Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Arresta D'Avilos Cassadine, Love-torn Princess [Clone Wars Campaign]

It's hard to know where to start with Arresta; not only was she the most important PC in the game, her home planet and love life was the driving force behind many story arcs.  I guess it's best to just jump in.   After my comments, are those of The Wife; we wrote independently, so you may see some similar themes discussed.

The Beginning  It all started because The Wife "wanted to play a princess."  Well, that meant I needed to come up with a monarchy, a homeworld, and a reason why the character would decide to venture forth to the galaxy at large.  Because, let's face it: 52 straight sessions on the same planet just wouldn't have been very Star Wars!  Creating the planet of Mongui, which I honestly didn't spend much time on at the beginning, was a way to incorporate the setting of the campaign: the Clone Wars, as I wanted the Republic and Separatists to be duking it out with the PCs getting caught in the middle.  The Wife designed Arresta as a secretly kick-ass assassin/bodyguard for her father's regime, so having him betray her was a sneaky way to give her a reason to leave.  Bringing the other PCs to Mongui was also a way for me to start the campaign in a controlled condition before getting my feet wet and giving them a hyperdrive to go anywhere in the galaxy.  It's ironic to note that, for the first few sessions, The Wife didn't particularly like Arresta; indeed, she thought about ditching her in favor of her alternate character, a Jedi.  But she stuck with Arresta, and the character has clearly become her all-time favorite.

Secret Ninja Princess  Arresta kicked ass.  Not only was she a deadshot with a blaster pistol and handy with a vibroblade, she was damned near impossible to hit, with a Reflex Defence off the charts.  She was actually fairly decent at almost every skill (Heal, Pilot, Deception, you name it), with the one exception being Mechanics; this defect eventually became a fun way to keep the character recognizably human and flawed.

Friends  The friendship between Arresta and Daal was an interesting one, as they were the only two PCs to both start the campaign and to finish it.  They thus had a lot of shared history and experiences, and this naturally led to trust and concern.  On the other hand, Daal's picking of Team Tarn over Team Stefan (see below) drove a wedge between them.  The friendship between Arresta and Doxen was very much one of mutual respect, as the two often effectively made decisions for the group.  A'tel was, I think, very much the somewhat goofy and naive little brother who needed looking after because he kept getting into trouble.

The Love Triangle  I'd played in and directed a lot of RPG campaigns, and I had never seen a campaign where romance was a major plot point.  That all changed with Arresta on the scene, as her dilemma between choosing Tarn or Stefan added a layer of soap opera to the campaign that I never expected.  (as The Wife would say, "chicks, eh?")  But it paid dividends in making the NPCs "real" and getting the players motivated to see what would happen next.  I had great fun subtly manipulating events so that each of the two suitors remained viable alternatives until near the end of the campaign.

Family  Family was the biggest motivation for Arresta: not the one she was born into, but the one she made.  The stability that Stefan offered Arresta and Allegra was, I think, the main reason she chose him, and was a large part of her decision not to go to Mongui in the final story arc.  The hero didn't get the girl, but that's okay--RPGs are better than Hollywood movies because there's no guarantee everything will work out in the end.

In Conclusion  Arresta's story didn't end with the campaign; not only are there several short stories, there's a whole novel The Wife and I wrote together about events several years down the line.  As I presently gear up for a whole new campaign with new PCs set in the Rebellion Era, it's hard to imagine that any will have the same impact that Arresta did on the Clone Wars Campaign.

The Wife on Arresta

Arresta’s physical appearance is based on Tava Smiley, the actress who played Chloe Morgan on General Hospital. When I created Arresta and needed a picture, as always, I went to my soap opera roots. Of course, at the time I had no idea that Jhaeman would be including these things on his web-site. 

I loved the Stefan/Chloe romance on General Hospital and was dismayed with how it played out. Not only did they kill Chloe off, prior to that they had her deriding Stefan because of his devious ways. Stefan’s women always seemed to turn away from him for lying and plotting - something I would have thought they would have known about him from the start. I found that very frustrating and always wished that Chloe could have seen past the plans and schemes and been the Lila Quartermain to Stefan’s Edward.  

That’s why, when I needed a former paramour of Arresta’s to come on the scene, I selected Stefan Cassadine (again, not knowing this was going to end up on the web where it could end up looking like bad Mary Sue fanfiction) and the likeness of Stephen Nichols. 

Arresta wasn’t intended to be a girl caught up in a love triangle. When the campaign started, her character was focused on supporting her father, the Regent. She had given up her relationship with Stefan to stand behind her father after her sister Corinne’s “betrayal”.

When Arresta found out that her father been lying to her, she found her foundations crumbling and felt that she was adrift and alone in a dangerous universe. For that reason, she decided to build on the crush that Jedi Tarn Tamarand had on her to provide herself with information. Arresta was only about a year older than Tarn and thought that she knew everything there was to know about intrigue. Obviously, she was wrong. 

She ended up falling in love with him and was devastated when he cast her aside. This paved the way for Stefan to “reclaim her”. The rest of the campaign involved Arresta battling her desire to save Tarn (even when he didn’t need or want saving) and her desire to be a good mother and wife. This wasn’t helped by Tarn’s constantly saying the wrong thing, or her fear that he would abandon her (and their daughter) again. 

I was very pleased with her ultimate character arc. In the end, she made the decision that family was the most important thing to her - and that meant being there for daughter and not chasing off after Tarn on crazy adventures. She decided to grow up, and put her chid first. 

