Anachromerica: Anatomy Lessons


It's very tempting to look on a cliché as a "skill" or a "character class", but you can pack an incredible amount of character information into one. Using the categories from S. John Ross's "Anatomy of a Cliche" article in the Risus Companion, I've come up with several examples of what you can do with a cliche in Anachromerica. (One cliche is worth a thousand words!)

  • Profession: Jobs, occupations, or pursuits.
    Examples: River Boat Gambler, Six Million Dollar Cyborg, Flesh-Eating Zombie

  • Race or Species: Something that sets you apart from normal humanity.
    Examples: Earthbound Angel Meddling In The Lives Of Others; Cowardly Talking Dog; Helpful But Naive Alien "Pet"; Persecuted Mutant

  • Cultural Background: Affects personality and abilities of the character
    Examples: Aristocratic Southern Actor Bent on Avenging the South; Aspiring Actress Trying To Make It Big In The City; Washed-Up LaLaLand B-Movie Star Who Wants To Direct

  • Personal History: What you used to be still affects what you are.
    Examples: Defrocked Priest; Ex-Champion of Truth, Justice, and the American Way; Retired Air Force Pilot

  • Degree of Dedication: How committed you are to your pursuit.
    Examples: John Wilkes Booth's Biggest Fan; Part-Time Mystic Guardian; Amateur Assassin; Overzealous Masked Avenger

  • Religious or Philosophical Bias: Beliefs about life, the universe, and everything.
    Examples: Devout Catholic Zombie-Master; Nietschean Ubermensch; Atheistic Exorcist.

  • Social Class or Financial Means:
    Examples: Struggling Actress; Sharecropper's Son; Polo-Playing Dilettante; Society Matron

  • Gender: Either embracing or working against the typical gender of a cliché.
    Examples: Brightly-Clad Toreador, High-Paid Gigolo, Beautiful Aviatrix

  • Group Affiliation: The perks and responsibilities of membership in a group or organization.
    Examples: SWAT Team Member; 33rd Level Mason; Corrupt Civil Servant; High School Freshman

  • Demeanor: Personality
    Examples: Grumpy Elf; Cheerful Assassin; Cynical Motivational Speaker

  • Appearance: Judging a book by its cover
    Examples: Shabbily-Dressed Private Detective; Mammarially-Enhanced Country Music Diva; Bookish Librarian

  • Ham-Handed Reference: Direct allusion to real or fictional people.
    Examples: A Modern-Day Julius Caesar; Don Knotts as a Cyborg; The Cleopatra of the Missourippi

  • Goals: Aspirations that motivate a character's activities and abilities..
    Examples: Mad Scientist Meddling In God's Domain; Self-Tortured Genetist Trying To Resurrect His Dead Wife; Self-Taught Financial Genius Trying To Make A Killing On The Stock Market

  • Self-Image: Who the character is, and who he thinks he is.
    Examples: Superhero With a Messiah Complex; Surgically-Enhanced Supermodel Who Thinks She's An Ugly Duckling; Bumbling World Conqueror-Wannabe Who Thinks He's Adolph Hitler, Alexander The Great, and Genghis Khan Rolled Into One

  • Sub-Plots and Relationships: Interactions with other people.
    Examples: The Ladies' Man; A Modern-Day Knight Errant Trying To Win The Love of A Southern Belle; The Guy Who Knows People, If You Know What I Mean

  • Problems: Imperfections, challenges, and handicaps that make playing a character more fun.
    Examples: Wheelchair-Bound Dodgeball Coach; Midget Gunslinger; Disembodied Brain In A Tank