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What do you think of "Master Of None" Heroes?:

Accelolita's Butler
As You Know, RPG heroes are often depicted as a Jack-of-All-Trades, a Mighty Glacier, or even a Lightning Bruiser, although Fragile Speedster heroes now tend to appear more frequently in video games and anime.

So I was thinking, what if the main character can do anything the rest of the cast than do, but the latter are more effective at what each of them can do than him?

Say, Hero can do well in close combat, but the Mighty Glacier hits harder and the Fragile Speedster hits faster. Hero can switch to ranged combat on the fly, but The Archer and the Ninja can do it better than him. Hero can also use magic, but the White Mage can do better at healing magic, and the Black Mage can do better at offensive magic.

In other words, the supposed Jack-of-All-Trades who ends up becoming a Master of None due to an overly specialized cast.

What do you think of this main character?

edited 8th Nov '12 4:08:29 PM by judasmartel

A little disappointing. Because if he's a master of none then it will be tempting to just pull him from the party if possible.

 3 Infalliable Liar, Thu, 8th Nov '12 4:07:41 PM from Future nothing Location
Void Waiter
And he is mandatory for the game?

Dump stats untill he is useful.
Stop caring and embrace nullness.
 4 Shirow Shirow, Thu, 8th Nov '12 4:19:46 PM from Land of maple syrup Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
Saintia SHOU!
I need my main character to have some sort of advantage he can press for me not to hate him for being stuck in the roster. SCREW YOU JASTER ROGUE.

Granted I usually hate the protagonist anyways for being horribly boring but we're talking about gameplay here.

Customizable, if you ask me, is the only archetype The Hero should fit. They should be a slate you can fit into any party. I mean, if I really like the Mighty Glacier companion and bring her along on all my jaunts I'd like to become a Squishy Wizard to back her up and still reap the synergy..
"Well, of course they'd be "colorful" - they're male battle-whores." - Nomuru2d
Accelolita's Butler
Yes, I believe the intention was to make it so the player can set up the main character into anything they like. But that's usually Jack-of-All-Trades, not Master of None, because even though he can do anything the rest of the party does with the right setups, there are things he can do better than some of the cast.

For example, sure, The Archer hits more often, but the hero deals critical damage more often than the archer.

edited 8th Nov '12 4:27:07 PM by judasmartel

I think this is only really a failure mode on the designer's part. If done properly, they will be a Jack of All Trades instead. After all, being able to do everything second best means you are adaptable to any situation. To use an example, the main character in Persona 3 or 4 would still be overpowered, even if you didn't use custom persona fusion and social link XP, simply because you can do anything.
 7 Recon 5, Thu, 8th Nov '12 6:15:37 PM from Southeast Asia
Avvie-free for life!
I think a Master of None main protagonist can be done well. It just depends on how the character is written and how his/her niche in gameplay is designed.

Besides, having the main PC be the single strongest character in the gameworld is way more overdone than any other videogame trope.

edited 8th Nov '12 6:16:13 PM by Recon5

Accelolita's Butler
And main characters as melee fighters are pretty much overdone as well. Which is why I intended the main character in my game to be a gunner with the potential to be a Jack-of-All-Trades.

-Nudge-
A little bit of an aside, but the reason I liked Ramza Beoulve from Final Fantasy Tactics was because, although we was definitely a master of none, he had a unique quality that made him quite useful: he was the only character in your party who could have 100 faith and not leave.

but then again, that game is pretty poorly balanced to begin with.

I think Master of None heroes are fine, provided they have at least one unique quality that you can take advantage of. it doesn't have to be a statistical advantage; maybe he's not as tough as the mighty glacier, but he can wear equipment from any class, it defnitely gives him some redemption.
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 10 Kayeka, Fri, 9th Nov '12 12:47:36 AM from Amsterdam Relationship Status: Brony
World's biggest wannabe
Melee fighters as the hero are overdone for good reason. There's very little heroic about hiding behind your party flinging spells. Not to mention that it's far more dramatically appropriate for the hero to get up close and personal with the final boss than it is to just shoot him from behind cover. Yes, it's practical, but it's not very satisfying.

