Sunday, February 16, 2014

What is it like to Role-Play?

So I know I make fun of “gold farmers” - those folks who only care about how much damage they can do and how many gold pieces are listed on their sheets. So I was watching Burn Notice. If you didn’t watch it, you need to. One of the best shows on TV in the last few years. Scene - Michael wants Fiona to help him, and then take her to dinner, but she’s pissed because all he ever does in things connected to his burn notice.

Michael is a gold farmer. He doesn’t have fun. His character never goes to a bar unless it is to meet a client. But Sam and Fiona, they know the hot spots around the town. They know the news around town.

I often try to make this point, so I’m willing to use popular TV shows to do it. Ever notice that Sam knows every bar and hot dog stand in Miami? and typically knows what the waitresses wear? That’s role-playing. Even if in the gaming session you just pretend - “Hey Sam, they’re at Micki’s Fiesta Bar, you remember that place as the bar with the best rum drinks in town.” You don’t have to play every encounter in every bar, but you need to establish that your character is a booze hound and hits every raunchy bar in town. Or your character sticks to one or two bars in his neighborhood. Or your character is a teetotaler and can be found in church every evening. You define your character, then the GM has the ability to use those things against you, and you have the ability to use them against the GM.

How do you use it? If you’re known in every bar, then when you need to have a bunch of people scour the city for you, you know where to find them. If you are an active member of your church, you can find friends there too. I usually think that if you don’t end an adventure with at least one new contact, you’ve done something wrong. Building a list of contacts (and then actually using them), that’s role-playing too. Hey, I know there are a bunch of folks out there who use voices and costumes when they play. I’m not that kind of role-player. But I do think that if your character is a bar hopper, then when you’re looking for help, you go to your friends, not necessarily the city guards. Think of what the character would do, not necessarily what the rules say will give you the highest number of damage points.

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