Seems some folk are eager for this next post, so I am actually going to put it together today while the thoughts are fresh in my brain instead of trickling it out a week from now. Because evidentially I enjoy doing some writing with my writing to help me relax from my writing. Go figure.
The following are 5 player tropes that need to die in a fire. Please note that I didn’t say “Character Tropes”. Character tropes are things like “I’m a dark vigilante because bad people ruined my childhood” and other sort of staples in the character personality field. These are PLAYER tropes, which means recurring and common patterns that exist with PLAYER mentalities that need to die horribly.
Without further ado, I offer the following kindling for the pyre.
“That looks like fun, but my character wouldn’t do that.” First of all, you can come up with a reason why a character would do almost anything. That is the fantastic nature of being under the influence in character, being coerced, or really even just having an off day. The fact is that your suffer puppet or toon is not a real person. They are a character. You as a player are a real person. If you want to do something during a game that looks fun, just come up with an excuse and do it.
If you choose to not do something, just say “Nah”. You can CHOOSE to not do things because you want to experience something different. But don’t use the old chestnut of “my character wouldn’t do that” as a limiter in your brain. Your character isn’t real and they abide by the stories that the game world and you, yourself, design for them. Saying that you are being true to the concept of a fictional persona instead of being true to yourself is bananimals.
“My character is a cold, cruel, sadistic, vicious monster and it’s not cool that I get left out of things in game.” Here is the deal: much like in life we often engage people we want to be around as characters. If a person comes into play that is a misery pit of existence, doesn’t enjoy anything but torturing puppies as their main character goal, doesn’t engage others and provide compelling roleplay appropriate to a three dimensional character, and just wants to be HORRIBLE expect to be treated like a god damned HORRIBLE PERSON. If you sit in a corner and say “I want to be alone” as your character don’t be surprised that you get left alone. If you play a character that smells HORRIFIC don’t be surprised that other people don’t want to be in an elevator or small space with them.
If you want people to engage with you, play something that people want to engage with. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t play anti-social monsters… just understand what you are signing up for when you do it.
“Until I am told that I am not allowed to do something, I am allowed to.” Let’s call this one out into the spotlight, shall we? As much as we have people that debate the spirit of the rules verses the letter of the law, we also have people that “get away” with whatever they can until they are told they can’t. These actions can be damaging to a group of players, a game, or an entire network. Often times because these “No one said I couldn’t” mentality folk purposely go out of their way to find ways to abuse and exploit the letter of the rules or places where rules are not explicitly stated, books become these massive bloated creatures that no one reads. Do you think game designers want to write “you have to actually hold and use a weapon to get its benefits?” Hell no. But the reason it is written is because someone, somewhere, walked around with a fucking backpack full of gear saying they had the bonuses of all of them because they seem to be around them somehow.
There is something that should be considered the common-fucking-sense clause. While sometimes there are rules that need clarification because there is a unique situation that is uncertain, many times people look at a rule and purposely ignore common sense so that they can create a scenario that they feel is beneficial to themselves. The more that these people act this way, the less focus there is on genre, roleplaying, and story and more focus on having to write “No, you can’t carry a forge around in your pants pocket. You need to have a forge place for your forge.”
Game designers don’t want to write errata just to continue the arms race of “well… technically it says.” Game designers don’t have to write perfect content that has absolutely no chance at loopholes. Laws of nations are not that air tight. However, with the application of a little common sense, the volume of clarification needed becomes much less.
“That sounds boring as whale shit, but I’ll let my friends down if I don't…” Going back to the entire “your suffer puppet is not a real person” thing… you don’t HAVE to do shit other than be in character, be courteous to your fellow players, and follow the rules at a LARP. You don’t HAVE to mine anything. You don’t NEED to produce a certain number of widgets for your crew. You aren’t REQUIRED to join a social circle of some sort. You are not REQUIRED to play a certain character to facilitate the wants of your friends at the expense of your own enjoyment.
No matter what decision you make to do at a game chances are good there will be some degree of diametrically imposed tension that will be introduced by other players or from NPCs. Choose to join a faction? The other faction is now tension. Join a faith? You now have tension from other faiths. Choose to work all day to get rich? Now costs go up there are people who want more of what you are making. It is completely OK for you to look at someone and say “I don’t feel like farming for 10 hours just so you can have more stuff”. You don’t owe them. However, if you are actually going to go out in the world and actually role-play doing some real fucking farming and enjoy that shit… then DO IT. DO IT NOW. GO HAVE FUN. If you are having some downtime and feel like doing some grinding as the back-drop of what you are doing, DO IT. If you are having a great conversation and engaging with other players and someone says, “I need 10 meals generated right now” you can JUST SAY YOU CAN’T.
Don’t let the math and invisible material possessions get in the way of having fun!
“Whatever character idea I come up with should be allowed in game.” Imagine the following: you have been invited to a lovely day in the park to have a picnic with 300 of your friends. There are all sorts of games planned, different BBQ stations set up, side wine tastings, and entire groups of your friends are going to do different hikes during the day. Your besties are going to play some volleyball off to the side, there is a cooler full of beer for those that want it, and people listening to music.
Then one of your friend drives a monster truck through the middle of the picnic. Deviled eggs and fried okra flies into the air like shrapnel on Omaha beach in Saving Private Ryan. The volleyball court has been run over, the brisket is a skid mark, and no one other than the monster truck driver is enjoying their day. People are annoyed, angry, and frustrated. The one friend in the monster truck looks down and says “Don’t judge how I picnic. I can’t believe you are so unwelcoming.”
LARP is like that picnic. Everyone came together to play a certain style, in a certain theme, in a certain world. While all of the participants at the picnic are sharing different things the overall design of every detail fits under the umbrella of “the picnic in the park”. When a single player feels that their personal expression needs to be completely unfettered and unchecked without working to be within the guideline that everyone else is sharing… you are the monster truck at the picnic.
In a few weeks I will hit up “unappreciated character tropes, and how to add new flavor to them” or something else if the inspiration hits me to do different before then.