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What’s In A Main?

Grumpy Dorf of Raging Monkeys raised an interesting question recently: what goes into a main character? It’s deceptively simple, really, and I’ve never really thought about it much until now. After reading through the post, however, I couldn’t help but question myself. There is certainly more to each it than which character I happen to play the most. Quite a bit more, actually.

When I think of an MMO I’ve played, it’s always paired with the character I played it with. In LotRO, that’s my Dwarf Guardian. In WoW, my Orc Death Knight. In FFXIV, it’s my baby Lala’fell. The list goes on even beyond MMOs. I do the same thing in most single player games too, with the exception of first-person-shooters. Each game has a face to go with it.

Each of those, with the exception of the Death Knight, has been my first character. That’s no coincidence, and I’d bet many of yours are firsties too. Part of that is because first impressions really are everything. The only reason my Death Knight is up there instead of my true first character is because I’ve made him as carbon copy as it’s possible to make without being the same class. His model is identical; his name is the same. My main characters are firsts because mentally I each fresh earth of a new world with the fresh face that explores it. I almost feel guilty working on an alt, like they’re sitting there waiting, stuck in whatever spot I left them.

Those first decisions are also some of the most meaningful I’ll ever make in a game. Before I see the world for the mechanics behind it, I approach the game looking for my place in the fiction. I mean that literally, where would I, the player, fit in should I magically be transplanted. In LotRO, I’m a Dwarf because, in the world of Middle-Earth, I’d want to be Gimli. In FFXIV, I want to be the small guy fighting against the odds. In each game, I wield a sword because, to me, that is the stuff of heroes. Nothing after these first few steps comes as close. You’re birthing a set of eyes through which you see the world; it is your surrogate.

So, to me, my first character is my main character, and my main character is myself. Sometimes, most times, I’ll make up some little backstory. The personality is always the same, though, because when people talk to the character Syeric, I want them to talk to the person Syeric. Roleplay often seems a bit forced because I have to step outside of my comfort level so much more. That’s also probably the reason I’ve found it more memorable and fun when I’ve been able to do it. It’s so much more like playing make believe as a child than deliberately injecting “aye” and “lass” and “mead” into every sentence. For a little bit, I’m able to slip my skin and become that brewer’s son or Orken orphan (cliched, I know).

For me, my mains are mainstays of each game I play even when I’m not playing them; even when an alt elevates into my usual login choice, I sooner consider myself having two “mains” instead of letting the first slip. There are times when I’ll linger on the character select page, wondering if I should pick up one of these long dusty yet forever youthful old friends and take them for a romp through an old haunt. Sometimes I even do.

At the end of the day, I wonder how similar I am to other players out there. Lots of people stick with one character forever and others roll dozens of alts. I keep a small roster in each game and usually consider most, if not all, of them mains. The only real way to separate that with me is by having too many main characters forcing, them into alt-territory (never a problem), or by simply putting months or years of time between logins.

1 comment

  1. Gazruney

    I’m useless at having one main character. I always end with up 4 or more and consider them all my mains and playing whichever i’m in the mood for when I log in on the day.

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