My Guide to RPG Archetypes

I play a lot of video games. A lot. And the more you play, the more you start to see recurring characters, especially in Japanese RPGs. Of course, archetypes exist in stories as well, but writers tend to avoid stereotypical archetypes because that would be boring if every hero was pretty much the same. Not all games use these stereotypical archetypes, but with most of them, your party will usually boil down to the following characters (WARNING: links may contain spoilers):

1. “I’m not fit to protect anyone :(“

Also known as the broody/emo guy this is the male character who spends all of his time moping around instead of actually saving the world. He can be the hero or a side character and is usually a fighter. He is supposed to come off as deep and brooding and sexy, but really he’s just irritating. Just get a grip and kill the bad guy.

Well known brooders (all Final Fantasy, but I’m sure there are others): Cloud Strife (FFVII), Squall Leonhart (FFVIII), Vincent Valentine (FFVII)

2. “He who knows what he knows knows and he who does not know knows that…”

The cryptic character. You never get a straight answer and they rub it in your face that they know things about the story that you don’t. Talking with them leaves you with a headache and more questions than when you started. They tend to make up for it by being strong and useful in a battle despite usually being old. They are not always a part of your team.

Well known cryptic characters: Duke (Tales of Vesperia), Auron (FFX), The Dragonforged and The Fool (Dragon’s Dogma)

3. “I’m Yuna. Wha wha wha!”

This is the White Mage. The white mage is nearly always a girl. I have played two games in which it was male (Jansen from Lost Odyssey, who was awesome, and Hope from FFXIII who was not). Not only this, but as a woman she seems to be incapable of doing anything, even healing sometimes. I have raged a hundred times at Tales of Vesperia because Estelle decided she needed healing before I did, even though she had 75% health and I had less than 10. As a rule, the white mage is whiny, pathetic, utterly useless and the most important party member you will ever have. This is the character you are going to keep in your party at all times just to keep you alive through those tough battles. I could do without having to listen to some whiny idiot apologising to the monsters who were trying to eat my face.

Well known White Mages: Yuna (FFX), Estelle (Tales of Vesperia), Hope Estheim (FFXIII)

4. “I’m going to rip your liver out and shove it down your throat!”

Ah the angry character. Done right, this is always hilarious. Done wrong and you get Harry Potter in Book 5. This character isn’t necessarily always angry, they just tend to fly off the handle when someone says something stupid. They’re handy for giving the White Mage a good slap when they need to buck up. However, their reckless behaviour usually puts you in situations you don’t want to be in, like boss fights and may even cost their lives. Sometimes a villain.

Well known angry characters: Rita (Tales of Vesperia), Tellah (FFIV)

5. “Hooray for the Old Man!”

What party would be complete without an old man? The old man isn’t necessarily old. The vast majority of JRPGs consist of teen-aged heroes, meaning that most people over 25 are old. The old man is usually wise, but the rest of his traits differ from being lecherous, crochety, selfless, powerful, a whole host of things. On the side of evil, the old man will have a pointy beard, a dodgy moustache and wear evil looking robes.

Well known Old Men: Raven (Tales of Vesperia), Auron and Tellah and every Cid ever(Final Fantasy), Sed (Lost Odyssey)

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