In this article we explain what is to “role-playing” a character and 4 basics to improve your experience as a rpg player.
Role-Playing Games are a great experience. A very healthy hobby to meet with friends and stimulate the imagination.
Many people who talk about role-playing games have many doubts because they think that it can be difficult or that they need a lot of preparation. Or they simply feel self-conscious because they really do not know what functions they have to perform and what is expected of them within the game.
That is why I want to translate my experience and point of view in what role-playing consists and what are the basics of how to role-play. So I hope you find it useful if:
- You are a person who never played a role playing games but you have considered to start to play and you need a basic guide.
- You have already played a role playing games but you are still a new player looking for tips to improve your experience within the game.
- Or you’re just a master / role player with experience but you think that it could be interesting to review some concepts about the character “role-playing”.
What is “role-playing”?
In role-playing games, players assume the role of fictional characters in a story. These player characters will be the protagonists who will take decisions and actions within the story.
Normally, the features and abilities of these fictional characters are written on a sheet that is the character-sheet. And to know if the actions taken by that character are performed correctly, dices are generally used.
When you start to play a role play game, the first thing that usually happens is that you see these dices of rare shapes, a sheet full of information and that a large (or several) book of rules. You may come to think that this is very complicated and that you will need to study as much as to get an Engineering Master. But don’t worry.
As soon as you start playing you will see that the only essential thing you need to play a role playing game is your imagination.
In role playing games we use role-playing referring to putting yourself in the role of the character that you have to use. That’s why the first basic of how to role-play is to perform your character.
Perform consists in acting as a character. But you do not need to be a Hollywood actor nominated for an Oscar to play a role-playing game. All you need is a little empathy; this is to put yourself in the skin of your character and act according to what you think the character would do in the situation that arises.
When a character has little information or is a basic information, then it is much easier because most of this perform is free. But if a character has a background, a story behind it, a culture of its own and even a very specific story within the story, then the perform can be more demanding.
Like a beginning actor, the best is to start playing simple roles. Normally the role-playing characters are “fictional people” with a basic information where you freely add many features of their personality. But if you feel that you need to start with the easiest character, start playing a human in that fictional world. This usually is as easy as imagining that you disguise yourself as that character, or that you transfer your consciousness to a virtual character as if it were your avatar.
If you don’t know what chararcter use or you want play random character, then you can use tables or random generator character dices to determine the character you will role-play.
Speak with your Master, sure that he will guide you in which character may be more suitable for you in that game.
2. Be Afraid
With this advice I do not want people think that playing a role-playing game is a terrifying experience. But fear is a very powerful emotion that is born from our survival instinct. And yet many players overlook it …
When you play role-playing games your character is usually faced against challenges and risks in the story, and in many cases are deadly risks !. This is normal within the story because in this way it is more exciting.
Now for a moment imagine that you are the one who is in that situation of danger, or that you walk through a dark dungeon, or that you hear some strange noises in the middle of the night …. would you be afraid? It is normal, your brain unconsciously would give the order to secrete adrenaline to prepare your body to a survival situation. Then, the same thing happens to your character!
This does not mean that you have to perdorm your character as a coward, but to perform correctly your character then it should do actions with the necessary caution. Do not launch yourself into a dungeon race and start trapping or calling monsters.
The only thing you will achieve with a reckless attitude is to kill your character. And unless you have a character that is just a daredevil or a suicide, you won’t do it, will you? In addition, I assure you that although it may seem fun you will remain before as a listener in the game with no opportunity to continue participating … and that is not fun.
I’m not a Master who would give you another character-sheet in short time. I do not even let you erase your character-sheet so you can make a new one character and “respawn” as if you were inserting an extra coin into an arcade. I would let you rejoin the game at a suitable time that would make sense during the story. For example when returning to the city or when the other players arrive at an inn.
But there is also another side effect of your character dying: the rest of the players now do not count on you to continue the adventure. That makes it more difficult for them. Not only have you annoyed yourself, but you have also annoyed your friends! Because in reality there are more possibilities if you act in a group.
3. Think as a Group
In addition of the “role-playing” as performing, there are the “role” of your character as member of a group. This is the functions that the character do in the group.
