then he is beaten by easily beatable enemies, it makes the character look bad. Having a short back story is paramount to allow the character to bloom in-game.

Third Rule: Creativity is a must

Searching for pieces of characters and sticking them together with superglue is not making a character. I hate to put it so bluntly, but copy-pastes of wiki’s are to writing a character like mud to a white cloth. The character powers, personality and story need to be part of a whole, not pieces of interesting things the writer gets together.

If a character has the personality of Character A, the Powers of Character B and the Story of Character C, then is a mess. A character is a whole, having a Hot-blooded personality, with Ice powers but a story that says he was trained by Giant Moles is a no go, back to the drawing board. Or having a Magician Type character, with detached personality and aloof demeanor and tell in the story he was raised by a loving family and that he never had any difficulties on his life.

The three elements are pieces of the same puzzle, but if the pieces are all from different sets you may complete the jigsaw, but you won’t have a complete image. For this purpose you need to be creative and design the three elements to fit on each other, instead of simply picking them up from a pile and forcing them together.

Story

I think I said it before, but I will say it again, stories for characters backgrounds must be short, having an overly long character back-story with its own climax and several other events that could affect the world is quite useless. Why is that? Because the whole point of the forum is playing the character, what’s the point of the character if he already beat the evilest thing in the world, or he is already hero of a hundred worlds before reaching the threads?

Keep it short, keep it simple and keep it as an introduction. Imagine is the doorway to the Hidden World* you need to think how did your character enter to the reality that hides in the shadows of regular world instead of making a whole damn story about how he saved ten planets and was a godly alien flying through the cosmos in a unicorn that farts rainbows.

I’m not saying your character must be a blank slate, but he mustn’t be at the end of his journey. See the image besides this. Your character story is a car that enters this massive crossroad through one of the roads (Roads being possible origins, like Magical, Martial Artist, etc) the crossroad is the forum (The Vice Verse)

You need to enter, solve your story inside and then exit. Characters must have an end goal, something that drives them forward to accomplish stuff. A Goalless character doesn’t need anything, so why does he do stuff? Even lulz is a good motivation if you know how to write it.

How to write it? That is more a question that will be solved in the personality segment.

Personality

Characters must have a simple yet compelling personality. “But” is the word that no Personality segment must have. Like he is Humble “but” Arrogant, or he is a berserkering warrior “but” he is a pacifist. You can do contrasts, any character without them is boring, but making the whole personality about those contrasts makes a confusing character.

Another common misconception is that making a simple personality typecasts forever a character, making him always the same. If you develop the character he will change and suit your needs, but you can’t make him grow if the foundations are twisted and built in mud. You need a simple yet sturdy base if you want to build anything for your character.

Then we come to another issue I tend to notice a lot in bios. Making a mentally ill character is typecasting him in a role, just what people tend to think simple personality do. The more complex and twisted the personality is the harder is for it to change. Thus making it impossible to leave a really conflictive character does other stuff apart from being ill.

I’m not saying you can’t do mentally ill characters, but when you do them is better to develop the reason for their illness out in the open, during the threads, or the other option is taking said mental ailment and using it as a comedy tool.

Comedy is another issue people try to avoid; many make cool character that cannot fail in anything they do. Failing isn’t painful, but a possibility to learn, for both the player and the character, as both grow upon discovering new possibilities and variants. Comedy tends to be untouched as most characters either try all the time to be the straight man or the deadpan snarker instead of being the object of the pranks or comedy. Don’t fear the slapstick.

Another important thing to remember is making the personality synch with everything else, I know I said this many times, but the connections between the parts that make a character are extremely important, as said connections are what make the character that, instead of being a Frankenstein monster made of scavenged concepts.

Finally the last thing is as always to be creative, I said it before and I’ll keep hammering it, stealing personality from characters only hurts your character as he will be incomplete and incoherent. Making a personality based upon the concept, theme and story is paramount.

Powers and Combat

I’m sure you wanted to reach this part, you are already thinking what kind of cool shit your character will do, but for a moments let’s talk about the core element of any good RPG and why it is so tightly linked to the powers and skills of a character, shall we?

