Anatomy of a Greek Cliche
Core Cliches
Examples of Cliches (and what they can do)


It’s tempting to think of clichés the same way we think of character classes in other RPGs, but you can pack a lot more into a cliché than into a character class. In reality, there is a potentially limitless supply of clichés! According to Anatomy of a Cliché (from the Risus Companion, or online here ), the deceptively-simple cliché can reveal some or all of the following information about the character.

Profession: Nearly everybody in Greek society has a place, whether at the top or at the bottom; nearly every hero was a king or a prince, had been a king or prince, or was trying to become a king or a prince. Will you go with the flow, or will you buck the trends? (King of Mycenae, Beautiful Young Priestess of Aphrodite, Epicurean Sage)

Race or Species: Though most of the heroes of myth were human (admittedly with some divine blood), we naturally associate nymphs, satyrs, and centaurs with the Greeks. Since these half-human creatures were imbued with little to no individuality (with notable exceptions of Chiron, leader of the Centaurs, and Thetis, mother of Achilles), you have an opportunity to teach an old dog, so to speak, new tricks. (Son of a Wood-Nymph, Satyr with Pretensions of Herodom, Wise Old Centaur, Valley-Girl Nymph)

Cultural Background: Though we tend to think of the Greeks as cut from the same cloth, there were cultural stereotypes that can be used to define your character, such as intellectual or decadent Athenians, stoic and warlike Spartans, rustic Arcadians, or mercantile Corinthians. Foreign stereotypes such as the mysterious Egyptians, the unnatural Amazons, the labyrinth-building Minoans, and the horse-riding Scythians, are rare and exotic to the Hellenic eye, but could find a way into a party of adventurers. There are far more outlandih origins out there; remember that Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf… (Sinister Egyptian Sorcerer, Rustic Arcadian Huntress, Athenian Social Climber, Spartan Orator)

Personal History: What kind of dark secrets or glorious exploits trail behind you? Heroes can become outlaws, driven from their homes or their thrones by rivals or rash acts. Was your destiny foretold at your birth? Are you the descendant of a famous (or infamous) ancestor? Likewise, fame is won by performing noteworthy deeds such as conquering cities, defeating legendary beasts, or striving against impossible odds. What is your backstory? (Former Amazon Queen, Defrocked Priest of Poseidon, Ex-Philosopher, Future King of Thebes)

Degree of Dedication: Diehard Monster-Slayer, Reluctant Charioteer, World-Weary Swordslinger Religion or Philosophic Bent: Dedicated Stoic, Enthusiastic Priestess of Dionysus, Poseidon-Worshipping Charioteer

Social Class or Financial Means: Cash-Poor Aristocrat, King of the Beggars, Evil Tyrant, Lost Heir to the Kingdom

Gender: Haughty Amazon, Burly Gladiator, “Boy” Charioteer, Thessalian Witch

Demeanor: Happy-Go-Lucky Sidekick, Dour Cynic, Fatalistic Spearman

Group Affiliation: Suitor of Helen of Troy, Initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries, One of the Seven Against Thebes, Would-Be Argonaut

Appearance: White-Armed Maiden, Mighty-Thewed Slayer of Men, Snaggle-Toothed Beggar, Flowing-Haired Achaean Prince, Cow-Eyed Queen of Sparta, Tattooed Thracian Dog

Ham-Fisted Reference: ”...with Sean Connery as Agamemnon”, Oprah-Like Queen, “Red Tunic” Spearman, “Vulcan”-ish Philosopher

Goals: Actor In Search Of Eternal Fame, Philosopher Looking For An Honest Man, Evil Advisor Plotting To Usurp the Throne

Self-Image: Swordsman Who Can’t Trust Himself Anymore, Sidekick Who Believes He’s Ready To Be A Hero, Beautiful Princess Who Thinks She’s Ugly, Overenthusiastic Under-talented Would-Be Hero

Sub-Plots and Relationships: The Charioteer Everybody Goes To For Romantic Advice, The Philosopher Secretly In Love with His Beautiful Rival, Evil Necromancer Seething At The Way They All Laughed At Him (The Fools!)

Problems: Blind Poet, Lucky Drunk, Born Loser, Aged Mentor, Warrior-King Who Committed a Terrible Crime Without Knowing About It, Rightful King Of Ithaca Striving To Return Home

Core Cliches (Risus Companion, p. 8)

Work in Progress
The Athlete:
The Charismatic:
The Communicator:
The Detective:
The Driver:
The Mechanic:
The Nature Boy:
The Medic:
The Scholar:
The Sneak:
The Warrior:
The Wizard:

Examples of Cliches (and what they can do)

This isn’t a definitive list of “character classes” you can play in MSoR!; rather, it’s a small collection of some of the character types to be found in the “literature”, along with some of the qualities associated with them, that can help you get started on a character. A more voluminous yet equally-non-exclusive list may be found in “Juicy Heroic (and not-so-Heroic) Clichés”, aka “Lots o’ Clichés” in the menu to your left. (Sample characters, PCs, and NPCs may be found in the Characters section.)

