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Author Topic: Level 1  (Read 1637 times)
Morganti
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« on: August 17, 2012, 05:51:34 PM »

So, in the interest of promoting dialogue, and getting a feel for expectations.
Name some genre sources, where the main characters, heroes, villains, or sidekicks, were level 1.

Branching off that, what should a level 1 super spy be able to pull off?
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2012, 06:49:39 PM »

Agent J, Men in Black 1
Maxwell Smart, Get Smart (and possibly not even then)

Struggling to think of many more; I operate under the assumption that most of the "established" agents are higher (in same cases much higher) than Level 1. If they're not, you can assume that they never gain a level during the story as their abilities don't go up; on the other hand new agents quite frequently are more badass at the end than they were at the beginning (i.e. have gone up a level or three)

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Desertpuma
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2012, 07:31:14 PM »

Sydney Bristow, 1st year of Alias
Nikita, 1st year of the TV show La Femme Nikita

Beyond those two, I'm having a hard time coming up with any
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2012, 07:47:55 PM »

Annie Walker, Covert Affairs, Season 1

I might even go Bond in Casino Royale, as that was his first real mission.
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Desertpuma
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2012, 07:50:50 PM »

I knew forgot Annie
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2012, 08:14:24 PM »

I think it really depends on what you interpret levels to mean.  In FC/SC2, NPCs level up along with you, so that the probabilities of hitting and making saves and so on stay pretty close to what they were at first level.  Not everything stays the same, of course, but a lot of it does.  I interpret this as higher level characters having more skill and experience, but not more power.  They have more options, but those options have not gotten much better over time.  So, I would say the agents that demonstrate a high level of skill across a large range of abilities are higher level, but otherwise they can be adequately described by low level characters.

For instance, Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible): High level.  He can do everything.  The rest of his team: Low level.  They do whatever their specialty is and very little else.
Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell): Low level, he only does stealth (although he is exceptionally well geared).
Solid Snake (Metal Gear): Low level, he also only does stealth (boss fights notwithstanding).
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 12:02:40 PM »

I think it really depends on what you interpret levels to mean.

This is how I feel, too. Different games treat levels differently, especially first level. Crafty Games appears to allow first level characters to be fairly competent compared to some of the other systems I've played.

So, I would say the agents that demonstrate a high level of skill across a large range of abilities are higher level, but otherwise they can be adequately described by low level characters.

For instance, Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible): High level.  He can do everything.  The rest of his team: Low level.  They do whatever their specialty is and very little else.

This sounds like specialists are always extras, which seems kind of counterintuitive in a class based game, especially when there are Expert and Master classes that emphasize specializing.

Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell): Low level, he only does stealth (although he is exceptionally well geared).
Solid Snake (Metal Gear): Low level, he also only does stealth (boss fights notwithstanding).

For video game characters that don't significantly change/improve in ability in game (such as the characters you mention, who only really improve the gear they are carrying), I'd say that "leveling" is a matter of player skill rather than character skill. Someone familiar with the games will know when and where to use the abilities to better effect than someone unfamiliar with the games.

Desertpuma mentioned the first year of various shows. I think I would be even more limiting. As a blanket statement, I would look at the pilot episodes of shows for ideas of where I feel "Level 1" would be. The characters are typically competent, if a bit inexperienced (either in their abilities or working with a team of similarly able professionals). By even the midpoint in a season, the characters have already developed and expanded a bit. Part of this might be due to the nature of television programming, which is understandably different from RPGs. Wink

Something else to consider (as this is from Crafty Games) is the use of Campaign Qualities and their potential impact on player expectations. I can't see why any of the aforementioned ideas couldn't work with an appropriate set of Campaign Qualities.

