Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Roleplayers Answer!

I've written about tabletop roleplaying, a hobby to which I devote unhealthy amounts of time, a couple of times before, and I plan on doing it more often now.
To begin this new era of roleplay-related posts, I 'interviewed' some roleplayers, who told me some things about them. Feel free to comment telling me if you have anything in common with them!

Lesley, narrator.
What games do you usually play or narrate?
Mostly World  of Darkness, spanning Vampire, Mage, Demon, and then some indie games like Mouseguard, Cat, Barbarians of Lemuria, FATE, etc.
How long have you been playing?I've been playing since 8 years ago, and narrating for 5 years.
What motivates you to write a story?
What motivates me to write a story is, redundantly, telling the story itself. Not only a mere fiction, but also one that lets players be closer to a microcosm of sensation, social paradigms; let them be closer to heroism, but also to sacrifice.
Do you tend to improvise or base your story on a prewritten, fixed script?
I half improvise, half use scripts. I respect the original structure I lay out, but slightly alter it without destroying the equilibrium between it and the improving.
What do you think is the most important part of a story?As to the most important part of a story, I'd say it's, as in poetry, making narrative impressions.
It's only logical to start writing from the end, since that impression must be the most intense.
The start serves as a pointer, aiming at it, whereas the core part is the hardest to 'control' and build.
Do you have any 'quirks' as a narrator?
A quirk I have is, I try to 'control' the space: I never stay sitting long, but instead walk, move, interact with objects, while I tell a story. I also never let other players touch my dice, which I always carry with me during games.

Damián, Player.
What do you like the most about roleplaying?

The way you can add details and personality traits to your characters. I mean, you could play as a skullsmashing, no-brain barbarian,  screaming like a madman and with a story that goes no deeper than 'this guy took a gun, now he's out to kill stuff', and even being such a simple (and quite boring) story, the player can make the character be the most charismatic of the group, through sheer attitude and small details he develops throughout the game. I simply love that.
What sort of players do you usually play as?
Well, I usually play as wise men or noblemen, but then again I like a change from time to time: I once played a mage (from Mage: The Ascension, obviously) whose fighting style was to release a horde of zombies loaded with guns and explosives against his enemies, while he stayed behing, enjoying the show.
What 'quirks' would you say you have as a player?
Well, as I said in my first answer, I like breathing life and personality into my characters, be it by giving a maniac or fetishist touch to an already insane mage, or acting in a way that is coherent with my character's background. Those are the kind of things that I do as I play.
What games do you usually play? Is there a character you remember with special fondness?
The Games I play the most are Exalted and Mage (nWOD). I remember my first character with great fondness: do you remember that barbarian I mentioned earlier? He was that barbarian. He accomplished so much in so little time, and so many ways, he won a place in my heart.

Sainto, narrator and player
What aspect of roleplaying do you like the most? 
Collective imagination comes first: creating something and developing combining the efforts of many people, in a dynamic and entertaining way, having randomness as a referee, is what makes roleplaying great, and irreplaceable.
What motivates you to narrate a campaign?
 Campaigns are made so that characters come to life, experience growth and have an ending that corersponds to what the players do with them. Telling a storry that evolves from sesion to sesion, like an epic tale or a horror story, or a misterious one full of conspirancies… that, too, motivates me.
What kind of characters do you usually play as? 
Well, that depends on the game, though I try to vary, from an old, pacifist buddhist monk to a sadist noble looking for vengeance, from an adventurous boy to a Polish warlord Vampire… my only patterns are maybe revenge, a topic that always allured me; and Gnomes, if we’re playing D&D.
What do you do before narrating a campaign? Do you take any special preparations?
Before narrating, I set down a very basic scheme with all the key scenes for the correct development of the plot, and many impressions, data and secondary characters, in case they’re needed. The rest is improvisation, and I in fact use to reconfigúrate the laido ut schemes in function of the good development of the game, and what feels most appropriate for the moment.
Do you tend to improvise, or do you prefer to follow a rigidly laid out plan instead?
Improvising, always. And constantly read my player’s emotions, facial expressions, attitudes… to know if I’m taking the right approach, what things they’re enjoying and which ones they don’t.
What ‘quirks’ do you think you have as a player or narrator?
Quirks? Well, it depends on the game. I usually run my own systems, or alter the originals a lot. Most times I design my character sheets myself. I tend to obsess over small aesthetic details, like adding colored tokens, pictures, drawings, atmosphere elements or acting ones. I like to surround myself, visually and auditively.
What games do you usually narrate? How long have you been playing?
The first game I ever played is Call of Cthulhu, and I've been doing it for 10 years (I started narrating almost as soon as I started playing). I usually run Call of Cthulhu campaigns, but also Kult, World of Darknness, swashbuckling games like 7th sea, and some fantasy settings, always mixed with some mistery...

