I think for this to work Ami is going to need to stand up to her dad and say she's not going home with him. I will admit it might be a bit questionable for Cash to employ her after accepting the reward for rescuing her. So maybe she makes the break before Cash receives payment, daddy refuses to pay as a result (which the crew grudgingly accepts because they don't want to mess with a guy who hired heavily armed mercs) and Ami gets forced to help fix up the boat because of that? (Been thinking the Lucky Strike could be in need of a bit of an overhaul at the beginning of the RPG -perhaps not all of her four engines are working, her electronics are glitchy, etc.)
Not an ideal situation, even then. I do think Ami needs to stand up to her dad, and this might sort of provide the vehicle to do it, but even if she does so, that means either Cash doesn't get paid, or takes a hit on his reputation by not delivering on the goods, so to speak. Either one I can't really say lends a particularly good circumstances for their initial relationship. Ami hurts the crew to bring her aboard, one way, or another. And she's really not so special as to justify the cost, especially for a crew with a rather mercenary outlook. I have a hard time seeing how it works out. I suppose she could be a bit of an indentured servant, in a sense, having to work off the debt she owes to them, but I'm not sure how sensible it would be.
I always had in mind of creating a career criminal as in someone who made their living via criminal activity that doesn't require shooting dudes and dudettes every other day. The thing with a lot of the Black Lagoon characters.... they are all involved in organized crime and criminal activity, but for the major characters, I wouldn't ever say any of them are 'criminals' first and foremost outside of people who are really good at shooting/killing other people. Dutch is ex-military. Balaikala is ex-military. Benny is a computer engineer. Chang is a former cop. And you have other guys...former guerrillas, hitmen, CIA agents, terrorists... but not just straight... criminals except minor characters who are often portrayed as kinda.... incompetent by comparison. (ie the Italian and Colombian gangs) Even with folks like Revy, obviously not ex-military but they're defined more as gunfighters as opposed to just a standard criminal or mobster or what have you.
That's what I liked about Leah, though. For a town full of crooks, none of them really have a background as a career criminal. So, despite Roanapur being portrayed as a whole town of criminals, Leah felt a little different. She's a thief and con-artist good enough to hang around amongst the most dangerous crowd in the world. That said, I suppose the reason that thieves and cons aren't much for Roanpur is that they're good at making a fool out of unsavvy, law-abiding citizens, as opposed to other criminals. Logicstically, it might actually take a more advanced kind of career criminal to pull that off, but as a concept, I still think Leah works. At the very least, because we're not going to be spending all our time in Roanapur, and being able to reason and socially manipulate outsiders is still a valuable skill. It's part of what makes Rock valuable for the Lagoon Company.
And if you grow up in a rural area, you obviously have some woodland skills. You can hunt. You can shoot. You can go camping. And guess what, you can cook meth so you know stuff about chemistry and concoctions and what goes boom and what makes you sick. It's total Anarchist Cookbook stuff.
Holy Cultural Stereotypes, Batman!
That does seem to be overstating it a bit, in all seriousness. I might be an urban city-gal, but my dad is actually from deep woods, rural South territory, living in exactly the kind of environment you're describing. He, and all his relatives and friends growing up, were Good Ol' Country guys and gals, living on the fringes of society, thirty minutes of forest to the nearest small town, surrounded by trees as far as the eyes could, dirt roads and Confederate flags everywhere. And, yeah, lots of meth cookery around, with the vast majority on some kind of drugs, and trading around prescription medicine, or their own brand of moonshine. But, even despite that, I wouldn't call him an experienced hunter. Or much of a gun enthusiast. I suppose he was a camper, but more in "let's haul our trailer up to the lake for the weekend, get pissed drunk and enjoy the fishing" sort. Certainly didn't know much about trapping. I know he doesn't know how to use a bow. I don't think he's set up a tent in his life. And he definitely didn't know anything about setting up a meth lab, even if he did enjoy the product.
That's not to say you don't have access to those skills living in that environment, but backwoods rednecks, just like career criminals, or modern society, for the most part, aren't just full of Renaissance men, who go around mastering everything in their domain. You learn the basic skills you need to survive, and beyond that, people specialize. My dad was an athlete, a physically imposing giant and a strong back, so if anything heavy needed liftin', physical labor needed doin', or an ass needed whoppin', he'd be the man to call. Not for game hunting, fixing up a Harley, or brewing some moonshine. Those would be his brothers and uncles.
