Monday, May 2, 2011

Review: Jason Richards's Complete Characters

I've talked about Jason Richards and the amazing things he's been doing over at Jason Richards Can Not Be Trusted before. However, today I want to take a more critical look at what he's been doing, because he has taken that ever important step from giving away his work, to charging for it. So, for those not in the know, and too lazy to click on the links above, what is he up to? Quite simply, he is making - and selling - Complete Characters. Just what is a complete character you ask? Well, read on to find out. But, before we begin, for those of you just wanting to know the final verdict, it is below.

Just the Review: Pass, I highly recommend you try at least one of these. They're chock full of RP goodness.

First of all, just what is a Complete Character? Simply put, it is exactly what it sounds like. Mr. Richards gives you a full background, stats, and uses for a character in an easy to follow and easy to digest format. the characters cover a wide range of uses and genres for games, and are designed without system for maximum focus on the narrative. With the character, you also get several ideas for how to use them, as well as several twists you can put onto those uses for more intriguing variations on the story. In other words, each character comes with the kindling and basic building blocks for about 6 different possible adventures, or at least ways they can shape your campaign.

Recently, Mr. Richards has also taken to statting out the characters in the OGL D20 system. Not content to just phone it in however, he gives you not one, not two, but three stat blocks. One for your lower end game, one for a mid-level game, and one for your high level game. Even if you're not a fan of D20, the stats here give you a good example of how the descriptor stats would apply to a game system, and there are converters for D20 to most other popular systems out there for the people who need guidelines to pull a character into their game.

Presentation is something that Mr. Richards has been working on a lot of late. The characters have gone from a basic presentation, to genre specific design, original art depicting the character, and a professional layout that keeps everything easy to read. Each character's design is somewhat unique, but similar enough you'll be easily able to follow the material of what is going on.

To me, the most astounding thing is the D20 character sheet. To put it simply, this thing is a beast full of information that is still easy to follow. I honestly hadn't thought that you could get that much information on a single sheet of paper, and I've played in a 600 points GURPS game (Then again, that may be why I couldn't fathom it.)

I covered this a lot in the What Is It section, so I'll just go over it again. With each character you get:

1) A Full and Detailed background, going over the character's story, what made them the way they are, and where they came across their powers/skills/abilities.

2) Multiple ways to use the character, and twists to put onto the characters story, so that their contribution to your campaign as a GM can be a memorable one.

3) Narrative focused strengths and weaknesses so you know where to focus your own building of the character.

4) 3 D20 stat blocks, one each for low/mid/high range games.

5) A fun bit of extra content that is related to the character.

Honestly, there isn't much to say here. The only real mechanics present in the document is the character sheet, and that is fairly straight forward. The characters are built legally (meaning a PC could use one with no problem) from a variety of D20 books, primarily D20 Modern, and there for you to use.

In summary, these are great little content samples for a game you are running, or emergency PC material for a game that you are joining. They come in cheap, averaging at about $0.79 a pop, and you get a lot of material with each character. Best of all, he seems to regularly have sales where you can get some characters for free, or others for a fairly steep discount, and the next time he does you should totally grab one to give it a shot. (I recommend Helot, he's awesome).

Final Score: Recommend!

Jason Richards has given a discount to the readers of this blog on several of the complete characters. Enjoy the linky goodness below!

#6 - Noriax
#7 - Sir Aric Devilkin
#8 - Seldr the Starseer
#9 - Action Jack Allen
#10 - Buddy the Snake
#11 - Livingston of Birkenshor
#12 - Shelly Jackson


  1. But half the fun of playing RPGs is being able to make your own character and create them on your own, isn't it? It is for me at least. To me having someone else make a character for me is essentially playing a pre-gen character that you haven't put any of your own personality or creativity into. I guess for some people this might work, but I dislike playing pregen characters. I much prefer to play something that came from my own creativity.

  2. I have to admit that I've never played a pregen character. I could see them as very interesting NPCs but wouldn't normally think of playing them. Still it might be interesting to try occasionally and would be a different kind of challenge for an experienced player. "Can I play something from someone else's mind effectively?"

  3. Thanks for the great review, A.L. I'm thrilled that you think so highly of the series. As a thanks to you and your readers, I'd like to offer you ALL of the Complete Characters at half price. The discount is good for the next couple of days, so don't delay. The links are below!

    #6 - Noriax:

    #7 - Sir Aric Devilkin:

    #8 - Seldr the Starseer:

    #9 - Action Jack Allen:

    #10 - Buddy the Snake:

    #11 - Livingston of Birkenshor:

    #12 - Shelly Jackson:

  4. Oh, and #1 through #5 (including A.L.'s favorite anti-hero, Helot) are all still free to download, so check those out as well.

  5. Emmet and Princess,

    One of my favorite things about these characters (aside from the GM gravy that they are) is that they're more than just characters. A lot of the times when I read them, I have tons of other ideas spark off in my head.

    They're god sends for a quick GM brainstorm session, as well as for one shots. Also, like Emmet said, it can be a fun challenge to expand your horizons by playing something someone else made.