Friday, March 7, 2014

The Explosive Engineer: Self Reliance

"Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems." -Scott Adams

Engineer Susan Ellis "Sushi" Cray (Art by Sushi)

THE ENGINEER: Featuring guest commentary from Sushi (OC for Sushi of WSRP and talented artist)

The Engineer is the master of all situations. What they don’t know, they can research. What is broken, they can repair. What is needed, they can build. What is not, they can tear down and use again in an endless cycle of purpose and use. To the Engineer, everything has potential. Everything has its use and they know just how to coax it out, be it wood, steel, numbers or even people.

Sushi: Yuh huh! Nuts an bolts are in everything, yanno? It’s all about how ya use it. Like the time I used an Dominion AI chip to replace the broken thermostat in my toaster. I mean, sure it tries to kill me every morning now, but it makes awesome toast, so crispy!

The core concept of this class is an idea many of us, if not all, can understand and related to: Self-Reliance. A jack-of-all-trades by nature, the Engineer has an answer for everything they come across, which translates to an answer for the same questions and troubles we struggle with in our own everyday lives. Lonely? The Engineer can create their own mechanical companions and sidekicks. Needing work? Settling Nexus calls for folks able to make the most out of the scrap available, and the Engineer is happy to provide. Others can appreciate the engineer’s skillset as well, helping to facilitate friendship through the usefulness of their abilities. The Engineer enjoys an unparalleled level of utility and services that benefit those around them and make the character a valued member in their community. If a vehicle breaks down, the engineer is called in for repairs. If a lack of vehicles is the problem, they can be drafted to build it instead. From the outside perspective, the engineer has the knowledge and skills to find the answer to every situation they come across.

< Sushi blushes and shuffles her feet, grinding the toe of her boot in the dirt> Aw, shoot, I just like read all the documentation, yanno?

The engineer knows how to handle what comes their way. Or blow it up to smithereens

Carbine has certainly made no exception, creating a fun and exciting class that always seems to have another asset up their sleeves. Not just any old tinkerer, the engineer comes jampacked with a powerful rifle, sick power armor and a myriad of bots to fill in everything else they cannot achieve with their own two hands. But before I continue on to the engineer’s roleplaying potential, let’s take a look at this skillful class!

First of all, if you haven’t seen the official engineer class video, check it out here! As well as this link to the official class page.

And a quick breakdown:

Innate Ability-Exo suit
Armor Class-Heavy

The Engineer is one of the two heavy armor classes who runs on a resource known as volatility. This is built up by some abilities and will remain with you during combat to be utilized by others to deadly effect. Outside of combat, however, expect your energy to drain, to be replenished during your next battle.

Lovingly rigged up to be the most destructive force this side of Nexus, your Launcher will strike fear in the heart of your enemies with every blood-stained crater you leave in your wake. Deal punishment from a distance with a variety of shots to fit every deadly need you may have.

Sushi: "That’s right, on accounta there’s no better gun than MORE GUN!"

Your oversized blaster isn’t the only tool at your disposal either. The engineer comes complete with your very own set of charming, mechanical constructs who are just as happy to help you with an oil change as they are to pulp the skull of your latest victim. Who needs friends when you have these adorable and deadly little robo-puppies at your side?

Sushi: "Coz robots are people too! I mean, the Mechari are people like, if you can get past the homicidal, fanatically Eldan driven, kill all the poor Exiles protocols. But my bots are friendly and cool!"

Bots and guns a little too impersonal? Well how about your all-purpose tech suit? You know, the one you used to help you move that engine block when you didn’t have a hydraulic lift on hand? Crank the settings to eleven and show just how formidable this manifestation of your machinery mastery can be.

Use these skills and your own mechanical know-how to crush your enemies and bolster your allies. Tune your gear for maximum carnages as a DPS, utilizing your powerful launcher to blast your foes from a distance or soup up your exo-suit and become the perfect TANK to protect your allies from harm. And don’t forget you can mix and match whichever skillset suits you best. Beef yourself up or just swarm all who oppose you under your indomitable bot army.

Remember, you are the Engineer. You are the genius of all things mechanical, the miracle-worker, fixing that which can't be fixed. You have the power to create and destroy. All things are tools in your hands to use as you see fit.

