Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Difficulties of RP

One thing I've heard mentioned and agree with in my current group is that we don't really RP much. Role-playing, getting into a character and speaking and acting as that character, is not something everyone is comfortable with. Even those that are comfortable with it are comfortable with it to different degrees. I'm comfortable describing Navere violating the fuck out druids whose lifestyle offends him on every level, and I'm comfortable representing Andorian and Evandor as homosexual (even though their species doesn't really have meaningful sex designations), but I'm not comfortable describing Navere or Andorian and Evandor having a physical relationship that I describe. At least not in front of other people. If you go back a bit on the blog you'll find a few posts where Keroen and Callifay get a little handsy with each other, but that's something I wrote and thought about and didn't produce on the fly in front of six other dudes. So there are varying levels of comfort that further vary depending on the situation. 

So there are a few problems that I've identified with the lack of RP and I'm going to go over them here on the blog with myself, because aside from last week, I haven't posted in about a year, so who is really reading this? No one. Maybe. 

The first problem I've decided exists is that no one is willing to take or has taken the first step. No one has stepped outside of "Navere/Sven/etc says X" or does X or whatever. We'll do minor role-play. Kevin will make his voice a bit gruff when he speaks as Bjorn (spelling?) or I'll describe Navere in the midst of a fight as having this wild and savage grin on his face or I'll voice Navere's internal struggle with doing one thing and doing what's best for the pack. But no one has stopped in the midst of the session to say anything like: 

Navere sits down on his bedroll and motions everyone over. As everyone sits he says, "We haven't really discussed this place and what it means that we're here. I won't lie, I'm fearful of this place. I wholly suspect we've died in battle and are being punished in some way. I have no idea what our overall plan should be, and I fear we're just going in circles trying to remain busy until something finally ends us and we no longer need to worry about how we'll escape this place or if we even can." 

And then for a solid half hour, the characters discuss their fears and hopes and plans, rather than the players discussing plans for their next move. That's the distinction in my mind, speaking as a player or as a character. To be fair, the line can get pretty blurry at times and it can be hard to identify when someone is speaking as themself or their character. 

I don't really feel like this group is resistant to RP, I'm definitely not resistant to the idea of it. My Orcunraytrel campaign has literal thousands and thousands of words of RP. I feel like everyone is open to it. I just feel like no one has made it normal in our sessions. Our sessions are fairly short, and we like to do things to actually achieve goals and such. There's definitely a focus on doing, rather than talking. I truly feel like if someone steps up, the group will roll (heyo!) with it and it will become the new normal way we do things. 

The second problem that I see with the group is that our campaigns are short. Typically six to nine months, maybe a year in length. Which is fucking short in my opinion. One of the big reasons I've never come up with a background for a character until Kyle made me for Navere was because our campaigns are short. I kept playing a variation of OG 4th Edition Erevan the Bard because I wanted a sense of continuity and I enjoy the pleasantly homicidal ridiculousness of that character. For me, I feel like what is the point of becoming invested in a particular character and their history and emotions and feelings if the campaign is going to be over in ten or fifteen sessions? I'm not sure everyone in the group would agree with me here, but this is my two cents.

The third problem I think we have is comfort level with each other. Don't get me wrong, I think we're all friends and whatnot and we all seem to like each other and we all seem to be able to relate to one another. Personally, part of my comfort level as a GM stems from always having gamed with the same set of four dudes, or a variation of that group, for the past twenty years. I'm super comfortable around those guys and can say and do things with them that I normally wouldn't with random people. There are even versions of that group that I wouldn't have felt comfortable enough with to RP a gay relationship.

Anyway. So yeah, we're all friends. I'm friends with Kyle, Kyle is friends with Kevin. Jacob and Dave are friends with Kevin, Andrew is Jacob's brother, and Chase is friends with Andrew. We're all friends, but we haven't all been playing DnD with each other for decades, or even five years. We're all friends and we like each other, but there's still a little bit of distance simply because we lack that long term association that breaks down a lot of boundaries that self doubt and a sense of shame bring out.

So those are just some things I see that I think might be partially responsible for why my group doesn't really delve into lots of RP during sessions. Which is ok. There's nothing that says a group must RP extensively. If the group just doesn't feel like really in depth RP is its thing, there's no law saying they're fired from DnD. These are just my opinions and they could of course be way off base. They're also completely irrelevant. Ultimately, I think we're having fun and that is what's important. 

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