Friday, January 12, 2018

Discussion: Why Are You Playing Your Current Character?

Two questions that I feel every player should be able to answer are:

  1. Why are you playing your current character?
  2. How does your current game let that happen?
Basically, if you're playing a character odds are there is a reason. And if the character is in a game, the game should be doing something to help that thing happen. 

If you can't answer the first question, than you may have no purpose in playing the character which can make for a flat character or one that will peter out and be unfun at some point in the future. If you can't answer the second question, then the game may not be enabling what you want out of the character, which can lead to unfun sessions or a game you don't care about as much.

In both cases, not being able to answer the question merits a conversation with the GM about the character, the game, and how you can make those things happen. However, keep in mind that you're not always going to have deep answers to the questions. Sometimes the answer to number one is "I'm playing my character because I like Rogues" and "The game lets that happen by letting me be a rogue and do rogue-ey things."

Perhaps the answer is deeper for some?

In my friend's Star Wars game I'm playing a cowardly mechanic. I'm playing the character to explore being a support character from a different angle I normally do. It is also letting me have fun with a character with super low willpower that constantly makes bad decisions they have to weasel out of. The game lets me do this by giving me opportunities to make horrible decisions and try to weasel out of the consequences, both against NPCs and PCs.

What about you?


  1. Good question, it took me a while to figure out the answer actually. My current character in my fellow GM's campaign is a healer with a Fae background, which means she's: 1) not combat-oriented and 2) often bound by one reason or other why she has to keep out of combat. This means I often have to find a work-around for stuff that the other players can just do without thinking... and do it anyway.

    And that's the reason I like the character so much. Can't use magic? Fine, she'll shapeshift into a troll (the words 'Phyllis Smash' have been uttered more than once). Can't attack someone directly? She'll intimidate her opponent into attacking her first, because then she can retaliate. I really like these kind of mind-games and luckily my GM is willing to add that extra challenge for me by paying attention to how she describes a situation etc, so I can look for ways to take advantage of it. Most of the time she creates the challenge without figuring out how I can beat it, and she found out the hard way we can be very, very creative as a group.

    1. Creative groups are always a blast. Sounds like a lot of fun. I'd be tempted to call foul on "intimidating a fight to retaliate" but you said Fae background, so that sounds just amazing. :D

    2. Yes, with intimidate I mean "come within an inch of attacking and then stop", and hope the intended target retaliates before my PC has to stop. It's just as much a bluff as an intimidate, but neither word really covers it. If the target calls her bluff or refuses to respond, she's stuck. It has happened a few times with a NPC who knew enough about Fae and had enough self-control to keep still.

    3. I see that tactic a lot in L5R...which usually just ends up in both characters shaming themselves trying to goad the other into an attack. Fun times either way.

      With the fae it is a much more useful tactic!