Again, that's not to say that Leah can't be introduced to any and/or all of those kinds of skills. But being a rural American doesn't make you automatically proficient, just like being African American doesn't automatically give you superior basketball skills. It takes time to learn those trades, time you wouldn't be using for other pursuits. They are as legitimate as skills as anything else. So, it does add up.
That sounds amazing to me because everything you just said would make for amazing story fodder and an engrossing first story. No need for a clean ending where everything ends up good for the smuggling company. Having to make choices in a range of good to bad options will be a great thing to explore and help develop the characters and move the plot along even more if we all as writers are willing to dive into this potential storyline.
I'd normally agree with you. It is sort of a complex dilemma, with no clear answers, that would be awesome to play out. But, in this case specifically, we do have some metagaming realities that would sorta interfere with the choice. After all, they could just do their job, deliver Ami, and wash their hands of the whole thing. Totally legit rationale IC-wise, and in fact, might be the more logical choice for the characters, but, that would mean Ami leaves the game permanently, which is rather undesirable, I imagine. It seems a bit unnatural that they'd be forced to exclude this possibility. I'm still wondering now why they wouldn't, in fact. That's what's troublesome about it, to me.
Your intentions are largely irrelevant to me. A rewrite for the character became somewhat necessitated as a result of said commentary. *shrug* Again, I don't mind writing. I enjoy writing with a purpose in mind.
Necessitated? With all do respect, I think that's a bit of a stretch. I'm glad to hear you're willing to go through the effort, and you actually enjoyed it. But, I don't recall at any point asking for you to rewrite Leah's entire background, skill-set, and even some of her personality. In fact, I went out of my way to say it was largely fine. My request was rather minor, and probably could have been made without cutting much at all, and frankly, I probably wouldn't had made a big deal even if you changed nothing. You decided to rewrite the character, on your own initiative. It was not a necessity.
Like I said when I posted my character originally, I checked the requirements and didn't really read the other bios. They needed a medic and a watercraft operator. Your concerns are baseless because watercraft operator isn't synonymous with mechanic and electrician and whatever engineering field she specializes in. Just because I can change the oil in my car doesn't mean I don't need a mechanic. And in the original anime from the first dozen or so episodes I read (never read the manga) Rock IMHO is almost useless and if it wasn't for plot fiat, would be even less useful. I mean Rock has some business and negotiating skills but in a four person operation, it's rather... exceptional that he's there, which is a major point of the series of course. Benny suffers from this to a degree as well but he has a diverse set of skills, much in line with your Ami character. But Ami has the benefit of having a far more interesting backstory and her background and skillset seems more focused on waterborne craft then Benny's computer engineering background. So I honestly find Ami's role being threatened as completely unfathomable to be honest.
I'm glad you find Ami an interesting character, and thank you for the compliment. But that doesn't matter if we can't find a good reason for her to be with the ship. I'd rather not rely on plot-fiat if I don't have to. You're right that having regular capability to operate a vehicle doesn't necessarily mean that a mechanic is out of a job. But, if you have a responsible owner, who takes the time to educate themselves about regular maintenance and gains a bit of modest understanding of how things work underneath the hood, you can often cut visits to the mechanic out of your life for quite a while. If we have a group of experienced watercraft operators and navigators, who know how to maintain and keep a ship running, how often are you really going to need a mechanic to work on it? Is it often enough to necessitate having said engineer live aboard the ship? Or is it rare enough that a small crew with a private boat can just get by bringing it into a specialist in once in a while?
I'm thinking, if we've got a boat with a fair amount of wear and tear on it, tended by an experienced crew, but often goes into dangerous situations, it's somewhere between the two. So, having multiple mechanics on board seems to bit unnecessary. And if Leah is capable of hanging regular maintenance and upkeep herself, then why would the crew have Ami around, seeing as that's primarily what the latter brings to the table, aside the odd niche scenario? If we can't answer that, then we have a problem.
It's not really a question of whether or not Leah is better than Ami at her specialty. It's just a question of how often that would make a difference, as well as what other things that Ami brings to the table the Leah does not. As Ami's author, I'm not sure that the answer to these questions plays well in her favor.
When I rebuke arguments, I pretty much address every line with a couple paragraphs because I like to crush what I feel is baseless criticism with overwhelming force. For example, taking one line from your original commentary.
That's a pretty generous description of what was in the spoiler. You spent a whole lot less time actually addressing my point, and much, much more comparing Leah to three real life people, for reasons that aren't very clear. I honestly can't say you "crushed" anything, aside a lot of keys in typing it. But, you took the time, so I shall address it, in my own spoiler section.
