Stock Character #1: Trickster

This is the first in a series of articles on stock RPG character types for players to pull from when playing forum-based RPG. Kuro and Shadow will both be contributing.
Growing up on a diet of Native American folklore, the Trickster is especially near and dear to my heart.

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The Trickster is one of the most-loved and used characters of folklore. It is also one of the most difficult characters to write.
The role of the trickster in folklore—contrary to appearances—is that of a teacher, a warning, or, in some cases, a mirror.
Probably the best-known of the Tricksters in Folklore is Coyote, that infamous Native American fool. Coyote is forever getting in trouble, getting everyone else in trouble, and failing miserably to accomplish what he sets out to do. (As an aside, Wily Coyote was basically a personification of Coyote’s negative attributes.)
Less-well known is how often Coyote—and other Tricksters—benefit humanity and their fellow animals. Usually not intentionally either.
In Japanese folklore, demons are often Tricksters, some malevolent and some relatively benign, while in Indonesia, the kantjil makes a fool of the tiger, and the mouse-deer of Borneo trusses a demon to keep him from eating the fish.
Trickster is a character best used sparingly. While two Tricksters in a game can result in absolute hilarity, it gets confusing if too many such elements are introduced. Not to mention, your entire game will likely consist of them tricking and foiling each other.
If you use Trickster, the key words are irreverence, trouble, fatal curiosity, irrepressible and tenacious (for something interesting enough, of course.) A Trickster character is likely to have trouble holding down a job or staying in a relationship, but will be one of the big catalysts and wild cards. Therefor, the Trickster should only be played by an experienced, savvy player.

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2 Responses to “Stock Character #1: Trickster”

  1. RoberII Says:

    But archetype != stock character. And I’m not entirely sure that the concept of archetypes are easily “translated” to RPGs, especially as player characters… Other than that, it’s a good description of tricksters, though I could argue that more people are familiar with Loki than with Coyote. Also: Another very important trickster character is Odin – Tricksters emphasize brins over brawns more than they emphasize chaos. So they won’t neccesarily have a hard time keeping a job or a relationship (or a kingdom) going.

  2. Jaym Gates Says:

    I was actually aiming more to look at Folklore, vs. the regular bigger mythologies. And with those, the extremes aren’t quite as big.

    The European (and I include Greek here) mythologies don’t have quite the panache to them. Loki was more a trouble-maker and prankster than a folklore Trickster I think.

    As far as ‘Stock’ characters go, I think that for writers of our level we COULD use archetypes. Our players are good. And I’d like to see something outside of the traditional characters used in RPs.

    (Hence Mere–from Dark Messiah–will be very much the ‘evil witch’ archetype, ala Baba Yaga and her kin.

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