RPG’s core is “Struggle” your character needs to face odds that can challenge them, so they can learn and make an effort to win. This isn’t just a personal preference is a fact of the game itself, if your character doesn’t struggles then you are doing it wrong and you should be ashamed….well not like that, but you need to rethink him or her.

Struggling is not losing some times and winning others, is showing an effort or withstanding adversity with the character, not just plowing through the stories as if you were playing Dynasty Warriors on Easy mode with a fully leveled Lu Bu. There are videogames (Such as Dynasty Warriors) that are for that and if you are looking that experience I deeply recommend you buy it.

Well, I think I made my point, but why does this point relate to the Powers of the character? Easy, having a shitload of powers or being too powerful diminishes the chances of struggle and without struggle; the salt of the game, your character cannot really develop as anybody will tell you that we learn more out of our mistakes than our successes.

The first thing you need to think is: How does the powers of my character relate to my character concept and theme? Using Gen once again as an example, he is a Boxer, so I developed a power and fighting style that fitted him. I tried to create something new, but I did use elements from different series and things I liked.

He is southpaw boxer with a style reminiscent of Sendou Takeshi from Haijime No Ippo, yet he isn’t exactly like him and he doesn’t have the same moves, but the feel of it is what I tried to emulate. His “Fighting Spirit” Energy has some elements of Ki and Nen, but altered to fit my needs, being an emotional boosted spiritual energy.

The “Winning Combination” Concept is a greatly altered version of the Full Course from Toriko, but instead of making of food is a catalogue of knuckle sandwiches. His currently developing Gainen powers are linked to my taste for Tokusatsu shows and the new techniques he has learnt have different sources of inspiration.

Inspiration being the keyword here, as you don’t have or should copy a power, but you should know said power and think how to alter it into being useful for your character. Just copy-pasting powers into a story won’t make a good character, you could be a good writer, but even the best chef in the world can do squat if he doesn’t have good raw materials to work with.

So basically the three rules for picking your powers are:

1. Creativity is important

2. Inspiration and Homage>Rip-off and Copy-paste

3. Linking powers to concept is the way to go.

When it comes to power level for characters I tend to think it like this. A Hero must be initially five times weaker than his villain. So the character can fight against the “Villain”. When it comes to base level attributes I think the best is for a starting “Fighter Type”

Speed: Peak-Mach 1

Strength Peak-5 tons

Durability: Peak-Building Level

Of course this can be altered; some can be way lower and other way higher. I only made a list of the physical attributes as mental attributes (unless mental powers are involved) are more in the side of story and personality than powers.

Yet a good piece of advice, playing a character way smarter than you can be hard, as you need to make him sound and act smart. But playing a character that is dumber than you is equally challenging as you need to ignore common sense and it can get frustrating when you write, trying to do something and knowing your character can’t know about it while you do. (You want to grab him from his or her jacket and shook him.

When it comes to unique powers is a bit more complicated. My high-school literature teacher always said “There is nothing new under the sun” meaning that you will never make something 100% unique and new, as a living breathing creature that lives in this world you will experience other forms of media and that media will alter your perception and your ideas, thus inspiring different creative outlooks.

Let’s do a new example. We have a Spy character, he is an “Independent Spy escaping his past” (Concept and Theme) from this we could say he is somebody of certain age (over 25 at least) as he needs to have a past, but he could be younger if he was a child soldier or something like that. Independent could tell us things like being a freelance, that he works for money or that he has his own code of ethics. But we don’t care about that right now.

We need to think powers for this character. His profession can give us basic stats and skills, like being faster than stronger or sturdier, able to sneak and hide, have some degree of acrobatics and even hacking. But if we wanted to give him powers, what could we use? His Concept and Theme, of course, so if we think it we can find proper powers for him. Shall we?

Independent: Works alone, doesn’t depend of people, is self sufficient (or tries to be)

Spy: Stealth, Assassination, Infiltration and Sabotage. Is secretive and tends to be stoic.

Escaping his Past: Fleeing, avoiding, hiding, forgetting and time.

Split your Concept and Theme and assign traits or actions related to them see what you can think out those words of phrases.

For example he could be a teleporter, as he tries to flee from something, or phase through walls. He could turn into a virtual conscience as nobody would search for a human being inside a computer, like Astral Travelling but with technology.

