View Full Version : Better roleplaying- how do I do it?

2014-10-14, 08:05 PM
In all the games I've played, it's always been with a friend who is right into roleplaying, and my own was usually in reaction to that friend's actions. Right now, however, I'm in a solo player campaign, just myself and the DM, using a homebrew system of his that seems to be highly focused on roleplay (We're nearly 20 sessions in playing nearly every day and hardly going anywhere because of all the talking, and we can go entire sessions without rolling a single dice sometimes). I do enjoy this, it's a lot more free form than some systems that have considerably more rules, but I feel like my my contributions are pretty lackluster.

We've had some amazing sessions, usually the rare times there's combat and I start using my skills getting more into it, but other times, even though Im having fun, I tend to feel awkward about giving anything more than minimal responses or turn to NPCs to get an idea of how to respond, even though the DM keeps telling me its all about my character and to just have fun with it. Sometimes he's set it that I only have a very short time to make a decision on a response, or npc's have no opinion for me to take, to I can only assume make me come out of my shell with it more. Sometimes I dumb down or minimize what Im saying because I feel kind of silly getting into character and saying more elaborate things. Just last night after our session, which was actually a pretty important part in the plot I think that had quite a few revelations, the DM was saying how I seemed pretty reserved and keep going back and forth like that, although that could have been that I just wasnt feeling well that time.

Does anyone have any advice on how to improve my roleplaying and take on the character Im playing better?

2014-10-14, 09:19 PM
Have you written a backstory? Roleplaying can be really intimidating - I often find myself lapsing back into my regular personality. That's why I recommend writing a back story, or keeping a campaign journal using your characters voice. Understanding your characters motivations will help you roleplay, because ultimately everything is off script. The best you can do is be intimately familiar with HOW your character thinks, and the what will come later. Good luck!

2014-10-14, 09:23 PM
I find that the best things for immersion is to have a voice, or a distinct physical mannerism for the character: change something about the way you talk, the way you sit, even the way you breathe, and it becomes easier to fall into the character rather than feeling like you're watching from the sidelines.

Don't worry about what your character would do. Just find a way to signal to yourself and the GM that you're in character an you'll be surprised how quickly the metagame just goes away.

2014-10-14, 10:07 PM
I find that the best things for immersion is to have a voice, or a distinct physical mannerism for the character: change something about the way you talk, the way you sit, even the way you breathe, and it becomes easier to fall into the character rather than feeling like you're watching from the sidelines.

Don't worry about what your character would do. Just find a way to signal to yourself and the GM that you're in character an you'll be surprised how quickly the metagame just goes away.
I second this. For me roleplay flows the best when I take on the voice, posture, and mannerisms of a character.

2014-10-14, 10:07 PM
Tell us about your character, maybe? If you can explain who your character is and what he/she is like well, then your problem seems to be that you're shy when it comes to the act of actually playing. Becoming less shy is pretty difficult to do.

2014-10-14, 11:30 PM
Why do you think you feel silly or awkward?

Is this PBP or real life?

If it's real life, why can't you let yourself go with one person? Is there any problem or baggage with this person?

Are you shy in real life? Do you normally stay quiet in a shell?

2014-10-15, 12:04 AM
The DM and I live together (which is why we play nearly every night) but we use computers to do our sessions just to make it easier to link to music/images and let him keep all his files and documents handy without me overseeing. Also makes it easier to save our sessions in a document if we need to look back on things laterIts not that Im uncomfortable RPing around the DM or anything, but maybe I am used to not being open and talkative about my interest in roleplaying, video, whatever games (its not that big around here).

I do have a backstory written for my character and much of the plot seems based around it. I have been trying to make an attempt to sort of talk like she would (she's a noble, so I try to have her speak in a more refined/eloquent way) but I still tend to default to simple responses.

Short description of her: She's based (at least her background) loosely on Grace O'Malley

Long description with more plot relevance:

She was a noblewoman who was practically ruling through her husband (he was in charge in name only) and building up her own little trade empire until they were invaded and her husband and sons were killed, her daughter was taken away, and the game started with a jailbreak (and then destruction of their island) after they locked her up. She's supposed to be chaotic neutral (although alignment doesnt have much relevance in this system as far as skills/abilities/classes go, it was just a holdover from when we were originally going to use pathfinder) but I've been sort of having her do things more in line with how I'd react- more good and lawful, although she does it for different reasons (not following the law because its the right thing, only because she knows it would be stupid to pick a fight by breaking the rules. Goes out and rescues someone adrift at sea not because she worried about them, just because she saw a boat floating near her (new) island and wanted to know what was going on). Her main goal right now is to find what happened to her daughter and track her down. I havent been very consistent with her personality, kind of a result of all the simplistic responses, but I may be cheating a little and justifying it that she just hasn't had a chance to mourne and grieve her family with everything that's been going on so she's maybe kind of erratic holding it together and covering it up.