She didn’t really resolve her love triangle - she loved them both, for different reasons. Tarn’s decision to follow Master Creen into the anomaly (and his dismissal of Arresta’s concerns about his Master) pretty much sealed their fate. That plus the fact that she felt desperately guilty about “abandoning” Stefan for two years while in the CIty of Sand (despite no time passing for her) and she couldn’t find any other way that would keep both men alive (and stop them from killing one another). 

Arresta D'Avilos Cassadine


Female Human, Height 5'6, Weight: 120 lbs.

Abilities:  Strength 16 (+3), Dexterity 19 (+4), Constitution 10, Intelligence 14 (+2), Wisdom 10, Charisma 16 (+3)

Hit Points: 100 (Damage Threshold: 35)

Initiative +13, Speed 6

Force Points: 14, Dark Side Score: 3

Defenses (add 10 if not using House Rules):  Fortitude +21, Reflex +26/28 (unarmed), Will +23

Attacks:  Unarmed +18, d. 1d8+12;  Deathhammer (blaster pistol) +19, d. 3d6+9; Vibrorapier +18, d. 2d6+9

Special Combat Actions:  Point Blank Shot (+1 attack & damage); Precise Shot (no penalty firing into melee), Extra Second Wind, +5 Condition Track 1/day, Can shift 5 from attack to defense, No penalties to two-weapon fighting, Improved Evasion, Command Cover 1 per ally, Bolster Ally, If adjacent to ally, no flanking bonuses against self or ally

Languages:  Basic, Bothese, Huttese, Rodese

Talents:  Wealth, Connections, Tough as Nails, Indomitable, Evasion, Improved Evasion, Inspire Fear I, Command Cover +2, Bolster Ally, Watch Your Back

Feats:  Linguist, WP: Simple, WP: Pistols, WP: Advanced Melee, WP: Rifles, Melee Defense, Dual Weapon Mastery, Extra Second Wind, Dodge, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Martial Arts I, Martial Arts II, Improved Damage Threshold, Skill Focus: Persuasion, Skill Focus: Treat Injury, Skill Focus: Deception, Toughness

Skills:  Acrobatics +13, Climb +12, Deception +22, Endurance +9, Gather Info +17, Initiative +13, Jump +12, Knowledge: Bureaucracy +16, Knowledge: Tactics +16, Perception +14, Persuasion +22, Pilot +18, Ride +13, Stealth +13, Survival +9, Swim +12, Treat Injury +19, Use Computer +17

Equipment:  97,235 Credits, 2 Medpacs, Bindercuffs, Glowrod, code cylinder, credit chip, 29 spice vials, lighter, Hush-98 Comlink, Blaster Pistols (x2), Knife, Garrotte, All-Temperature Cloak, False ID "Tava Morgan", Slugthrower Pistol, Vibro-Rapier, Hold-Out Blaster, Concealed Holster, Hip Holster, Field Kit, Shadowsuit, Tool Kit, Security Kit, Datapad, Shadowsuit, Medpaks, Flimsy, Anomaly Datacube, 2 MWK Medpacs, Lightsabre

Character Background

The Princess Arresta Augustine Eugenie D'Avilos was born on Mongui, a rocky moon orbiting the gas giant Korvallis in the Essowyn system.  Arresta is the second child of the current Regent and his late wife and is currently the heir to the hereditary elected monarchy of Mongui.

Arresta believes herself to have had an idyllic childhood.  She was raised to have strong loyalty to her planet and to her family and to her father above all, as both head of the family and the planetary Regent.  Although currently estranged, Arresta was close with her elder sister, the former heir.  Arresta is unable to see her father as anything but a hero and, although regretful, fully supports his decision.

Arresta received a substantial education in both intellectual and physical arts.  From the time she was a small child, she was taught that it was her life's responsibility to serve her people, and, by extension, their regent.  Thus, from a young age she has been secretly trained to act as a 'hidden in plain sight' bodyguard for the Regent.  Very few, absent her father and his steward are aware that this training has taken place.

When she was fifteen, Arresta was sent off-planet to attend 'finishing' school.  In reality, she was trained at a secret facility specializing in training assassins and bodyguards for the political and social elite.  This Black Guild provided Arresta in training with weapons, unarmed combat, tactical scenarios, poisons, and escape techniques.  An apt and devoted pupil, who fully believes that her efforts could impact the safety of her father and her planet, Arresta was just completing her studies when her sister was renounced as heir.

Both Arresta and her father are adjusting to the fact that her new position as heir places her in a more visible position than they had planned.  She is still learning to adapt to having a more visible presence at court and with dignitaries, and her focus is occasionally more on security/safety than politics.

In light of the new position of Mongui in interplanetary politics, Arresta is now striving to determine how best to serve her country.  A new, and thus far, unwelcome concern, is increasing pressure for her to consider a diplomatic alliance/marriage of convenience to cement the security of Mongui.  However, given the latest attacks by Separatist forces, these pressures (to Arresta's relief) have somewhat eased.
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1 comment:

The Wife said...

Heh. She WAS damn near impossible to hit. Of course, that was by design since when she got "grazed" in the first session it pretty much knocked her out. I had incentive to make her hard to hit. I also tend to find that making a character tougher to hit before making them better at attacking is a good strategy.

I still love this character. Key points in this campaign happened when my professional life was not so great. My job from hell had a long commute, crappy culture and hours and expectations that almost killed me. This campaign and character provided an outlet that I really needed.

I wonder what "chick" things I will bring to the Rebellion campaign?