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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Help role-playing a child soldier

    Alrighty then, a little context, I'm currently playing a teen titans-esque campaign set in an alternate DC universe using the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying System. In that game, I'm an 17 year old ex-assassin, trained by Lady Shiva (one of the better martial artists/assassins in the DCU) from an incredibly young age. It wasn't till he was about 15 that he ran away to live in Black Canary's attic (its a long-ish story) where he spent about a year watching tv to learn how to interact with normal people in ways that didn't involve stabbing. On top of that, he has teleportation powers that will erase him from existence if he doesn't continuously focus on... existing.

    Now, I've played two sessions with him and I'm not exactly sure that I have a solid characterization down for him, other than him being kind of emotionally detached, he wants to kill anyone that fights the team, and he will ask for money for any favor he does. I don't know what it is, but something about this isn't quite meshing for me. Given this character's story, does anyone have any advice on how to play this?

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    Craft (Cheese)'s Avatar

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Everything I know about child soldiers I got from watching Blood Diamond.

    ...I'm not sure how accurate it is (in truth it's probably waaaaay overblowing it for shock value, it is basically a political propaganda film after all), but the film spends lots of time on the child soldiers and it's... got plenty of material to take inspiration from.


    Of course, there's also the obvious route: This character's only interaction with normal human society until very recently was television. You could do plenty just with him/her believing that sitcom tropes are how people actually behave in real life.
    Last edited by Craft (Cheese); 2012-11-14 at 03:11 AM.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Hmm... I should look up Blood Diamond...

    As for the sitcom situation, I think that at least some of it is covered in that he's fairly genre savvy.Since the DM doesn't usually play things entirely straight I guess you could say he's wrong genre savvy, at least wrong genre savvy enough to pick a fight with the strongest kid in his class just to prove he is not to be messed with (like a prison movie or something of that ilk )

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier


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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Help with my character and an awesome band in Spanish? It must be my birthday. Thanks dude.

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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Reminds me a bit of Gundam Seed Destiny's drugged up soldiers. One minute they could be killing thousand of men, next playing marco polo in a pool. Granted they also get their memory wiped every day.

    You might want to ask yourself how does missing your childhood affect your character?

    Does he know the difference between playing/joking around and legitimate threats?

    Has he ever seen toys?

    Learning from TV can screw people up socially. One of my friends who's family is korean told me that if it wasn't for stargate and a speech therapist he wouldn't be able to speak as well as he does now. Granted he sounds like Richard Dean Anderson.

    Though if you want to take it to its logical extreme he might have a sort of Genre Sauviness that not many characters should have.
    Haggis is Sheep's stomach filled with its intestines.

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    I'd suggest reading the book Old Man's War, and its sequel The Ghost Brigades both by John Skalzi. Its a bit high-tech, but it'll give you some very good ideas for your character.
    Last edited by Techwarrior; 2012-11-14 at 08:40 PM. Reason: Added author and sequel title
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Quote Originally Posted by Techwarrior View Post
    I'd suggest reading the book Old Man's War, and its sequel The Ghost Brigades both by John Skalzi. Its a bit high-tech, but it'll give you some very good ideas for your character.
    Isn't Old Man's War about pretty much the polar opposite of a child soldier?

    I'm not sure what you are talking about would quite fit with the recent Sierra Leone child soldier ala Blood Diamond. For one thing playing somebody like that in a game probably wouldn't work that well, and at least to me borders strongly on the very inappropriate. Certainly ill-suited to a comic-booky folks in underwear defeat goofy villains sort of game.

    If you do want to go that way though, there's plenty of reading out there.


    Given the whole being raised and trained for violence aspect, I'd think a good model would be the warrior elite of various ancient militaristic peoples - which often did start training at horrifyingly young ages. So basically killing the enemy in battle is the highest glory a person can achieve, unhesitating use of lethal force without regret or remorse, and contempt for those who lack martial prowess, all wrapped up in an honor system to keep the warrior from flipping out and committing too much random murder on their way to battle.
    Still her confidence was not shaken. There was always death. If one feared that constantly one had no time for life. One had this day - that was enough to concern one's thoughts.

    Andre Norton, Forerunner, 1981.

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Quote Originally Posted by abdima View Post
    Hmm... I should look up Blood Diamond...
    It's an excellent movie. I recommend it.


    This kid should have gotten loads of PTSD, and dealt with it through anger, bitterness, and violence. If he's learning his social skills through TV... take every bad thing ever said about our media, and this kid has it. All he knows about life is Violence + Sex = Happy Ending. He thinks everyone he meets should look like supermodels, that happiness can be bought in a store, that women are all inept, and science is literal magic. He will certainly treat women very poorly (regard them as nothing more than meat to be f***ed and thrown away). You say "Shakespeare" to him, and he thinks you're talking about waving a primitive weapon around. His education is horrible at best, so he will have no understanding of business, politics, science or even basic literature. His texts and emails will look like "qime da green r i fuk u up". He will probably still try to solve all his problems through violence.