He is Independent so he could have a power that reflects that, like having some sort of life-support (Like Cybernetic Implants) or genetic alterations. Animal splicing could grant some sort of Totem-like relation, like bats, rats, snakes or any nocturnal animal that could give the character benefits on his line of work. Or you could make a tangential connection and give him something like Electric Eels that could help him infiltrate and commit sabotage with electric shocks.

The Concept and Theme also help finding a source for those powers. Spy suggests Technology and Skill, but you could have a Mystical Spy, like a Wizard trained in illusions and other useful magic that serves as a freelance agent, or maybe a genetic mutation as I mentioned before that could prove to be useful (In the end it could also be considered tech based if the genetic alteration was a scientific experiment). Ninja’s are another possibility, opening the Ki/Martial Arts origin for the character.

About Combat, this is more of regular play than character building, but sometimes the problems in combat have a root in the character. Something very important in a purely narrative RPG game is to sell. What is selling? Taking damage, accepting that your character wasn’t able to avoid an attack and he receives the impact of it. This is quite important, as is mostly an honor system that oversees the exchanges of combat between player.

Some powers arent easy to sell, either selling taking the damage, or selling them being blocked. Those powers (Like Memory Manipulation, Soul Manipulation or flat out Mind Control) are more suited for narrative encounters than combat encounters and must be used with just measure or the character can be denominated “Broken” meaning that he is too powerful to be faced on a proper fight. My advice is that you leave those powers to either NPC for narrative purposes or forget about them all together.

Picking a Look

Picking a look may seem easy, but it can get pretty hectic…if you do it right. First let’s give some parameters.

1. The fame of the character image you picked is proportional to the typecasting you will subject too. As the character fame will eclipse your character’s

2. Picking a look can be used as the root of the character or an after-thought, it depends on the individual, and while maybe the image sparks the creativity for others is better to search an image that suits the character.

3. No look is eternal, you can change it if you find something you like more, always trying not to make a change too brutal and if you do give a proper justification.

Picking a look for the character can be the seed from where everything sprouts or the finishing touch to a character. My first character in the forum, Batsu, surged from an image I found while browsing Deviantart while Aestus Aquilus, my second heroic character was first thought and I looked for an image afterwards (what in all honesty proved to be a pain in the ass as there aren’t many medieval looking lancers that use fire)

If you choose to make a character based on a look I recommend images that aren’t fanart, but images that are original characters. You can pick the details of the character from the image itself, like making a character that wear an medieval armor behave in a knightly fashion, and picking even smaller details, like the color of his armor or cloak to determine traits of his personality. If you pick a look to use as inspiration you better use the whole thing.

To pick a look after making a character is for the best to make a character simple enough to have multiple choices, and then you can edit or modify some stuff to fit the image a bit more…

Well I think that’s covering all the basics, please leave any questions in this thread and I’ll reply them and add them to this post.

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Well, hello there, it is time for the second edition of KTC! (Yay!) Well then, today I’m going to give short descriptions of the 4, 5 and 6 Heisei Kamen Riders*

But before that let’s speak a bit about the Kamen Rider Franchise, as last time I talked about my experience with it rather than talking about the franchise itself and is for the best that you people get the proper introduction.

Shotaro Ishinomori
Shotaro Ishinomori

Kamen Rider is a series created by Shotaro Ishinomori one of the “Founding Fathers” of Anime and Manga with an immense amount of works and concepts he created as well being inspiration for hundreds of other mangakas. Among this numerous works there was one he wanted to turn into a live-action show. The show was….The Skull Man….he, you thought I was going to say Kamen Rider, didn’t you? Well then, there was a problem.

The Skullman was a bit to violent for a kids show, so Toei asked Ishinomori to alter the character a bit and make it more child friendly. Good ol’ Shotaro quickly recruited the help of a specialist…. His own son. He showed his son a group of different drafts for the main character and his son picked the one who looked like a Cyborg Grasshopper. Thus Kamen Rider was born in April 3 1971, debuting in what now is TV Asashi.

