Rookie Protagonist or Experienced Protagonist?

When playing interactive fiction which of the following protagonist types do you prefer?

  • Rookie - I like to learn about things as my character learns them.
  • Experienced - I like having my character knowledgable I’ll learn through their actions.
  • Doesn’t matter.

0 voters


to me it really depends on the genere. A Rookie in a fantasy is good to enter the lore, while in a mistery/horror or a noir i’d like the Experienced better


If they’re a kid or the world is going through a drastic shift then rookie away.

A grown character would have to have experience in something even if it isn’t directly relevant.

As for the learning experience of the character I don’t quite trust singular designated teachers when it comes to lore.

Some of my favorite stories have a whole rookie club.

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I don’t mind if I have to play as a rookie so long as the game doesn’t force me to be the fumbling, no-clue-what-they’re-doing kind of rookie. I can see the appeal of playing as a protagonist that starts off as green as they get and starts climbing through the ranks. My beef is only when I’m forced to play a clutz. :stuck_out_tongue: Either way, I don’t really have a preference.


I generally prefer these characters. If we start at the bottom, we can go far further. :grin: But yes, simply being a novice should not make you incompetent (obviously inexperienced, though).


The protagonist in Unnatural starts off as a Rookie but progressively gets more experienced and more bad ass.

In another project Moonlight Noir the protagonist is a lot more experienced although there are flash backs to fill in a few blanks.

Writing both is interesting as an author you really have to approach both characters differently.


This is the case for all protagonists though. As an example, in a WiP of mine the 15 year old protagonist is learning SCUBA diving and (s)he is a “rookie” in multiple senses of the word. Yet, another protagonist in the same situation, a Navy SEAL trainee is much less a “rookie” as “inexperienced” in SCUBA.

So, I sort of view this as a spectrum and not a absolute.

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It depends on the story, I guess. Sometimes I like the more experienced character, but I often play as a rookie too. To medieval rpg, for example, I prefer the rookie character. :slight_smile:

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This is a really interesting if/or. I don’t think it’s quite as duality as it seems. Like, an experienced character can still explain things as they go, letting the player learn about them. Or a rookie character can be inexperienced with a lot of things like being an action hero, but be incredibly experienced in something else- like piano playing, or whatnot. I guess for me it doesn’t matter, but the story takes on a tone based on this decision. Example- the Dresden File books- the MC Harry Dresden is an experienced character, but explains things to the reader as if the reader is a rookie. Which works really well for the stories. On the other hand, a character starting as a rookie feels like more of a … character development, usually. Like the player is shaping the character more, even if it’s the story doing that more than the reader. So- good question, but I think it depends on what type of story is being told, and what the author prefers in writing.

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Depending on the story-type, I like both. My main beef comes in when people try to tell stories that don’t match the character type. “Zero to hero” is a fun arc, but it should involve a lot of suffering, numerous setbacks, and generally learning things through the school of hard knocks. “Teenage mecha pilots” bug the crap out of me, unless they’re literally conscripts who are nothing special,

My favorite type of stories aren’t power fantasies, but rather plausible (for the setting), gritty and full of verisimilitude.

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I’d say I generally prefer to learn along with my character. This is especially true in unfamiliar settings, where I get to discover the world as part of the same experience as my character. It feels more immersive that way, and it provides a nice opportunity for really feeling like you’re learning as well. (Or, I don’t know, but it’s the way I want to write :slight_smile: )


I know. I meant with a Rookie character you can introduce things as they learn where as an experienced they mostly know stuff so you need to find different ways to introduce stuff. I.e. Give them a protégé and have them teach them and a player.


I see.

Under that definition, I tend to write “Experienced protagonists” with flashbacks as my common writing devise used when needed.

Sorry for not understanding the initial posting.

Edit - but I find myself contradicting myself here too because even with “experienced” protagonists who know things, I still introduce new things to them as they learn.

I still find it a spectrum with the protagonist going back-and-forth … maybe that is a writing issue of mine, or I’m still not grasping the dichotomy.

I like the experienced character more because I can define and create the character I want.

With a rookie, they can sometimes seem like idiots who should have chosen a different career. Rookies also have a tendency to be ignored or railroaded because they don’t have enough influence to make their own decisions, or a rookie game is more about completing a task instead of creating a character.

Look at Choice of Romance. You are young and inexperienced and the only way to “win” (or at least get a sequel) is to pursue some unfaitful monarch, who your character may not even like or trust.

Guenivive does a similar thing where you are forced to marry an idiot king, and are powerless to stop it. The idiot King likes to rub this in your face by stating that he could have stopped the wedding while we were powerless to do so. The guards even say they can’t refuse an order from the king, but they can readily refuse your order to stop following you. And , worst of all, the idiot king pretends he wants to work on the relataionship, but he never listens to you when you say you want to be involved in politics and he makes the decision to bring sheep in the castle and is too selfish to remove them at his wife’s request as a good will gesture to aid their failing marriage.

Awoken has both, but I enjoy the experienced MC more. The experienced MC has the power to order peoples’ deaths, if they want, and it shows the MC’s character by how they respond to situations. Rookie MC is forced to follow a stranger, even if MC doesn’t trust the stranger, because the stranger is the only one who can help them.

Although, I do like a young rookie MC like in Alter Ego, Carthallow, and Dragoneer, or a spunky new adventurer not bound by anyone’s rules who goes on a quest and picks up new group members on the way.I would probably still play a game a rookie MC.

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I went with Rookie Protagonist with Unnatural as I want players to watch them grow into that bad ass experienced character. Moonlight Noir is stand alone and I wanted to write an experienced character.

That is very cool. Thank you for sharing. I’m not one who should be talking here any more. So good luck.

Rookie in my opinion.

I feel the MC development is an important role in all fiction. I like to see my character learn because he is an simulation of myself. I enjoy seeing him Excell and learn based off my own values, which is limited with already experienced MCs.

It really depends on how the story is written ( some stories need one or the other ) and the skill of the writer. when starting a story there is so much information the author must convey to the reader to give context for the main character’s situation and actions. Being a rookie makes this easy as the character learns whats going on so does the reader. With an experienced MC, the author has the problem of the MC knowing more than the reader so giving the reader all the background context is harder. Just my 0.02

I prefer rookie protagonist since, well, who doesn’t like a underdog?

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Doesn’t matter. I’m cool with both rookie protagonist and experienced protagonist as long it’s written in a good way.