View Full Version : Third Person or First Person: Which do you prefer?

2011-10-11, 04:15 PM
Do you describe your character like this: "Gazlump walks slowly ahead, his dagger in front of him."

Or like this: "I draw my blade and charge the vile beast!"

What are the pros and cons of each? Or does it just come down to personal preference? Do you demand continuity at your table, meaning all players must decide upon a common perspective?


2011-10-11, 04:31 PM
First person. I don't really see the point in saying it third person, unless you're DMing then you should probably go third person so the PCs know who is doing what.

2011-10-11, 05:29 PM
As a player clearly first person anything else seems like a personality disorder and really destroys immersion (for me)...

As a dm I use a mix first I say ooc who is talking and then I talk the way the character would (if doable ^^)
Obviously for actions I describe the actions all ooc

Lord Vampyre
2011-10-11, 05:33 PM
I tend mix 1st and 3rd person perspectives. In my current campaign it's quite necessary, as I'm running the entire party.

In general, I tend to encourage everyone to stay in a first person perspective. It tends to engross the players into the story, adding to the atmosphere.

2011-10-11, 05:37 PM
I prefer third person, I guess. It helps when people are running more than one character, meaning you don't have to resort to crazy voices or the "hat method."

That said, I care about consistency more than what tense we're using. If everyone else is using first-person, I will too.

2011-10-11, 05:39 PM
I mostly play PbP, and first person looks very weird in it, so...

2011-10-11, 05:40 PM
Hm havenīt thought about running multiple pcs at the same time, I guess then it makes sense to use third person, though I never had to run multiple pcs as a player so I donīt really know what I would do then ^^

2011-10-11, 05:44 PM
I mostly play PbP, and first person looks very weird in it, so...

This too. I have to admit that first person feels kind of weird to me even around a table because of that.

2011-10-11, 06:45 PM
I typically use and prefer third person, because everyone plays (a lot) more than one character in my regular game. I do the same when DMing. In other games, if I'm only playing one character, then I might use first person - but I'm more used to third, and so I tend to use it anyhow.
I do deal with speaking in first person either way, although I'll throw on a '*name* says' to distinguish if I have several characters present at a time. I have a strong preference against '*name* demands entrance to the city in an angry manner' type interactions.

When I'm DMing, I don't really care what the players are doing so long as they're staying in character. Most tend more towards first person, and that's fine with me.

2011-10-11, 06:58 PM
Interesting responses, lots for both sides. In the game I'm currently running, the PC's have multiple characters, so third person naturally became the tense. I think, personally, that playing in third person allows me to visualize the characters more vividly. It reminds me, as I look at a player, "Oh yeah, this isn't Jake, it's his noble cleric, Vidimus."

I guess in first person I just see everyone around the table as themselves rather than their characters.

2011-10-11, 07:16 PM
You prefer second person. ;-)

Seriously, though, I tend to mix, with a bit of favoritism towards 1st person.

2011-10-11, 07:38 PM
I play and DM in third person. My reasoning behind this is that I am not the character, the character is himself, I am just controlling his actions.

2011-10-11, 07:46 PM
I mostly play PbP, and first person looks very weird in it, so...

Well, that's just PBP. In groups where you can see each other and can communicate in real time without posts, I think first person is preferred.

2011-10-11, 07:51 PM
I use first person when I am speaking as my character, such as "I attack that foul creature with my flail" or "I am Durias Dragobor you dolt!"

I use third person when I'm talking about my character. "I dunno what Durias will think about you stabbing those farmers... I'll ask him?" :smallamused:

2011-10-11, 09:09 PM
I use third person for my characters, because it helps me remember that the character is NOT me, it's that particular character, with his own likes, dislikes, etc. I'm not on the adventure, they are. I'm just letting people know what they do.

2011-10-11, 09:43 PM
I play and DM in third person. My reasoning behind this is that I am not the character, the character is himself, I am just controlling his actions.

Ah, but is not role-playing about playing roles? ;)

2011-10-11, 11:39 PM
I tend to use first person. It helps with immersion and all that, plus I tend to give my characters very long, overwrought, cliche names, and it seems like a hassle to say "Kraggthorlan Stonefist III punches the bartender in the face" all the time. If I were to ever run multiple characters, though, I would definitely switch to third person.

2011-10-12, 12:30 AM
Over PbP I use 3rd person, face-to-face I use first person, and I use a mix of 2nd and 3rd person when I DM (3rd person for the NPCs, 2nd person for the descriptions). Getting into the head of the character is pretty easy for me if I have a solid concept, no matter what tense I'm using.

2011-10-12, 03:36 AM
I tend to speak in first person and describe my actions in third.
Like so,
"I am Kargas, warrior of the Open Wound Clan", and then I do the traditional hand sign.

