A question of character

In my preparation for Ambercon, and the submission of characters for my games, something unprecedented for me happened.
I was submitted a character to whom that I had a viscerally negative reaction. I am reluctant to release telling details of this character, or the player because they might be known quantities, and I don’t wish to offend anyone…but I discuss some aspects of the character below.

Still, though, the character as the player gave me simply, in my minds, has serious logical flaws that do not mesh with my games, or the other characters therein.
–The character apparently, somehow, walked the Pattern successfully at the chronological age of five and survived.
–Said character is now a physical age of 12 and an actual age somewhere around 15. Amber age is somewhat unclear, but basically the character is, as submitted an arrested development 15 year old Amberite.
Even more of a problem, said character has been submitted for both AAPA and Wizard in the Attic.
Maybe its a weakness in me, but I look at this character, look at the other characters in those games, and I feel queasy. Uneasy. I sense an artificial and not at all positive tension between this character concept and everyone else. I don’t mind underage characters, in an environment suited to their development and presence. But this character almost seems designed to nettle other characters in an unhealthy way. I just feel ill at ease with the PC.
After a couple of days of wrangling, I emailed the player and explained as best as I could, which is to say not well, why I could not accept the character for the games. I have not heard back since.
Is it just me? Am I just a jerk?

8 thoughts on “A question of character”

  1. Is there any reason this player would have found this particular character appropriate for the campaign as you expressed it in your con blurb? You have the right, nay, responsibility to say that the character is not appropriate for the adventure. That it makes you personally uncomfortable is completely valid. You can certainly explain it to the player that you can’t promise to really give them the playing time you would with a character more suited to your playing world. You could also ask if those points are essential to the character concept or if it’s something just thrown in as “hook.”
    Frankly, I’ll be honest: from what you wrote, yes, my “creep” meter is tingling… but that doesn’t mean anything without knowing the whole story.

  2. Hmmm.
    Pattern at five? I feel somewhat odd commenting since I explored some of the “arrested development” issue with Naturaelusus in Bete Noire, but this seem to go beyond that to pure freakishness.
    So am I not guilty of same? Did I cross a line? Perhaps, but I didn’t ask a GM or FtF players to go with me.

  3. We have one regular con-goer who habitually plays a 15 year old. I suspect that is who you are dealing with here.
    I have no personal experience with this fellow, as he dropped the one con game that I thought would be the perfect foil for his character – John Davies’ Nightfall Trilogy, which was a ‘kid’s game.’ Unfortunate. (I played a nine-year-old and had a blast!)
    I don’t know why he is enamored of being fifteen. I suspect that he ‘fades’ from a lot of games, so you might not hear back – I guess that means I am saying don’t feel bad if he does, since he has done it to others…
    Arref – Lusus is a man in a child’s seeming. That is his hook and his *burden* – and you play it as such. It’s *all* in the play, and I wish I had some experience with this other fellow’s creation for reference, but I don’t… sigh.

  4. There are a lot of levels of comfort: remember the “gaming as intimacy” commentary. Although I do not know you personally, our ‘net contact (which is all we have with Bete Noire as well) gave many of the players (including myself) a level of comfort with the idea. As well as the idea of Bete Noire being to face some of those bedbugs and bad dreams. [grin] I can’t say what just happened to Leland, for example, made me comfortable. Or that Damascus’ eating one of Gilva’s ‘Maidens wasn’t a little bit icky. [grin] But it’s not so far out of my comfort zone as to be unreasonable. (And if it was, I’d mention it to the GM. Or the player. Because I’m not the Mistress of Tact. It’s refreshing…sometimes.)

  5. Thank you all for your comments and observations.
    Jenn–upon reflection and upon looking at the character, I think I know, by sight who the player is, although I have not gamed with him. The description of the character’s clothes and appearance (aside from that weird age thing) is awfully close to one of the conventioneers–I think that they are one and the same.
    But again, like you, I have not GAMED with him, so I have no firsthand knowledge.
    Arref–As has been said more eloquently, Lusus is a far different kettle of fish. He is NOT a boy in an adult’s world and you play the character as an adult trapped with that burden, there is real pathos involved. And I do trust you, I admit–if you were to bring Lusus to one of my con games, I would have no reservations.
    This character though…well, I don’t want to ruin the experience of everyone else if this character proves to be a neutron star. (ie trying to pull plotlines and the game toward herself with a character which tries to impact everyone and not in a positive way).
    Okay, so I made up the neutron star “definition”. But the principle remains, no?

  6. Not at all jerkish.
    If it isn’t going to work, then it needs to be changed.
    And as for 5 year olds walking the Pattern, welcome to your furture as a small pile of charcole, and I’m being generous in still allowing some sort of physical existence. Plus it’s my personal opinion that any 15 year old who’d walked the Pattern would have been kept in ‘protective custody’ until they were at least 50. Who really wants a hormonal mess with power over reality wandering around the place?

  7. Oh Claire, very good point. Yikes!
    There is a reason that the lower end of the Amber ‘adult’ spectrum is usually set at thirty years or thereabouts…

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