I am really, really excited to talk about the characters for The Regret of Vitrerran, for they have been my passion part of this project. I love working on everything else, but writing…that is something special to me.
So. Caud and Pakasoph! Of all the characters I’ve started fleshing out, these are my two favorites. I love their personalities and the dynamic that is built out of them. There just so easy to write! The others give me all kinds of troubles, but these two somehow do all the work for me.
I suppose I should start at the beginning: When we were in early stages of design and looking at areas and spells the player should visit, one of the first places that I suggested was a swamp. There’s something kind of fun and creepy about video game swamps; you get all the joy without the bad smells or sticky boots.
I’m also a fan of nonhuman characters as they allow for a nice variety. When it comes to any kind of Role Playing Game, I prefer to play as nonhumans. Humans just seem boring in the guise of brand new worlds with brand new rules. Thus, I wanted this particular swamp to be populated by frog creatures. I had been playing Guild Wars 2 and there are well-designed frog creatures in that game, and that was enough for me to want the same.
Pakasoph became the frog creature—Tranalid—the player gets to control, but when it came to the secondary character, my brother suggested we try something else. “Salamanders live in swamps” I said, and that’s how Caud came about. He is a Chryschia, and I’m not actually sure how to pronounce that.
When creating characters, I had to craft their surroundings first. I couldn’t determine how they might act until I knew the situations around them. People that live high in the mountains will have different outlooks on say, growing crops than people living in flatter, more fertile regions. In the case of Caud and Pakasoph, I wanted characters that were outsiders to those around them. I wanted them to be stuck in a place that didn’t like them by their own choice, both refusing to leave for personal reasons. I believe I’ve succeeded.
That established, let’s look at them. We’ll start with Caud, whose awesome design is all thanks to Joe.
Caud is a bit of an anachronism, and I suppose his personality can be summed up as “surfer dude,” though it’s got a mix of other elements to it. He’s very laid back and few things truly bother him. He has his hobbies of fishing and growing certain plants, and he’s friends with Pakasoph. That’s all he needs to be happy, and he’s absolutely fine with that.
But he’s also very perceptive. He has this knack of reading the emotions into places and people, and his disposition is charming enough for him to win over those around him. He’s not a fighter at heart, though he’s capable when he needs to be, but he prefers peace.
Joe suggested he be a darker in color, blackish even, and I was fine with that. I suggested bright spots because that fit his personality, which is rather loud in comparison to those he shares the swamp with. A design clash only enhances that. He’s colorful and bright and cheery, and that’s perfect.
And then Joe suggested he have a Mohawk because why not? His gut reaction was red, might was blue, but the answer came out the same: Caud has a Mohawk. That makes me so happy.
In terms of design, his went…mostly smoothly. Joe found it hard to balance his coloring, and his first attempt was too dark, the second too light, and it took a bit of redrawing and color changes until he found the right mix. The right mix is the right one though, and we are both happy.
Pakasoph is the exact opposite to Caud in many regards, and that was intentional. Whereas Caud is apt to take things slowly, enjoy the journey, and smile often, Pakasoph has this bipolar attitude where everything is either perfect or the sky is falling. He jumps to conclusions often, and in general, worries about everything.
But he’s also an inquisitive creature, one who looks at the world around him and yearns to learn more. He’s an academic, and his magical abilities are all self taught. The Tranalid around him frown on magic and the outside world, and Pak only sees a kind of lonely sorrow in that. This differing opinion has turned him into an outcast. Still, he holds onto hope.
In terms of design, he was a problem. I wanted him to have a stereotypical robe and wizard hat—he’s the only mage in the game with such an attire, and there’s a fun reason for that—and Joe based his design around those aspects. In a way, that proved difficult as robes are filled with folds which don’t exactly translate well to our art style.
In terms of coloring, he went through twelve redesigns. I believe we spent a good hour swapping his pallet around until we agreed on something, and then two days later Joe came up to me and said, “I changed his colors again.” He’s done now though, and I quite like his final design.
Green is a finicky color, we found out. Too green and he looked like a Disney cartoon character, but if there wasn’t enough green in him, he just kind of looked muddy. The trick was to add a smidgen of yellow, but once again, too much yellow made him look gross.
At one point, we had a handful of frog pictures up on the screen and were using the color dip tool on them to try and find something that might work. It was frustrating.
I was a bit against coloring his robes purple, as in ye-olden-times, purple was a sign of wealth, but when the lights are on it washes out to more of a grey color that fits quite well. The red mark on his robes was my idea as they needed a bit more to them; they look so plain without it.
Pakasoph and Caud’s reason to quest is one of redemption. The monsters came through the portals which Pak helped design, and of course he thinks this calamity is his fault. Caud disagrees, and the two talk about fault and the world often.
Despite all that, the tone of their story is lighthearted most of the time. Their stark differences and bad habits of talking past each other make for more amusement than drama, and it all works out rather well. Pak is the academic and Caud seems to embody the poet, and between the two of them, nothing ever seems impossible, despite Pak saying otherwise.
I really like these two characters, and I hope players do as well. There’s a charm to them, some naivety yet desire to learn that I find quite enjoyable. I haven’t seen their journey to the end yet, and I’m not sure what’ll happen, but I’m optimistic about the results; more so than Pakasoph at any rate!
Caud: That was some pretty spellcasting Pak.
Pakasoph: The elders said no. No magic and no portals. But I can do magic and the portals would connect us all and so how could I say no when the other mages asked me to help? I should have said no. Look what happened!
Caud: Oh, the elders don’t know anything.
Pakasoph: They’re the elders! They’re supposed to know everything! They knew not to mess with the portals, but I messed with the portals anyways because—
Caud: Be still Pak, be still. The elders are paranoid of everything. It’s like, they’re the monsters and these new monsters, are new monsters. Understand?
Pakasoph: Cane is always telling me, “Pakasoph, magic is unnatural. It disrupts the order of the swamp,” but I never listened. I should have listened. But how is something that comes from nature unnatural? I tried to explain that to him once, but he wouldn’t listen.
Caud: Hey Pak, are you listening to me?
Pakasoph: Of course Caud.
Caud: Right, so like, there are old monsters and now there are new monsters—
Pakasoph: You’re right! Cane meant it’s unnatural to our society and culture! But our culture is so stagnant
Caud: This is a swamp, Pak.
Pakasoph: and spellcasting is the one thing I’m good at.
Caud: Right, you’re the best mage I know. You’ll figure out a way to fix this.
Pakasoph: Oh, why are we here still talking? We need to go! We need to go and…and do something!