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General => Archives => Topic started by: sjanimal on October 31, 2004, 02:36:31 PM

Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: sjanimal on October 31, 2004, 02:36:31 PM
Half-Giants. Half-Giants area a karma restricted race.  Although I wasn’t the person who restricted them, I think I can guess why they were restricted.  When played correctly, a half-giant is not that more powerful than a warrior, or a pick-pocket.  When played incorrectly, they can seriously screw up game balance.
No doubt some readers are wondering, how can anyone think that a half-giant is not that much more powerful than any of the regular roles?  The answer lies in the half-giant’s greatest weakness -- their lack of intellect.  
Think about it.  Half-giants, as depicted in fiction, have roughly the brainpower of a mentally retarded person.  No one wanted to say it.  I sure didn’t.  But I did.  
Now imagine a retarded person.  They’re not truly worthless, mentally speaking.  They’re much smarter than animals, much smarter than very young children are.  But there are certain skills and abilities that they lack, that presumably any ARMageddon player has, that most of us tend to take for granted.  For example, planning skills.  Reasoning skills.  Problem solving skills.  Abstract thinking.  Effective long term memory.  Reasonable concentration capacity.  

As an example, imagine that you had ten kalan fruits.  Imagine that you wanted to share half of the kalan fruits with a friend.  A fairly easy math problem, right?  Ten divided by two is five.  That took most of us reading this like half a second or less to solve.

Now a half giant could probably solve the same problem, but it would take her longer.  First of all, she’d have to figure out HOW she was going to solve the problem.  Then she’d have to do it.  I’m guess she’d probably do a “one for you, one for me” kind of approach, stacking the fruits into two piles.  

And so on.  If a problem got much more complicated than simple division, half-giant brains probably lack the processor/memory space to solve the problem, even given infinite amounts of time.  

As an example of a complex problem, take the problem “Where will your meals come from a week from now?”  An earth human might think, “Well, I have a job, I will take the check from the job and cash it at the bank, and take the money from the bank to a store, and exchange the money for food.”  Seems easy enough to us.  But if you think about it, the solution to that problem required about five steps.  MUCH too complicated for a half-giant.  A Zalanthan hunter’s solution -- finding some game, killing some game, cleaning the game, building a smoke-house, drying, salting and curing the meat, building a (temporary) cellar, hanging the meat in a cellar, and remembering the (hidden) cellar location.  Now that’s ten steps.  WAY too much for a Half-giant.  It’s not that a half-giant couldn’t do any one of those steps by themselves.  On the contrary, a half-giant’s superhuman strength would make it much easier to do.  But developing the solution from scratch and then implementing the steps would be impossible for a half-giant, without supervision.  

Therein lies the thrust of my post…a lot of peeps play half-giants as people who talk stupid, but are actually quite intelligent.  They operate quasi-independently.  They seem stupid, but when you try to trick them they won’t fall for your tricks.  The possess rather sophisticated senses of humor.

But this is contrary to the way a half-giant would live.  Much like the “midget race” that was recently discovered in Indochina, half-giants (I suggest) have evolved to live in a rather unique and isolated environment.  I would guess they fit in rather well there.  You take them out of that environment and put them in the middle of or on the fringes of Zalanthan society, and they will no doubt have trouble surviving on their own.  They will lack the planning skills necessary to survive, they will be vulnerable to traps, tricks, exploitations and scams, and they will lack the coordination necessary to evolve into tribe or society that features division of labor and exchange of services for protection.

Half-giant PCs will represent a tremendous resource to the more “normally sized” PCs, but the giants will be perennially dependent on and vulnerable to their smaller, smarter cousins.  

Summary:  When playing half-giants, remember
-- you lack the ability to make effective plans
-- you are vulnerable to tricks and scams
-- you don’t possess a sophisticated sense of humor

Disclaimer:  I’m not telling you how to role-play your characters.  I would be offended if someone tried to do that to me.  What this post should do is appraise some persons of psychological points involved with dealing-with/playing-the-role-of unintelligent persons.  
Also, I’m not picking on (the Game’s)/our current half-giant.  He seems to be about as good as any other half-giant player I’ve seen, who are good players for the most part.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Marauder Moe on October 31, 2004, 03:04:57 PM
For the record, half-giants didn't evolve, they were bred long long ago.

I've always interpreted the docs to say, though, that half-giants are more like young human children than severely retarted adults.  The half-giant's greatest intellectual strength is his ability to mimic those around him.  Granted, he may not understand the reasoning behind actions he mimics, but often enough the behavior will be suffeciently correct.  So, just because a half-giant is performing a seemingly complex behavior, don't assume he's thinking very hard about it.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: jhunter on October 31, 2004, 03:11:14 PM
So, just because a half-giant is performing a seemingly complex behavior, don't assume he's thinking very hard about it.

