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The Party Members Do Nothing
RPG party members' only contribution after joining is combat and idle chatter


(permanent link) added: 2011-05-06 00:16:22 sponsor: pureWasted (last reply: 2011-05-16 17:54:35)

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Should We Have This One?, Needs More Examples

Will populate with article if this catches on. Party members in RP Gs pretty interesting characters... up until the point where you recruit them. Once that happens, they become mindless tag-alongs who are there only to fight at your side and provide colorful banter while you explore. It's not that they lose personality, but rather that they lose all self-identity. The Player Character is effectively a plot vacuum, and once other characters come across his path they are no longer capable of autonomous thought and independent contribution to the plot. They are interchangeable. Best case scenario, they'll get a Loyalty Mission later on that will briefly -- but completely episodically -- shift focus to them.

Imagine an alternate Lord of the Rings where the entire story revolves around Frodo. The epic confrontation between Arwen and the Ringwraiths? That was Frodo (alive and well), with some back-up healing from Arwen. The fight atop Weathertop? Frodo saved the day. The Heroic Sacrifice by Gandalf? Didn't happen, because you can't split up the party, and we all know he survived. Merry and Pippin didn't get kidnapped, the Three Hunters didn't run off across Rohan and Fangorn Forest tracking them, and... the entire adventure proceeds in a linear fashion revolving completely around its hero.

Telltale tropes of aversion include So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear.

Examples

  • I know Mass Effect plays with this trope slightly in that Ashley and Wrex do some stuff that's out of the player's control, but someone else should fill in the blanks on this one.
  • Mass Effect 2, however, plays the trope perfectly straight. Although party members eventually get their Day In The Spotlight loyalty quest, the outcome of said quest is completely within the player's control. Moreover, the loyalty quests are entirely stand-alone and do not influence the plot, or any other characters, in any way.
  • Played mostly straight in Dragon Age: Origins. Not done the game yet, will add more later.
  • Subverted hard in Final Fantasy VI, where the party constantly splits up into mini-parties (each of which is controllable) and certain characters leave the group due to plot related reasons (or their own decision to) on a frequent basis, only to come back at a time of their own choosing. Unfortunately, So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear usually results.

replies: 15

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