Continuing my irregular discourses on the mechanics of role-playing, I’m taking a brave step. We’ve established that GMs can put a huge amount of work into their games, for you, their players, to enjoy. My question is, what can you as a player do, to recognise this. It’s brave,as this is one of those things that’s easier to say than do, and no one’s perfect.
Pretty much all RPGs talk about the in-depth side of character generation. We’ve established your guy is a 4’10” dwarf fighter, with a big bushy red beard, chainmail armour, and a great big axe. But without getting too artistic on you all, what’s his motivation? What does he like/dislike? This is stuff you should be thinking about. A clue as to how well that went is the all important first character description. If it’s a 4’10” dwarf etc, sorry, that’s not good enough. Is he scowling? What’s his personal hygiene? Any scars? What would an observant person see?
One of the things I used to do as an introduction to role-playing for the uninitiated was to say, what’s your favourite book or film? Imagine Robin Hood was the answer. So I’d say, right, imagine you’re Robin Hood, you’re sitting in the forest of an evening, enjoying a warm fire and the banter with your merry men. What have you had for dinner? If someone replies roast venison from the deer I shot yesterday, then you know you’re on a winner.
It’s one of the things players don’t always get. Us GMs generally don’t mind if they invent subplots, improvise dialogue or just make stuff up. Ok, they may need to do a little research, as they are perhaps unfamiliar with diets in feudal Japan, for instance. One of the things that as a GM gives you a warm feeling, is when game play is interrupted for some reason, maybe you need to split the group, and the people you’re not dealing with stay in character, maybe just gossiping. By all means improvise stuff. Don’t ruin your GMs plot, but to be honest, if he’s not happy, improvisation can get your character in trouble.
So think about your character. Have an idea of what makes them tick, things they like and things they don’t. Have an idea about the world they are created in, what people do, and what people don’t. Remember your GM is basically god, but he’s almost certain to appreciate your effort. And you know what they say, the more you put in, the more you get out…
Incidentally, this is not a rant, and it’s not aimed at anyone in particular. Honest.