Non-Coms, and How Not to Suck!

Started by Gixustradt, August 13, 2013, 09:19:36 PM

So, Amos the amiable artisan is rolled up.

Cool, 'cuz creative crafters can cause all kinds of craziness.

Question is, how is it done? How do you, o' glorious experts of Arm, give a squishy, solitary role the pizzazz it takes to make them worth playing for months on end?

The guide to playing a Noble is helpful (minions and mayhem!), but that sort of thing still requires a pretty firm footing in your local area.

I'd be really interested in hearing what folks who 'main' non-combatants and otherwise solitary characters do to make their lives exciting and bring both flavor and fun to the worktable and to the folks around them. How do you get started? How do you spread your glorious name? Etc.

The non-warrior/ranger life is filled with (hopefully less lethal) perils, help a noob to navigate!

Personally, probably start with a Merchant House...and keep in mind that your character isn't sworn to them for life...unless they are...especially if you are new to the game. It will really help you to get some interaction and guidance in a less hostile environment.

Also, if you're going for a long-lived character, there's a certain amount of patience required and accepting that it won't be all excitement all the time. Sometimes it's just slow. Ups and downs.
Quoteemote pees into your eyes deeply

Quote from: Delirium on November 28, 2012, 02:26:33 AM
I don't always act superior... but when I do it's on the forums of a text-based game

I never really play non-coms, but I'll give some very general advice(which you probably already know, from the noble guide).

Have a skill that's useful(non-coms have a ton). Make contacts, friends, and customers through the perfection of that skill. Gain influence, notoriety, and power through those contacts/friends/customers. Use said power to change the environment around your character in whatever manner you deem fit.

I like this question though, and it would be cool to hear some stories of HOW other players have done the above in the past.

If your role is both a non-combat role and solitary, you likely have a problem. It probably will not be fun. Your chances for exploration will be limited and you'll experience little risk after surmounting an initial hump.

The good news is that there's no need for solitude. Most non-combat roles promote interaction with other players. Even if you're independent, you're not going to be solitary.

If you're:

an independent artisan or trader
- You're always looking for new buyers of your wares. You've a ready-made excuse to talk to lots of people. Some of them will hear you out and say "actually, what I really want is..." and give you yet another interesting thing to talk to people about. Along the way you will make enough sid to pay others for information, for raw materials, for escort duty and many other things. It's only a matter of time before you get seriously caught up in other people's business.

an artisan for a Merchant House
- You've got a bunch of colleagues to chat to who'll fill you in on interesting things they know about, and wear insignia which will persuade people to talk to you without being asked. With the passage of time you'll get deeper into the affairs of your House. Your entertainment is a little at the mercy of your clan leader, but in the right place with the right people you'll be in intrigue up to your eyeballs.

an aide to a noble or templar
- Maybe you're organising parties. Maybe your noble needs someone dead. You inhabit a position people will take seriously, looking to curry favour with your boss. While the House guards trudge off for another round of sparring, you're being a fly on the wall in the meetings of the rich and powerful.

a beggar
- It can be hard to stay poor, though alcoholism or a spice habit helps. Most beggars will rise to greater heights if they don't die. However, as a beggar, your desperation drives fresh interaction. As someone who will do anything for sid and ask no questions, you're exactly the kind of expendable that the seediest people will take an interest in.

a bard
- I'm not going to say much about this, given there's scads of information on them already, but being a little too topical or making jibes at the expense of the powerful will give you huge dollops of pizzazz quite quickly. The trick is not going overboard and ending up dead.

I haven't even touched on cutpurses, whores, gamblers, grifters and other low-lifes. The common thread running through all of the non-combat roles discussed though is that your chosen role should have ways to promote interaction with others which are much richer than those that exist in the sparring circle. You nestle deeper into plots and complicated relationships. It's fun.
I am God's advocate with the Devil; he, however, is the Spirit of Gravity. How could I be enemy to divine dancing?

Stir the pot, throw out occasional lies about different people, and watch the shit fly.
Life sucks, then you die.

August 14, 2013, 12:36:01 PM #5 Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 12:46:44 PM by Harmless
Huge +1 to Quirk's post above, all of it is sound advice for sure.

I haven't played more than a handful of non-coms, and some forms of non-com I've never tried. But I'll give you some good advice I've had in the past. Note, a lot of my advice applies to combat characters as well. But I think I've learned personally from the below lessons for non-coms in particular, often.

1.) Don't store. This is rule #1, because often times the question becomes, "Ugh! Do I store this guy or what? I WANNA BE IN THE BYN AGAIN!!!" etc. This may be tempting as a solution to your issues, but you really need to give non-coms longer to "blossom." I would say, that on average, I only start feeling "good" about my non-coms after 5 days of playtime. That's being kind of... short, too. Really? It takes much longer. They are late bloomers. If you're considering storage, see #2.

2.) Always be willing to step back and take a break. Time fixes so much. As a non-com, you're unable to "get out there" sometimes, or unable to "escape" a difficult social situation. This can feel like being trapped, and it can lead to a lot of anxiety and discomfort. Maybe you are in danger, but really like your PC concept and want them to survive. Well, then take a few days off to let things settle. Remember, even the most vicious PCs will reconsider you differently in enough time. And also, non-coms really shouldn't be charging headlong into danger. If something KILLS a non-com, it had BETTER have been a good reason, ICly. If it isn't... then you know what to do. (file a player complaint).

