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If Persona 6 Was Based On Me (Charming and Open)

I am a relatively recent appreciator of Persona, having only started playing the series with Persona 5 Royal. But once I experienced one, I started to slowly make my way backwards. The past couple of years have been full of Persona as a result: Royal, Strikers, Golden, Portable, and Reload have all expanded my Persona knowledge and experiences, and I would now say that the series is one that I enjoy quite a bit. I have my qualms with it same as any other series, though, and one qualm I’ve seen shared by a lot of folks online is that a Persona focused on an older cast would be a nice change of pace. “Put them in college,” they say, and while I personally think everyone wishing for this is gonna get a monkey’s paw situation where Persona 6 is just Persona 5 but in College, today I’m going to be discussing the topic from a very different angle. What if the cast of Persona 6 went to MY college?

This question was presented to me by Clockworth Clone on Twitter, not just a friend of Adventure Rules the blog but also a real life friend who I met in college. As part of my ongoing Charming and Open event, a prompt exchange where bloggers and other creatives can share ideas to write about, Clockworth asked me what Persona 6 would be like if it were based on our mutual alma mater. In return, I asked him to combine two of his interests and pitch a wrestling event inspired by Dragon Quest. He wrote up a Twitter thread in response to that question so you’ll definitely want to check that out! Clockworth is someone I’ve enjoyed maintaining friendship with post-college thanks to our shared passion for games as well as his wit, enthusiasm, and penchant for passionate discussion. If you’re interested in Pokémon, Persona, Dragon Quest, or wrestling, you’ll find something to love by tossing him a follow. You can find him on TikTok too, if that’s your site of preference. For now, though, let’s see what Persona 6 would be like if it was inspired by my college experience!

Context: What Was My College Experience Like?

In order to help establish the logic behind some of my creative decisions, I think it’s important to understand the college I went to and some of the circumstances I went through there. A lot of this will directly influence ideas I have about the game itself. I attended a private Christian college through a scholarship program with the intent of becoming a minister. I had a theater minor just for something fun to do alongside all the Bible-reading, and because I wanted to use theater as a tool for ministry. About halfway through my college experience I decided to leave the path to ministry; I was feeling jaded about some of my experiences and in retrospect, was taking the first steps of what would eventually become a journey away from organized religion entirely. So I finished out my last two years bumping my minor up to a major and also picking up a major in English to further refine my writing abilities. College is often a time of self-discovery so I’m not special in that regard, but for me that sense of deciding who I was and what I wanted to do with my life was also intimately tied up in my spiritual journey.

Going to a Christian college meant that there were some weird limitations or cultural things I had to deal with that aren’t necessarily a part of everyone’s college experience. I also had some things that were relatively unique to my personal situation of attending on a scholarship. Part of the maintenance requirements for that scholarship involved doing special community service programs each semester for the school. Every student had a required number of “chapel hours” in order to be able to graduate. Women and men could only visit each other on specific nights of the week, during a specified window of time, in a room with an open door where a resident advisor could pop in on you at any moment. There were strict rules about drinking, too. Now none of these measures stopped people from drinking, or having sex, or any of the things that good little Christian boys and girls are not supposed to do; they mostly just served as an inconvenience for everybody, whether you wanted to break the rules or not.

Finally, my social environment. As a theater student I had rehearsals for plays to contend with, but I was also the student director of the theater club during my first few years at the university. This meant that the majority of my evenings were taken up with one kind of rehearsal or another. But on days where we weren’t rehearsing, I’d hang out with my friends playing video games, Magic the Gathering, and most importantly for the context of this post: tabletop roleplaying games. We’d meet every Sunday at the home of one of our friends who lived locally to play RPGs together, creating our own worlds of Adventure to tell stories about epic heroes and dastardly villains. So now that you know a bit about the context in which I went to college, how would all of these elements work together to create a Persona game?

Turns out it’s not much of a stretch, really.

Story Premise

During their sophomore year, a young college student of a gender chosen by the player (yes I am putting a FeMC option in my imaginary Persona 6 game and you can’t stop me, ATLUS!) arrives at their university with trepidation. Their friends from their freshman year have all transferred, forcing them to functionally start over again in terms of building relationships at the school (this, too, is based on my actual experience). They’ve got a new roommate this year too, and it turns out this person also doesn’t have a lot of friends at the school. The two of them decide to be friends and take on the year together, and this introduces us to the magician confidant for the game. It doesn’t take long for these two to meet up with a pair of friends who invite them to their tabletop roleplaying game, and this is where the supernatural element of the game starts to kick in.

See, whenever the friends play their RPG together, they inhabit a magical world where their heroes use the power of magical entities called Personas to battle (I imagine this RPG having some overlap with the real-life game City of Mist). At first the protagonist thinks the RPG is just a normal game. But soon the players start to notice that when they defeat villains from their Adventure module, something happens to a similar figure in real life. Unlike in Persona 5 though, the people who face consequences for the player’s supernatural adventures aren’t clear cut villains; what becomes clear over time is that these are teachers or students who are simply questioning the school administration. While the first student to go down is someone genuinely harmful, by the fourth or fifth boss the victim is simply a teacher who was willing to teach his students alternate interpretations of the faith or a student questioning their beliefs.

