[Currently listening to: My dad chopping up pickles for a potato salad. Ah, vacation.]
Welcome to our next installment of dynamic introductions! If you recall, last month we talked about introducing characters out of a sense of need. This month we’ll look at meeting a character to establish motivation.
But enough prelude; let’s get to the good stuff!
- Robo & Magus: Chrono Trigger
You can’t keep me away from my CT. It just ain’t gonna happen.
By the time Crono, Marle, and Lucca run into Robo, we’ve had a great deal of excitement: Crono has just escaped execution, the trio find themselves sent to a dystopian future, and they’ve just discovered a planet-consuming parasite will be the doom of their world.
With so much plot on our plates it’s a good time to offer a more unassuming character introduction – though without losing the pace. This is where it helps to inject a little motivation into the scene. What do I mean?
Well, when the trio meets Robo in Proto Dome, the setting is pretty relaxed. The team is in no immediate peril – unlike in the intro to Frog or Ayla – and it’s a good time to allow for extra character and plot development.
In this case, we begin to learn a little more about Lucca and some of her motivation behind being an inventor. PLUS, when introduced to Robo we learn something of his own background; and his offer to help the team sets in motion his own incentive for helping to save the world.
If you’re looking for the ultimate introduction via motivation, though, it’s really best if we move on to everyone’s favorite blue-haired anti-hero (anti-villain? Whatever): Magus!
Magus has a kind of dual introduction: meeting him results in an almost immediate knowledge of his core motivations, but you also get to dynamically kick the crap outta him while his sweet, sweet theme plays in the background.
What do we learn about Magus upon first meeting him? Well, I’m soooo glad you asked me to answer that in a group of three factoids!
- He’s assumed to be Lavos’s creator but is in fact interested in slaying the creature.
- He has significant magical prowess – being able to cast all types of elemental magic we’ve seen so far.
- He’s certainly interested in the fact that Frog can wield the Masamune, but that doesn’t seem to be his primary concern.
This is definitely enough juicy character background for players to get intrigued. If he already knows about Lavos AND has a vendetta against it, there’s no doubt we’ll become more acquainted with Magus as the game progresses.
And now for a somewhat different take on meeting to establish motivation:
- Alena, Kiryl, & Borya: Dragon Quest IV
This is a unique scenario in that the characters themselves already know each other, so the “meeting” is less about introductions and more about how (and why) they all get into the same stew.
Alena, perhaps a pioneer of the “tomboy princess” stereotype, is set on adventure and combat outside her castle walls. She would prefer to travel alone, but her fretful retainers Kiryl and Borya have other ideas (and motivations. See what I did there?).
When we get these three in a party together we’re alerted right away to their individual goals. Alena, we already know, is eager to explore the world. Kiryl
makes it quite obvious is totally discreet about the fact that he’s traveling so he can crush on Alena in close proximity. Borya establishes himself as the begrudging papa bear who insists that he finds Alena insufferable, but worries over her nonetheless.
With party chat these motivations are far clearer as the journey progresses, but even without that feature it’s clear from Kiryl’s and Borya’s insistence to accompany Alena that they’ve got their reasons for sticking around.
Using motivation in a character introduction not only makes the meeting of characters more memorable, but it also creates intrigue that can carry through the story and hold your audiences attention.
You know what time it is now: sharing time! Talk about your own favorite character motivations in the comments below!
Chrono Trigger is the property of Square-Enix. There are many ways you can purchase and enjoy this game.
Dragon Quest IV belongs to Square-Enix. You can purchase it to play via Nintendo DS or as an app on your phone. (Go with the phone for party chat.)