I'm going to do some character comparisons. The first one is Walter Palmer fifty five year old Dentist from Minnesota that was recently outed for trophy hunting a beloved lion. The second one is going to be Sam Sheridan, a writer and his life experience up to the age of thirty, and Chris Kyle, a much lauded Navy SEAL sniper who was recently murdered and whose widow was screwed over Jesse Ventura in a court libel case recently. And we'll compare these characters to my master dabbler, Leah Layleigh.
Can I ask a question? Why? Why are you comparing Leah to these three individuals? Are they important to the plot? Are they characters in the setting? What the point of showing differences between them? I can't say I understand your reasoning for taking as much time as you can to do this. The outcome of this comparison doesn't feel relevant at all. So what if Leah loses to each of these individuals? So what if she dominates them in every category? How is it relevant? To show adventurous people exist? Okay, you showed that. Not really really sure anyone was asking for that to be clarified, but sure.
It feels kinda like you're trying to show that Leah isn't as "game-breaking" as it was being asserted, as far as I can make of it. But, I'll remind you, I never asserted that she was. That was your assertion. I simply said she outshines most of the other characters in most scenarios outside their respective expertise, in which case, she does. Her skills are far more widely applicable than anyone else on the crew, aside perhaps our own Ex-SEAL.
But not being "broken" doesn't mean it's a good fit. If a generalist can replace a dedicated specialist in most instances that are relevant to happen in a given story, then why have the specialist as part of the crew? That's exactly the kind of scenario that leads said support character being deemed as "useless" (as you dubbed Rock). I don't want that to happen. Given the range of sheer skills that Leah has (and even by the end of your comparison to three random skilled people, she doesn't fair so bad), what does it hurt to simply modify her skills so she isn't stepping on someone else's specialty? She's got plenty of other skills to rely on, as you've demonstrated time and time again.
I will comment a bit on the choices you made, because I think there's a side issue that could be addressed by it. Walter Palmer takes vacations in exotic locales, funded by his practice. Sam Sheridan came from money, went to prestigious prep schools and top-tier university. He has family wealth to help fund his trips overseas. Chris Kylie was sent to other countries as part of his missions, paid for by Uncle Sam. Each of these men might had been globe trotters, but each had the money do so such things. This is something Leah lacks. I'm not saying it's impossible to tread from continent to continent if you don't have affluence. People have done it. But it sure makes it a hell of a lot harder.
First off, a medic was required. But she's not an actually formally trained medic. She's actually had pharmaceutical training, and veterinary training and has largely actually been self taught or learned informally. I figure that gave her experience roughly equivalent to a medic (ie the four months a typical medic gets of dedicated medical training or EMT Basic training which is three weeks).
Saying she is a chemist drug manufacturer and poisoner is almost a contentless statement. She can cook meth using chemicals. She can create poisons... because she has a background in pharmaceuticals. A large amount of female murders were actually known for being very good poisoners. Creating poisons isn't a hard thing to do if you know how to cook meth and have pharmaceutical experience. Furthermore I never stated she was a formal chemist. It was mentioned that there was hope she could be when she was young that she could eventually go to college and be a chemist or chemical engineer or whatever because she was a smar tween, but it never happened.
Furthermore, she was never stated to be an explosives expert. She was familiar with explosives. In Michael Moore's documentary Bowling for Colombine he interviews High School Working Class kids who can make pipe bombs (like the Colombine shooters) and nail bombs and knockoff forms of napalm. You can see the videos of people making homemade napalm on Youtube. She grew up cooking meth. She knows how to make things blow up and not blow up since many of the chemicals used in meth and cooking other drugs, can also be applied to the creating of homemade explosives.
As Daril said, a medic wasn't required. I don't think I have much else to add to that. No one's really objecting to it, though.-Leah has plenty of experience handling and concocting explosives, chemicals, poisons and toxic compounds.
Quoted, from her sheet. That's a very broad statement. I don't see anything on there that suggests she can only cook meth. I don't see anything on there that limits her to basic poisons. I don't see anything that suggests that she can only cook up low-grade pressure explosives. As such, I have to take you by your word alone. And that listing on the sheet implies a lot more than you're saying above. If you didn't mean for her to have any more experience than that, then maybe you need to define her limits more clearly on the final draft.
Either way, my account isn't wrong. Leah is a medic (no contest), she is a chemist (as in, a person who studies and practicies in the field of chemistry), she is a drug manufacturer (again, no contest), and a poisoner (again, no contest). The only possible objection is seeing if she is an "explosives expert", but I'll admit, that itself is something of a vague term. I personally have no issue stating that someone who has "plenty of experience handling and concocting explosives" as an expert on the subject. But maybe your definition differs.