    His special powers will give him a massive, grandoise self-image, full-blown into narcissism by now. He will likely treat everyone without powers as dirt, beating/killing them if he thinks they're insulting him. He enters screaming, homicidal rage when his grotesque lack of social skills repel everyone he tries to care about.


    It's highly unlikely he could interact with the world without being put in jail sooner or later.
    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Tippy View Post
    By level 20 though, you aren't capturing a wizard. A character lives to level 20 by being the most ruthless, lucky, capable, and paranoid bastard around. A wizard is throwing around a 30+ Int score and has, entirely in character, planned contingencies for his contingencies. He may well be running around with flat out total immunity to harm, he does not walk outside without an entire bevy of defensive magics around him and enough magic items to buy himself a nation.

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    You probably already know this, but Cassandra Cain has a similar backstory. I never read her origin story, but most people say it's good and that she's portrayed quite consistently (aside from that awful Terror Titans thing).

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    Isn't Old Man's War about pretty much the polar opposite of a child soldier?
    The main character is old but... (spoilered for spoilers)
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    The Special Forces units are only about 2-6 years old on average. The second book deals with them in more detail, but one of the portions of the first book.


    It does have certain characters that fit the description.
    Last edited by Techwarrior; 2012-11-14 at 11:23 PM.
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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Obligatory plug for Ender's Game.

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    I'm just going suggest Sousuke Sagara from Fullmetal Panic! series. Socially inept, seeing terrorist around every corner and doesn't understand his own feeling let alone others. However I think he would be the best example that could work well in a role playing setting. He has drastic problems, but not enough to derail a game. Plus his problems won't cause problems with other players sensibilities. Anyway that's my two cents.
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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    You really should build your milestones around this, btw

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    I'm thinking your concept sounds exactly like Sai from Naruto.

    If you're not familiar, Sai was trained practically since birth (or at least very early childhood) as ninja special forces, and deliberately conditioned to be as emotionless as possible on top of the whole curriculum-did-not-include-basic-social-skills thing. Not to mention that his "graduation" involved a death-match against a classmate raised to be like a brother to him, specifically so that the winner of the fight would go into full emotionless-shell mode from the shock of killing their "sibling."

    He's assigned to Team 7 after the time skip and immediately makes enemies of both Naruto and Sakura by not knowing better than to be a total jerk. As he spends time around them though (particularly Naruto), he slowly learns how to do things like open up or have friends. The results of these "studies" (which involve reading lots of self-help books) are hilarious at first, though by the current point in the anime he's gotten to the point of being a fully functional human being.
    Last edited by Sith_Happens; 2012-11-15 at 12:20 AM.
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    Craft (Cheese)'s Avatar

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    I'm not sure what you are talking about would quite fit with the recent Sierra Leone child soldier ala Blood Diamond. For one thing playing somebody like that in a game probably wouldn't work that well, and at least to me borders strongly on the very inappropriate. Certainly ill-suited to a comic-booky folks in underwear defeat goofy villains sort of game.
    If you overplayed the hyper-violent parts, sure, but I still think a character along that lines could be totally appropriate if you're going for a more cynical portrayal rather than presenting it as some sort of fantasy. Something like Watchmen, perhaps.

    ...Then again, I'm not really one for idealistic portrayals of anything. If you're going for a traditional comic book superheroes story you should probably ignore everything I have to say, ever.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Sounds like Heero Yuy of Gundam Wing fame. Plus the being educated by TV things. I would expect him to talk little, if at all, and be extremely terse, military-like, and efficient in his communication. Talking isn't for expressing emotion, just communicating information. His emotions come out in other ways; violence, probably, since it's what he's good at. It takes, like, nothing to set this kid off. If anything seems remotely like what he saw in that action movie, he takes action, killing people who have no idea what's going on, and when someone tries to stop him, they die too, and he then wants to flee.

    How he doesn't do that, however, is a good question, since you're likely playing with other people and there's a story you're trying to accomplish. Frankly, he'd be really good at missions, and just emotionally detached. He doesn't get offended or pleased or anything, he only reacts after he's analyzed the cues and found a fitting model from a TV show to copy, which will naturally be completely incorrect due to context.
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Thanks for the ideas. This is some really good stuff. A lot of these posts are kinda bringing to mind Miss Martian in Young Justice and basically what her whole personality is built off of, for some reason.
    Last edited by abdima; 2012-11-15 at 09:37 AM.