What should a Level 1 Super Spy be able to pull off? First, Super Spy to me means somebody who can do everything (with the possible exception of creating gear and maybe hacking), and do it well. tfwfh's mention of Ethan Hunt fits the bill. He can drive, shoot, impersonate, sneak, lead, etc. In fact, the list of things he can't do (and do well) is probably smaller. Alias' Sydney Bristow is in a similar camp; she does everything but monitor video feeds and make gear. Personally, I don't think the Super Spy is necessarily appropriate for an RPG. In the cases of Ethan Hunt or Sydney Bristow, they are lone wolves with a support team (read: extras). I like the idea that multiple people can participate and are needed at the same time for an operation to succeed. What I imagine is more along the lines of Leverage or the TV series Mission: Impossible than Alias or the movie version of Mission: Impossible.

Perhaps I need to look at the idea of a Super Spy differently. Maybe the Super Spy is exceptional in one category or focus and "merely good" at all others? That way they can still be part of a team? I'm trying to come up with an example, but I'm drawing blanks...
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 09:16:48 AM by Dreamstreamer » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 04:23:23 PM »



/thread
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2012, 11:18:30 PM »

Dreamstreamer:

I would like to have listed more examples of teams where the whole team is low level (or very focused in their skillset), but I can't come up with many in the spy genre.  Most "superspies" work alone (Bourne, Bond), and for those that don't their team is basically a bunch of supporting characters for the badass main character (Mission: Impossible).  Either that, or the whole team is full of omni-capable badasses (Burn Notice).  It's just the nature of story telling.  The same is true across most genres.  In Star Wars, all of the characters are secondary to Luke Skywalker, Apprentice Ninja Wizard.  After giving it some more thought, I came up with Ronin, where everyone can be interpreted as low level.  If you're willing to consider genres that are peripheral to espionage, then heist movies/shows and police dramas/procedurals give lots of examples.  Ocean's Eleven (etc): Everyone has a specialty, and is pretty lost when they have to go outside of it.  Leverage: The same (at least the bits I've seen).  Perhaps even Justified, if you chalk Raylon's combat prowess up to guns being super deadly (he can neither throw nor take a punch to save his life), in which case he is a purpose built intimidation machine.  In fact, I would even say that he cheesed some "contacts" out of some clever Backgrounds and a liberal helping of Favors (he clearly has no Holdings, at least) in order to make up for his otherwise poor investigative skills.

And for what it's worth, when I talk about people having specialties, my breakdown is like so: Combat, Stealth/Intrusion, Investigation, and Deception/Manipulation.  Most of the time, things like procurement, computer skills, and knowing lots of people all fall under the umbrella of investigation.
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2012, 09:29:19 AM »

Good call on the omni-capable Burn Notice team! I think that fits my idea of conventional RPG groups better than James Bond (as cool as he might be to play).

So would you consider first level to be fresh out of the academy/training institution? Or perhaps somebody with some experience in their chosen field? Or maybe even somebody with considerable life experience, but little career experience? Maybe that last one would fall under changing classes mid-game, though...
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 09:31:05 AM »

The Burn Notice seems like the most RPG like ensemble on TV right now actually, even more so than Leverage.
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 09:47:12 AM »

The Burn Notice seems like the most RPG like ensemble on TV right now actually, even more so than Leverage.
What about Firefly?
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2012, 09:49:01 AM »

Firefly would certainly count in that statement if it were currently an active TV show. As far as the all time list, it more than qualifies (except for River) and actually would sit quite high on the list.
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 01:21:36 PM »

Actually, as far as I'm concerned Firefly only has 3 PCs, the rest are supporting NPCs. Mal, Zoe, and Jayne are the only ones that regularly go out on missions and do stuff. Everyone else? Background flavor. Delicious, delicious background flavor.
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 02:38:45 PM »

Actually, as far as I'm concerned Firefly only has 3 PCs, the rest are supporting NPCs. Mal, Zoe, and Jayne are the only ones that regularly go out on missions and do stuff. Everyone else? Background flavor. Delicious, delicious background flavor.
Ya know, I'd never thought about it like that.

How does that work?  Does each PC have two Personal Lieutenants?  Are the others part of the holding (Serenity)?
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