I'm not going to address the comparison aspect of this, because again, I fail to see it's relevance. If you think otherwise, and show me how it matters, I'll go ahead and address them. But, at the moment, I'm not sure what I can say about them. Am I supposed to pick apart their skills or history something? They're not really important to me.
Being a pickpocket, lockpicker and "security expert" which I'm assuming means burglar, almost goes hand in hand. The only exception to this is a con artist (or the term I use grifter). But being a grifter is still fairly common with most criminal activity beyond the street level stuff of mugging, buglarizing, pocket crimes etc. So I don't see it as exceptional. I'm not sure where her being an expert came in. Disabling alarm systems and evading them was described as basic knowledge.
Your own examples show that people can vary in each of these skills. Being a thief doesn't come automatically with breaking-and-entering know-how. As I said before, criminals specialize just like anyone else. It's not like there's a thief certification process that gives one the title of "Thief" if you proficiently pick locks, pick pockets, and disable alarms. Part of that is because how thieves operate differs from one to another. A great con-artist is just as much a thief as a convenience store robber, but that doesn't mean either of them know anything about picking locks. Each of these are legit skills, and take time to learn. Again, not saying Leah can't have had access to them, but it's unfair to dismiss them all as "going hand and hand". They are distinct skills.
Hunting, tracking, wilderness guiding, marksman(woman) and trapping almost all goes hand in hand that listing it individually is baseless. Alex is also a hunter and has military training and experience. Thus she therefore knows everything up here... except maybe archery which Leah is described as having a proficiency in. I don't know about you, but archery doesn't seem to be a very useful skill in this RP. I added it as window dressing for her rural background. How does she compare to the others though. And trapping is just making... traps... kind of shitty hunting. Depending on the nature of it, it might be considered unsportsmanlike.
Again, I think it's a bit amusing that each of your examples counteracts your point that all of these skills "go hand in hand". If they were just a natural extension of being a hunter, you'd think that Walter and Chris would be on virtual even ground in every category. But, they're not. How can that be? Is one just a flat-out better hunter than the other? Or maybe because they're, in fact, separate skills, and not a given proficiency for any one who loves the wilderness? I don't see, then, why you dismiss me separating them with a wave of a hand. It's not like you've actually made the case that these are extensions of a single skill. So, why am I wrong for doing so?
These skills are so common, it is baseless. I think every character in this RP can drive a watercraft and drive a car and knows basic maintenance. She's lightly above the others in watercraft and mechanic crap... though I barely remember remarking on her being a mechanic. Lets compare her to the others.
Again, let me quote the original character sheet, if I may:-Leah has a general familiarity with motors, machines, vehicles, locks, and other similar machinery due to her background.
That's a very vague statement. That can mean a whole lot of things. I assume, because you write it as part of her skills, that it means you're more proficient than being a simple operator. Otherwise, why state it? No one else bothered to write that they were a capable walker or a steady breather, or to be a little less facetious, a proficient driver. It's assumed most people are these things. If you remark it as part of your skills, I have to assume it's considerably above just knowing what motors, machines, and vehicles are.
I think that's the key to a big part of our misunderstanding. As you said, you barely made a remark about her capabilities as a mechanic, besides mentioning that she boosts cars. But, like any other skill, that's separate from being familiar to how "motors, machines, vehicles, locks, and other similar machinery" work, so I assumed that this wasn't that, or that it at least went beyond that. Thing is, all I have is that vague statement to work with, and like I said, that mean a whole lot of things. In my mind, it meant she was familiar with basic fixes, installations, and maintenance for equipment they have, which is the part that I think steps over on what Ami brings to the table. It's not the water craft operation that worries me. It's that part.
So, to thrust things into more of a productive discussion, what does that statement mean? If you say that she's barely more capable than most people regarding machinery or mechanics, why include that at all? And if she is more proficient than the usual person, then how much more so? Do you think she alone could take care of a ship and keep it running, save for more serious repairs? If you think she can, how does that not threaten Ami's role?
In fact, I could probably extend that much further. A lot of Leah's skills are somewhat broadly stated or vaguely defined. Perhaps more confusion could be avoided in the future if they were more plainly specified as to her limits about such things. That would also help demonstrate that she is truly "master of none".
Whew! Quite a bit. After getting through with that, though, I hope it brings us closer to settling what appears to be, optimistically, a bit of a misunderstanding. I tried to offer as much clarity as I can with the section, so I hope it helps you better understand where I'm coming from and what we can do to move forward.
