((The RP XP with MJ #5))
Jedi Master Kendris stood in the cockpit of the Regail and watched the maintenance droids buzz back and forth outside. The smuggler was late and so were the troopers assigned to watch over her.
Kendris felt a stir behind him and slightly raised his chin. Most of his attention was beyond the canopy of the ship, directed to the movements of the two dark Force users in the port city, but he was always mindful of his Padawan. “Tarik?”
“Master,” Tarik began before stopping to clear his throat. He was almost a full head shorter than Kendris but as solidly built as any Zabrak, the tattooed lines on his face merging to divide it into quadrants separating his eyes, mouth and prominent nose. The crown of horns on his head were small, still juvenile, but sharp to match is guile. “Master, I’m worried about Yulel.”
Kendris blinked and continued to stare through the canopy. “Are you?”
“Yes, master. I know you said I should embrace peace even when troubled, that it would help to center me.”
“You recite my teachings well, Tarik, but fail to apply them.” Tarik couldn’t see it, but Kendris was smiling behind his trimmed beard.
The Padawan bowed. “I know, master, and I am sorry. I sense–“
“You sense the dark side,” Kendris nodded forward, “Out there.”
“Patience, Tarik. The Sith are looking for us, not for a Twi’lek spice runner.”
Tarik jumped on his response too quickly and was just as quick to cut himself off. “But Yulel isn’t a spice runner! She’s…not… sir.”
Kendris turned, his hands clasped over his chest. “I’ll discuss your emotional control later, my young Padawan. For now, head back and inform Sarge and Red that we’ll be leaving without our medical supplies for the Nazzri.”
Tarik’s eyes grew wide and he hesitated. Was this a test? If it was, he was sure he was about to fail it, but he couldn’t turn away from Yulel–from anyone in need. “But Master Kendris, she’s in–“
“Trouble. I know.” Kendris turned back to the canopy. He said, “Do as I have instructed. I will take Seven and bring back our friend… I have a surprise for the Sith.”
Tarik smiled slightly, then he quickly brushed it aside as he turned to inform the others as he had been instructed.
Wow! I’ve got great timing this week. If you haven’t seen the Developer Dispatch on companions, check it out here
It’s so cool that we’ll be able to personalize our companion characters, change their appearances and even change their behavior in battle with special kits. Will your companion be a grenadier or a healer, for example. That’s a difference you can make in the scheme of in-game companion supplementing.
But how do you use companions in RP who are all named the same from player to player? Your Bounty Hunter has a companion named Mako, and your friend’s Bounty Hunter has a companion named Mako. They may look different and be outfitted differently, but there’s no way around that simple fact: The woman’s name is Mako. It says so in giant letters floating over her head (though, presumably [and hopefully] we’ll have a way to turn that off). And, no, you won’t be able to change your companion’s name because their names are utilized in the hundreds of hours of recorded dialog in the game.
The answer to this RP problem is, so far, the easiest one I’ve puzzled through with minimal suspension of disbelief, and there’s a wide range of ways you can look at it. One thing for certain is that we’re going to love our companions (if the Dispatch is any indication) and will want to SRP (Solo RP) with them as much as we’ll want to RP with our regular RolePlay friends and guildmates. Let’s take a look at the options and see what you think will work best for your RP style….
The simplest solution to the companions-in-RolePlay dilemma is to simply not use or refer to them in RP. They’re fine for OOC level progression and getting immersed in the awesome stories Bioware has carved into the Star Wars universe, but are they really necessary in personal RP?
It’s very likely other players won’t see your companions anyway during RP because the the characters probably won’t be following you around into social areas or in non-gameplay regions where RP will be taking place. Sure, they may be aboard your ship doing their crafting thing or loitering in your cargo bay, but that’s probably about it.
If you’re the type of RPer who throws some RP spice in with your level progression, well, that’s another matter. But think about this: what’s the likelihood you’ll be level-progressing with friends and all being doing so with the same class? And, even if you are, what’s the likelihood you’d both be taking the exact same companions?
The more you think about it, the more it becomes a non-issue and highly unlikely that thousands of Bowdaars spread across the galaxy will ever encounter each other.
