When it comes to playing RPGs, there are lots of play styles. An online questionnaire went around awhile back and with a few clicks and taps, you could easily learn what sort of player you are. I didn’t need the quiz to tell me, though it did confirm, that I am an immersive player.
When I make a character I take it to the next level, channelling them during game play, and outside it. IMHO, this results in a more dynamic character. She isn’t a sheet of paper. She comes to life, existing as more than a set of numbers that can hit something during combat. Plus I can draw inspiration from her to use in the real world. For better or worse, she is like a friend.
If you haven’t tried this before, here a few ways to get started:
- Different way of speaking. I don’t mean cheesy accents here (though if it doesn’t drive you and your fellow gamers crazy, have at it); I mean speaking in a way you don’t usually speak. That could mean a different tone or volume, it could mean removing any and all profanities from your vocabulary and using a lot of “oh flubbernuggets” or other such words when things go sideways, it could mean adopting a catch phrase or a chipper tone. Again, be careful not to annoy your fellow gamers to no end – you don’t have much of a character or a campaign if no one wants to play with you. Small changes can go a long way toward separating you from your character.
- Game session recaps. I write these as journal entries penned by my PC, from her perspective. This allows me to think about what’s going on in the game from a less meta-perspective, often leading to fun role-playing situations with various NPCs as I think about what they’ve said or done that isn’t necessarily related to the key plot points, but would be noticed and remembered by characters when they happen. They are also a great way to recap the game session, a wonderful resource to refer to when you are trying to remember something from ages ago, and a great check-in for the GM who can course correct if hints aren’t being picked up or the game is going in a completely different direction (especially important with solo campaigns, which we play a lot of).
Special note: Something along the lines of this is the very awesome Memoirs of a Lich by Stephen Rowe. If you haven’t checked this out before, you should. Penned by Osvaud the lich, this journal allows the reader a peek into the mind of this amazing antagonist, all while giving GMs some wonderful ideas for future game sessions. It’s humorous, entertaining, and inspirational.
- Website for your game. This requires a bit more work, but is also a great place to put that journal. Sites like wordpress let you host a website for free (or you can pay more and have a URL free of “.wordpress”), and with a little time you can easily customize the site into something that works well for your current campaign and its needs. We’ve had sites that list the PCs, a few notable NPCs, and the current jobs the group had on the go. We’ve also had sites that detailed a mass of NPCs, numerous notable locations, and the history of a country, plus held hundreds of journal entries (written as blog posts). Doing some, all, or more than this helps make the world a little more tangible in that you’ve got something all players and the GM can refer to. For me, it was also a way to help the GM with game prep and immerse myself in a campaign I loved, even during non-game time. It all comes down to the players, the campaign needs, and the amount of time people want to dedicate to the project.
- TV shows and books. If you find a character a lot like the one you are trying to play, hang on to that. Watch a TV show with a character that has shocking similarities (or even subtle ones) to your new PC. Read a book and draw on the protagonist as inspiration. These give you a chance to touch base with the potential of your character, even during non-game time. You can use what you see or read and emulate that, making it easier to get into the head of your character, who often is not like the real you at all.
- Try a new hobby. Have a druid that loves wood carving? Head to beach and trying whittling. Created a character that excels at hand to hand combat? Check out a class like kick boxing. Have a super scholarly type character? Explore your local library and pick up a book about something you’d love to know more about. Get out of your shell and try on an aspect of your character’s life. Remember, I’m not talking about whole-hog LARPing here. (Though if donning a cape, grabbing your coin purse and wandering the town is what excites you, go for it!) I’m talking about trying something new and getting in touch with not just your character, but also a new side of yourself. Maybe you’ll discover a love you never knew you had!
What helps inspire you when it comes to playing a character? Where did you draw inspiration?