As for Jack-of-All-Trades heroes, you only need to keep in mind that, even though they might not be the best at everything they can do, they can at least do an adequate enough of a job to be able to take the advantage no matter what the game throws at you.

The problem with that, though, is that it's a little hard to justify in-universe. Being a mage is cool, but takes a lot of studying. Being a swordsman is cool, but takes a lot of practice. Being able to do both competently can be a little suspicious.
Eh aren't these pretty rare? Most main heroes tend to be one of the best party members.

 12 Tam H 70, Fri, 9th Nov '12 3:02:29 AM from 合計虐殺 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War ALWAYS changes. Man does not.
Ramza Beoulve may be a jack of all trades and master of none type, this is true, but if you are an enemy, he will still wreck your shit most righteously. He may never have advanced above the rank of Squire, but he sends whole armies of knights to their maker on a regular basis.
 13 Geostomp, Fri, 9th Nov '12 5:22:57 AM from Arkansas, USA Relationship Status: Complex: I'm real, she is imaginary
In the name of the POWER, I will punish you!
Why make the main character suck at everything equally when you could make him/her actually useful?
"When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all" Futurama, Godfellas
 14 Cassie, Fri, 9th Nov '12 5:52:45 AM from Malaysia, but where?
The armored raven
I used to have a game idea called 'Fiction Friction' , where every imagination and soulspace can cause unconscious damages to the corporeal world. It's up to REMO Division (REM Ops Division) to stop an attempted soulspace terrorism. What starts out as standard men-with-guns fare quickly turns into a grisly gorn prelude into a story that hinges on both imagination and reality. Some actions in Fictionland may influence the actual society in certain ways.

The main character is a lack descript guy, but what's known is that he is a guy above thirty. Starts off with an assault rifle as his means of attach, but isn't that effective against fictional entities he needs to face. That's when he teams up with character derailed fairy tale entities, all have different abilities while averting Eigen Plot and master of none tropes. It's a 3rd person action RPG, with flexibility so that you can play as the main character and others around the same time when time calls.
What profit is it to a man, when he gains his money, but loses his internet? Anonymous 16:26 I believe...
Vae Victus
Any Master of None character is The Load as far as party dynamics are concerned. If you make your main character this, and make him a permanent party member, nobody is going to want to play your game. Which is why the main character is usually the best character. Nobody wants to play as a loser.
 16 Cassie, Fri, 9th Nov '12 6:33:29 AM from Malaysia, but where?
The armored raven
I have one idea that can offset the Master Of None's ineffectiveness though:

stats that can be rolled back / reversible level growths / a more reliable source of stat boost items
What profit is it to a man, when he gains his money, but loses his internet? Anonymous 16:26 I believe...
Vae Victus
Or you could make them a Jack-of-All-Trades instead, and actually make them useful instead of nerfing everybody else to justify the crappy hero.

There seems to be some confusion in this thread. Are we talking about Master of None characters from a story perspective, or a game balance perspective?

Also, Master of None is not the same as Jack-of-All-Trades. The latter is useful.
 18 Cassie, Fri, 9th Nov '12 7:05:24 AM from Malaysia, but where?
The armored raven
I believe most of us are well aware of the latter part.

What irks me most of the time is if Master of None applies to either or both story / gameplay senses
What profit is it to a man, when he gains his money, but loses his internet? Anonymous 16:26 I believe...
Vae Victus
I believe most of us are well aware of the latter part.

Yeah I would have thought so, but a few posts suggest a few people are confusing one trope for the other.

Having the main character be a Jack-of-All-Trades with potential for customisation is perfectly acceptable. The important part isexactly how much better the other party members are in their respective disciplines. If each and every member is much better than the hero in their role, then the hero becomes redundant in favour of a balanced party of multiple characters.