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Since he's getting his social skills exclusively through TV, he will probably believe (and, perhaps more frighteningly, try to act out) all of the racial/cultural/sexual/religious stereotypes our society has. This will have so many Unfortunate Implications for our poor child-soldier's worldview...
    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Tippy View Post
    By level 20 though, you aren't capturing a wizard. A character lives to level 20 by being the most ruthless, lucky, capable, and paranoid bastard around. A wizard is throwing around a 30+ Int score and has, entirely in character, planned contingencies for his contingencies. He may well be running around with flat out total immunity to harm, he does not walk outside without an entire bevy of defensive magics around him and enough magic items to buy himself a nation.

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    This could be a challenge.
    Part of what makes a child soldier character so sad and a little frightening is the dissonance between their obviously youth biologically and their much more cynical and worldly personality, but if you are an adult yourself, it may be hard to carry this off without looking, like, well, an adult due to a lack of visual representation.
    Still, best of luck to you. Sometimes the fun can be in the challenge.
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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    Since he's getting his social skills exclusively through TV, he will probably believe (and, perhaps more frighteningly, try to act out) all of the racial/cultural/sexual/religious stereotypes our society has. This will have so many Unfortunate Implications for our poor child-soldier's worldview...
    Depends. If he watches Disney channel... yeah. There are two good shows currently on Disney channel, and they're also the two that aren't sitcoms. ICarly might be decent, but it's not good, per se. Everything else is pretty bad. But it's less the stereotypes you mentioned, and more just stereotypes about people in general.

    On the other hand, there are quality shows with realistic characters, if sometimes a bit larger than life (but I don't think he has to worry about that). I don't know what would be showing in the world of Marvel, but in real life, we've got Flashpoint and Criminal Minds for excellent crime dramas with good characters, Leverage, which is about a group of highly skilled vigilantes that con targets right into the hands of the police (see: larger than life), and Seinfield for a lighter toned show.

    But really. Not all American (although Flashpoint is Canadian) TV is stereotypes, supermodels, and a laugh track (although laugh tracks get a worse rep than they deserve. They don't ruin a show, they're just indicative that maybe you should pay more attention to the quality of the characters and jokes).
    Last edited by Hiro Protagonest; 2012-11-15 at 03:08 PM.

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    Flumph

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jade Dragon View Post
    Depends. If he watches Disney channel... yeah. There are two good shows currently on Disney channel, and they're also the two that aren't sitcoms. ICarly might be decent, but it's not good, per se. Everything else is pretty bad. But it's less the stereotypes you mentioned, and more just stereotypes about people in general.

    On the other hand, there are quality shows with realistic characters, if sometimes a bit larger than life (but I don't think he has to worry about that). I don't know what would be showing in the world of Marvel, but in real life
    I agree with what you mean (not all TV will negatively impact our child-soldier), although I have a hard time imagining a 15 year old male surging with hormones (no less a hardened, embittered assassin) watching Disney for a year.

    Marvel-universe probably has a few channels which run extremely violent programs (parodies/exaggerations of real life violent TV), though. Although I get the feeling it would also have a "cute fluffy bunnies" channels to even things out. Maybe someone with extreme knowledge of Marvel's in-universe television can help out here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Tippy View Post
    By level 20 though, you aren't capturing a wizard. A character lives to level 20 by being the most ruthless, lucky, capable, and paranoid bastard around. A wizard is throwing around a 30+ Int score and has, entirely in character, planned contingencies for his contingencies. He may well be running around with flat out total immunity to harm, he does not walk outside without an entire bevy of defensive magics around him and enough magic items to buy himself a nation.

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Im disappointed no one has mentioned the original Avatar series. yet


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    Hiro Protagonest's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Quote Originally Posted by toapat View Post
    Im disappointed no one has mentioned the original Avatar series. yet
    Sokka didn't exactly live in complete isolation from the outside world. Neither did any of the others, if you're talking about someone else. The closest thing we've got is Aang who grew up in a monastery-type place.

    New series I can see more of a case for, but Korra still got along with people. She just wasn't city smart.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    I bet he's referring to Zuko/Azula. No, they didn't grow up in isolation, but they did grow up in a hyper-violent environment governed by a sociopathic ideology revolving around power and conquest with no normal relationships or childhood experiences.
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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    Actually, im referring to all but 2 of the main characters/Main supporting characters in the original. Momo and Ty Lee are about the only characters we really see get alot of screen time who are not, or have never been, child soldiers. Ty Lee by virtue of never actually taking on the mindset, while Momo is a Lemurbat.


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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Help role-playing a child soldier

    While they participated in war and received varying degrees of training for it, they largely lived normal lives and had normal family and other relationships and took part in normal youth activities, in addition to spending some portion of their time training for combat. While they technically become 'child soldiers' when they participate in a live armed conflict, I think what the OP described is closer to someone who has no normal socialization from family/friend relationships, did not participate in culturally expected growing up activities, and whose entire worldview and upbringing was consciously engineered to prepare them to be human weapons. That's a step beyond most of the Avatar chars.
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