This article was born, from a conversation with a friend. I’d recently read some hints on how to role-play which were blindingly obvious. So here is an idea for role-players.
You may well know all this anyway, this is aimed more at people who been doing it for a while, but perhaps not decades. And if your GM keeps killing you, this is the article for you (unless he’s just a bastard).
We know how to design characters. We’re familiar with the ideas, the different systems. And the temptation is to make your character as tough as you can, so they survive. But try making them vulnerable. Think of all the cop show heroes, characters in TV series. There’s an awful lot of vulnerable heroes.
As an example, if you read some of these, you’ll know we play Pathfinder. I play a sorceror who’s fixated on flight. I haven’t got the spell yet, but I can levitate. So in a combat, I float to the (hopefully high) ceiling, and pour magical fire down on the enemy. Too easy. Except of course this approach is hugely vulnerable. So if I’m doing too well, my GM just sticks a couple bowmen at the back, and it’s pincushion time.
It is fun to role-play vulnerabilities too. My guy isn’t looking out for missile weapons before he floats off, so it can come as a horrendous shock. I’ve always enjoyed playing characters who are great at their chosen field, but have dirty great weaknesses. Another example, Boot Hill, a cowboy system. I played an older dude, deadly accurate with pistol or rifle. But man was he slow. I’d never get in a duel. If I got insulted, I used to let it ride, and if really angry, I’d climb a tree at the edge of town and hide. Then when the time was right (no witnesses), I’d pop the bad guy in the head with my rifle.
So, to return to my earlier point, about your GM killing you. Sometimes that’s because you’ve designed a practically immortal dude. So the GM goes, boring, have a really big dragon. If it’s easy, and possibly fun, to beat you, without killing you, most GMs don’t. Unless they’re bastards…