The Okona
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Basic Information

The Okona is sort of a "wannabe", "vaporware" or "training wheels" version of the The Ace or the Loveable Rogue. Either we're told of his prowess but never see it in action, or we do see it action but find it hard to believe just how much the other characters are wowed by it. Often, the plot demands that this supposedly-masterful character gets shown up by some random Noob, Mook or Henchman that kicks his butt.

The name comes from an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation featuring a character who obviously supposed to be The Ace and who presumably was intended to be a recurring character; but although we are told how great he was, the audience saw little to demonstrate his coolness. He never appeared again, and apart from fans old enough to watch the early seasons of ST:TNG, nobody remembers him.

See also:
Informed Ability
Jerk With A Heart Of Gold
Magnificent Bastard
Marty Stu
Non Action Guy
The Worf Affect


1. The TV Tropes Wiki goes into detail, subdividing this trope into the True Okona, The Riker, and The Harm on that page. (Or rather, it used to. TheOkona no longer has its own page.)

Game and Story Use

  • In many game systems, it's possible to build a PC who is The Okona without meaning to.
    • Some systems will establish that a certain skill rating is "professional", so you buy up to that level, and say "My character is a black belt martial artist and a nuclear physicist". However, if you haven't analyzed the dice mechanics closely, it may turn out that the so-called professional level only gives a 30% chance of success at most mundane tasks. So, in the first couple of sessions, you establish your background, and later when the skills are called on, you fail to deliver.
    • Let's face it, the media icons we want our characters to be (Batman, Luke Skywalker, and Indiana Jones) are not built as starting characters (and don't even get me started on Superman). In many systems you either have to over-focus or just not live up to the hype. Related Blog Post concerning this flaw in Cyberpunk
  • It's also possible to render someone else The Okona by showing them up in their specialty.
    • Say, their character concept is World's Strongest Man, whereas your PC is just an "average" superhero. A bus full of school-children is about to go off a cliff. The super-strong guy tries to stop it, and gets a bad roll, so he fails. You're next in initiative right behind him, so you try, and get a critical success! If this were a movie, we'd see both characters pushing hard to slow the speeding bus down. But in an RPG there's a disconnect between that image and what we know happened - super strong guy failed, and his scrawny buddy succeeded. But what you gonna do? It's not like you'd decide to let those little NPC children die because you don't want to steal the spotlight.
    • Another common situation is rolls of "Awareness", "Sense Trouble", "Search" and similar skills. The more people rolling, the better the chance the clue won't be missed, or you'll be able to avoid the ambush, or whatever. However, the law of averages tends to completely trump having one person specialize on it. So, being "super aware guy" may seem like a character niche, but it's not.
    • Some mechanics systems may dodge or solve that problem. It's one area where a diceless system can really excel.
    • Personally, the first thing I look at in any RPG when deciding what house-rules I'll use is the assistance mechanic. I like mechanics that reward players for helping each other, instead of just saying "Me Too! I wanna do what he's doing!" Related Blog Post and Another blog post on the theme.
  • All those complaints aside, it is possible to intentionally build a character who is The Okona, and have it benefit your campaign.
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