RPG a Day 2018 – Day Thirty – Share something you learned about playing your character

Share something you learned about playing your character

It’s going to sound odd, but go two-dimensional.

I learnt this more from NPCs than player characters, just because that’s what I’m mostly playing. Still, I think this holds true for both.

What I mean by this is that we’re playing a role-playing game. This is drama. You can make an incredibly nuanced character, but you and maybe the GM will know all of the multitudes you contain. I had one player who made amazingly long backstories, filled with secrets, mysteries and plot hooks. He rarely interacted with other players’ characters as he was busy keeping to himself and interacting with NPCs. When his secrets came to light… nothing. Absolutely nothing. No one cared or knew what it meant.

If you keep your character’s secrets and personalities open and fairly simple, you’ll make a lasting impression. We’re after bold, distinctive characters who people will remember and will have fun interacting with.

You can have more aspects to your character, you can have some nuance, but we’re not playing with a massive tome of prose. We’re playing with a character you’ll see for a few hours every week or month for a little while. That’s a small space to get a lot of story done. Be bold and be fine with having that encompass some flaws.

Characters from each clan in L5R

Legend of the Five Rings was a game where I struck on this, mainly because there was a large cast of what is basically paladins. The samurai of L5R are all supposed to be honourable warriors who adhere to strict codes. I like to think that most people can’t keep all of bushido in their heads at all times, especially the younger samurai. They’re going to have blind spots, they’re going to mess up. My brother’s Bayushi Denbe was very shy, hiding a cunning mind. His friend Matt’s Hida character was boorish and fine with bullying people if he was keeping honourable. Alex’s Shiba Majushi was quick to anger and flustered at having to look after a bunch of students. With the NPCs, I kept things in broad strokes. Akodo Satai was a Lion Clan berserker prone to panic attacks and huge amounts of anxiety. Ide Kanekana referred to himself in the third person and was exceptionally vain. There were no half measures with the player characters or NPCs. They were all notable and all my darlings, even if they belonged to other players and even if they ended up dying horribly or getting forced into life as a ronin. PbtA games are good for helping you jump to conclusions about your characters by filling in the ‘look’ sections, which I find is often good narrative shorthand for statements about your character. If they wear a ‘rakish’ uniform instead of a pristine one, this tells us something from the start. You can use these to build a broad picture and construct the rest from there. Your Monsterhearts Chosen with radiant eyes is going to be different from one with unwavering or wounded eyes. Look at those traits, leap to conclusions, run with them and have some fun.

The Chosen’s Identity section

About fakedtales

I'm a writer, a podcaster, a reviewer of games. Here's where I share my own fiction and my encounters with other people's.
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