Shiny But Rusty – Playable Elders In RPGs
In an age where boy band knockoffs, youthful adults, and sometimes even children are the norm when it comes to playable characters, it’s hard to believe that there was a time where the more “seasoned” adventurers were frequently put on the frontlines. That’s right – I’m talking about those battle-hardened “geezers” whose know-how easily outweighs their aging statures. Of course, more elderly figures can still be found in some modern RPGs, but I’ve found that their presence isn’t quite up to the numbers they once had in ages past.
Recent slips in attendance aside, it’s time to celebrate the elderly side of playable RPG characters, and by elderly, I really mean individuals over the age of 40. Surprisingly, even the 40ish range is somewhat nonexistent in modern RPGs, but I digress. This list will only be considering actual human beings, meaning no centuries-old sorcerers, no Geralt of Rivia, no Lunarians named FuSoYa, and no half-vampires, like Alucard. Let’s get into it!
Tellah – Final Fantasy IV
Tellah is one of the earliest examples of a playable older character in an RPG, and unlike others on this list, his age actually feeds into his story arc in Final Fantasy IV. He was once a powerful sage, but years of wear has caused him to forget all but the most basic of spells. However, the death of a loved one leads Tellah on a whirlwind path of revenge, as he once again seeks the wizardry powers of his youth, even if said powers could lead to his own demise.
There are lots of oldies in the mainline Final Fantasy series. Honorable mentions include Josef (2- the game, not his age- Ed.), Cid (4), Strago (6), Cyan (6), Sazh (13), and more if you include things like The After Years, but I prefer not to speak of that game.
Zaeed Massani – Mass Effect 2
Zaeed Massani, unfortunately, is a playable character with limited screen time, due to being tied to downloadable content. If you were to read his synopsis, you would probably dismiss him as just another seasoned mercenary, when in actuality, he’s a very interesting character. You can tell just by his old, battle-hardened gear that he is an experienced soldier-for-hire. This is further iterated by Jesse, a non-functional, worn-out rifle that does little but remind the old mercenary of the past. The strength of Mass Effect 2’s narrative certainly helps his case, but you can’t help but want to know more about the guy that was shot in the face and lived to tell the tale.
Sahad – Ys VIII
Sahad is the friend that everyone secretly wants to have, though they may not always admit it because of his silliness. His life trade as a fisherman, as well the occasional “dad” and fart joke, helps ground the rather mind-bending narrative of the game. Also, who doesn’t like when anchors are used as weapons? Sahad should totally collaborate with Ward from Final Fantasy VIII, if that ever becomes a possibility.
Rab – Dragon Quest XI
Rab’s combat repertoire is arguably one of the most impressive of the playable cast, seeing as he can throw down in hand-to-hand combat OR conjure up powerful spells with the best of them. While there are mysteries abound when you first encounter him, it isn’t long before you discover one of his few weaknesses. No, not his old age, but rather his adoration for adult-oriented magazines. What a dirty old man!
Cidolfus Orlandeau – Final Fantasy Tactics
Save for a Meteo-casting Tellah, Thunder God Cid is easily the most powerful character on this list. His prowess as a Sword Saint – no question – breaks the game once he becomes a permanent fixture in Ramza’s roster. With the fabled Excalibur in-hand, this guy can clear entire battlefields on his own without breaking a sweat. It’s really stupid how broken he is, and it seems that Square Enix is oblivious to the fact considering that Balthier, introduced in the War of the Lions version, is arguably even more powerful than this seasoned knight.
That’s it for the list! What are some other older characters in RPGs that you like? Let us know in the comments below!