Friday, August 10, 2012

Creating Your Character!

Welcome back, Apprentices! And for those of you reading for the first time, Hello! And welcome, for the first time! Take a minute to quickly peruse the first post entitled Anyone Can Cook for an idea of what we're doing.

Today, we are going to discuss creating your character! Remember, you are only limited by your own imagination, so USE IT! You can be anything! You can be a pirate working aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge where your very life depends on preparing delectable dishes for the legendary pirate, Blackbeard. Or maybe you're a scruffy old cook on a wagon train in the old West or you work in the castle keep at Winterfell, cooking for your beloved masters, the Starks (before poor Ned was beheaded *sad face*). Or maybe you've just been hired by Malcolm Reynolds aboard the old Firefly class ship, learn all his favorite dishes and prepare them with care because you know the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. There are nights in the deep vacuum of space where your dear Cap'n can't sleep from memories of his battle at Serenity Valley. So you fix his favorite dessert, put on your best gauzy dress (it's maybe a little see-through) and dab your lips with strawberry juice to give them a little color and hint of tiptoe through the ship to his quarters and -

Wait...where were we...? Oh, yeah! Creating your character!! Use your imagination and figure out who or what you want to be (you don't even have to be human!). Got that locked in? Okay, cool. Now....creating your character tome! What is a character tome, you ask? Well, a character tome is a sheet of paper that explains who or what your character is and charts the progress of their powers or abilities. Usually, in gaming, you would choose an alignment that helps determine the personality of your character. Are you good, evil, neutral, etc? But for the purposes of this blog, you are just a cook. Your goal is the pursuit of creating deliciousness for those you love. You are using your fledgling powers in the kitchen for good and not evil! I will be actively steering you away from poisoning yourself or others.

Materials for creating your character tome: Graph paper, pencil, refrigerator magnet.

I'm having you use graph paper because it will be much easier to chart your progress with those nifty little boxes all laid out for you. It is also something you can hold in your hand, take in the kitchen and keep on display. Which is where your magnet comes in. I want you to put your Apprentice character tome on display in your kitchen as a reminder of your goals. The ideal place will be right, smack on the front of your refrigerator. I want you to see it every time you reach in your refrigerator. You will see how far you have come, what you are capable of and what you WILL be capable of with more practice. Because the more you cook, the better you get! It is also a strategic position to encourage you to COOK! So, if you're thinking about reaching for that frozen pizza or slapping together a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich, take a moment and consider...does reheating a frozen brick of preserved food or smearing semi-solid substances on bread make me a better cook? The answer: not so much.

So, now that you've determined your character, bust out your graph paper. Still feeling a little lost? Maybe you need a visual representation of your character to get you started. I recommend taking the time to draw your character. Only you know what your character looks like. Are you human? Alien? Orc? Troll? Do you live in contemporary society or are you medieval? Like I said, the possibilities are ENDLESS. For those of you that don't want to take the time to draw your character, I've taken the liberty of researching a few online character generators that will let you build a character and download that character to your computer to print out. Many of the online character gens are very specialized and may not represent what you have in your head to your satisfaction (which is why I recommend drawing it out...there is no judgement here, only praise and encouragement).

Fantasy Avatar Creator by Age of Games: Age of Games Avatar Creator

+10 for awesome variety of races and features.
+10 Easy Download
-5 it doesn't generate the entire body, just an avatar portrait...which, for me, is kind of a bummer.

Easy to use: Just let the game load, click the arrow to enter, choose a country (represented by a flag), choose a gender (click "basic avatar" to build an avatar using a massive selection of features) and build!

I created this nifty card with a name, class, text description and saved it to my computer. Again, the only downside is that you can't generate a full body view and you're limited to armor and weapons. I am anxiously awaiting the day fantasy games have a cook in an apron armed with cast iron skillets. Those can do some serious damage!

Here's one from the creators of South Park at South Park Studios.

+10 awesome variety of features, clothes & backgrounds. Endless customization.
+10 Easy download

This one is really fun and totally easy to use. You just click the different parts of the generic avatar and then customize to your heart's content! The site also allows for easy download of your creation. I made this Gator-Pirate Girl...the tail could prove problematic as I don't want to get it stuck in the oven...that would suck.

The last one I found that I really liked was from AMC and Mad MenMad Men Yourself!

+10 Customization
+10 Easy Download
+6 Swingin' 60's Backdrops!

This one is fun if you like that ultra cool 60's look. Again, it's easy to use, customize and download. You can also download several different versions of your character - portrait, body, widescreen and standard.

I'm sure there are several other character generators out there so don't feel limited by what I've shown you here. And if you stumble on one that you really like and think everyone else needs to know about, feel free to fire me off an email with a link and I'll update the blog!

Alright...we're almost there. Now, you need to know what your character tome should actually LOOK like!  Your character tome is going to track your progress using a points system. With each quest (or recipe) you complete, I'll assign a certain point value to the tasks you performed. For example, if the quest is Chicken Fried Rice, you might get +10 for boiling, +10 for dicing, +5 for Sauteing, etc. Each time you get 10 points, you'll color in a block next the corresponding task. So each block is worth 10 points. But not every task, in every recipe will be worth 10 points...especially when you really begin to level up and get into the more difficult recipes. So you might have to fill in only half a block. And when you're giving yourself points, be honest with yourself. If the task you performed is given 10 points but you feel like you could have done better and really earned only 5 points, then give yourself five points. The only competition in this game is with yourself. This is about YOU doing better in the kitchen. So challenge yourself and hold yourself to a high standard!

I put together a little example of what your character tome could look like. Again, your tome doesn't have to look exactly like mine. The only thing you'll need are the corresponding categories. But like with your character, get creative with your tome, too! I recommend graph paper because it is nice and neat and you can have everything all laid out on a grid. But if you're a medieval cook and you want your tome to be on a scroll and you are willing to take the time to make that happen, go for it! And send me pictures!

The required categories are as follows:


  • Safety
  • Tools
  • Ingredients
  • Washing
  • Chopping
  • Dicing
  • Slicing
  • Whisking
  • Mixing
  • Folding
  • Blending
  • Boiling
  • Sauteing
  • Frying
  • Baking
Clean-up & Storage:
  • Washing
  • Sanitizing
  • Proper Storage
Kitchen Savvy:

All of the categories are pretty self-explanatory. The last one, "Kitchen Savvy," involves extra points earned by following me on Twitter. @8BitCook I regularly tweet useful tips and tricks for the kitchen...anything from gadgets and gizmos to the weird and awesome recipes around the net. 

So, get to work on those character tomes, Apprentices! Soon, I will be giving out your very first quest! In the mean time, send me pictures of your tomes! I would love to see them and put them up on my blog for other Apprentices to see and be inspired! And if you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me:

I'm looking forward to our adventure together!

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