Wednesday 23 May 2018

Meet My Character - Dawn's Dancing Butterfly, Cathak Taji

First, a quick apology for how quite I've been of late! Still settling into the new place, have been extremely tired, and then Husbit accidentally poured orange juice on my laptop which seems to have killed it, which has all combined to slow down my post rate (I'm currently borrowing his tablet, which has its own little keyboard and isn't bad, but is smaller than I like to use for this).

Today's post is in response to a challenge Mark Knights of RPG Knights put up in the G+ Tabletop Roleplaying Games community, asking us to write a short piece about one of our favourite characters. I thought I'd talk about my Exalted character, Taji.

Where to start with Cathak Taji? She's the youngest of 6 children (7, with the half-brother she's recently learnt about), and lived as a peasant in rural Creation until the night before her 8th birthday, when her home was destroyed and she and her twin brother, Cathak Kito, escaped and fled to Thorns. From there, they discovered they were actually the youngest descendants of the head of House Cathak, and spent the next several years raised as young Dynasts. Instead of becoming good little Dragonbloods, though, they became Solar Exalts, Kito Dawn caste and Taji Eclipse. If you want to learn more about their adventures, check out the story index.

The characters I normally enjoy playing are compassionate and gregarious. With Taji, I wanted to challenge myself so wrote someone who is only averagely compassionate, who isn't afraid to take charge (something that I find frightening), and who can talk her way out of (or into) most situations (something I find hard in games, because I mentally freeze). Playing with a sympathetic group means I've grown in confidence and started to overcome those difficulties. I find her lower compassionate difficult at times, but her confidence makes her an absolute joy to play. I particularly enjoy those moments when something knocks that confidence - experiencing her struggle to come to terms with it and the rebuild to extreme cockiness is engaging. I love a bit of emotional bleed!

I think part of why I enjoy playing her so much is that I have played her from the days leading up to her 8th birthday to where she is now, in her early 20's. That was a lot of time to get into the head of the character, and really see how she became who she is. I know it isn't for everyone, but I (and I think Kito's player) have got a real kick out of it.

I love the contrast between her and her brother. Kito sees the best in others, but is a much tougher fighter. Taji is more cynical (her ability to manipulate people means she's inclinded to believe everyone's at it), but she has utter faith in her indestructibility, which often leads to Kito nearly getting killed - because her faith comes from the fact that her brother has always stepped in to save her. She doesn't realise the danger she puts herself in and doesn't notice how much he does for her. She's quite selfish, really. They've surrounded themselves with powerful friends, and Kito's recently realised that some of them, at least, are using the twins for their own purposes. Taji was shocked he didn't already know this; in her mind she's using them right back, and believes she isn't beyond discarding friendships that no longer benefit her (I think she'll find she's wrong about that).

And this is it. Because Taji is so different to the characters I normally love to play, and so far from my ideal image of myself, I don't mind when things don't go her way, and can enjoy the process of her learning from that. I hope to take that experience with me when I go back to other beloved characters where I take it more personally.

1 comment:

  1. Second attempt:

    Her clothes are high quality, well-made, comfortable and durable, but well-worn and road-dusty. At her waist and wrists, you may catch the flash of orichalcum. She carries a large, sturdy, cylindrical pack slung across her back. The face beneath her mass of long, fine black hair has a strong mark of the Realm, while her travels have given her fair skin a golden hue.

    This is Cathak Taji, Dawn's Dancing Butterfly.

    She travels with a young man, broader and taller in build, but so close in features there is no mistaking this as any other than Resplendent Blade Resonating Eternal, her twin brother Cathak Kito. His eyes are as dark as hers, but there is a greater kindness to them, marred with new wariness.

    They were raised as peasants of the Realm until their 8th birthday, when their world upended and they discovered they were heirs to House Cathak. With the loss of their parents and elder siblings, it was their grandfather, the head of the Great House, who took them in and raised them with oversight from the Empress. They were sent away to fight in the north, where they made the mistake of too openly befriending Anathema and were placed under house arrest on their return. Hearing news of their impending execution, their grandfather and some members of their fighting unit smuggled them to safety. They laid low as best they could, but eventually got themselves into enough trouble they managed to Exalt.

    And that's where the fun begins...

    Taji's belt buckle is a wind blade transport, a device she loves. Her bracers are also orichalcum, usually covered by sleeves. The top of her pack opens to reveal a quiver that can be remove and clipped at her waist; if you know where to reach, within as easy reach is an orichalcum rod that, twisted the right way, expands to a power bow. Beneath this is paper, brushes and ink: this is an art case designed on the quiver she'd previously repurposed, with added secret pouches. In one of these, she keeps a set of magical healing needles. The neighbouring pouch is empty. She kept a plasma tongue repeater here until she nearly died when someone else shot her with one; we'll accept her belief she has no fear and say it's because she realises it isn't a clean death, like she can give with one of her arrows.

    She's as comfortable fighting with words as weapons; her brother is the better fighter and has always been her shield, but he's less manipulative, less cynical, and it's in the social realm she feels she can return his protection. That he has always taken blows meant for her has given her great confidence in her survival abilities, often leading her to drag her brother into trouble. While she is the better leader, she relies on his ability to make decisions and to back her up more than he probably realises: knowing he has her back makes it easier for her to make her own decisions, but when she's unsure she values his opinions. It's her confidence - the confidence he has given her - that means she's more likely to try to take the lead in a situation despite being the younger sibling.

    She's ambitious. Her upbringing and the things she's seen have led to her primary goal being to take down the Realm; she sees this as an important step towards saving the world.

    She's also recently found she may have the right to challenge the Unconquered Sun for his throne, and whilst god-hood doesn't particularly appeal to her, she's always found it hard to turn down a challenge...