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The Levacius Grimoire


Anniversary Ramblings: Origins

Posted by Toa Levacius Zehvor , Jul 30 2013 · 107 views

Anniversary Ramblings

Episode 2 - Choosing is Good (Unless You Do It)

“Choice....There is great power in choices."
This here is (half of) a quote you may hear from Flemeth while playing Dragon Age. Origins, of course, and not DA2. It's something I sat and thought about and decided to share some insight on, relating to certain games and to real life alike. Let's look then, shall we?
Frankly, some games give you quite a lot of options based on your choice. The aforementioned game has quite a few things that can occur differently according to your choices, and the possible endings are all decided based on what you did - from minor details like what that person is wearing, to major ones like who gets to rule the country and who lives... or dies.
Contrast this to more linear games. Bionicle: Heroes, for instance, since most people on here either know about it, or own a copy and have 100% completing (I did it twice). How does the game end, exactly? The same way every time. Minor differences based on play style, of course, but those don't really impact anything when you get right down to it, you know.
Even with Origins, though, some stuff is already decided for you. And in Heroes, those minor play style differences can play a part.
What am I getting at?
Even when you have no real choice, you can still find your own way of doing things. How you execute the movements, in what order you do things. And when you have lots of options, you have to accept that some things are out of your control. What you do with circumstances beyond your control affects you as a person.
Even if the decision you make is a bad one, don't live with regrets. Embrace those mistakes and flaws. If that character in the game died or didn't drop the right item for you, you can reload. But you can't in real life, and you must be willing to accept that no, the shake machine at Del Taco is not working (I once went a really long time without having a milkshake, so I asked for one at a fast food place; twelve visits to assorted fast foods later, months later, every one had a broken shake machine)
So like the heading says - choice is good, unless you do it! But you've gotta live with those choices anyways.
A tad more sentimental and quite a bit shorter than my last rambling, I think.
Minor life lesson from a sixteen year old. It probably doesn't matter any and frankly has been said so many times that I'm now a walking cliche in every way (until the day this rhyme don't pay).


Anniversary Ramblings

Posted by Toa Levacius Zehvor , Jul 22 2013 · 306 views

You know, I haven't had a blog for a very, very long time... haven't been a Premier Member for a long time either, and while correlation does not necessarily imply causation, I have a feeling in my gut that just this one - just this once - the two might have a link to each other.
It's a very thin link, of course, but it might we worth further investigation.
Well, since it's anniversary time and that means blog time !!!!111oneone11!!! for the first time in a while, I might as well drop the bass and include the first of a few important thoughts I have collected so I may deposit them and get them off my mind.
Let's start off with a pet peeve of mine. This is an RPG based complaint primarily, since I really don't follow Epics or Short Stories, but frankly I'm sure it's a problem there as well. It's just so common that nobody really notices it, so let me address it in a little segment I'd like to call -

Anniversary Ramblings

Episode One - The (Toa) Power is Mine!


I'm not really sure the origin of that quote, but I believe it to be Megatron. I also believe that if you turn the tank turret atop the Galvatron toy from the Armada series. It applies to a lot of situations, though. It's easily one of the most cliche things that your villain could say. What we're talking about isn't really a cliche so much as it is something that's just really dumb.


(    Insert Political     )

(    Picture of Your    )

(      Choice Here      )