2011-10-12, 06:09 AM
As a player always first person, unless I am playng a character that talks about himself in the third person that is. (not that I do that a lot)
As a GM its always third person. After all you have more characters (of course if I do voices then I can go into speaking in first person again)
I think speaking and describing in first person does mean I end up making characters that act and think more like myself. Perhaps there is something to speaking about your characters actions in third person.

John Campbell
2011-10-12, 09:46 AM
As a player, first person. My PC isn't me, but, for a few hours on Thursday nights, I'm him (or her). That's what role-playing means.

As a GM, first, second, or third, depending on whether I'm speaking in-character as an NPC (and that usually gets a third-person intro), telling players what the outcome of their attempted actions is, or describing the actions of an NPC. I distrust any GM who uses first person to describe the actions of an NPC; it smacks of DMPCing.

2011-10-12, 11:55 AM
Huh. I posted a thread about this exact same topic a few months ago, but I can't find it anymore. My google-fu must be weak...

Anyway, I do third in PbP, as we have all said, but I play the game in first. However, this isn't for immersion purposes (I actually feel it breaks immersion to some degree), but because my group exclusively uses first person and seem not to understand AT ALL why anyone would ever want to play in third.

I guess it's just a matter of opinion and/or past experiences.

2011-10-12, 01:11 PM
Different modes for different things. It's complicated, but I think the short version is to say that it's typically first person, and there's "action mode" and "conversation mode". In action mode, I say things like, "I look around the corner," or, "I pick up the key." In conversation mode, things said are in-character usually, but sometimes it's an action, relying on common sense and context to know the difference (and clarifying explicitly if necessary). I think there's also a subtle speech tone that makes it clear whether I'm acting as myself or my character.
EDIT: The point of distinguishing this is to point out that sometimes I say something the character says, other times I say, "I say that <X>."

Third person is rare, but I do use it. I can't classify it as easily, but I think it's mainly when I'm stating something general about the character, as opposed to something the character is doing or saying now.

This is in "meat space", and I can understand that PbP is a different matter, as some of you are saying.

When talking about the character, I also sometimes use first-person, e.g. "I'm thinking of taking <feat>," rather than, "I'm thinking of making <name>'s next feat <feat>." It's a bit too awkward to try to do it correctly. Besides, in Monopoly, do you say that your character bought Boardwalk, or that you did? Do you say that Mega Man that beat Dr. Wily, or you did?

2011-10-12, 05:53 PM
Second? I mean, I'll use first-person pronouns and such, but prefer to make descriptions rather than try to act things out. So if I'm interrogating someone I might say that "I ask him what he knows about this, that, and the other thing. If he refuses I start getting louder, throwing things, and generally try to increase the pressure." But I won't try to act out every line of dialogue or demonstrate my actions since I'm a terrible actor and my voice has only 1 output.

Not to mention that this method reminds me that I'm playing a character who (in most scenarios) does not have my personality. It forces me to take a step back and think of what my character would do regardless of what I would do in that situation.

2011-10-12, 06:54 PM
I should try making a character who speaks in the third person. That way, I can use first person for actions and third person for speech.

2011-10-13, 07:49 AM
While I mix, I usually tend towards first person. Not in PbP though, there it's always third.

2011-10-13, 08:09 PM

Its when the narrator refers directly to the audience as the character in the story. Think of it as one of those motion sim rides where you are talked to by the movie characters as actually taking part in the movie. Another example would be a movie shot from the perspective of a character than never speaks, isn't the narrator, but everybody talks to and simply refers to as "You". Its uncommon in literature, but more common in other media (music for example).

2011-10-16, 06:47 PM
In literature, second person is popular mainly in choose-your-own adventure novels and instruction manuals.

2011-10-17, 01:54 AM
In general, the first person refers to the self: I, me, we, us
The second person refers to the entity with which one converses: you, (ye, thee, thou)
The third person refers to anything else: he, she, it, him, her, they, them

2011-10-17, 02:08 AM
I favor third person as a player; and prefer third and sometimes second as a GM (second being for players who prefer first person). I favor author stance to actor stance, to use Forge terminology, and I tend to prefer books written in third to first anyways, so this is just natural.

2011-10-19, 02:12 PM
I use first-person, probably a consequence of my first DM being very roleplay-focused. First-person, IMO, is a good way to get into character.

2011-10-19, 02:19 PM
I do third person in general...but I've never been a PC in any RL game, always DM. I don't think I would either way. Speaking in first person causes my character to slowly become me and not the other way around.

2011-10-19, 03:02 PM
I move between both. First person in "in character" conversations. Generally third person when describing actions, but sometimes I'll throw in a "I waste him with my crossbow" first person action.

For awhile, GungHo tried speaking only in third person, but people generally found him annoying and asked him to stop.

2011-10-19, 03:25 PM
Sitting around a table with my friends, I use first person for most things. Third person is reserved for descriptions of the character and occasionally for actions. In general, though, once the game starts I prefer to speak as if I were the character I'm playing. I find that it's easier to get into the head of my character that way.

PbP is usually third person, though I catch myself slipping into first person at times.