Exactly, the half-giant is most likely imitating something it's seen or heard before.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Kankman on October 31, 2004, 05:08:06 PM
Not to mention, that half-giants are very empathetic. They see other people's emotions and actions with better attention than humans. That allows them to mimic incredibly well, without understanding much of the reasoning behind those action beyond the pure emotion they are driven by.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Naiona on October 31, 2004, 06:36:42 PM
One of the best half-giants I have ever seen roleplayed would speak in an almost courtly manner most of the time.  They would make all the social gestures to nobles and they would make comments concerning other people's social behavior.  What was cool about it was that they were imitating their employer and 'friends' and if you watched carefully - every word, gesture and mannerism was almost an exact copy of someone important in that HG's life.

There is an important point being made here, though and one that I think bears stressing: it is okay to play a character that is tricked, manipulated, swindled or cheated.  It is okay for your characters to sometimes lose. In fact, sometimes it is awesome when they do.  The more people remember this in their RP the more fun the game can become.  Seriously.  Trust someone who learned the long, hard way.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Cenghiz on October 31, 2004, 06:36:46 PM
Err... I decided that my half-giants could count and make very simple math operations.. To a hundred.. Because if you don't, you waste hours and hours RP'ing a haggling.
Also most of my non-giant chars usually attempt bribing the half-giant with some food for nothing, to avoid future confrontations.. You've seen a half-giant? Toss him a roasted scrab head. Then he'll remember you as a good person when you meet that huge bulk in the desert. :)
And the other side of the medallion... Half-giants are usually good at remembering their owners' commands I believe. And I also believe most owners' first commands would be: "Keep away from elves. Keep away from halfbreeds. Keep away from folks with a black gem on their neck. If they try to talk to you, know that they're lying. Never eat/drink anything a stranger gives you." Or nearly all half-giants would be nothing but rotting corpses in a remote corner of 'rinth. I believe most are never tricked, because their owners/ex-owners have already told something about your race, type of your cloak etc. (Mine were exceptions and still noone tried to trick them. I was lucky.)
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: John on October 31, 2004, 07:29:35 PM
Quote from: "Cenghiz"
Err... I decided that my half-giants could count and make very simple math operations.. To a hundred.. Because if you don't, you waste hours and hours RP'ing a haggling.
Actually haggling for me was very easy. Everything costs 50 'sid (thankfully someone came and became my owner so I got to stop buying stuff :)). That 100 'sid sword, obviously Salarr is trying to rip me off, I'm not going to let them do that. 50 'sid, no more no less. That loaf of bread is 20 'sid? Obviously it's a trick, 50 'sid, no more no less.

I was imitating people's behaviour at haggling. I just didn't grasp the finer points of it. Needless to say the grocer loved me and Salarr hated me.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Rindan on October 31, 2004, 08:07:58 PM
I could probably count all the half giants I have interacted for any length of time on two hands.  The biggest reason for this is that half-giants tend to die very quickly in stupid ways.

Personally, I think people play half-giants too dumb.  These are creatures that have managed to eek out a living in this harsh world, and so that is a testament to the fact that you can’t talk a half giant into chopping off its own head.  True, you might very well be able to trick a half giant, but it certainly isn’t a given.  In fact, I think that half giants could easily be some of the most loyal (in the short term) and bull headed characters around.  If you tell a half-giant to guard and door and to let absolutely no one in until you say other wise, and that half giant has you firmly affixed into the ‘want to please’ category, I imagine that half-giant would be damn near impervious to manipulation.  

Manipulation involves leading someone down a road of logic.  In order for it to be effective they need to be able to both listen to and follow your logic.  I think that a half giant is likely to reach dwarf like stubbornness once his mind is set.  So, taking the instance of guarding a door, if a half giant is told that absolutely under no circumstances are they to let anyone in, I think they would be very capable of following that order.  If anything, they probably are likely to follow the order a fault.  They might tell Lord Templar Black Robes to fuck off if he tries to pass because his order is so simple and explicit.  All reasoning could very well be lost on a creature that understands the absolute simplicity of the argument “NO ONE MAY PASS”.

Where I think half giants are prone to being tricked is in areas where they have no instruction.  I think a half-giant might very well be a perfect target for an elf to sell off some pretty but utterly worthless sword to impress his boss.  If you tell the half-giant the wooden sword is steal he has every right to beat you in the face, but if you tell him it is a special wood worth 10 times as much as normal wood, he probably would be far more inclined to listen.