The real problem I'm going to address is how many Toa you see in the average Bionicle RPG nowdays, and believe me, there's a ton of them. At first, I wanted to scan through these topics and count the numbers in the profiles so I could offer you some hard facts. The thing is, by the time I reached over 150 characters while counting up on BZPRPG and saw I was still on the first page, I decided to look up videos of Tarantula Hawks out on the hunt.
Let's just simplify it to this, though - on average, it's well over half of the characters who are Toa.
With BZPRPG, I don't blame the playerbase, since the species rules are a lot stricter. Go with what you know and all that. But with the other RPGs, where it's a lot more open to choice, I find it a bit mind boggling.
When I was a bit younger (read: six months ago) I thought that the reason for this was because they wanted to have more powerful characters. Frankly, it does seem that way at first. With great physical abilities, incredible elemental powers, and a Kanohi to boot, the Toa is easily the most powerful species that most RPGs approve, based on merit alone. With that kind of raw power, it's mind boggling that another character would ever dare challenge one, when a single blast of flame could be their demise!
Then, I realized what the real reason is. The psychological drive that pushes players to want to go this route. I'll point to my own RPG, where elemental powers are completely locked down. Under these circumstances, the Toa is actually one of the worst to play; Matoran have an advantage by smaller size, and the larger species can crush them in combat. Sure, Kanohi powers, but the suits can do better than that really if you wanted to compensate for it. So why play them?
There could be two reasons. One the psychological answer, one the easy answer.
The easy answer is...
... they're the most well known! Everyone on the site has made at least one Toa MOC at some point, if they ever owned Bionicle sets. And why not? Making a good one may not be easy, but making one? Just snap some stuff on an Inika torso and call it a day, and if it makes you happy, you're happy. Just don't post it on the internet or you'll be torn apart by angry foxes.
When the main characters to virtually every story arc are Toa, you get used to seeing them. They seem common. Players look at how common they are in the media rather than paying attention to the actual story, and decide to go with that.
I would argue...
... that it comes down to the words meaning. Toa. Hero. The hero is the main character, after all. And with the majority of the playerbase being teens and young adults, you're bound to have a few ego flares here or there amongst the average players. There's a subconscious push that makes you more than happy to envision yourself in the role. It makes it more fun to play.
For some people, that is. We live now in a world of cynicism and anti-heroes. That's how you get movies like Man of Steel where Superman confused Metropolis with Gotham City. That's how you get Transformers movies where Optimus Prime is stabbing people in the face instead of fighting for the freedom of all sentient beings.
It's not all bad, of course. Just usually bland. And because of this feeling in the air, players are also drawn to making anti-hero Toa. People enjoy subverting things, when you get right down to it. It's why we love it when there's a twist in a movies plot. When something surprises us, it excites us. I can't really get down to the bio-chemical level and describe the exact process, but I'm sure you can find someone able to explain the exact science. The subversion can sometimes also make Toa who just don't care, because taking a character type who are very forward and make decisions and making them indecisive or neutral... still subverting.
People also have a tendency to enjoy corrupting or destroying things - if you believe the bleeding hearts out there who talk about how bad humans are. It's not corruption or destruction when you get right down to it, it's power. Being able to destroy or corrupt something gives you a feeling of power. So creating a Toa who's just pure evil is taking something good, corrupting it, and having a character to destroy stuff with while also being a subversion. So, that's how you get evil Toa.
Either way, no matter how you design your Toa character, on the sliding scale of white to black morality, you still get a satisfying character to create at a subconscious level. This will cause a person to associate good with that profile or whatever, and thus find it more satisfying to put it to use.
Because of this, Toa are a bit overused. However, this is not the thing I have a problem with. People should have fun, and if my theory is even halfway accurate, it means more people would have their fun. What it boils down to is that the real problem is when the character isn't one of the players...
Frankly, in the story itself, Toa aren't that common as world inhabitants. There's less than fifty, supposedly, at the end of the story (if I remember my numbers right). That means that when you have those RPGs set in Great Catacylsm times and the like where they're running amok, it's kind of silly to see how many of them. When I first started RPing, I never really thought about this. Now, it sort of bugs me. But I've gotten used to it.
What really bugs me - the NPCs.
There is no reason for every single NPC you introduce in gameplay to be a Toa.
For instance, I'll pull up an RPG from last contest. Some characters were running away from the city police NPCs who they generated.... and who were these police? Matoran? Steltians? Members of the Prime Species?
Toa. Who never even used their elemental powers or mask powers, and were killed off like mooks. Power to level a city with a nova. Killed off in a few attacks with ease.
But it gets worse. Who runs that shop? Toa. Who runs that inn? Toa. Who runs that barber shop (for Glatorian)? Toa. Who runs the gym? Matoran (lollolo it's fune bcuz hez a weak matran but hez gawtz da powah).
Which leads to -
The whole point of this blog post, outside of giving me a way to ramble -  making Toa believable!
Whenever you play a Toa or introduce a Toa NPC, make it a believable situation that a Toa would be in. Thus, a few guidelines to follow -
1) Any trade skills they possess should have been acquired when they were a Matoran. For instance, woodcarver or the like.
2) The Toa Code exists. Do they follow it? If not, why? Make this believable. Not a cliche "because they gave up hope" or "desperate times" thing, because your character was never in a situation more desperate than the end of the world itself, and even then the main characters never killed their enemies.
-2a) If there's no Code, think of another reason why your character isn't performing OHK's. And don't say "because of the rules," because that's meta and it's uncreative.
3) Give them a believable job at the time that fits into the actual role. Why would a Toa be a sales clerk? Captain of the city watch would be a much better job. Wandering adventurer might even work. Or maybe a rogue on the run for something they committed, perhaps in violation to the Code, that was never let down.
4) Keep it rare. Toa NPCs should be a very rare person to meet, unless the GM has them there. There are plenty of other species for you to utilize. You'll also find it more interesting when you get your creative juices going, trying to explain your version of the backstory to a particular species when you make a character based off of it.
I might be able to think of more, but honestly that covers it all.
In Conclusion:
This really was a rambling. No doubling back. No reformatting. A few name changes, but that's it. Straight from the heart, this stuff here. So it might be a bit repetitive, or even missing some things. Honestly, it says what I want... in a rather random manner.
Remember - in the end, what matters is fun. But the fun is always more rewarding if you take the time to think about things like this instead of just talking to the black Market dealer and his four hired Toa guards (that many?).
EDIT: Oh, and I forgot to mention this when I first posted - feel free to post your comments on why you choose to play as such or any opinions you might have on the matter, I like to see how others feel on subjects.
-Toa Levacius Zehvor :flagusa: