They’ve got your back
Heroes who insist on doing everything on their own must be socially inept, trying to compensate for their insecurities, suffer from horrendous body odor, or all of the above. Saving the world isn’t something you do by yourself – you need allies at your side to give you support and cover your six when you’re going up against a seemingly unstoppable evil. And no genre emphasizes crowded adventuring parties quite like the RPG, where everyone has a part to play and no party size is too big (outside of combat, that is). It’s always the more, the merrier, and some followers even end up being more interesting than the protagonist who’s leading them.
But, as with any video game trope, certain patterns in party member behavior have cropped up over the years. Maybe there are only so many ways to write a supporting character, or maybe writers just like to lean on these tried-and-true archetypes when trying to hit some kind of party member quota. Whatever the case, it seems like the majority of RPG side-characters fall into at least one of these 15 classic archetypes. Just try telling us you haven’t grouped up with characters like
The Cool Cat
There are varying degrees of “cool,” but The Cool Cat always conveys some level of badassery. Maybe this party member never really feels threatened by the impending doom your team is repeatedly facing. Perhaps they always seem to show up at just the right time, solving your particular crisis with barely any effort and acting like it was no big deal. Rarely do they feel a need to raise their voice, and if there’s a particularly emotional scene, you best believe The Cool Cat will just be chillin’ calmly on the sidelines while everyone else in the party weeps and moans. You might think they’re too detached at times, but it’s hard to deny their nonchalant charms and combat prowess.
Notable examples: Garrus (Mass Effect series), Linca (Atelier series), Auron (Final Fantasy X)
Whether in the thick of battle or dialogue trees around the campfire, The Noble always conveys a sense of importance and gravitas. Their clothing is the cutting edge of virtual fashion, and they do everything with a sense of proud (arrogant, even) conviction. Some are friendly; others seem cold and distant. But at all times, The Noble is driven by their own motivation–a personal goal that they hope to accomplish on the way towards helping you defeat evil once and for all. This goal can be the righting of a personal wrong done by or to them, or the exorcism of a personal tragedy that has haunted them for years. Carrying a conversation with The Noble can be tricky, but you know they always mean well.
Notable examples: Miranda (Mass Effect series), Ashe (Final Fantasy XII), Kiefer (Dragon Quest VII)
The Gentle Giant
Just because you’re physically imposing doesn’t automatically make you a big bully. Appearances can be deceiving–just ask The Gentle Giant, who’s constantly getting misjudged for their colossal stature and intimidating physique. In truth, The Gentle Giant loves peace above all things, and prefers a simple life to all the bloodshed inherent to most RPG adventures. They tend to be more of the strong, silent type, offering a few key words of wisdom to the conversation when you least expect it. On the other side of the spectrum is The Gentle Giant that talks a big game about how tough they are, in a thinly veiled attempt to hide their soft side.
Notable examples: Kimahri (Final Fantasy X), Oengus (Child of Light), Sten (Dragon Age: Origins)
The Irritable Punk
Smirks, scoffs, and “Tch!”s are the native language of The Irritable Punk. They’ll help you, sure, but they don’t seem particularly happy about it–because they don’t owe you anything, man. Like The Cool Cat, you can always count on The Irritable Punk in a fight–but outside of combat, they’re incredibly antagonistic, questioning your every action like they know better. When you first try to pry into the deeper layers of their personality, The Irritable Punk will vehemently resist–but keep at it, and you’ll soon uncover the good-natured comrade underneath all the unnecessary attitude.
Notable examples: Jack (Mass Effect series), Teepo (Breath of Fire series), Kanji (Persona 4)
The Compassionate Mystic
Healing is, by its very nature, an altruistic role. Putting others before one’s self is what The Compassionate Mystic is all about, and they’d gladly sacrifice their well-being if it meant sparing another party member harm. The Compassionate Mystic is often the last of a great lineage, or burdened with a great supernatural power–but they’d only think to use this power in the quest to help others. They’re the voice of reason and empathy when other party members demand aggression, acting as a soft-spoken mediator between party members. Even if their constant selflessness sometimes borders on annoying, The Compassionate Mystic is adept at keeping your party healthy during tough fights and rambling on about ancient traditions.
Notable examples: Agnes (Bravely Default), Bastila (Knights of the Old Republic), Yuna (Final Fantasy X)
The Adorable Cutie
Kawaiii! The Adorable Cutie seems too delightful to exist–luckily, this is a video game. Here, they really can maintain that cheery, upbeat attitude all night and day. Upon meeting them, you’ll immediately discount their combat abilities; how could anything so sweet possibly do harm to another being? Sometimes, that assumption is accurate–but often, The Adorable Cutie’s cuteness conceals expert combat skills or a propensity to cause chaos, knowingly or not. You might find The Adorable Cutie to be gleefully endearing or disgustingly precious, but you can’t deny that they always seem to find the lighter side of whatever hardships your party is going through.
Notable examples: Selphie (Final Fantasy VIII), Rise (Persona 4), Rikku (Final Fantasy X)
The Boring One
Hey, it’sthat person! If only you could remember their name, backstory, abilities, or motivations, maybe you’d actually like The Boring One. But as it stands, nothing about them seems all that memorable, and your other party members are so much more interesting by comparison. It’s not that they’re downright awful–they’re just so “meh.” If you’re going to be spending 80 hours with a virtual ally, it sure as hell isn’t going to be The Boring One. Yeah, you’ll talk to them between quests, but only to see if they’ve somehow developed any kind of distinctive personality yet. Spoilers: They haven’t, and likely never will.
Notable examples: Kaidan (Mass Effect series), Carth (Knights of the Old Republic), Kellam (Fire Emblem: Awakening)
The Raging Flirt
Keeping it in their pants is nigh impossible for The Raging Flirt, no many how many +5 defense trousers they’ve got equipped. Every other sentence out of their mouth is either a pick-up line or some form of innuendo–the kind that would typically be grounds for mandatory sexual harassment seminars. Maybe The Raging Flirt is constantly overwhelmed by lust; maybe they’re just romantics who think they’re God’s gift to the present company. Usually, The Raging Flirt’s incessant advances get them absolutely nowhere, but that certainly won’t stop them from trying. Yes, they’re complete horndogs, but you love them anyway.
Notable examples: Ringabel (Bravely Default), Zelos (Tales of Symphonia), Irvine (Final Fantasy VIII)
To quote Kermit the Frog, “It’s not that easy bein’ green.” Or blue, or red, or an AI–basically, anything other than a light-skinned human. The Outlier hails from a race quite unlike the rest of the party, and though they’re not ostracized for their differences, they always stand out in your party’s group photos. Because of their appearance, The Outlier may cause NPCs to swoon at the mere sight of them, or get ridiculed by your enemies for not banding together with their own kind. Sometimes The Outlier has defected from the opposing side; other times, they’re the last of a rare lineage. It’s likely that The Outlier will end up being one of your favorite characters, but not the favorite.
Notable examples: Frog (Chrono Trigger), Red XIII (Final Fantasy VII), Legion (Mass Effect series)