You can’t have a Persona game without a giant god battle at the end. As it turns out, the Adventure module that the heroes are playing on their tabletop nights was created by the president of the university and imbued with power from their god in order to manipulate events in their favor rather than allowing people to ask questions or choose their own path in life. The final battle is a showdown with the university president, backed by the fictional god of the school; a battle to free everyone from the direct control of the god’s will. When the fighting is done, the college is freed from the undue influence of its corrupt leadership, and everyone can decide the path they want to follow for their own selves. It’s basically the plot of every Persona game, so it fits right in! But it also accurately reflects my own experience of college, a journey about breaking free of what I thought was the supernaturally-ordained direction for my life and instead finding my own path.

Mechanical Stuff

So we already know that in this theoretical Persona 6 the supernatural elements of the game would come from the tabletop roleplaying game that the players experience. The dungeons they explore and the bosses they fight would all come from the evil president’s Adventure module, making the GM more of a guide than the creator of the actual story – as such, the GM would be the navigator character in the party. The player character would still have the wild card ability as usual, with the different personas being provided to them by their academic advisor, Igor. Basically whenever you go to Igor’s office he would be there with his student aide, who helps him to combine and paint the different miniatures into new minis that serve as different personas during combat.

Since the game is based in the world of a tabletop RPG, I imagine that the combat would have more direct references or at least visual inspirations from tabletop games. For example instead of keeping damage rolls or accuracy rolls hidden in the background, you’d actually see the dice roll on the board. All of the characters in the tabletop world would visually resemble their players but have fantastical costumes on and use different names, with the players referring to each other as their in-character names during the roleplaying sessions. When activating their persona, the mini is seen being placed on the table behind the character and then comes to life when a skill is chosen. Damage counters are placed on the table every ten damage or so and during an all-out attack, you see the players scoop up a huge handful of them and then dump them on top of the enemies all at once.

Other system things I would do…I like the characteristics system from Persona 3 Reload so I would like to see that make a comeback. I also like having a few different types of physical damage rather than just one, but I also would want the larger selection of elements that is available in Persona 5 so that each cast member could be unique instead of some of the characters having overlap. I’d take out demon negotiation in favor of selecting reward cards (that’s more tabletop-like anyway) and have some system in place for potentially selecting multiple cards, probably more like P4G where you can combo cards in order to maximize your rewards. I also like how in Persona 3, the re-awakenings for the main cast are tied to story events rather than social link progress so I would want to keep that aspect. This way, social link rewards from playable characters are not inherently more valuable and thus pushing your social decisions a certain way.

Social Stuff

The big draw to Persona for a lot of people is the social link system. Managing your time to build social stats and build your friendships is a significant part of the appeal of Persona – luckily, it is also a big part of the appeal of college! My college would have a club fair at the beginning of each year that I went and worked at to recruit people to the theater club, and I even met some friends at those club fairs that I still hang out with to this day. I wouldn’t necessarily want to lock players into the theater club for the purposes of this game nor would I want them to only be able to be in a single club, like I was. But the player would have other obligations in addition to classes and clubs, namely their need to do community service to keep their scholarship and to attend chapel hours in order to be able to graduate. I would imagine these events would also give social stats so they feel less painful as obligations.

I don’t have a huge number of ideas about specific characters because I don’t want to base them all directly on real friends that I had in college. I talked already about the magician arcana being your roommate who becomes your first new friend, so there’s that at least. I also do have a specific idea regarding the mascot character! Instead of having them be a literal animal like Koromaru or some kind of supernatural being like Teddy or Morgana, the mascot character would be the person who wears the school mascot costume at the university’s sporting events. My actual college mascot would have too much overlap with Morgana so I would instead change it to be a rabbit; that feels like the next logical step of “cute animal buddy” in a world where dog, cat, and bear are already taken.

Other ideas for the social systems…you can only see students of the opposite sex for social links on specific weekday evenings. Most of your buddies will also be taking advantage of that time, so your friends of the same sex are usually only available to hang out on nights when the opposite dorm is closed. You can have meals at the cafeteria for free to raise your courage because uh, the cafeteria food is sketchy. But there’s also a special grille on campus that costs money but has better-tasting food. The grille doesn’t raise your social stats but it gives you social link points with whichever friends of yours are also being financially irresponsible that day. Also, 75% of my friends have realized ten years later that we’re queer or nonbinary or trans but since throwing that in as a post-credits scene would feel like queerbaiting, the game would include opportunities for the characters to have those realizations much earlier in life and navigate them as part of their college journey. The god of this setting might be an evil manipulator but even he knows that being homophobic is just shitty and lame.

Well that’s gonna be it for my Persona 6 pitch. Ultimately I think the next game should probably not take any inspiration from my life – but hey, ATLUS, if you want to do the TTRPG thing I wouldn’t say no! Let me know in the comments what you would want to see in the next Persona game, and don’t forget to go say howdy to Clockworth and check out his response to the Charming and Open event!

#Persona #Based #Charming #Open

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