I totally stole this from Knife Fight

But I don’t care: it’s a really interesting question.
1) Name a roleplaying game character you can think like, outside of the game, like right now sitting at your computer. (If you can’t name such a character, say in the comments that you can’t, that’s more than okay — that’s really really interesting and valuable information.) Also, name the game.
2) Say a few words about how that character thinks, or how different it feels to think like that character, or something.
3) How much backstory did you create before you started playing that character?
I don’t have a hypothesis or agenda, I just want to know how you play. I honestly don’t know how many people I play with really socket into their character’s headspace that way — more to the point, I don’t know how many players I play with would like to. I have a sneaking suspicion that my ‘look at the wizard behind the curtain’ method of GMing might make that difficult at times, and frustratining.


  1. My answer:
    At first blush — I don’t think I have anyone like that, partly because I GM most of the time.
    I do have characters I love playing. Gwydion Caddock the skald — I played the HELL out of him, but usually I was acting him, not being him, you know? I never exactly got into his head and thought about his childhood or upbringing or dwelled in that headspace beyond what I did in order to answer a question someone put to him or provide his next line of dialogue.
    There, you see? Gwydion didn’t so much talk as have lines of dialogue. Quite a few if not most of my characters are like that, I think because of the environment/type of game in which they are played. That said, I really lived inside that ‘Gwydion costume’ comfortably — I remember, one time, yawning in-character, during a game — one of the other players commented on it. Still, can I sit and think like him? No more than an author thinks like a book’s protagonist — I think about what will happen next with him — I don’t get in his head.

  2. Okay, I think I have a guy.
    1) Dylan Thomas McEvitt, faceman for The Agency in a spy game that started off in Spycraft and moved to FATE. Played him a few years ago. Miss playing him.
    2) Dylan’s married to a no-nonsense woman who works as a financial consultant and wants them to have a normal life. She knows he works for The Agency, but he tells her he’s an analyst, not an field agent. His life is a balancing act, trying to do a good job while retaining his home life. He is facile in word, good at remembering facts, and an excellent improvisor. He tries to be responsible for everyone on the team. He doesn’t totally trust the Agency and has an escape route planned for himself and his wife if/when everything falls apart. He hates incompetence that affects him. He doesn’t like working at the kind of desk I’m sitting at when I’m trying to think like him.
    3) A couple paragraphs about how he came to be working for the Agency, nothing about him, personally — all his internal stuff came during the game.

  3. I can very easily get into the head of Jacob, a guy a made up for Randy’s Amber game, but that’s not a good thing. I swear I didn’t do this on purpose — it was subconscious and I only realized it recently while reflecting on subconcious behavior at the gaming table — but Jacob manifested my maxed-out displeasure with the AmberDRPG ‘system’ as a whole. That wasn’t a game I should have agreed to play.

  4. Oh. Duh. I just thought of an obvious one:
    1) Hang Time, aka Jason Marks. My first and foremost character for City of Heroes.
    2) Jason is a easygoing guy from the midwest, living in the big city. He finds himself in a bit over his head in his new life, and simultaneously feels that no one he knows in his professional life really knows him or even wants to. He tends to let his abilities and obsessions run rampant and reign them in later, with a commensurate increase in cost/effort. He falls in love quickly. Suffice it to say that it isn’t hard to get into Jason’s head.*
    3) I wrote up a short bit about the accident that gave him his powers — nothing at all about his personality or how he thinks or anything.
    * – I don’t think I have too many ‘headspace’ or ‘immersive’ characters to begin with. Of those, it’s unusual for me to have one that’s notably opposite from myself — in the cases where that’s happened (and I can think of two three**) they reflected some strong negative emotion I was feeling toward the game itself.
    ** – Jacob, as mentioned; the priest I made up for the Egyptian game that I basically sabotaged; Strategist.

  5. I think it’s funny it took you so long to come up with Hang-Time. I mean, my instant first answer would be Noelle Frost, in CoH.
    She’s very much like me — friendly, open, optimistic, cheerleader-esque, helpful.
    As for writing — all her diary entries, I guess, dating back from almost the beginning of the forums.
    Otherwise, I played a firebug riflewoman in a game of Tombstone that was very different from me. Much darker, but out on a self-important quest to find her husband. Of course, when that went bad, she turned much more onto the darker aspects of her character. And I think about a week after we started playing, I wrote a bit of a character sketch/backstory. Which I need to find and reread, because I remember thinking it was cool.

