I’m going to ignore the first thing that I thought about when I saw this prompt because the immediate connections that spring to mind were amongst the players. I’ve noticed a few themes emerging in my responses this RPGaDAY, and connections to my fellow players has been one of them. So, I decided to go in a different direction with this. A direction no less important, and certainly one that is very relevant to my recent experiences.
In my own gaming I’ve noticed that certain connections, or lack thereof, can have a dramatic impact upon how a game feels and upon how it gets played. I’ll tackle the easy one first. Because it is one that I have had very recent experience with.
As participants in the game it helps a great deal if we have a connection to the setting. The more of a frame of reference we have, the more we understand it, the more that we can feel comfortable to act. While novel and fantastical worlds can be incredibly fun they require a certain amount of effort to learn them enough to become connected to them. They lack the touchstones that we have with our own real world. This being the case, I have become very fond of “this world with a twist.” Sometimes a really big twist. It certainly isn’t the only way to foster a connection between the players in the fictional reality, but it can make this connection far more effortless. Switching games to Leagues of Adventure set in the 1890s resulted in all of the group be able to visualize situations much easier and also made the players feel much more comfortable to act & interact with parts of the environment. They know what should be there.
However, there is another kind of connection which is perhaps even more important. Or at least it speaks to me. In I know how to free them Paul Czege As you answer some compelling questions about a character. One of the questions asks you to describe how you and the character are similar. If connection to the setting is important, connection to the character is even more so.
I’m not talking about the idea of playing an avatar. Or that every character you play is really yourself. That said, it has been my experience that there is a little bit of me in every character that I play. Many of them are radically different than I am in many respects. But I have always found some connection somewhere. In the past I have joked that if you took all of my characters and put them together you might find an accurate representation of me on some level. When I have played a character that I have not felt a connection to the experience has been much less than satisfying. Usually what ends up happening is I end up creating some sort of connection and in so doing I am able to identify with them.
I have discovered that I like to have an experience as if I were the character. I like to put myself in their shoes and try to feel what it would really be like to be them. Very often this just kind of happens organically. And if I take a good look at it there has been some kind of connection created between the character and myself. After these connections can be surprising, and sometimes I can find something out about myself by watching what the character does, by feeling their responses to the situations, and by noticing my own responses to these things.
Once I have a connection to the character, then a connection to the events of the fiction is very easy. In this way I can experience and remember what happens at the table as if it were a real event in my own life. And that is a pretty cool thing. There aren’t very many activities that can claim to have that effect.