To further expand the 'interview' I'd like my readers to answer some (or all!) of these questions in the comment section below... or tell me what they think about the interviewed people!


  1. I’m not sure it’s an ‘aspect’, but what I personally like the most about roleplaying is that moment when ‘momentum’ is generated, when there’s nothing but story, a master and players involved in it.

    What motivates me to narrate is creating a story, and seeing how far or how sidetracked players will get. I don’t usually push players through the story, unless they linger too long on small things (in a long campaign, that is. On oneshots, you better hurry them!)

    When I started playing, back 12 years ago, I usually played as thieves, rogues, shadowbinders, those dark, obscure things that lurked in the shadows and would steal even your soul. Now I play any kind of character, I love making stories up and inventing new backgrounds (sometimes, even more tan actually playing them). I usually play female characters now.

    If I’m narrating a oneshot, I usually have the whole plot decided, whereas for a long campaign I only sketch the main ideas, and let players roam free to where they desire, as long as I like it.

    I guess that, as a Master, I use a lot of fantasy settings. I’m not much use in realistic environments. I add players with a well developed personality, which my players either love or hate, even in real life, reminding me about it every time they’re able, haha.

    As a player, I’d say my characters are really peculiar, with weird backgrounds and even stranger proffessions, if the master allows it; but I don’t always feel like acting them out, since some players or masters take my will for getting in character away

    1. Thanks for the replies! Keem 'em coming!

  2. What I like the most about roleplaying is the unexpected or unconventional outcomes (beating the enemy on a duel, or scare them off with illusions). Campaigns have secrets, have charming and misterious NPCs which the master and players grow fond of, even as their own characters grow internally as people of these worlds; That’s what motivates me to run a campaign.
    Before running a game I watch movies, read books, go out for a walk, turn on the TV, all that helps me to distend, and inspires me.
    I usually write 60% beforehand, and improvise the rest. It’s always good to write down an inspiring speech or maybe the description of a nicely built church.
    As a player, I’m exigent. I like stories with a twist, emphasizing character and NPC development, and beyond that that the rules of the system be respected. As a narrator, I follow the lead of the characters, I create NPCs that breath life into the world, and I introduce unexpected things, to torture them all equally (btw I profoundly hate random encounters)

  3. I love the whole roleplaying experience. Roleplaying games are recommended by many psychologists for children with trouble socializing with other people, they also help learn new knowledges (e.g., drawing a map for a Campaign can help a gradeschooler learn some geography). I also like the improvising skills needed in order to play, while at the same time following the description you wrote down for your character, and you can never leave aside the effect ‘the Fortune goddes’ has in a game. What motivates me to narrate is the fact that one always likes a game the way one narrates it. It’s usually complicated finding someone whose way of storytelling suits you, or is similar to yours, and that motivates me even more. And the joy of narrating is way different from the one experienced by playing.
    I used top lay more ‘mental’ characters and, sincerely, I had a hard time playing some more ‘physical’ ones. After a while, I tend to look for a balance between the two types, as long as the game allows it. Otherwise, the BALANCE must ALWAYS be sought.
    There’s always something to prepare before running a campaign, like the famous ‘NPCs’. Designing them beforehand always helps to avoid losing precios time while storytelling. The rest depends on the storyteller. Some like telling ‘rigid’ stories, lineal ones. Some like plotting ‘story-lines’ and some have a general idea on the topic of the campaign and guide the players so that they ‘weave’ the plot as they please. Lastly there are some Masters who like improvising the whole story, based solely on the character’s story.
    My quirk as a storyteller is that I like narrating games with simple, fast paced systems, like porcentual systems (Nephilim) or D20. Another quirk of mine is breaking the ‘rules’ of some games, as in Pendragon. The idea of that game is that characters weave a plot, on paralel to the Knights of the Round Table, a title they try to get (which they never accomplish). That’s where I, as a storyteller, intervene and try that the players get a spot on the Table, besides King Arthur, Sir Gawain or Lancelot.
    As a player, my quirk is that I always try to ‘break’ the storyteller’s plans! Once you get to know a storyteller, it’s easy to know where he’s leading the Campaign to. I also like making my characters important on each story, and let them grow to the game’s limits, and beyond!

  4. What I like the most about roleplaying games is how it allows me to exploit my creativity, which is kinda hard in other environments in my life. I like telling a story to other people, so that they can interact with it. I usually make quite a lot of preparation before running a game, with characters, places, music, and I try really hard that the setting is well developed. I also like having a general idea of the plot.
    I tend to make a general plot line, and then improvise according to what the players do. IMO a campaign is run by both master and players.
    As a narrator, I like drama a lot, and I usually fill my campaigns with it, making players face hard situations in their lives. As a player, I’m pretty annoying, because I don’t really like Reading manuals, so I make my narrators make my sheets for me! Hahaha but outside of that, I think they like the characters I build, so the sheet business doesn’t end up being a problem.


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