Sushi: "MWAhahahahahahah!…that was totally someone else……"

Examples of Engineer-like RP personalities: Kaylee: Firefly, MacGyver: MacGyver, The Engineer: Team Fortress 2

So now that we have an idea of what the Engineer is in terms of gameplay, let’s explore what the engineer means in terms of roleplaying. To start, I’ll share a couple of stereotypical personalities that I have found through my years of reading and roleplaying, talk about some ideas for character building specific to the WildStar universe and share some food for thought, for some more unusual personality/background ideas.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be 120% unique in order to have a good character. Stereotypes are there for a reason and sometimes that can be a good thing! What is truly unique is the way you play your character. There can be hundreds of people playing the crazy tinkerer type but no one out there will play them quite like you will. So choose what is fun, take a little time to explore and round out your character and maybe even do a little research to add some more plausibility to the mix and you will be the most beloved of the battlefield in no time!

In my opinion, there are six main stereotypes to the personality of the Engineer: The Reclusive Mechanic, The Jury Rigger, The Machine Whisperer, The Factory Liner, The Inventor, and The Hot Rodder. Keep in mind that these are not exclusively all there is and can certainly be mixed and matched. They’re simply the most common stereotypes that I can think of.

The Reclusive Mechanic- This character concept often shuns the company of other people for the much more comfortable companionship of their machines. They are usually soft-spoken and awkward in social situations, maybe displaying nervous ticks around others or at least just general discomfort. At face value they may appear pitiful or even too shy to believe that they are as competent of mechanics as they claim to be. However, behind the scenes is where they truly shine. Without the nervousness of dealing with others, this character slips into the confidence and strength of many years of hard work. They typically hold conversations with their machines and especially their bots, lovingly naming each one and caring for them tenderly. To them, their mechanical entities are their allies, treated like a fellow sentient or wriggling puppy. The story progression of these characters tends to fall along the line of their personal quirks with the rest of society, dealing with how their character slowly becomes used to people as well as how they learn how to bring others into their own world. While it is typically assumed that they are already competent in their field, their mechanical prowess is another potential path for character growth.

Sushi: "Yanno what they say, its always the quiet ones….."

Examples- The Bot Master, Howard Hughes, Gyro Gearloose

The Jury Rigger- This character concept is nothing short of a miracle worker, able to create most anything out of whatever odds and ends they have lying about. Scrap metal and random electrical wiring are like candy, duct tape and cardboard boxes: gifts from the heavens above. Just beware of one very important thing: explosions! While the jury rigger can build a decent mock-up of something their team/group/town/etc might need, that doesn’t guarantee that this shoddy excuse for a machine will last long. But that doesn’t hold back their enthusiastic and inventive nature. This character uses every unfortunate explosive end to their creations as motivation to go back to the drawing board and try something else. Friendly, optimistic and resourceful these mechanics are great to have around in a pinch. They can get you back home to safety...probably.

Sushi: "Ooo! Oo! Thats me! < waves> I totally jury rig, yuh huh! But it pays not to get too attached to the poor bots, on accounta they don’t usually last very long.So sad! I mean, lasting friendships just aren’t in the cards for the poor things.One the other hand, BOOM. "

Examples- Macgyver, Most goblins from World of Warcraft, Wheeljack

The Machine Whisperer- This character possesses a unique understanding of the mechanical constructs that they work on or build. To them, the comprehension of the complex twists and turns of the metal labyrinths and wirings of their creations is as easy to maneuver as the conversations of their fellow people. They have an intrinsic understanding of the essence, or ‘spirit’ of these machines that makes working with them almost as easy as breathing. Around them, machines just...well, work. Really well. Gravbikes sputtering, starship systems poorly aligned, tractors not running, bots misbehaving...they can fix all of these with the greatest of ease. And they practically function as good luck charms as well! Keep them around your ship or town for good luck as most machines just simply seem to behave around them. Like the Reclusive Engineer, the Machine Whisperer often views machines and bots as people, naming them and talking to them as though they believe they can understand. Some of their toughest challenges may be in getting anyone to understand how they feel, but at least they rarely lack for work.

Sushi: "Thats me too, because you have to have the feel of the machine, the ghost. Its all very important, because not any one machine ever works to spec, no matter what anyone says.If you can tap in the well of the machine mind, you don’t need instructions manuals, or like that - you just know.
But try explaining that to folk. Good luck."

Examples- Kaylee, Lucca, Micah from Heroes

The Factory Liner- This character is the model of efficiency when it comes to machinery. They can build most anything needed, and fairly quickly as well. However, they differ from other stereotypes in their relative apathy for the things they build. Don’t expect the factory liner to care terribly much if their bot is destroyed in the process of scouting out new materials, they can always build another. Ingenuity and resourcefulness are not their forte. They will take the factory standard blueprints and make exactly what is printed with little to no deviation. While they may not be the most creative, they are certainly reliable. Using plans that are already tried and true, their creations hold up fairly well and are unlikely to break down or fall apart. Occasionally they may be seen as callous around their creations and may even view others with the same sense of what is the most efficient and proper for that moment. Some character development could focus around them learning how to show more compassion, both for their machines and for the people around them, or some might be for them to learn how to grow comfortable enough to break the mold and try something new.