  6. I was thinking of someone different than I used at Knife Fight. Someone I was musing playing again, or using as an example in another game.
    1) The siren Akolisa, developed as a non-Real protoRebman in the Black Ops Amber game.
    2) Akolisa has a very weak sense of linear time. So I halt on words like, “before,” and “after,” except when referring to the order of things. Everything that has happened exists in this vague sense of “past” and everything that’s going to happen is “future” and it’s all equally measured for her. She shapes her body to express this same unfixed time, sometimes being a child and then a crone in the course of a conversation. She also can’t speak in anything but whispers because her voice has Bad Side Effects. She’s very physical, and uses her gestures as half a language on their own.
    3) She developed almost entirely in play after I came up with a couple descriptions of slaves the PCs were freeing in order to start the seeds of the intershadow Underground. Between hints of different words I used to describe her, the ideas behind her grew stronger. That’s a lot of what happens with my characters: I’ll use a word or two to embellish something and then it takes me to this whole new tangent that “just makes sense” and as it blossoms, it takes the character to a different level.

  7. Noles: How much did you actually write about Ms. Frost *before* you started playing her, as prep?
    I know you (and I, for HT) wrote a lot once the play started, but how much beforehand?

  8. Nothing beforehand. Her character/personality came very much out of her interaction with other characters — I mean, up until she began grouping regularly with Mavra (then called Binah) and the Storm Knights, I’m not sure she had any real sense of “character.”
    I had written her in-game bio, and that was it.

  9. I think hypothesize that the people we can just drop into and think like right off the bat are probably either archetypes that we then build on during play until they’re normal, barnacle-encrusted people, or relatively minor variations on ourselves, who then mutate to be someone else in that same barnacle-way (HT and Noelle).
    I know what you mean about the character expanding in play — the most valuable development scenes in CoH for me where when a bunch of us were just sitting around and someone would ask some question that we’d never answered for that character, yet, and we had to dig into their head to find out the answer. Very (don’t write ‘cancerous’) organic growth, that.
    Sort of an in-game Amber (RPG) Questionaire, but suddenly more relevant.
    The people who start out really complicated, with a lot of backstory written up — I just don’t think it’s as easy to get into their head right off. Maybe ever.
    I’d be curious to know if anyone really writes those seriously detailed characters (characters that became seriously detailed in some previous game and were then ported to a new game with all their pre-existing barnacles don’t count) and can then socket right into their head — it seems unlikely.
    I think what’s interesting there is a strong move in alot of the games I’m familiar with to avoid lots of backstory creation during chargen. Heroquest tells you to write 100 words about them — a hard limit you’re not supposed to go over. Others games call it ‘playing before you actually play.’
    What it all boils down to is that they encourage you to come with the ‘clean’ character, all ready for the in-game barnacle cultivation. Verah interesting.

  10. It’s funny — there’s several “normal” RPG characters I could do this with (Morrigan, Grinthorn/Graeme, Edward, Sian/Punishment, Dag). Most of them I did fairly elaborate backstories for before I got started. Sometimes that does get in the way, especially with crunchy systems that don’t let my mental image match the real image.
    The other “cheat” here is that, often, a lot of these characters have significant amounts in common (if not actual retreads). There are a few archetypes I tend to RP, in that way (though that may be changing a bit): The Outwardly Bitter But Inwardly Desperate Loner, the Faithful Sidekick, and the Jovial But Innerly Tormented Fool.
    Two characters I couldn’t really easily play are two relatively nasty ones — Ken Osato, and Professor whatsisname from the Roach. I mean, I could find the latter’s voice with a bit of a nudge, but I couldn’t tell you much more about him than a very brief description (and the game doesn’t really require it). And the former — I don’t remember all that made him tick, just that I never felt comfortable in his skin.
    My CoX characters are, perforce, a bit more shallow. While I’ve RPed them (and usually wrote up a profile sheet for them), much of their time has been involved in beating up bad guys (or good guys, in a few cases), meaning I didn’t have to get much deeper than finding their “voice.”
    All that having been said, I have no idea what’s going to happen with either Arbuthnot or with Roger Donne (though I’m eager to find out).

  11. Despite the fact that I can’t act worth a damn, I can almost always get into my characters’ heads. It’s not so much a logical thing as it is a gut-level thing, though. I don’t make things up before I do the character — but I usually know what rings true almost right away. Cathryn sleeps curled up in a ball and wakes up totally alert. Whatzie from the Roach game wears angora sweaters and will rub her arm across her face obsessively. Mi tao tries to walk with a ramrod-straight back, but it never works out that way; her hips always get away with her. June has shaky hands that feel like they’re trying to be too big — always stretched out to the tips of her fingers. Lady Worchestershire (that’s what I decided her name was) squints.

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