Early this morning I revisited some ideas I had about using “life stages” as bases for character development and themes. It led to some interesting thoughts and at least one new theme, “Stunted Growth,” which may turn into two, depending on how cynical I’m feeling. I’ve been working out average rates of maturation in populations.
First, I started to wonder what sort of effect having a character mature “prematurely,” and how it would affect their powers and abilities. The most straightforward one seems to me to be one in which the character can take advantage of their “advanced” mental state as compared to their immature physical appearance.
My research got sidetracked while I was reading about “Age of Majority,” and I tried to figure out how a character’s place in society might be impacted by their physical and mental stages. Perhaps different themes could be used to represent different states if players wanted to play “actually immature” characters. Weird subject.
It paid off in a weird way. I started thinking about characters in terms of social responsibility and the differences between “minors,” “adults,” and “seniors,” which led to an idea about defining adolescence not just as a life stage, but as an awkward transitional phase that has to be played out or a character suffers in the long term.
In most cases, I figured that “stunting” a character’s development at any stage ultimately cost them in terms of growth potential, the longer they spend in a particular stage, the better off they are in the long run, though there are the normal costs incurred in “holding a character back.” There’s a lack of autonomy for one.
Also, I figured on a secondary transitional phase after adulthood, which could be used to account for certain other oddities in aging, inspired by cookiemonger’s recent discovery and/or exploration of the “midlife crisis” challenge stage in The Sims 3. This phase can take place as early as twenty-nine in “sufficiently stunted” individuals.
I figure the secondary phase, which can last anywhere between one and seven years, can be used to account for “strange moods” in individuals leading to anything from bouts of temporary insanity, declarations of war, or quests for immortality. Of course there’s no reason to think these sorts of things can’t start earlier.