Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stefan Cassadine, Urbane Crimelord [CLONE WARS CAMPAIGN]

Stefan Cassadine was one of the most important NPCs in the Clone Wars Campaign, which is somewhat ironic given that I initially imagined him as a purely "off-screen" character.  His appearance came about because The Wife decided that Arresta needed to have a dramatic plot twist to further the character's story after the player running Tarn dropped out of the campaign and we took a summer off.

[UPDATE:  The Wife correctly states that, in fact, she created him as part of Arresta's backstory early in the campaign and was waiting for him to appear for some time.]

 The appearance, personality, and name Stefan Cassadine all come from one of The Wife's favorite shows, General Hospital. Although I had no plans to actually role-play the character, one thing led to another and many of those old soap opera episodes featuring the character that The Wife made me watch served me in good stead: I think she was quite impressed with how closely I was able to mimic and adapt the  character for use in a Star Wars setting.

The way I approached playing Stefan as an NPC is that he is an evil man; but not necessarily "the villain."  In other words, I really wanted the clearly problematic aspects of his personality to show through (he is a criminal, an assassin, and largely immoral) without making him so obviously irredeemable that no one could understand why Arresta married him--thus, his qualities of being an excellent husband and father, etc.  I was intentionally not intending to create an "anti-hero", because I saw Stefan as an excellent way to test the morality of the PCs--how far could they get lured down the path of murder and corruption by wrapping it up in an attractive package?  Surprisingly far, as events demonstrated ;)  The other key aspect of his character is that an aura of menace had to lay just below the surface, so that he could never be safely ignored or taken for granted.

As the campaign went on, the character developed rich and complex relationships with other NPCs like Jocasta and Creen (some explored through "fan fiction"), as well as with the PCs.  Because he has such a shrewd and dominating personality, however, I had to sometimes contrive ways to make sure he wasn't around lest he overshadow the PCs.  Overall, I was quite pleased with how he turned out: probably the deepest and most fully fleshed-out NPC I've ever played.

Now, here's The Wife's statement, written independently . . .

I am a massive General Hospital Fan. Whenever I build a character, I tend to look to soaps for inspiration. Since Arresta's physical appearance was based on the character of Chloe Morgan, when I needed inspiration for a past love interest, I looked to GH again. 

Stefan Cassadine was probably my all-time favourite GH character. I am a big fan of the actor, Stephen Nichols who portrayed him (still am - it's the reason I now watch Y&R again). Stefan was an intimidating, educated man with a romantic soul and a tortured spirit. He was a master manipulator who would stop at little to help his family. His lady loves always seemed to forget that about him - leading them to abandon him when his schemes proved too much. 

I always wished that one of them would accept him for who he was (much like Lila Quartermain did for Edward). I loved the Stefan/Chloe pairing so when I wanted a former paramour for Arresta, I decided to use Stefan as the inspiration. At the time, Jhaeman wasn't blogging about this and I had no idea that any of this would end up on-line. That's why I just used the name "Stefan Cassadine" instead of changing it.

I would hate for our recaps our Gaming Fiction to come off as bad Mary Sue fan fic for GH. Our Gaming Stefan shares a name and face and some personality traits with GH's Stefan, but they are very different.

When the character was first conceived, I had no idea if he would ever come on screen. His entrance marked the beginning of the big "love triangle", something I had never anticipated. He was a wonderful "grey" character. He would do something that seemed unforgiveable, but then he would somehow manage to bring Arresta around again. I still remember a scene where he was talking to Arresta and giving baby Allegra a bath - all of the players around the table - all men I might add - immediately let loose with a series of "awwws".

His devotion to family was a great counterpoint to Tarn's altruistic nature. I liken it to the relationship Lois Lane has with Superman and her very human fiance in that recent Superman movie. Even though you can easily see that Lois loves Clark Kent and that he may be her "true love", you can understand why she chooses the man who loves her and her child, and who will always put them first.