Sushi: "I hate these guys. No soul at all. And if its not a tech manual? No conversation skills at all. Yuck!"

Examples- Galen Tyrol, The Engineer from TF2, Roland from Borderlands

The Inventor- This character is a whirlwind of creative energy. More often than not, you can find them spending all their free time within their shop, working on their next improvement or creation on their worktable. Unlike the Jury Rigger, however, this character spends extra time and effort, aiming for quality over quantity in their inventions. Though this doesn’t mean there won’t be some hiccoughs along the way while they test out their early prototypes. Just be certain you have no aversion to fires, before you offer to help out. If you ever have an idea or a need for yourself or the community around you, these are the people to ask for a long-term solution, though prepare to explain yourself a few times. These characters are often a little absentminded in social interactions, as their minds are usual still focused on that next set of blueprints.

See, I totally get these guys, but they miss that important part - you can spend days and weeks making it perfect, but usually? Good enough is good enough. Its better to have working solutions than seek perfect solutions to the point the problem is solved by the time ya get the gadget built.Just sayin’.

Examples- Agatha Heterodyne, Doc Brown, Q from James Bond

The Hot Rodder- This character is damn good at what they do and they are certainly not shy about letting others know about it. They are always ready and raring to show off their latest creation or souped up machine and rarely hold back from including all the latest and greatest bells and whistles. While they may show some compassion for their creations, it is of a more possessive sort, meant to show off their own skills and engineering prowess. They can sometimes be a bit difficult to work with as they believe their way to be the most superior of all and may take extra time to add unnecessary (but stylish!) additions to their work. Some character developments might be following a bit of humbling for these self-glorifying engineers, as they learn to work with others and to value opinions other than their own.

Examples- Tony Stark, Dexter of Dexter’s Lab,

These are just a couple ideas that could be used with the engineer class, but they are not the only ones! WildStar alone has an incredible pool of lore to pull from. Instead of something more generic, why not try something straight from the world of Wildstar?

  • -Perhaps your Exile Engineer is one by necessity. Maybe they are following in the footsteps of their family before them or there was a need for such professions in their camp. They are still learning the tools of the trade and may even be doing so unwillingly.
  • -Your Chua Engineer has all the latest and greatest in engineering toys. They’re always coming up with something new or getting their hands on every prototype. Hopefully this one won’t explode in their face!
  • -Maybe your Granok Engineer tries to find some ties to the old Way of the Stone within every machine, for surely metal was dug from the deep earth, was it not? They have a great understanding of their creations and treat each one with care.
  • -Your Cassian Engineer comes from a long line of proud military engineers for the Dominion. Efficient, resourceful and creative, they are highly sought after for their skill and tenacity.
  • -Perhaps your Mordesh Engineer is constantly working on improvements for the good of their people. New resting pods, better containment and processing machines for Vitalus, anything that can be utilized by Mordesh is of top priority.
  • -Maybe your Mechari Engineer seeks to learn to better themselves through the work on their machines. Always surrounded by a loyal entourage of bots, they are always seeking some means to upgrade themselves to peak efficiency for the Dominion.

And how about some additional food for thought that breaks the mold a bit?

  • -While your Engineer uses these fantastic tools and bots, they certainly didn’t build them themselves. Perhaps they inherited them from family or bought them from one of the local shops. While they know how to use them, they rely on others to help them maintain their tools and upgrade them.

Sushi: "Hey, I like that! Keep it in the family, like!"

  • -Your Engineer’s Launcher and all of their tools are quite literally just that: tools. They do not like to enter into combat, either out of fear, moral obligations or general inexperience but they do know how to build and how to maintain. Their bots help them around their workshop, while all their explosives and firepower are tuned for demolitions while building or to help carve through the rusty skeletons of old Eldan tech to be repurposed for later.

Sushi:< shyly> "Actually, I generally try to do combat from a distance on accounta death hurts. Seriously."

The Engineer is as versatile and moldable as they are powerful, lending a wide variety of personality types and career paths to consider when building your very own character. However, as with all classes, remember that your class choice does not have to strictly influence every single part of your character. If you just plain enjoy the Engineer, but you rather focus on your character’s path, or even something else entirely, that’s okay!

Otherwise get out there, have fun and remember: if you can’t fix it, you can always blow it sky high...

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