Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.
The paladin. Originally a term used to refer to the 12 Peers of Charlemagne (more on that in What is a Paladin?), the idea of these characters has grown and changed in our stories over the years. Whether we see them as shining knights on white chargers, leather-clad monster hunters protecting the populace, or as gruff warriors with a heart of gold beneath their beard stubble and growling voices, paladins take many forms.
When I was in 3rd grade Wolfenstein 3D got ported onto the Super Nintendo. I remember renting the cartridge from my local Blockbuster on Friday, and spending the entire weekend with my controller heating up in my hands and my fingers developing blisters as I sent a storm of lead into the pixelated agents of the Third Reich. While charging a brain case cyborg with the face of Adolf Hitler on it with guns blazing and rockets blasting isn't exactly a subtle message, it was one I'd been hearing my whole life.
When you hear the word "barbarian" you immediately picture a certain type of character. On the one hand they're strong and tough, dauntless, driven, and iron-willed. On the other they often lack sophistication, are prone to dangerous outbursts of temper, and are often cruel, bestial, or unfeeling.
When was the last time you saw someone just walking down the street, a sword at their hip? For most of us this is not something we see outside of historical reenactments, officers' balls, or particularly large conventions dedicated to comic books and roleplaying games. However, there was a time when belting on a sword was just something you did when you stepped out your door... it was as much a status symbol as it was a sign that you were not someone to be messed with.
Exploding onto the scene with the release of Ultimate Combat, there has been perhaps no more controversial class than the gunslinger. A breath of fresh air to some players, and a blatant breaking of genre conventions for others, the class is simultaneously loved and hated to similar degrees.
I remember the first time it happened. I was sitting in a booth with a friend, and eating pasta when an older man approached our table. I looked up when he cleared his throat, and before I could say anything he just smiled at me.
During the second World War, a secret experiment aimed to create an army of super soldiers. Warriors who were enhanced to the peak of human performance, and then beyond. Only one candidate made it through the experiment before the doctor behind the formula was assassinated... Steve Rogers, the man who became Captain America.
When we sit around a table with our favorite RPG, we can take on the roles of some of the greatest heroes in the land. From powerful wizards and noble warriors, to mysterious rangers and light-fingered thieves, these characters come in a wide variety of forms.