Strange Inspiration

Without Inspiration by CarloValente

It was Matt Damon that inspired my DB Cooper character in Timewatch: Deja Boom. Isn’t that weird?

I was sitting on my couch watching a late night interview with Matt Damon, and he suddenly broke out into an imitation of Matthew McConaughey. It was a solid impression, and the audience loved it. It even earned a few chuckles from me before I tried doing my own impression of McConaughey. After a few tries, I was able to get a word or two to sound like the actor, and that began my obsession with his voice.

Two months later, I used that obsession to create the fork-tongued time traveling charlatan known as DB Cooper for our Timewatch campaign.

Inspiration comes differently for people. I swear that Jesus creates his fantastic characters by looking over his shoulder towards the movie posters I have hanging on the walls. Angela, on the other hand, will usually get her inspiration for characters from history and young adult novels. Daniel and David? Hell, I doubt they even know where their inspiration for characters come from.

So, for this post, I’ve decided to share with you my inspiration for my characters. Some might be easy to spot, some might be be from left field, but this is my list of what inspired my characters!

Barsha da Barsha – Warhammer 40K Rogue Trader

Oddly enough, Barsha was created when I was playing Everquest. I tried to name my ogre ‘Basher the Basher’ but it was sadly taken. However, in a brief glimmer of childlike intuition, I realized that ogres probably couldn’t speak or spell right, thus Barsha was given his name!

However, a character is more than a name. They are personality. Honestly, as pretentious as it sounds, I took a lot of inspiration from Frankenstein’s Monster. The creature was brilliant.. however what was scary was how his thought process worked. He was so inhuman with his planning, but still familiar enough that made it uncomfortable. Like a monkey playing poker! Add a bit of funniness from the Orcs in Warcraft III (“Stup pokin’ me!”), and that was how Barsha was born. Daniel and the rest of the crew evolved him to something more, but that was how the character was first created in my head.

Jack Mavrickson – Hollow Earth Expedition

Jack Mavrickson was first inspired by the cowboy in the Mummy. Sure, people might have loved Brendan Fraser in the movie (admittedly, he was sort of awesome), but I loved the cowboy that was offed by the Mummy half way through the movie. He had the right look, the right attitude, and the right sort of gun slinging skills to pique my interest. And when Angela brought up running a pulp campaign, he was the person I used to create Jack Mavrickson.

Byron Clayton – Unhallowed Metropolis

We played Unhallowed Metropolis a few days after a Black Adder marathon. I loved the snootiness of the main character in that show, and I adored the cleverness of the dialogue. A Dash of Tony Stark and a pinch of House, and Byron was born. However, the other player characters were what sculpted Byron to be the character he is. Moira played by Angela allowed for Byron to constantly have an audience to his whining. Doctor Charles Israel played by Daneal gave Byron an intellectual to debate and argue with. As for Marcus played by David, he supplied the brotherly role that Byron so desperately wanted to fill.

So  those were the inspirations for my three favorite characters. Some of the inspirations were a little goofy, but I think they made some rather interesting characters. So, Fandible Readers, what inspired your greatest character or your most vilest of villains? Share it with us in the comments!

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About the Author
Billy started out his roots like many roleplayers - D&D. Playing it and then Vampire all through highschool and college, Billy picked it all up again when he made the move from Michigan to New York. Now working in publishing, Billy does what he can to view roleplaying games through a narrative's lens. Does that sound classy as balls? It should.

11 comments on “Strange Inspiration

  1. Arlene says:

    Short Fix, Shadowrun
    Fixer, human, short (no dwarf jokes), mechanic, and contact junkie
    Short Fix was created when Shadowrun first came out. I didn’t like any of the archetypes, so I looked at the NPCs. I decided to make someone who knew everyone. A bout of laryngitis provided her raspy voice, her makeup was inspired by a combo of SR art and (wait for it) Jem of the Holograms. She was belligerent but always loyal other friends.

  2. CallmeIshma3l says:

    My longest running DnD Character was a Drunken Master from 3.5 called Korvek Cogwright (cause his family where tinkers that worked in the Cogs of Sharn [City of Skyscrapers that sometimes float that is totally not NYC].
    His mentor/trainer was a shameless rip off of Uncle from the Jackie Chan Adventures cartoon, since the class was taken whole cloth from on of his movies.

  3. Jake says:

    Ranier Wolfcastle’s one-shot movie character Undercover Nerd. My Dark Heresy group needed an Adept, but since I love doing completely random character creation I picked my class and then rolled stats. I ended up with max strength (40), near max toughness (38) and the Brute mutation raising my Strength to 50 and Toughness to 48.

    I was then the surprisingly erudite musclebound hulk of a nerd. He ended up a corrupted sorcerer distrusted by his comrades and trapped on an ever-shifting world controlled by a capricious Alpha-level Psyker.

    Good times.

  4. Lucek says:

    My favorite characters come from me sitting down to a table with a pencil and paper and then I draw them. If I know their face I can imagine them in the scene and what they say just flows.

  5. Honeybear says:

    Asalibaya of the Blessed Hand- Exalted Eclipse Solar; Inspired by Geoff Chaucer from A knight’s Tale. My first time playing the world breaking craziness that is Exalted.
    Skippy Tattersails – Savage Earth; The best pirate with the worst name, inspired by Jack Sparrow. He was so much fun. He broke a savage earth game by gaining a full tier of levels ahead of the rest of the party. The accent was horribly gloriously bad.

