Design Process : Magical Girl Archetypes Edition
This is the third in a trio of articles going over the various archetypes available in this version and a little look beyond as well. The first few versions of the game didn't even have a Magical Girls genre module created, so I'll be going over a few of the reasons why it is included now instead of some other genre. Also, we'll discuss the different archetypes available in this genre currently and look ahead to the other four archetypes on the horizon, since those are fairly locked in already. Previous articles in this series can be found here:
What Archetypes are currently available in the Magical Girl Genre?
- The Genius - You spent more time with books than friends, and now find your analytical mind on a team of friends.
- The Guardian - Always the protector, you will defend anyone with or without your powers.
- The Heart - You are the heart of the group, always willing to spread love and joy, even if you're a bit selfish about it.
- The Leader - You were destined to lead this group, whether you want to or not. You lean on your magical companion for advice.
- The Mask - You follow the group and swoop in at the right times to help. No one on the team knows your true identities... yet.
- The Spirit - Ritual, meditation, guidance, spirituality. This is what you embody, whether transformed or not.
We'll go over the final four later on in this article, but these are what we are leading with for this version.
History of the Magical Girl Genre
Back when Chimera was first being written, I only had two genres on my mind for the game: Fantasy and Superheroes. After the first few playtests, and seeing what direction I needed to take the game, I stripped out a lot of the crunch and created a better, but still clunky, game with those two genres in mind, but the thought came to me that I didn't have to limit it to just Fantasy and Superheroes. It was within that first year of development that I said "Why stop at just two genres? Let's allow people to mix whatever types of genres they want to create whatever type of world and experience they want!" So, naturally, I had to start with something I was familiar with and passionate about, which is where Magical Girls came in.
My love of the genre reaches all the way back to the mid to late 90's with Sailor Moon being the primary influence, which really shows in the archetypes we chose for the genre module. The first archetypes we created for the genre were all based around the 9 major Sailor Scouts as well as Tuxedo Mask. We were able to make them generic enough where they could fit in a wide variety of magical girl type stories. They have always had a focus on the mundane vs the magical, and we might not be done making tweaks to them quite yet, but we've always had a lot of fun with these archetypes in play.
Why these six?
If we're going to model most of our archetypes after the Sailor Moon crew, it just made sense to stick to the core six characters, since they really embodied a very wide array of personalities and niches within the genre. For those unfamiliar with the anime, these core six are Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Venus and Tuxedo Mask. From these six, we were able to figure out a few archetypes that lent well to the genre.
Sailor Moon was The Leader, a person bound by destiny to lead the group, whether they wanted to or not. The weight of the world, and the group, would rest on this character's shoulders, and their story would be that of one struggling with those responsibilities. Usagi, from the anime, is a clumsy girl, constantly late for class, constantly irresponsible, etc, but she always finds the strength to pull things together, do the right thing, and save the day in the end. Magical Girls, as a genre, holds that coming of age story in it so deeply, and Sailor Moon is the embodiment of that in the show, which is exactly why we made The Leader archetype the way we did. The Leader will tell a similar story, struggling with the responsibility and turning to their companions, or their magical animal companion, for advice and comfort.
Sailor Mercury was The Genius, someone who excelled academically and used those smarts as a magical girl as well. Sailor Mercury, as well as The Genius, tells the tale of someone so focused on doing their best, that they might lose sight of some personal relationships, but they will always be a loyal and dependable friend, even if they find making friends difficult at times.
Sailor Mars was The Spirit, a person who's life is run by ritual and tradition, who has a strong connection to the supernatural whether they are transformed or not. They tend to be the spiritual backbone of the group and are always willing to help defend the team with their spiritual connections.
Sailor Jupiter was The Guardian, someone who is always willing to put themselves on the line to protect their friends. They may have not always wanted to start a fight, but they will generally be the ones to finish it.
Sailor Venus was The Heart, someone who is the heart of the team, but also someone who values love above all else, and even enjoys a bit of fame as their magical girl persona. We wanted to encompass all of these into Chimera, also allowing this to be the anime-pop star type with their own fanbase, but also there are moves to take on emotional burdens of the group.
Finally, Tuxedo Mask absolutely needed to be a part of the game. This is someone who technically helps at times, but is known for not doing anything constructive yet getting the credit for helping anyway. In Chimera, there's moves for jumping into battles to give dramatic speeches, to encourage everyone, to leave before the battle is done and more, but it is also a story about the mask, and how your team doesn't know that your two identities are the same person. It creates a phenomenal dynamic in the game, and I really love how it plays out. This is probably one of my favorite playbooks in the game right now.
We had a lot of fun putting these archetypes together for you all. The original Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask being the inspiration of this core six has resulted in many well rounded magical girl groups in our tests, and I cannot wait until we can bring out the next version with four additional playbooks. We also followed in the footsteps of inspiration from Sailor Moon, so you can look forward to playbooks inspired by Sailor Neptune, Uranus, Pluto and Saturn. To give you a slight sneak peek, these archetypes are called "The Cultured", "The Warrior", "The Exile" and "The Destroyer" respectively. We're working on what all of these exactly mean, but so far, three of these playbooks are almost ready to go, with one more needing some alterations, but these will probably be the first playbooks of version 0.8 that will be finished at this rate.
We're really excited about the possibilities that this game will allow, and I really love what the Magical Girl genre adds to the game. Next series of articles, we'll be addressing the world building possibilities with each of these genres! What it means to include a genre module, and how that can dramatically alter the way your stories get told.
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