...Actually I guess there was very little plot/game relevance there after I resolved to keep to the point. Lol.

I probably tend to play more on the cautious side, just because in the past this DM has lead me into some horrible traps in game by anticipating what I'd do and tailoring it for that, but he hasnt done any of that in this game with just me as the only player, so maybe thats something I just need to get over.

2014-10-15, 02:42 AM
I agree that mannerisms are one of the better ways to get into character. Granted, I do tend to play D&D games with at least 2-3 combats per session, but role-playing can always be important. While the crucial potentially life-changing decisions and events can define who you character truly is as a person, small personality quirks are what you'll be seeing most often (momentous choices don't happen every day after all!)

For myself, I find that the simpler the character concept, the easier time I have roleplaying them. Strangely enough, these simple characters end up having more personality than ones I gave lots of thought to. For example:

A female human cloistered cleric with a concept of "a good person." More than just a Good-aligned person, Calathiel ended up playing as a humble, compassionate, intelligent individual who goes out of her way to assist others as best she can. She uses her spells almost solely to aid her allies, her past education to come up with answers to difficult questions, and struggles daily with her almost crippling weakness of body.

In a Mass Effect campaign, concept to play "a krogan." Nothing fancy here, I wanted to play a krogan soldier and punch some teeth in. While Ravanor Baryx certainly excelled at beating the crap out of anything in his way, he also developed some rather severe inferiority issues which resulted in him falling into a deep depression. A good leader, despite a propensity for recklessness, he keeps his wits about him in a firefight, and puts the safety of bystanders first and foremost, probably to a fault (he once threw a thug through a window when he found out the guy had been trafficking human slaves).

Now, here's an example of when I put lots of thought into a character, in an Eberron campaign:

Jenka Volanda was born in the goblin nation and she and her parents were sold into slavery. She managed to escape during an attack on her captors, but was taken to a massive city where she grew up as a pick pocket. After several years, she felt the call of her ancestors in the wastes in the west, and spent over a year on the trek to her ancestral homeland. Upon arriving, she joined with her tribe but soon developed strange powers (mechanically, she was a witch) and sought to bring down the demon lords that had escaped from the wastes.

Did I mention that she also sought to hide her half-orc side? It was a mess and I didn't know how to play her. Was she a former slave? An orphan with a hard life? A traveler? Did she have identity issues with a dual nature? Did she seek to find the source of her powers? It didn't help that she later discovered she had a rich uncle in the same city she grew up in and inherited his estate. After several sessions, I finally decided dropped her backstory (it didn't end up mattering too much) and settled on a "lazy, but a decent person" and had a lot of fun with that.

In short, try a focused, concise concept and roll with that. This doesn't mean your character is one-dimensional, it's a means for you to easily get into character and know how to respond spontaneously to whatever is thrown your way. You can develop anything else in time, and if you start playing in a group again, chances are that they won't have their character concepts down 100% either. For your character, I'd say hone on her practicality and let everything else evolve naturally.

Hope this helps :smallsmile:

2014-10-15, 07:43 AM
Affectations and voices are fine, but those are just details. I find the way to get into character is to think like the character. Each of my characters has a definite frame of mind that I try to emulate in-game, and it's usually more about his personal philosophy, personality disorders (which pretty much all of my characters have), and values than quirks. I usually start with personality, then build a background to fit the personality.

2014-10-16, 04:58 AM
Maybe (roleplay-heavy) one-on-one isn't your thing? I always find it much easier to roleplay when others are around. Not so much out of shyness or humiliation, but because - as a player - I'm just not 'on' all the time and like to hang back every now and then.

As for tips: I have a personality quick-list for my characters on my sheets, listing four or five of my characters' basic personality traits, such as "impulsive", "quick to anger", "obsessive", "friendly", "aims to please", "narcistic", and so on. Whenever I have to reply to a situation, I quickly glance at the list and act correspondingly, sometimes picking a trait at random. After some time, you learn the list by heart and the character gets fleshed out more, making it easier to role-play!

Good luck!