3.) Don't overthink it. I can't stress this enough. Being a non-com, you're kind of like a brain in a bottle in this world. No AI strength to  help you along, you need to use your wits. This can lead to spirals of self-doubt and second-guessing which are a major pain. Got a dilemma? Just let the decision your character makes come with time. Not sure about something? The next time you have a good conversation with one of your fellow non-coms, you'll maybe see things differently. See point #2.

4.) Learn to appreciate the small things. I used to be very much a, "I need to be in the most important plots" kind of player. Nowadays, I think I maybe veer towards the opposite direction, purposefully seeking the "little things" that make the world come alive. To some degree, we all can enjoy RPing with someone we normally wouldn't. My absolutely favorite moments are when someone is being rude, or breaking a social custom of some kind. Then things get spicy. Don't run away from those moments, seek them. (but, don't overdo it either, see #5!)

5.) Avoid snowflakeyness. This is a difficult concept, maybe needs a lot more explanation if you haven't heard the term. It basically means, trying too hard to break the mold. See Marauder Moe's good point: for every 1 thing that is exceptional about your PC, there should be 8 normal things. Or something like that.
I made this mistake a lot, early on, with my non-coms. The good news is, the more you learn about the game setting, the less this happens on its own. You just become a better player as you become comfortable with the setting. So, see #3.

An exception to rule #1: If you've given your non-com role a week or two and it still isn't picking up, you're either playing in a location and in a time zone that is exceptionally quiet, or you're in need of help, so seek the helpers. But sometimes, storage is a good option, because some concepts just wouldn't get a lot of attention from other PCs.

I may have more later, but this is a start at least.
Useful tips: Commands |  |Storytelling:  1  2

I have a quibble with the 'disappear if things are getting hot' advice. On the contrary, let things play out!

Mmm.. Good point delirium. I guess I would clarify the situation in which to step back as either "really really boring" or "really excruciatingly painful to play." But if it's "hot" in the sense you're implying, I definitely agree, stay in. it's all about whether you enjoy it as a player, though.

Maybe I could provide an example of the situation I was referring to, if needed.
Useful tips: Commands |  |Storytelling:  1  2

Well, there is a difference between 'my character is incredibly emo right now and it's depressing, so I'm going to let them work through it virtually for a while' and 'my character said something to piss off noble frou-frou so I'm going to stop playing until they forget about me'.

So it's probably semantics but obviously the second scenario would not be cool.

Okay, yes, I totally agree with that. Thanks!
Useful tips: Commands |  |Storytelling:  1  2

Lubly dubly advice from everyone, and I'll certainly be taking it to heart.

I've got a thing for playing "normals", combat-ready or otherwise (was very charmed to have someone notice this, whoever they were), and taking on the challenge of "oh gawd I can't fight, am carrying brickloads of valuables and everyone around me is some sort of maniac/brigand in disguise" seemed too good to be true.

Looking forward to stirring the acidic melting pot that is Arm with everyone, as always.

As for their niche in Arm, non-coms are some of the most empowering people in Armageddon if done right.  There's always another Malik with a sword that can be hired on to go fight the good fight against the inevitable invasion of gurth to take over the Known and so on.  But the amount real brains to manipulate and facilitate plot through position of power/wealth is much more limited. 

Think of non-coms as enablers of characters.  Other noncoms are your enemy enablers.  This basic principle should lead to the OOC perspective understanding needed to have fun with them.  You will not be killing the Mega Ultra Chicken yourself, but you will have made it happen.  I also wholeheartedly agree on being with a Merchant house or two for a while.  The more experienced Role Called PCs can usually mentor you in the ways of things and help you elevate understanding of the role.  (Role models if you would (ba dum tish)).

From an IC perspective, have a goal, work towards that goal, and do it with style(usually).  Race/location really effects how you go about things of course, but you on the whole will be forced to really *play the game* when you don't just take up a weapon and go do everything yourself. 

You will experience corruption, in that you will bend others to your will and be bent to the will of others to survive.  You will betray, to gain favor with those more powerful than yourself or to gain power of your own.  And you will enable murder to keep what you have, or in turn be murdered so that others may take what you have or end your thirst. 

/drops 2 sids and leaves

The key to which of  my long playing characters I have enjoyed seems to be the time I've spent on thinking about their background.  The back stories have been pretty normal for the culture they are from, but every so often little bits will come to life and affect what is happening now.
Make your PC capable of Passion; for people, Him, their work,or  their own ideals.

Good luck with your new story.
And never forget you are a non-com! Or not.
That beauty and truth should pass utterly

Quote from: Gixustradt on August 14, 2013, 02:17:10 PM
Looking forward to stirring the acidic melting pot that is Arm with everyone, as always.

You sound like you've been here forever already. :)
Quoteemote pees into your eyes deeply

Quote from: Delirium on November 28, 2012, 02:26:33 AM
I don't always act superior... but when I do it's on the forums of a text-based game

I've played a couple merchant types and tended to really like them at first only to get bored with over time and start to take too many risks and die, leaving really nice boots behind. Maybe the P.C. I had the most fun with was a non-com. I found as an indie, coin came in fast and I used it all to think of reasons to hire others for contracts, the whole reason I think it's easy for indie merchants to stack up coins is to find reasons to hire other players..