I guess my point is that I have seen people try and trick half-giants with utterly ridicules arguments and complain the next day on the GDB about how half-giants are too smart.  I have also seen half-giants get convinced by an elf to go lug all the chests in the compound into the street (like the guards wouldn’t say something), or that a stick is a sword.  Half giants are dumb and easy to manipulate, but they don’t refer to themselves in the third person and they are very capable of being bull headed enough to be unmoved by even the most logical and convincing argument.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Sakra on October 31, 2004, 08:55:53 PM
I had a giant once, who was told never to trust an elf, they would always try and trick you. Now, an elf comes along, and starts trying to con me. I go along with it for a bit, then my giant remembers that the elf is trying to trick him, so he gets mad. The elf calms me down, and is trying to explain how he isn't trying to trick me, that elves are nice. It almost worked, until one of my giants friends comes along, and I ask him if the elf is trying to trick me. With my giants instincts confirmed, he proceeded to ignore the elf.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Xamminy on November 01, 2004, 02:01:35 AM
One thing I will comment on.  ALL karma restricted races and guilds are restricted because properly OR improperly played, they are NOT balanced with the rest of the races/guilds.  That is simply how it is.  That is why they are restricted.

Remember, this game ISN'T fair.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: X-D on November 01, 2004, 03:04:41 AM
First, as far as the docs are concerned, there is no problem (that I can find) With a half-giant's memory. AND they are capable of learning some things rather quickly, as long as it is in a concrete form, IE something they can imitate from seeing/hearing/doing. I tend to not think of them in the same light as a retarded person or very young child and the docs back that up. Instead I tend to think of them as a more unique form of autism...sorta like rainman but without the "idiot savant"...unless it be imitating others, and that includes languages and mannerisms.

One of the most enjoyable half-giants I've played, and one I think many other people enjoyed, had a mentor, who also happened to be his boss.
This boss had a rather unique way of speaking and and body language, over the course of time I had my HG slowly start taking on these rather complex was great fun, I've always wondered if staff noticed it, or any body else for that manner.

But, at the same time, there were many things that he never understood, abstracts like a secret...he could keep one, but only if he had very direct instructions to not speak about a particular thing to anybody.

Course, at the time there was at least 3 other half-giants IG that I considered very well played, something that just helps to make playing a HG even more enjoyable.

Oh, another thing, imagination...HG's don't have one IMO, playing them in that manner makes it easier for me to keep some of the docs in mind for play, and that is only understanding concrete and repatition, IE, if something works once, well, you keep using it, right or wrong.

Anyway, my two and one quarter sids worth.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Angela Christine on November 01, 2004, 07:35:34 AM
Quote from: "Rindan"

Manipulation involves leading someone down a road of logic.  In order for it to be effective they need to be able to both listen to and follow your logic.  

I agree.  My dear old mother isn't dumb, but she is very grounded in reality in some ways, and is not impressed by "intellectual" arguements.  So I come along and say "yes it is" in my overly verbose way.  Then she says "no it isn't".  And I go into reasons X, Y, and Z for why it is.  To which she maddeningly replies "So?" without addressing any of my points directly.  Doggedly I continue, "Sooo, yes it is."  Predictably she replies with, "No it's not."  Argggh!

I think a half-giant could be like that sometimes.  He's decided he _knows_ what the  truth is (at least for the day) and you can't shake that truth with logical reasoning.  Trying to act against what the half-giant knows is likely to make him more stubborn and grumpy.  You have to work with what the giant "knows," not against it.  A complicated bit of fast talking might confuse him, or it might make him dig in his heels.

I think a half-giant's failings will be in the areas of planning, especially long-term planning, and foreseeing the link between actions and consequences.  

How does a half-giant plan to eat next week?  He doesn't.  He probably doesn't think much about food except when he is hungry, and when he is hungry he doesn't think about much else.

For a half-giant, maybe stepping on a beehive doesn't cause him to get many bee stings.  Things just happen, one after another, for no particular reason.  So he's walking along, and then he gets stung, and then he walks along some more.   Stuff happens, no one knows why.  Actually, that example might be too concrete.  But I think something like "If you embarass the House, then the boss will get mad at you" would be over his head.  He won't understand that he got into trouble because he embarassed the house by taking off his boots and scratching at his foot fungus while in the Trader's Inn, he may think it "just happened" for no particular reason, or he may decide that scratching is bad, or that taking off your boots is bad, and generalize that to other situations.

Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Tamarin on November 01, 2004, 08:31:48 AM
Quote from: "Angela Christine"
I think a half-giant could be like that sometimes.  He's decided he _knows_ what the  truth is (at least for the day) and you can't shake that truth with logical reasoning.  Trying to act against what the half-giant knows is likely to make him more stubborn and grumpy.  You have to work with what the giant "knows," not against it.  A complicated bit of fast talking might confuse him, or it might make him dig in his heels.

The half-giant says to you in sirihish:
"Duuuuh....I don't think kanks are meant for us to use them that way..."

With a halg-grin, you say to the half-giant in sirihish:
"What do you mean you don't think?  You were the one who told me that yesterday!"

