#RPGaDAY 2018 ~ Day 30

Share something you learned about playing your character.

I’ll be honest, I’m not going to share something. I’m going to share some things. But you’re probably used to that.

I say it often ~ the “real” character tends to show up over time. It doesn’t matter if it is a PC or a GM run NPC. The more that I play a character, the more their real personality starts to emerge. Sure, I can start out with a basic concept, & the game may actually contain formal procedures for defining flaws, drives, motivation, bonds, vows, and a host of other elements that help make them more than just a set of numbers on a sheet with a cool name. However, I have learned that the actual character will take time to emerge. Sometimes they can surprise me as they turn out different than my original concept. While I have grown to really like many of the systems that contain the prompts for representing the pieces of the character’s personality, I’ve found that they don’t give birth to the character that shows up. At best they act as an attentive midwife.

I also learned something very important related to what I just talked about. ~ If I don’t play the character that starts to emerge, I don’t feel comfortable & I don’t enjoy the game as much. Now I’m not talking about “My Guy Syndrome” or being oppositional & petulant. Rather, if I fight my instincts about who the character is, what they want, & what they would do because I don’t want to upset the other players, I start to really feel disconnected and start to wonder when we will call it a night. ~ For me, it pays to accept who the character is & let them come out.

Very often what I learn playing a character is actually something about myself.

Tomorrow, on the last day of RPGaDAY, after our successful first excercise in polemics regarding rulesBEHOLD! The Tribunal will once again hold a round table consisting of myself, Sam, Jason, & Scott. The subject to be argued about and pontificated upon will be Immersion. Scott’s thesis is along the lines that there is no such thing as immersion in character because you always play yourself.

While I disagree, Scott’s assertion does have a nugget of truth in it. Ignoring the times that I have simply played an avatar of myself with or without “cool powers”, I can still identify some aspect or another of myself in most characters that I play. ~ This shouldn’t be shocking, as humans do have a substantial amount of overlap in what makes them tick. Just because my character is a fictional person doesn’t mean that they won’t share things in common with me or you.

RPGs are unique as we can experience and experiment with parts of life from a safe distance. Stepping into the shoes of another person I can experience events and perspectives that I would otherwise never have the opportunity to encounter. Very often this is because the character we have chosen to inhabit is very different from us. ~ However, there are times when it’s not so much that the character is markedly different from me in some area or another, but their relationship with consequences might be.

In real life I have  a tendency to be rather risk-averse. This is something that I continue to work on. Many, but not all of my recent characters have been more willing to take chances and to stand up for their values & beliefs. While some of you could have fun playing armchair psychiatrist with me over this, what I find more interesting is how the system itself affects how similarly constructed characters behave depending upon the consequences built into the system.

As I mentioned in the recent past, I have learned that while a character concept may be similar or identical, the way in which a given system represents or models consequences can profoundly affect not only how I play them, but upon how the character “feels” as a whole. The ability of the character to act and make meaningful or difficult decisions despite the potential consequences is just another factor in this equation. This is something that I continue to explore & examine. What it tells me about my own relationship to risk, & how I view consequences, the things that I most value, & the priorities I have in life ~ all that is worth the cost of dice & a few hours of my time.



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