Reverb Gamers 2012, #6

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #6: Describe your all-time favorite character to play. What was it about him/her/it that you enjoyed so much? (Courtesy of Atlas Games. Visit them at

You know how my answers to the last couple of questions have been short? Well, this one’s going to be the exact opposite of that. I’ve played way too many games to pick a single character, so get comfortable, because I’ve got a few characters to talk about.

Gremlin, Punk Rock Super-Hero
As my primary character in Leighton’s multi-year super-hero game, Gremlin is the character I’ve spent the most time playing, so I’m pretty attached to her. The game ran when we were in college and most of us were just starting to get away from the usual crunchiness and combat in favor of story and character development, so her start wasn’t the best. Gremlin originated as a Tank Girl rip-off (though one with the super-power of controlling machines) and her inclusion on the team was a terribly cliched contrivance (“this felony was her first offense, let’s give her a second chance by adding her to our super team”), but as the campaign went on she eventually developed into a good character and important member of the team. One of the turning points was the introduction of Trinket, a GMC with a magic coat and knack for butchering the English language. Trinket and Gremlin quickly became friends and references to their wacky off-screen adventures started working their way into the game (and we actually got to play a few of them). Leighton and I want to do a comic about these characters, and have even written a script for issue 1, but so far haven’t managed to trick or bully an artist into drawing it for us.

Joe Thursday, Hard Boiled Occult Detective Out of Time
Joe Thursday is probably the character who I’ve played in the most different games and systems. As a standard hard boiled detective, Joe first appeared as a sample character in Anyworlds, the incredibly complicated game system I designed in college. The “wizard out of time”* angle got added a few years later when I decided to use him in a game. I’m not entirely sure which game it was, but it was one of the many we played set in the same world (which we called The Ficton**) as the super-hero game where I played Gremlin. I used Joe in several games over the years (including an early M-Force adventure set in the 50s), but he eventually found a home as my usual character in the Herrick Agency campaign that the Hex staff plays from time to time. One of the most entertaining uses of this character was in a completely straightforward Top Secret/SI game run by my friend Andy Davis (who currently works with Crafty Games–you should buy some stuff from them). When we were creating the characters, I explained that I wanted to play a hard-boiled detective who was also a powerful wizard, to which Andy responded “and he can believe that just as hard as he wants.” The game only lasted a few sessions, but making Joe’s actual magical powers ambiguous and probably non-existent (the dice and/or story occasionally worked out to make it look like one of Joe’s spells could have actually worked, but it was probably just coincidence) was a fun variation.

Jack Magee, Broken Cyborg Glory Hound
Another original Ficton character, Jack Magee was a member of Northwind, a corporate-sponsored Pacific Rim super-team based in Australia. Jack was a soldier-of-fortune who had volunteered to be a test subject for a bioengineering company’s cybernetics experiments some years earlier. In the intervening time, the company had gone through several bankruptcies, mergers, and massive personnel changes and technology had advanced considerably. As a result, upgrades to Jack’s cybernetics had been haphazard, a problem further complicated by the fact that some of the original brain interfaces were so crude that the couldn’t be easily replaced. So basically jack was the cyborg equivalent of a modern PC built around a Commodore 64 motherboard and with a few Apple and Tandy parts stuck on here and there. Because his cybernetics were so shoddily put together, they didn’t always work as planned, so his limbs would lock up or act on their own accord, his bioware didn’t always work, and the combination of actual memory and information that had been uploaded to his brain made it hard for Jack to distinguish between fantasy and reality (the fact that Jack was a comic book fan made this problem even worse). As if being a super-strong, semi-invulnerable professional killer who occasionally hallucinated battles with The Red Skull and wasn’t especially bright wasn’t bad enough, Jack was also a glory hound, always willing (usually to the corporate sponsor’s dismay) to talk to the press and to fans. The thing that made the game really fun was that all of the characters were just as insanely powerful as Jack–a Chinese demon, a teen robot girl, a hard-boiled spy with a forcefield, and a guy made out of lava. So even though we didn’t always catch the bad guys, we inevitably caused a shitload of property damage trying.

Hunter S. Constantine, Gonzo Wizard
I’ve actually only played this character once, but I plan to play him again whenever the opportunity presents itself. The game was one Leighton was running at a con where the setting and plot were determined by rolling on the Book of Dumb Tables. The initial rolls revealed that we were modern-day wizards, so I made up a character based on the idea of Hunter S. Thompson with magical powers. His Gimmick was that he could see into other dimensions. His Weakness was that he often experienced these other dimensions to the exclusion of reality (so basically his hallucinations were real to him). The ongoing hallucination during the game was that he was a member of a CIA black ops team made up of Frank Sinatra and other members of the Rat Pack (I ended up stealing the “Rat Pack Black Ops” idea for a GenCon game the following year, wherein Frank & the crew were sent to Cuba to assassinate Fidel Castro). Also, I don’t remember why, but at some point Constantine (who at least theoretically talked like HST) ended up on the phone with George Takei, which would have sounded awesome if L8on and I were better at doing voices.

Honorable Mentions: Clarence Ripley (Elvismancer), Dirk Magnum (intergalactic con man who somehow grifted his way into becoming king of the galaxy), Kingyak (stupid, stupid kobold), Frank Cassidy (parrothead monster hunter), Dr. William Aristotle Clay (old west mad scientist), Katina LaSalle (the wicked witch of east Jersey City), The Spring (mad scientist)

*Did I mention that he was frozen by magic-using gorilla gangster sometime in the 50s and discovered and thawed out in the 90s?

**A lot of characters, groups, and other elements of this world would later be re-purposed for the Hex Ficton where M-Force, Weird Times at Charles Fort High, Hobomancer, and many other Hex products are set.