Example over. So yes... it is honestly simpler. When I read your post, I immediately thought... I should do a line by line rebuttal but didn't want to waste the time or make myself appear mean spirited. Hence, deleting chunks and re-writing two paragraphs actually is (and was) much easier. Nothing facetious about it. Just a matter of practicality. Master dabbler
? Yeah, just like I called her in my original post, right? Not being facetious at all.
Meh. Honestly, I didn't find it much simpler at all, so I wouldn't call it practical. In the end, we still went piece by piece, and you ended up doing a lot more work that doesn't look like it's going much of anywhere, seeing as it looks you're be adopting something closer to the first version anyway. If that's how you prefer to do so, fine, but I think it would had spared you much more time and effort to just spell out your point of contention in the first place.
In every other primary skill set (hunting, tracking, survival, explosives, firearms, mechanical repair, martial arts, stealth, breaking and entering, tactics, combat skills, marksmanship, driving etc) she's inferior to one if not several of the other crewmembers. She's the most skilled in some regards to niche things... like pickpocketing... and grifting... and cooking meth... and using a bow possibly lol, but I honestly still have no idea how applicable any of those skills would actually be. Honestly, I'm not even sure she'd be all that good in a firefight to be honest. Unless you're a sniper, (which she's not) using a bolt (or lever, or pump) action weapon when your foes have military/combat training and/or experience in most situations is actually a significant disadvantage, especially if they are armed with automatic or semi automatic weapons.
Really? Who's more capable with explosives? Or breaking and entering? Or driving, for that matter? I don't think any of the active profiles mentioned those, so if you're only one who mentioned them, I'd assume Leah is the best in those avenue. Otherwise, why mention them?
It's also a bit debatable just what is a "primary" skill. Aside combat, and seafaring skills, not much has been remarked by Daril as to what will actually come into play. But, if you ask me, I think there are a lot of non-combat skills that will see a lot of use. Locks aren't exactly rare in the world, explosives regularly come into the series, and the money generated from meth could, in fact, be a nice profit for Leah between adventures, seeing as she generally doesn't have to hide it much in Roanapur (although, she might face more competition as a supplier, if she went that route, she's likely not the only meth dealer in town). I think skills in tracking, wilderness survival, and infiltration will come plenty in handy in plenty of jobs as well. And you did specify "semi-automatic" rifles proficiency amongst her skills, which are far less limited in a gun fight than bolt-action rifles are. Maybe not enough to single-highhandedly win battles, but certainly enough to contribute.
Compare those to advance mechanics and see which one comes of more use in these sessions.
@Vex. I hear where you're coming from with regards to your character balance concerns. The best I could tell you is that from Cash's perspective, redundancy isn't all that horrible a thing. The old adage "two is one, and one is none" is probably something that stuck to him in his travels and time spent with other military folks. Cash will be very adamant that Ami or Leah not go on trips that have a high probability for a firefight, but would find himself taking Alex, Tiny, and Jon as an "Away Team" for particularly prickly situations. This is for the benefit of setting up a smaller team that won't take long to gtfo if needed. To put it bluntly, certain skill sets have no place being under fire unless absolutely necessary. Ami keeps the boat alive, Cash keeps her alive, and the world keeps spinning
It's not really "balance" that concerns me. I think this is another misunderstanding that seems to be plaguing Neysha as well. I don't really care if Ami is the "weakest" member of the team. I'm expecting it. It's simple function that I'm concerned with. What is Ami do for the crew? Her specialty deals with machines, electronics, engines, cars, and private boats. Those are already pretty niche concerns in this game, which is supposed to be fairly focused on action and suspense. If someone else can do that, while performing other duties for the crew, she really doesn't have much of a role, at least not one that really justifies why they're keeping her around. More so, if we end up running with Daril's idea, and she might actually cost him a pay day.
Redundancy isn't that horrible a thing. In fact, having someone else who can help her out in fixing something might be a boon. But, at what point does one become more of a burden than an asset? Space isn't unlimited, and crew have to be paid. It seems to me that, if the crew needs downsizing, and someone else can perform her role most of the time, Ami is first to be out.
So, how am I supposed to react? Acceptance? Should I broaden out Ami's skills a little more, maybe add some more academic interests, or that programing and hacking thing I suggested a while back? Ask Neysha to reel back her familiarity with machines? What do I do?
On an unrelated note, I too support the idea for a character sheet thread. But, if you're reluctant to do so, Daril, than at least consider putting a link up on the first post that links to each individual sheet in the thread. That alone would be a big help.