Guest post: Use Your Weaknesses

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Stargazer and I chat regularly on Google Talk. He’s a pretty cool guy to talk to and our conversations almost always spur me to think about something new.

Earlier this week, we were chatting about he probably wasn’t going to be able to join my online game because of timezone differences. I live in the state of Georgia in the USA and as I’m sure most of you know, Stargazer is five hours ahead of me in Germany. This means my game starts at 1am for him… not too practical.

Then he commented, “my spoken english is definitely not good enough to roleplay.”

This brings to mind that we all, just as general every-day people, have faults, quirks and weaknesses. One of mine that’s always caused me trouble is that I cannot act. Imagine a roleplayer and game master who can’t be anything other than herself to save her life. It’s been a real challenge, especially when attempting to portray NPCs.

Most personality quirks aren’t anything we think about. They rarely distract from the game and most of the time your friends are so used to them that the quirks blend into the background. But what if you’re quirks involve a heavy accent, or the inability to act or do math?

Use it. But to make it interesting, take it to the extreme.

I suggested to Stargazer, that if we could’ve solved the timing issue, he could make a character with a heavy accent. Another idea is one who can write English but not speak more than perhaps ten words of it. It would certainly be something different for most of us at the virtual table.

If you can’t do math, consider a character in a modern game who has so much trouble he can’t even make correct change without a dice roll. Other examples could be a grammar nazi who won’t take a contract with an employer who uses the word “stuff”. A character who habitually interrupts only one other character at the game. A know-it-all on just one subject.

My case is a bit different. Since I can’t act, I always give my characters some really weird item. One loved amethyst and bought it wherever she found it, regardless of cost and another had an armor-plated diary. This seems to be enough to make them stand out a bit so I’m not just playing myself all the time.

By taking your worst weakness and twist it into something fun and new, you’re going to come up with an idea that adds to the gaming experience instead of distracting from it and makes something unique and interesting for the next game.

3 thoughts on “Guest post: Use Your Weaknesses”

  1. I think this is a great take on making a boring character more interesting.

    My wife is an ASL sign language interpreter and I've learned a lot about deaf people and deaf culture from her. So a few years ago I played a deaf character. It created a lot of unique role-playing situations. The character was eventually killed (stupid exploding door trap), but I learned a lot from playing this character. What others saw as a "disability" was often turned into an advantage… especially vs sonic attacks.

    <abbr><abbr>Amerons last blog post..Why We Do What We Do</abbr></abbr>

  2. Viri,

    You nailed it. With puppeteering (bear with me it does tie in), I am not talented in the way of Mel Blanc or Jim Henson in coming up with "thousands" of voices. I need to give some sort of noticeable quirk to each puppet character to make their voice unique.

    I've incorporated those techniques into playing the NPCs when I GM.

    <abbr><abbr>Vulcan Stevs last blog post..Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: The Transporter</abbr></abbr>

  3. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply, been sick lately.

    @Ameron It can be pretty amazing what a disadvantage can end up bringing to the game when done correctly.

    @Vulcan Glad to know I'm not alone 🙂

    <abbr><abbr>Viriathas last blog post..Comic: Girls in Gaming</abbr></abbr>

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