So basically, go for Jack of All Stats. You dont want a Master of None as your protagonist. Being a Master of None is a bad thing.
Accelolita's Butler
Yeah, I actually got confused between a Jack-of-All-Trades and a Master of None. But I do know that a Jack is far more useful because he's more effective at anything than the Master of None. It's just that the other party members can do their respective disciplines better than him.

Basically, I wanted to make a Jack-of-All-Trades hero without necessarily making him the strongest character in the game (though most attempts at doing so ended up making the hero the strongest character anyway). Rather, he's supposed to be the character with the highest potential for customization, i.e., you can really turn him into anything you like.

edited 10th Nov '12 10:38:50 AM by judasmartel

Then what you are really aiming for is a high customizability in the game. This doesn't make the hero the Jack of All Stats, it just means his specialization is set by the player.
 22 Shirow Shirow, Sat, 10th Nov '12 12:33:23 PM from Land of maple syrup Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
Saintia SHOU!
[up] Bingo. That's the way you should go.

Hell, when I was a kid playing the original Front Mission (I love the fact that I can say that) I was really happy I could make Lloyd a "Missiler" type pilot with the right setup. He had an absolutely devastating loadout that could crush most enemy mecha at a safe distance, but needed considerable backup to stay effective. The game obviously never encourages this setup, but I found it a lot of fun that they still let you do it if you played your cards right.
"Well, of course they'd be "colorful" - they're male battle-whores." - Nomuru2d
Vae Victus
Honestly if you give any character customisation potential they will probably end up overpowered anyway. The most likely scenario is the player will take their Jack of All Stats main character, pick a specialty that suits their playstyle, and stick all their skill points in that area (as an example, a player who wants to specialise in physical attacks puts all their points into strength). The only way you'd get around that is to cap the MC's stat growth, and your players will probably not like that.

If you need some examples of great games that cast the MC as a blank slate for the player to customise, look no further than the Shin Megami Tensei games. Nocturne, Persona 3 and 4, and Digital Devil Saga 1 and 2 all start out with the main character as a Jack of All Stats. By the end they are normally far and away the best character.

You aren't really going to get around this. The main character is the player's avatar in the game world, and the one through which the story is being told, so it's natural for the player to want that character to be powerful, especially if they cant be switched out. If you try to force the Jack-of-All-Trades template, players will likely react unfavorably.

About the only way I can see around the problem is to not have a main character. Case in point, Final Fantasy XII has a nominal protagonist in Vaan, but the hero is obviously Ashe, and Vaan's use is never forced (except at the beginning when he's your only character). When I played it I ignored Vaan entirely and treated Ashe as the main character, and I never felt like the game was forcing the choice of protagonist.
Accelolita's Butler
I do of course recognize that the Jack of All Stats hero usually ends up being the strongest character in the game. Nonetheless, I kinda like it when the hero starts out as a Jack, considering that Glass Cannon or Fragile Speedster heroes are now not unheard of unlike in the olden times when some of them are Mighty Glaciers by default.

Could use him for nice Eigen Plots though. If the plot calls for s psrty which lacks magic in a level where some but not all enemies are resistant to physical attacks, he can double as a mage. If the plot calls for a party filled with mages in a level where some enemies are resistant to magic attacks or can take out the mages in one or two hits, he can serve as a Lightning Bruiser Party Tank.

edited 10th Nov '12 2:09:56 PM by judasmartel

Vae Victus
Oh I'm not saying that a generalist character can't be useful. They are very useful for filling holes in a party lineup if a specialist is unusable for whatever reason, or for building on the strengths of the party by adding a member who can assume multiple roles to cover any weaknesses. Just that if you're dead set on designating a character as a generalist, you might not want to make them your MC for reasons I outlined above.

Or maybe, if you wanted to make the generalist customisable, you could make it so that only the specialist characters have access to the uber-level abilities of their discipline, while the generalist has access to a final Limit Break or something that is useful in all situations. That way, the generalist MC can be powerful, without outshining the other party members in their roles.
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Total posts: 25
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