The Skull Man
The Skull Man

Kamen Rider was a smash hit and continued for a whole year, but halfway in the series the main actor (And stuntman) Hiroshi Fujioka, suffered an injury and had to be replaced. Thus Kamen Rider Nigo (2) was born. From 1971 up until 1989 the series ran with little to no interruption, taking new name every time a new rider took the helm and the enemies changed. Theses Riders are called the Showa Riders or Classic Riders and tend to share a lot of elements

Most of the Showa Riders are Cyborgs who transform by shouting Henshin and executing posses. Curiously the first Rider didn’t do the posses or gestures, as his Henshin Belt (Transformation device) was powered by wind and usually was activated when he rode his bike. Most of the Showa Riders also share the iconic Rider Kick as the finishing move, in most iterations an enemy hit by this majestic icon of Japanese culture explodes, except on Manga versions, as without the self-censoring the kicks tend to split enemies in half or punch holes through them.

The last Showa series was Kamen Rider Black RX, a continuation of Kamen Rider Black. But even if the Showa era finished there are 3 more pieces of Rider media, 3 movies in the 90’s to be precise, that are counted inside of the Showa Riders, Shin, ZO and J. We will talk more about them later.

I will explain more about the Showa Riders after I finish with the Heisei, and talking about Heisei…

Kamen Rider 555(Faiz) (2003-2004)

The 4 installment of the Heisei Riders, Kamen Rider Faiz is the obligatory “So bad is good” entry every big franchise has. Our protagonist is Takumi Inui a drifter who stumbles with a girl chases by evil monsters that consume humans as sustenance called the Orphenochs (In my humble opinion the best designed baddies of the Heisei era)

The girl, Mari, is carrying the Faiz Gear, a belt that allows individuals to turn into the really cool Kamen Rider Faiz, yet she can’t use it. Takumi can and defeats the monster. He ends up helping her and defending her as the Orphenochs attack her and the people of the town. Further down the road they meet Masako Kusaka, who holds the Kaixa Gear, another Henshin Belt.

Masako is one of the reasons this show has such a reputation. Creepy Bastard falls short to describe Kusaka; he is such a douche a whole meme holiday was dedicated to him, Kaixa Day (9/13). His antics are what make the series really bad, as nobody seems to notice he is more evil than the villains and way creepier, but it also makes the series unintentionally hilarious.

You need to watch the series to believe it.

Kamen Rider Blade (2004-2005)

Kazuma Kenzaki, member of B.O.A.R.D an organization that hunts Undead, is betrayed by his partner, Kamen Rider Garren and must find out the reason while keep the good fight against the Undead and saving people. A “neutral” Undead, Kamen Rider Chalice is also in the mix to make this cluster fuck even more difficult.

I only saw the first 14 episodes of this series. I don’t recommend it, is too damn dramatic, trying to make a really big deal out everything without any moment of character development or comedy to lighten things up. The acting is also sub-par and the designs of the suits and enemies are overcrowded with details.

Kamen Rider Hibiki (2005-2006)

Hibiki (Yes, no last name) is a member of Takeshi, a secret organization that studies and hunts Makamou (Creatures similar to Japanese Yokai, like Kappa, Bakeneko and etc) He can turn into an Oni (Yes, not a Kamen Rider) who uses pure sound, usually with a Taiko Drum, to destroy this monsters.

This series is the least Kamen Rider-ish of them all. Possibly because it was based in a non-Kamen Rider original idea Ishinomori had before he died. Hibiki is peaceful, shifts the battlefields from cities to the country side and is drenched in Japanese folklore. Hibiki could be one of the best series if not for a gross mistake Toei did.

As Hibiki wasn’t selling enough toys, even if it had even better ratings than its predecessor, the production them was fired and replaced, retooling the series halfway through, adding moronic characters, ignoring plot points and removing powers from Hibiki or the Makamou deemed to be “Scary” to children by Parents Associations.

From being a really “Metal” Rider, spewing jets of fire and releasing claws to slash down enemies Hibiki was softened, removed the tranquility and altered the story. The series finale was not well received to say the least. Yet this was a lesson Toei didn’t forget and never repeated the same mistake.

ALL HAIL MATSUDA!!
ALL HAIL MATSUDA!!

Hibiki, even with its failings is a great series, mostly because of KENJI MATSUDA…. Who I will talk more next time. This series has a really good cast, a shared protagonism between them, cool practical effects and really cool designs for the Oni. Killing enemies by piercing an electric guitar and pulling a face melting solo is epic (See it here)

Well that’s it for today, I’ll do one next weekend.

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