When playing a silly character takes over the roleplaying campaign

symatt-goblins-roleplaying-table

Art by Symatt

A Friday night or two ago the majority of our gaming group was over for a non-gaming social night. We were into our third bottle of wine and we started talking about gaming styles. What followed was a kind of intervention. You see, ever since our infamous Rogue Trader campaign, my brother Paul and I had had trouble getting serious when it came to playing a character. Every session was a series of joke after joke. It was starting to affect everyone’s fun…

This did not come as a huge surprise to me to be honest. It was something that Paul and I had discussed on occasion. Our character’s personalities were so strong and hugely fun to play that we had never let them go. They were starting to appear in every single game, and instead of being a positive, it was a huge negative.

Part of the conversation also dwelt on the fact that the best games we played were when one of the two of us was GMing. When both Paul and I are players, we take over. We have always been close and share similar interests and history. We can bounce jokes and ideas off each other at a rapid pace. After a while we can suck all the theatrical air out of the session and prevent others from having their piece of the gaming session.

Perhaps the worst thing about it all was that it severely affected our start to the Temple of Elemental Evil campaign. Our first game sessions that we were planning to release and we were acting like childish brats (if I’m honest, probably mostly me…). It was so bad for the first four sessions of the campaign, that I am half tempted to claim that there is a fault in the recording and we can’t release them. But that would be a lie.

Once everyone told me that it was a problem, the very next session it simmered down. Episode 004 of the ToEE campaign to be precise. I guess what we have been saying on our podcast all along works. Sit down with someone, tell them that there is a problem in a kind and constructive way and they will probably do the right thing.

So why am I writing this? Firstly, as a warning when you listen to the ToEE campaign for the first time. Trust me, we get better. Secondly, it is always good to admit your failings. We are all far from perfect, and this is something that, while I am aware of it, is good to be reminded of once in a while. And thirdly, as way of apology to an amazing gaming group who make my week special every Sunday by joining me in bursting through doors, kneeing orcs in the nuts and nicking all their stuff.

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About RupertG

RupertG has been playing roleplaying games ever since he discovered Dragon Warriors at the age of 12. Since those days he has played many different RPG's, collected not insignificant Dwarf and Tomb Kings armies for Warhammer Fantasy Battles and even worked as a games designer in the heady days of the late 90's building a CCG. Now he runs a gaming blog and is a participant in the Grand Gaming Experiment
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  • Cuchulain

    On the other hand – it was hilarious. I don’t think I’ve laughed that much in years.

    • http://diceofdoom.com RupertG

      Very true… It was funny. But then, there is a time and a place.

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  • sy matt

    I to find that a particular character i love tends to appear in every game i play or run. just cant help it. naturally fall into that trap. it isn’t necessary a bad thing.; taking the lime light. that’s something completely different. you are bad boys. go to your room. like the picture by the way

    • http://diceofdoom.com RupertG

      I constantly struggle with playing the same character too. I think it is just my alter-ego wanting to be let out to play.

      And yes, I like the picture too ;)

  • sy matt

    still good to have your thoughts

  • Naetharu

    This was a nice article. We had some trouble with a similar issue in our recent game. I think humor is often the most difficult thing to balance in a game. I love for my players to have a good time and cracking the odd joke etc. is part of that, but it can become very ‘meta-game’ like and break the immersion if unchecked. In the end our game crumbled because I didn’t manage to deal with it properly. We’re starting our new game this evening so I shall be sure to take on some of your wisdom and polity deal with the issue if it does arise again.