Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The NPC Gallery: Freckles

If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child. 

We artists, be we game-master or writer, tend to grab the ordinary and familiar.  We have soaked in tons of culture from TV, books, movies and video games, and we tend to repeat what we see.  We've all seen the brooding anti-hero, the blond femme fatale and the treacherous vizier.  They show up again and again, until our creations grow predictable.

But the world brims with interesting ideas ripe for the plucking, and that's what this gallery is.  Whenever I find some new character or some interesting idea, I think to myself "Why didn't I come up with that?" and I begin to study the concept, adding it to my games and my creations.  This takes time, though, and the process can be difficult as I tire and fall-back to familiar ground.  

Hence: the NPC Gallery.  Here, I shall place whatever interesting concepts I stumble across, partially for my own use, but also for those who read my blog and seek inspiration of their own.  And we start, today, with Freckles

 We're all familiar with the alabaster-skinned or olive-toned beauties from TV and Movies, but how often have we been enchanted by some freckled girl with wrinkled nose and sparkling eyes?  Freckles suggest an innocence (since they're more common in children than adults), a commonness typical of a "Girl Next Door," and sometimes, just a hint of magic (thanks to an association with those of Irish heritage).

Of course, freckles don't just have to be "cute," they can be sexy or beautiful as well.  They're rare, making freckles women exotic and unusual.  They naturally draw ones eyes to cheeks (which can blush) and eyes (which brim with emotion).  A friend once described her character with "her cheeks dusted with freckles;" what an enchanting turn of a phrase.

 I've described mostly freckled women so far, as the child-like innocence suggested by freckles works better for doe-eyed damsels than it does burly knights, but that's not to say freckles on a man is a bad idea.  It suggests youth and roguish charm.  Imagine a sandy-haired swashbuckler with a billowing shirt, a lop-sided grin and a light sprinkling of freckles.  As with women, its rareness makes it exotic.

So, the next time you're considering how to make a character unique, rather than pondering hair or eye color, race or creed, stop and consider the character's skin.  A few freckled characters might surprise and delight your players.
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