View Full Version : Roleplaying advice

Inhuman Bot
2008-08-25, 02:43 PM
So my problem is that whenever my group plays D&D, we all insist on staying in charcter. No one *ever* does. My group, while most of them are good with the mechanics, no one can roleplay. So do you, more experianced memebers of the playground, know how we can try to adapt better? My group truely wants an epic story, but we can't stay in charcter.

Any advice would be nice.

2008-08-25, 02:49 PM
My group truely wants an epic story, but we can't stay in charcter.

First you need to find out why you can't stay in character. Some things can be done to help, a lot of them at character creation.

When you first made characters, did you write up (or at least think of) backgrounds for them? Do you know what their history is before they became adventurers? Do you know who their parents are, what their jobs were, any special events in your character's life?

All of these things can serve as catalysts for roleplaying. If a character writes something in their background about loving flowers, as an example, then the DM can introduce a scene with a bunch of flowers, or a character that is cutting flowers, etc. This should elicit some kind of reaction from the PC who stated an interest in flowers.

Then the other PCs can either get behind this PC or question them and wonder what the big deal is with the flowers. Then this gives said PC a chance to share some of their backstory. Maybe they really like flowers because their grandmother always brought them some of their birtday.

Or maybe they really hate flowers because their mother told them that when she returned she'd bring a whole bouquet of flowers with her, and she never returned. Then you can expand on these tidbits with personality traits.

The DM can also help by introducing interesting NPCs who will engage the PCs in conversation and ask them questions that will start them thinking about what their characters are really like.

2008-08-25, 02:50 PM
More detail please.

What sort of stuff are you trying? What do you regard as "proper" roleplaying? What kind of stories and characters have you attempted?

It may help to start out with a fairly low-key plot and strong central ideas around which to build each character's personality, to make it easier to think "what would X do now?" Character ideas that aren't too outlandish and hard to relate to may also help.

2008-08-25, 03:04 PM
In my experience, when a DM complains about this, they're usually talking about a couple different things. 1, people being distracted and not focusing on the game. 2, people not knowing what their character would do or say in a given situation. These things have separate causes (though 2 may contribute to 1), and require separate solutions. Which one seems to be the problem with your group?

Tadanori Oyama
2008-08-25, 03:09 PM
In my experience if you can't stay in character than your not comfortable enough in that character.

When I roleplay I like to jiggle a character's personality around until I find a nice fit.

For example, in my most recent campaign (as a player) I'm playing an Aasimar Paladin. To help people know when I was in and out of character I used an accent, something loud and English. The other players and the DM where entertained but thrown because I was over the top. So I lowered it a little and used more of a cliche movie bulter english voice but it wasn't feeling the same.

I finally settled into, what everyone else agreed, was a damned fine James Mason impression.

In short, if you can't stay in character, keep trying until you find a role you don't want to leave.

2008-08-25, 03:27 PM
You could try giving you charters personality flaws. Nothing major just little thinks like being paranoid, or being too loud. It makes the charter fun to play. In my experience when a player breaks charter it's because they made up a boring personality for the charter.

2008-08-25, 05:01 PM
Introduce more encounters that can be solved by rp skills, but go easy on them if they're not used to the idea. Mechanically however, the absolute best solution is the virtual roll (http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/74/rolling-for-roleplaying-the-virtual-roll/).

2008-08-25, 05:11 PM
If it's a matter of players goofing off OOC, then obviously you need some time together out of game. Get all that "friendship" and "socialization" crap out of your system so you can get back to gaming. :smallwink: No, but in all seriousness, I know in my groups our biggest impediment is just people wanting to talk to each other and joke around.

Two ways to handle this--first is to just dive right into gaming, no chatter beforehand. Don't let people get distracted by anything other than the game. This can be hard to handle though, especially if people show up late.

Alternatively, get together way before the game is scheduled to start. One of my best groups got together for dinner--we went out to eat, had a nice (often cheap--we were grad students) meal and goofed off, then went to the gaming club or someone's house for the gaming. We had our social time so it was easier to focus on gaming afterward. The change of scenery also helped--we could associate one place with food and the other with focusing on gaming.