A Man As Men Should Be (burning with dreams, turning your dreams into history)
Adventuresome Prince (looking around for a kingdom to conquer, rescuing damsels in distress, doing daring deeds of derring-do)
Ancient Mariner (sailing the seven seas, tying interesting knots, climbing the rigging, getting exotic tattoos)
Avenging Mother/Daughter/Wife (wreaking vengeance on those who have wronged her or her family—I’m looking at YOU, Agamemnon!)
Evil-Eyed Sorcerer (casting the evil eye, bending weak-willed people to their wills, being generally naughty)
Beautiful Witch (changing people into animals, seducing lost mariners, brewing potions)
Blind Seer (getting around just fine without sight, being unable to just come right out and say what you mean)
Boozed-Up Hedonist (knowing where the best parties are, indulging to excess, singing loud off-color songs at all hours)
Breaker of Horses (knowing your horseflesh, training war horses, not getting kicked in the head)
Clumsy Hero (“Sorry about that, Your Majesty”; “Missed it by that much”; “That’s the second biggest Trojan Horse I’ve ever seen”) )
Demigod (having more-than-human abilities or appearance, being harassed by immortal enemies, being followed around by playwrights and poets)
Delighter in Slaughter (plunging into battle, wading knee-deep in gore, telling people how you love killing more than life itself)
Dutiful Priest (sacrificing to the gods, barbecuing cattle, taking inventory in the temple treasury, telling the people the gods are angry with them)
Eagle-Eyed Archer (seeing things way far off, hitting targets other people can’t even see, snicking the wing off a fly)
Epicurean Sage (living a modest and virtuous life, enjoying worldly pleasures within reason, disdaining superstition and divine intervention)
Hairy Brute (looking unkempt, scaring the locals, expressing yourself through casual violence)
Hard-ridin’, Bow-Totin’, Man-Bashin’ Amazon (preaching about feminism, fighting harder than any mere man, looking provocatively good under all that armor)
Haughty Aristocrat (ruling, sticking it to the peasants, conquering other aristocrats’ kingdoms)
Haughty Aristocratic Maiden (looking down her nose, wrapping the menfolk around her little finger)
Heroic Warrior (scattering your enemies in your wake, earning tons of glory, getting invited to banquets in your honor)
Iron-Thewed Wrestler (stripping down and oiling up, pinning your opponent to the ground, winning valuable prizes)
Ladies’ Man (chatting up the ladies, irritating their fathers, boyfriends and husbands, jumping out the window or hiding in closets)
Long-Winded Orator (dominating the conversation, splitting hairs, contradicting what everyone else says)
Lovable Rogue (being friendly and full of confidence, tripping over local customs, lacking polish)
Merciful Healer (bandaging oozing sores, telling dying patients that they’ll be all right)
Misunderstood Monster (being cursed by the gods, wreaking havoc without meaning to, meeting a humiliating and ironic end)
Natural-Born Leader (leading naturally, keeping the troops happy and successful)
Exiled Aristocrat (having no home, being exiled for a crime you did/didn’t commit, being tough and mean)
Orphic bard (wearing dark clothes, moping about death, trying to think up rhymes for unrhymable words)
Oracle (muttering prophetic gibberish, )
Pill-pushing Herbalist (looking for medicinal ingredients, prescribing foul-tasting potions, covering up accidental poisonings)
Reluctant Hero (being thrust into extraordinary circumstances beyond your control, doubting your ability to fulfill your heroic obligations, desiring to live an ordinary life)
Resourceful Archimedean Philosopher (putting together kooky gadgets with beeswax, string, and an Etruscan army knife)
Sacker of Cities (beseiging, looting, having fun storming the citadel)
Water Nymph (spending a lot of time at the beach without getting all pruney, avoiding lustful pursuers, choreographing fish into amazing underwater ballets)
Centaur (riding the range looking for cattle and women to steal, sticking arrows into things, looking for too much wine to drink)
Smelly Barbarian (acting and speaking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, storming the gates, sacrificing people to your loathsome gods)
Spooky Necromancer (wearing too much dark makeup, casting a pall over any party you attend, having casual conversations with the dead)
Stoic Philosopher (being indifferent to pain, being reasonable and logical, not having fun)
Stout-Hearted Spearman (fighting in formation, aiming and thrusting, enduring countless Freudian comments about the size of their spears)
Gloryhound (sacking kingdoms just for the glory, worshipping yourself, being adored by the populace)
True Heir to the Throne (surviving the tragedy that killed your parents, living in obscurity until the omens start to come true, striving to regain your kingdom)


The Mighty Sons of RISUS! GuyHoyle