While it is true that I have often encountered players who think merely of their character, trying to reinforce their weaknesses and equip themselves with objects that allow them to increase their survival. This is totally lawful. But in practice, better results are obtained when all the individuals in a group add up their potentials.
Individually you could try to to improve your wizard character fighting ability to be better qualified in case of a combat situation, but you will never be as good as a warrior. In the same way the warrior has great combat ability and will be very good in the fight, but his magic ability is nil unless he acquires specific equipment that allows him some magical ability. But if the warrior protects the wizard in combat, and the wizard supports the warrior with his magic, then both are combining their potentials to cover their weaknesses and thus concentrate on getting the most out of their abilities.
Thinking in a group requires trusting your colleagues and playing your “role” well as memeber of the group. Following the previous example, it would not make sense for the magician to find himself in a disadvantageous combat situation and the warrior would be left behind simply thinking about his only survival. A warrior has trained for combat; No character has as many abilities and abilities as he does for that function. But also if a character is a warrior is because he likes the fight, right? You would not be role-playing well a warrior if you don’t satisfy his desire to enter in battle (unless it is an expressly planned situation).
As the characters evolve and rise in level, your will specialize more in your tasks within the group. I have seen / played different combinations of characters that acting in a group are able to overcome most challenges with ease. On many occasions they Rush the dungeons. Although that is the subject of another post.
If you are a new player and you do not know how you can contribute with your “role” within the group, all you have to do is ask the rest of the players and / or the Master. How can I be more useful in the group? How can I help the rest of the characters better? Surely they will tell you how to get the best potential out of your character.
4. Be Active
Having initiative is also very important. All the ideas add up and you will not be role-playing well if you merely limit yourself to being a spectator of the game that occasionally makes dice rolls.
This does not mean that you have to be looking for prominence in all actions. On the contrary, each character has a function within the group and therefore will have its moment of prominence when the time comes.
But within a role-playing game there may be a “deadlock” situation. This is that no player has clear what to do, and sometimes the Master may also need a push to continue the story. One of the tips that I give to the Masters is flexibility but the truth is that players can contribute to the development of the game because they are the protagonists of the story. Do not be afraid to propose your ideas.
Even if you are a new player, all ideas are well received. Even if the other players think that your idea is really very bad, that only means that doing the opposite is a great idea. In reality, you are opening a new debate and adding new variables to the imagination, both to the rest of the players and to the Master, that can unblock the “deadlock” to continue with the story.
And if everyone agrees with your idea, but there is nobody who wants to do it, then go ahead, take the initiative and take the action, because that is also role-playing your character.
I always like to refer to The Lord of the Rings, one of my essential geek movies, to explain a “deadlock” situation in a role-play game. Specifically when The Fellowship of the Ring is in Moria Mazarbul’s room and it seems to be a moment of pause in history.
I imagine that moment as if it were a role-playing game where Tolkien is the Master and the characters do not know very well how to continue. Gandalf is reading the book and everyone is thinking: well, now what? Then the character of Pippin make a complete mess wakening up all Moria.
Take the initiative and be active: you can help undo that “deadlock” and contribute to all the epic actions! Even the Balorg of Moria apparition!
A final Recommendation
As you see, with a little imagination, putting yourself in the shoes of your character, thinking as team and a little initiative, is enough to know the basics of how to role-play.
While it is true that an advanced game is not the same where the characters are much more complex because they have more abilities and powers, than a game with low level characters that are simpler and have less rules.
That is why I recommend starting to play with low level characters, because as you progress with the character you will learn how to get more out of it, know its strengths and know how to act better in the scenarios that the story presents.
But if you enter a game and you lack security of what character to use, it is always the best to comment with the Master. Surely if you mention that you want to take a simple and appropriate character to start playing role-playing he will recommend the best option. Or if you are an experienced RPG player and have a preference for some type of character, simply because you like it or feel more comfortable, you should also discuss your options with the Master.
So I hope you encourage to play role-playing games. And both if you are a new player and if you are already a player experimenting but this entry was useful, then I am very happy and do not hesitate to comment or come to my consultation to ask me any questions or clarification.