  6. Syren says:

    Hmm, we got Syren Bamulase from Exalted. Eclipse Caste as well inspired as a mash up of every merchant prince trope I could muster, Zhuge Liang from Rot3K, and Chairman Sheng-Ji Yang from Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. Brilliant schemer, he had plans in plans in plans and believed the solution to all of Creation’s problems was systemic and could be overcome by simple application of bureaucratic and economic reform along with diplomatic talks with all greater powers.

    And he was probably right, but in the world of Exalted it is usually much easier for the Dawn Caste to smash the face in of all opposing forces than it is to talk. So he ended up playing more of a subvillain as he made an effort to try to make his plans work despite the brute force of his circle.

    Then there was Alastor(nosurname) in Anima: Beyond Fantasy who was based on the psyker commander unit’s speech patterns in Dawn of War( ), Jungian thoughts on the Id, and a variable amount of villain tropes.

    He ended up starting as a man who was certain for his greatness, slightly unhinged, mad with power, and very very unpleasant. He lost pretty much none of this, but due to friendship what he gained was an understanding that the reason he was this way was because he had been so used to the world stepping on him that he wanted to stomp on it by the will of his fury, but with friends by his side and people who he relied on and didn’t seem to care that he had a face that look like it took several trips through a nightmare factory he realized he wanted to share his evil empire with them.

    God I loved him.

    Finally another favorite was Dr. Franklin Lesse(shadownickname Frankenstein) from Shadowrun. Who is based on dreaming of the tech level of Eclipse Phase, extropian philosphies, and sitting on the moral mid-ground between Frankenstein, Faustus, and Herbert West. He is the Shadowdoc of the group and is the reason half of the group is pretty much augmented monsters about on par if not greater than Dan’s adept gunorc. The only reason the other half aren’t is because they are mages or technomancers.

    He lives on his own morality and seems driven to try to drag the whole of his universe to the future which he claims to already live in. Espousing the new flesh and the new world that will come when we let go of our megacorp overlords, draconic instigators, and ancient waking evils and live by our own merits, far from the manasphere, up in space. He is great fun to play around with as well just for basic craziness and asking someone if they would be interested in a new, more efficient, skin.

  7. Admiral Grim says:

    Sadly I have not made favorite pc yet. More often than not I am running the games. If I had to choose one of my npcs though, then that is easy.

    Malev a “Musical” Haemonculus for my Only War game. I came up with after watching an old Terry Gilliam movie called “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”. There was a villain who use to attach prisoners to a old musical organ. Every time the character hit a note, a knife or hammer would hit or jab one of the prisoners, causing them to scream in pain.

    I thought to myself, that is horrible, sick, and twisted. Perfect for a Dark Eldar! So I created Malev, a dark eldar composing and opera called the Torturer’s Apprentice.

    After that I just threw in a few mad scientist tropes, and a bit of The Joker, and I was done. I had created one of my more memorable characters. And my group loved the game so much we commissioned artist on deviantart to draw movie poster for the campaign.

  8. Peripheral says:

    I can’t say I have a favorite tabletop character yet, but my magician in my group’s current Rolemaster/Harn campaign started as a cross between Piglet and the JLU version of the Question. Everything is frightening, everything is related. She’s occasionally right in thinking a certain cult orchestrated whatever the party may have encountered, but given that she thinks almost everything is part of their grand plan, no one’s impressed.

    Combining her fearfulness with my having taken entirely the wrong moral from “Ringing Bell” as a kid formed her ruthless streak. There are terrifying people out there that the party is determined to face but not equipped to defeat, so the obvious solution is for her to learn what they do and be better at it.

  9. Quorganism says:

    Hm, seems I’m late to the party, but I’ll jump in. Long time listener.

    Most of my characters tend to start out as mash ups of different figures from various sources, then grow into themselves as play goes on. Had three real favourites.

    The first is Doctor Marvin Salt, a Nosferatu psychiatrist from a Vampire the Requiem game. Based very strongly off Robson Green’s brilliant portrayal of Tony Hill in the UK series The Wire in the Blood. His look and mannerisms, however, were more inspired by Mr Hand from Dark City, for the layer of vampire sickness that invariably tainted his altruistic motives…

    A character that my group seemed to like was for a cameo in a Rogue Trader game that I had to come up with pretty quickly. Lars van Iver, the Arch Militant hiver (and “reformed” cultist turned cult hunter) dressed like Billy Idol, spoke the Boondock Saints and took most of his insults from Transmetropolitan’s Spider Jerusalem. That’s… usually the road our 40k ends up taking.

  10. Quorganism says:

    Gah, lost the third.

    One I can’t really place is Nache. My little albino con man, built for my first real Dark Heresy game, had to have a secret; in his case, “mutation”. I feel that abstractly, there was a lot of the film The Prestige in him, with his odd focus on hidden identities, but he’s not either of the lead characters. Oddly, I think he’s a pistol slinging version of Michael Caine in that movie; always having to improvise a solution when the gunfights inevitably go wrong. And when the going gets tough… valiantly dive behind a nobleman. He was still Scum after all…

  11. Thanak Drahz says:

    Orthesian Stilio, my apostate from Black Crusade, started out as a student activist/99%er who recognised the Imperium was a stagnant fascist dictatorship and knew just the slogans to bring it crashing to its knees.
    Stilio was recruited by a chaos cult and drank the Kool-Aid hard. His naivety about what he was actually involved in was ably supported by my complete inability to make any lore rolls (Did you know Daemons occasionally lie? Stilio didn’t).
    The real fun with the character was stripping back his ideals through continuous contact with the ‘real’ world and trying to manage the group of ever more powerful and erratic murder machines he’d been saddled with.

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