The GM could do stuff like assume everything someone says is in character unless they specifically note they're out of character. That can lead to amusing but sometimes convincing situations.

Buy cheap hats and make them your "IC" hats. When you wear them you're IC--makes people remember they're in character.

Have the GM reward roleplaying in a variety of ways like XP and extra loot.

Unless someone is going to be particularly distracted by it, play thematic music in the background. (I've got a great playlist from some movie and video game soundtracks that really help promote a nice mood for roleplaying.)

Have the party write a group background together to make them invested in roleplaying with each other.

Have a roleplaying session without dice--just do a "campfire chat" or something.

And of course...

Beat people out of character with a large stick. What? I tell ya, I've been tempted.... :smalltongue:

2008-08-25, 10:18 PM
Write something from your character's perspective. Backstory can work, but my favorite way is a campaign journal. Then, once you've written it, read it before session. Not only will it remind you of things about how the character works, but it might imprint itself on your voice and patterns for long enough into the game that the character itself takes over.

...it works for me, anyway. I tend to use tricks like this with some of my more important NPCs; often, the day I'm supposed to run them, I'll be getting the group together online while I hurriedly flip through old logs where the character in question played a heavy role to make sure the voice sets in.

2008-08-26, 10:10 AM
If you are playing 4e, at the very least fill out the "Personality Traits", "Mannerisms and Appearance", "Character Background" and "Companions and Allies" sections. It is enormously helpful to be reminded of who your character is every time you look at the back of your sheet.

If you are playing another edition, or find the space isn't enough, a sheet of lined paper works just as well.

2008-08-26, 10:15 AM
Try playing yourself. Don't bother with fancy backgrounds or super-rich explanations about how you came to be the last member of a dying race trapped in a world s/he believes to be an illusionary trap created by your family's rivals.

Play "Me, except I've got a cool sword/magic wand (ooo, er!)" for a while and concentrate on speaking in-character when dealing with NPCs. Start mundane and work your way up to the detailed character sketches; get used to imagining yourself being in the game world before you start imagining someone else in the game world.

2008-08-26, 10:41 AM
It's often the case that folk get embarressed it they think they will be the only one talking in character.
Ways to break this 'not wanting to be the only one' thing are usually simple here are three...
1. Just go to town yourself, whenever anyone replys to you OOC, reply in character, make it hard for them to communicate OOC, it can be just the crutch the others will need.
2. Accents, the more outragious the better, they make a clear distinction between in and out of character and folk enjoy having a laugh with them.
3. props it is often a good idea to have something that symbolises your character, wand, hat, sword, whatever just pick it up and wave it around whenever you want to act in character.

There are many other ways but these are some of the simplist to impliment.

2008-08-26, 10:53 AM
I agree with advice to remove distractions and provide stuff in-game more interesting than their casual conversations. When they begin to drift, something interesting (good, bad, funny, sad) occurs in the game. TV and movies are written with this kind of pacing for the reason that human attention is finite and variable but increases with investment.

Further, don't reference things in game terms - at all if possible. The GM is their link to the world via senses, describe what they perceive without expressing conclusion unless they're patently obvious - the old jem: Show, don't Tell.

This handles most things from a GM perspective.

From the player perspective, have them list the top three emotional attitudes their character shows most often. Portraying these is the heart of acting, and therefore roleplaying. Encourage diversity to prevent one dimensionality. Stress the Show don't Tell to them now, "Fytor feels nervous again" doesn't cut it. How does he show this without saying it? Carrot of various forms can encourage them.

Backgrounds can greatly help determine the PC's emotional make up, but it's not essential - revealing how they got this way could be character detailing for the future. How they get over or deal with these tendencies is character development. Goals tell us what they're gonna do, this tells us how they do it.

I demonstrate this porcess for a new PC ghoul rogue (http://dadominion.com/blog/2008/07/11/putting-life-into-the-dead/)I'm playing currently.