There were a few factors that kept Stefan very much a possibility for Arresta. The first was their history - he was her instructor at an exclusive finishing school and I had developed her having a huge Daddy complex. When her father betrayed her, Stefan was ready to step in again.

We had also developed the idea that the age difference and his role as her more experience past lover gave him significant emotional influence over her. He used seduction frequently to further his cause and Arresta actually had a will save penalty to resist him that got much worse if he was touching her.

Stefan also had an almost single-minded devotion to family - which coincided nicely with Arresta's need for security.

There was also, of course, the fact that she didn't think she could stand having either Tarn or Stefan killed by the other. She knew that if she chose Stefan, she could probably keep the two of them alive. If she chose Tarn, Stefan trying to kill him was almost a certainty.

The big thing that really changed the dyamic was the "time jump" after the city of sand story arc. Before that, even though she had married Stefan (on the rebound from Tarn), they had only been together very briefly and she may have entertained notions of running away, faking her death, etc, etc. She didn't necessarily feel as though ending her marriage would be impossible.

After the time jump though, she felt tremendous guilt for having put Stefan through almost two years of wondering where she (and the baby) were. It was clearly an ordeal and when you combined that with Tarn being in a coma, it really shifted the balance. From that point on, her guilt was a real factor in her trying to patch things up with Stefan (up to and including allowing him to seduce her back into his bed).

Jhaeman tells me he thought Stefan was the lead candidate for a while as the campaign wound down. Personally, I thought she was Tarn's to lose - and that Stefan ultimately benefited from the clash between Tarn's heroic destiny and Arresta's desire to put her child first.

Stefan Cassadine

Male Human Nob4/Scoun13 (Height 6'1, Weight 180)

Hit Points: 89

Spd. 6, BAB +12, FP: 9

Str 10, Dex 15 (+2), Con 12 (+1), Int 14 (+2), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 16 (+3)

Defenses (add 10 if not using house rules):  Fort +18, Ref +22, Will +21 (+26 against deception/persuasion)

Damage Threshold: 28

Attacks:  Datadagger +14, d. 1d4+8 (if target flatfooted, +16, d. 1d4+17 & -1 on track)
               Hold-out Blaster +15, d. 3d4+8 (if target flatfooted, +17 d. 3d4+17 & -1 on track)

Special Actions:  1/day reroll attack and take best; 1/encounter 16 or above crits; triple crit with datadagger; if gets critical hit gets free standard action; poison

Languages:  Basic, Huttese, High Galactic, Bothan, Rodese, Durese

Talents:  Wealth, Connections, Malkite Techniques, Vicious Poison, Dastardly Strike, Knack, Lucky Shot, Uncanny Luck, Fortune's Favor

Feats:  WP: Pistols, WP: Simple, Linguist, Unwavering Resolve, SF: Deception, ST: Stealth, SF: Stealth, Weapon Finesse, PB Shot, Quick Draw, SF: Knowledge Life Sciences, Double Attack, Cunning Attack, SF: Persuasion, Precise Shot, Triple Crit: Datadagger, Martial Arts I, ST: Mechanics

Skills:  Acrobatics +10, Climb +8, Deception +21 (Disguise +23), Endurance +9, Gather Info +11, Initiative +15, Jump +8, Knowledge: Life Sciences +20, Knowledge: Galactic Lore +10, Knowledge: Tactics +15, Knowledge: Physical Sciences +15, Mechanics +15, Perception +15, Persuasion +21, Pilot +10, Ride +10, Stealth +20, Survival +10, Swim +8, Treat Injury +15, Use Computer +10

Equipment:  Hold-out blaster, Datadagger, Medpac, Security Kit, Disguise Kit, Sonic Disruptor

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1 comment:

CanuckMom said...

See, I add considerable light side points for actually being in love with his wife and for never caring an ounce who Allegra's biological father was.

Every dark and brooding villain type needs the love of a good woman to redeem him.

So, you say evil, I say "complicated".