Scratching his head, the half-giant say to you in sirihish:
"Duuuuuuh....are you sure?"

Nodding very seriously, you say to the half-giant in sirihish:
"Yes, quite sure.  You are very wise.  Much wiser than me.  Now get on with it!"

The half giant nods with a proud grin and drops his pants before approaching a yellow kank from behind.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: sjanimal on November 01, 2004, 11:55:32 AM
As the person who started this thread, I feel inclined to say a few things.

First of all, I'd like to point out that right after I posted a few people came out and challenged what I said.  I'm glad that they did.  I feel like I've learned a few things about half-giants that will help me to role-play better.
Also, it looks like most of the people who have taken time to post have put a fair amount of effort into trying to think like a half-giant.  I think that's awesome.  To me, that is what role-playing a half-giant is all about.

One other looks like this thread is starting to get derailed, but not necessarily in a bad way.  I think that we've already covered the major points, and so it's natural to turn the discussion in other directions.  I might not be poking my head back in, unless someone thinks that there is something specific here that I should read.

I can only hope that anyone who is thinking of starting a new half-giant character will take the chance to read all the stuff here and learn the different perspectives.

Thanks to all who posted

Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Anonymous on November 02, 2004, 02:44:25 PM
Im gonna make up a half-giant and make him the smartest bastard you have ever seen..  And a good counter too...
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Spoon on November 02, 2004, 04:00:33 PM
Quote from: "Naiona"
There is an important point being made here, though and one that I think bears stressing: it is okay to play a character that is tricked, manipulated, swindled or cheated.  It is okay for your characters to sometimes lose.

Seriously, everyone give this a try. Remeber to distance yourself a little from your character. If your half-giant gets tricked, think "ha ha ha, look at that stupid oaf, getting tricked out of his dinner money...". I know it sounds a little schizophrenic... but you'll feel a better person inside. I don't mean that literally.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: John on November 02, 2004, 05:58:51 PM
Quote from: "Angela Christine"
long ass post
Did you just use your mother as an example to show how intelligent HGs are?  :lol:

And I agree being cheated will make you have fun. I've done it the most with HGs and I'm always pissing myself laughing at my stupid HG :)
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Malifaxis on November 06, 2004, 04:17:49 PM
While it is fun to properly RP a HG and have them get swindled and screwed over...  Naturally it is also fun to properly RP a HG and give free lessons on how not to interact with a half giant.

Employer X:  Go down to the bazarr and pick me up something beautiful from the Kadius stall.

HG arrives approx 15 mins later, with the slender, willowy-fme subdued.

A lot of people don't realize how exacting you have to be on instructions when dealing with a force like a HG.  Granted, they aren't like the old golem myths where if you tell them to keep everyone out of X place and then you come back, they'll automatically kill you.  But they are rather close at times.

The simplicity of the half giant style of thought actually gives them a very realistic cunning of sorts.  It is possible that a HG will fall for some well laid trick, but it is easily just as possible that the HG's simple way of thinking will completely obliterate any chance of that trick working.

Personally, I just love HGs.  I've only played two, and like was said earlier in the post, one of them died extremely quickly in an extremely stupid fashion.

The other lasted 40 days, and was my second most well loved PC.  There is always, always, ALWAYS something interesting to do with a HG.

And honestly I'm not sure that there really could be such a thing as an 'improperly played' HG.  I mean, who knows... maybe his background had him raised by mad scientist templars, so he grew up immitating geniuses.

Really.  It could happen.
Title: Roleplaying Half-giants
Post by: Angela Christine on November 06, 2004, 06:53:55 PM
While we're on the subject, how do you deal with the fact that the chracter can never develop into a leadership role?  Admitedly I've never had a character promoted much past recruit or Trooper, my only "leadership" role was a special app character who had no followers anyway, so I've never actually had a leadship role.  But several of my characters have dreamed of making to Sergeant, or higher, and that isn't possible with a halfgiant.  The big fella might want to be able to boss people around, but he will never be given authority over anything more complex than tieing his own boots.  Even the T'zai Byn isn't going to promote a giant to Sergeant.

More importantly, or at least more likely to happen on a frequent basis, how do you _not_ say anything when you see your non-halfgiant leader doing something dangerously stupid?   I'm not necessarily talking about eating a poisonous fruit or jumping down a bottomless pit, because it isn't TOO hard to grit your teeth and pretend you don't know it is suicidal, since your character shouldn't know about it.  I mean the times when you see a leader making really boneheaded tactical or strategic decisions, when there is clearly an easier, safer, or more efficent choice.  Can you even ask the question, or would noticing the potential for a better decision be un-halfgiant like?

That's my biggest hurdle with roleplaying halfgiants: my character shouldn't have anything intelligent to say, and no one should listen to her anyway.  I like to say clever things.  :(