Friday, June 28, 2013

Play A Character That Will Win The GM Over

I like twitter. I really do. I don't use it as much as I probably should considering my hopes and dreams of being all sorts of awesome and e-famous. Mostly I end up reading, and I'm a particular fan of The Angry DM's twitter account. Why? Well, because he will randomly go off on rants that while anger and fuel raged - it is his persona - actually have awesome advice for both players and GMs in it. The one that caught my eye the other day involved something along the lines of "Play like your character is under the purview of the greek gods. Your GM is the god, you want the GM's favor to succeed? Play someone who will win them over and want you to succeed. If my NPCs and monsters are more interesting than your character then I'm going to root for the NPC and not care when they kill you. Make me care about your character's success."

It's an interesting line of thought but one that I like. I've said here before that a good GM will GM fairly and objectively, hitting the PCs with every nasty trick that is out there, but they should ultimately be rooting for the PCs success. Angry's commentary here is the other side of that coin. The GM should be rooting for the PCs, but that's because the Players should be playing characters that are worth rooting for.

What does this mean? It means to make your character a person, preferably a like-able person. Make them someone we can relate to. Make them someone we would want to know, or at least be interested in following. Be a doer. Be pro-active. Be someone who isn't just worthy of the gods' adoration, attention, and benevolent feelings but that is so bad ass and awesome that every fiber of their being demands it.

Now, obviously this is much easier said than done. I've been GMing for 20 years and I can only think of a handful of characters - including ones that I have played - where I've cared that much. But those characters always had a few things going for them.

One, I worked with the GM or otherwise made someone who worked with what the game's themes and tribulations were going to be. This meant that my character's story, strengths, and weaknesses easily matched up with the game and so the character could resonate with that plot well without the GM having to do a lot of extra work.

Two, the characters were do-ers and they kept themselves involved in the action. This one is hard to explain, but easiest to give an example of. In the first generation of my L5R game there were two characters. One was named Dani and the other was named Junji. Now both were very driven individuals, but while Dani wanted to take over a chunk of the underworld for himself and made moves to do that, Junji wanted to work as a smith. This meant that when I went to Dani for activity he was always up to something, entertaining things that involved thinking, RP, intrigue, and danger. Junji on the other hand would go home and "forge things." Now the player was happy with doing that, but it meant his character wasn't interacting with people, including the other characters, and so while he was a decent PC and devoted to his craft no one really cared about him as much because, quite simply, no one interacted with him to care or even know who he was.

Three, the characters are likable. You can have a "good" character that isn't likable. You can play horrific monsters of PCs that do all sorts of messed up things. You can be villains. You can be the kind of character people hate and still be a good character. But here's the thing: who wants someone they hate to succeed? Now it's possible to be a hard ass, a villlain, and a monster and still be likable. If possible go for those characters. Your more likely to get favorable actions.

So how about you? How do you feel about Angry's words there? What do you think it means?

1 comment:

  1. In my mind, to get a GM to root for a character is pretty straightforward. It's the player that's really into the campaign & really into their character that's easy to root for. Did the player create a solid backstory for their PC? Do they routinely roleplay their character using his motivations & views rather than the player's? Does the player contribute to the party's Adventure Log in-between sessions? Does the player read the stuff you send him? Does he show up on time to sessions? Has he thoroughly learned the rules pertaining to his PC? Does he stay in-character when interacting with fellow PCs? Does he proactively keep track of everything necessary for his PC & always have him shipshape for the next session?

    I would differentiate between the player's behavior & the character's behavior. It's my intention to be completely agnostic as to the characters' choice of actions in-game. My concern is that the world reacts appropriately to their actions, not that the character's choice of actions "pleased me".