Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Shape's the Face of a Ten-sided Die?

Well, in my half-asleep state this morning, I was thinking about the nature of role playing. Or rather, the natures of role players themselves. What? Don't you think about nerdy stuff like that first thing in the morning? No? Then why are you here? This is a place for nerds to feel like they fit in.

Anyway, I think I'll write the first (sorta) DH and RT-themed article for Forward, March. I just wanted to give my thoughts on what RPing should be like, and what it should not be.

1. Attendance.

Seems fairly obvious. If you're a part of a group of people that have decided to set aside a set time during the week to get together, be it in person or online, then you're obligated to show up. This is probably the most important thing you can do, because if it's just the GM or the GM and one other player sitting there , it's not really a group activity. The people who do show are at a disadvantage, and it sucks the fun out of it. Sometimes I set an alarm to remind me if I know I'm doing something that will distract me.

Now, I don't suggest that you need to play a game rather than visit your dying parents in the hospital, or less severely, finish a paper you need to give to a professor the next day. But in emergency event situations, notify the group. I have no life, so this rarely happens to me.

2. Participate.

Again, somewhat obvious. While you're there, you may as well speak (or type). Don't let your character become a space filler that just sorta pokes around. Eventually, the GM will kill you. If your character is shy, or terse, or even mute, use other avenues to express his personality. Think of Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe. He didn't need to talk - he was bad-ass enough without it. Interact with the other characters, and with the NPCs.

On a different level, interact with the other players, and more importantly, with the GM. Out of context is a winner when you don't turn it into a distraction. At the very least, you let people know you're still alive. Also, talk to the GM outside of game time to clarify stuff like rules, house rulings, and how you want your character to evolve.

3. Don't Annoy the GM

This is the guy who controls the fate of the galaxy. He doesn't have to work too hard to kill you. Worse than that, he can mess with your character. Fairly straightforward.

4. Dialogue

I guess this is partially covered by participation, but it's slightly different. Use your brain when your character is speaking. The character is not you, and in an RP, you have a bit more time to think about how to respond. How would your character respond? It should all be in-character for him, and his knowledge of things is probably more limited than yours.

5. Side Sessions

If your GM has the time, play side sessions. It's a great way to grow your character. And I'm not talking xp, although that might be thrown in there. I'm talking about making him more than notes scribbled on a scrap of paper. Get to know some NPCs, explore the setting, go off on your own to work towards the mission's end.

6. Mah Lazors go 'Pewpew!'

Role playing is not about shooting every enemy in the face, and howling in victory. Well, I guess if your character is a Space Wolf... But the fighting is there to attract new people because making things go boom is cool. However, once players mature as role players, it becomes more about what happens outside of combat. That whole 'create a role, and play it' thing. It's an opportunity to be someone else for a few hours. Not only is it fun, but it's healthy to learn how to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Don't think combat isn't fun, or that I'm saying I don't like it, though.

'Open-ground, fair" combat is basically just rolling dice, and following the rule system. I have the first bit in quotes, because the ground is rarely open - there's usually cover, and combat is never fair - I just meant the kind where you shoot and stab stuff, rather than suddenly pop out from under your cameleoline cloak and bury your stiletto in the heretic's neck before he has a chance to make a sound. Then, drag his lifeless corpse underneath the magic cloak of invisibility before you scale the alley wall- your task complete.

Hey, doesn't that last bit there seem like it took more thought than, "Uh, I'll shoot the guy closest to the hover car. *rolls dice* Hit, left arm, 8 dmg, 2 pen?" The top one might require dice rolling as a concealment test, but other than that, is also a function of the rules in Dark Heresy. I've created a character for a Rogue Trader campaign that's starting soon, and he's going to avoid regular combat wherever he can. He does the concealment thing with a piece of piano wire. He's a bounty hunter/tracker who never kills. And just from that, you can tell several sentence's worth about his character.

If you want to go in guns blazing all the time, and roll dice until you have carpel tunnel, play 40K. That's roll playing, not role playing. There's a place for that in RPing, but it's not the central theme -- it's a storytelling device. Don't let it become a distraction.

So, to answer the question in the title (if you didn't cheat and go get your d10), some are shaped like four-sided diamonds, and some are teardrop-shaped.