GO NAMELESS OR GO HOME
If you feel the need to refer to the awesomeness of your companion–say, for example, they found or crafted a really cool piece of equipment and you wanted to talk about it in-character, or maybe you want to bring you and your companion’s personal romance story arc into your public RP–you can always name them by occupation or by using impersonal pronouns. “This came from one of my crew….,” “My droid stumbled upon…,” “I’ll have to ask her if she can take a look at this,” “…and I’ll show that to my ship’s engineer,” are all workable pieces of dialog that refer to companions without naming names.
RENAMING WITHOUT RENAMING
Let’s take the example of a companion character who has been named in demonstrated game footage and talked about in the TOR circles. I’ve already mentioned her a couple of times. She’s the Bounty Hunter companion, Mako.
In the spoken dialog throughout the game, she’ll be referred to as “Mako” by NPCs, particularly when she’s first introduced and up to the point she becomes all yours to be used as supplemental equipment in-game as you play along.
One way to use a character’s given name without clashing with a friend’s identical companion character is to “extend” the name beyond what Bioware has recorded for it. Who’s to say her name is JUST Mako. Maybe there’s more to her in your personal RP universe. During RP you can refer to the part of her name that no one else hears but you. Is Mako her first name or her last name? Is it a nickname? What if, for sake of your personal RP with her, Mako was her last name? You, and other NPCs, may call her Mako during scripted game elements, but maybe you’ll refer to her as Hannas (the made-up last name for your particular Mako Hannas companion).
Yeah, I know, it makes your lip curl into a cringe. But that’s just one idea. I won’t personally be using it, but it’s an option for those who don’t think doing so would hedge game canon too much. Now let’s look at a “renaming” option that doesn’t interfere with the names and histories Bioware has carved into the companion characters…
THE NICKNAME GAME
“I’ll get back to ya after I go aboard my ship and check with Legs.”
“Never-you-mind. Let’s just say she’s a close, personal companion.”
Does your Bounty Hunter find Mako to be “leggy.” Maybe he’s the kind of womanizing pig who would call her “Leggy” or “Sexy” or “Sweet Cakes” or “Princess” instead of her given name when hobnobbing with other Imperial-aligned chauvinists.
As you get to know your companions, nicknames may come to mind based on their dialog, actions or appearance. Droids can be called, “Clink,” “Rusty,” “Grinder,” or “Red” (for example, if they have red markings like Mr. “Bad Motivator” in Episode IV). Wookiees can be called “Fuzzy,” “Big Guy,” “Grunts,” or “Carpet Face.” Maybe you can call Mako “M” or “Trusty” or “Ko” (a short form of Mako). If Chewbacca was “Chewie,” Bowdaar can be “Bowie” or “Dar” or even “B.D.”
T7 can simply stay T7 if you like, if you don’t go with “T” or “Seven” (as Kendris calls his droid). Let’s face it, there’s bound to be lots of T7s out there even if yours is ’01’: T7-P9, T7-04, T7-88, etc. Unless, of course, your ’01’ is the very first T7, in which case “T” might be a better nickname since there’s probably a slew of T1 through T6s out there.
Don’t forget other forms of nicknames, such as call-signs or slurs. “Red Six” or “Porkins,” they were both the same guy.
Problem solved if you RP your Sith Pureblood as a racist to others who aren’t like him, or your if your human Imperial Agent hates all other aliens. In that case, “dehumanize” your companions by simply calling them by their species name. Bowdaar becomes “Wook” or “Wookiee,” for example. Mako can be “Her” or “You” or “Kid.”
While it would be immensely cool to be able to name characters in a story written by someone else, especially for RolePlay purposes, the technology doesn’t yet exist where the name you type can be changed on a pre-recorded audio track. That’s ok, though. Bioware has a fantastic record when it comes to providing stories with intrigue, excitement and memorable characters. Wouldn’t YOUR epic story be even more epic if you could combine your story-telling with Bioware’s?
Thanks to these tips and tricks, the answer is “absolutely.”
Have any others? Have you given the companion system any thought? How will you use them in your RP? Feel free to respond below or write to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your ideas!
By the way, you won’t find the Jedi companions named “Red” and “Sarge.” Kendris was using nicknames. 😉 Until next time, here’s wishing you lots of RP XP.
NEXT TIME: The game is rated T. Is your RP rated M? …Tune in Friday to find out what that means.
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