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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGirl

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    Default Good ways to get players into character?

    Sometimes, it seems to take time for players to get into character andd start thinking and talking in character when a game starts. Unfortunately, pacing generally means that the heavier RP is happening at the start of the game, since later on, the party has placed themselves onto the rails of the hour toward the next encounter. Are there any good ways you've seen to get people warmed up into their characterization at the start of the session for in character discussion? I need to know that at some point, characters talk amongst themselves, since otherwise, even the most basic housekeeping tasks go wonky. (At one point I had to remind people that the melee was hitting things with a cheap morningstar while they were carrying a magic weapon around in a backpack.)
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Toy Killer's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Basically, DMing (Or GMing) boils down to pointing out "Bad" so the players can apply excessive amounts of "Good".

    When a troll is eating goats under a bridge, you have pointed out the bad. The players could lure the troll away from his bridge, they could relocate the goat herders away from the bridge, but Occam's razor standing, 9 times out of 10, they will kill the troll and be done with it.

    The trick is expanding what "Bad" that you point them at. Like any other task, it's going to take some getting use to, but they will eventually come to understand what else needs to be done.

    I like side quest/missions to really hammer the point home, inspired by World Of Warcraft questing.

    Yes, the town is in danger from the gnoll incursion. Lets go show the Gnolls what's what! Missing child, taken by the Gnolls? Oh, It's On! We Killed the Gnolls! Yay! We found the Missing child! Yay! Where's our reward? Wait, this isn't your child?

    The plot takes off, the bad has been pointed out. The child is either still missing or dead, the new child needs to be brought back to his/her home. Watch your players (Especially if they are parents) leap into interactions with the new NPC. and even inbetween adventures, the child can provide new "Bad" for the players to be challenged with. He doesn't have sleeping equipment, where do they stay? Does he sleep next to the barbarian? She was told by her father that he doesn't chop wood after dark, because that's when the blood bats come out and can't sleep.

    The possibilities are endless. But expand out of "Kill X, Get Z" and you're players may get frustrated, but they will get better.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
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    PirateWench

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    The only thing I can think of is setting the scene for them. Like "it's early morning and you are all sitting at the breakfast table at the local inn". Something that tells them the game has begun and it's time to be in-character.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    1. Recurring NPCs. You need an NPC, whether a follower, cohort, hireling, or just a recognizable citizen, with a memorable personality or connection to the PCs. Just let it be whomever your players seem to respect or gravitate towards in-game; don't try to force it, let them decide. Then have the NPC involved in the early part of the session and interact with the PCs.

    2. Props. May or may not work. They should be special items that the characters have gathered during their travels, magical or not. Don't overdo it or have it be silly. I once used an acorn, a pebble, and a stick after an adventure in an elven forest.
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    Spamalot in the Playground
     
    DigoDragon's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    3. Music - Mileage varies, but my group gets into character a lot faster when I have appropriate music playing in the background. Something slow for a dramatic scene, or a creepy tune for a tense moment in a dungeon...
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Make whatever story the players create matter to the campaign. Two of my favorite games that I ever played in are Torg and Earthdawn. For both games the concept of storytelling matters to the characters and not jsut the players.

    Earthdawn has a fair bit of name magic. Learning the lore or creating a lore can improve how well you can use magic items and abilities. Doing deeds with items can be vital to unlocking new powers. Magic items are often created because they were a once mundance, or slightly enchanted item, that had a connection to a powerful character who did baddass things. And while you are oftenn following on the heels of someone else's legend, the deeds you are doing may increase the power of the item for the next generation of users. Most of that is just world and fluff, but some of that is mechanics - depending on the edition.

    Torg relies on the players having epic stories to tell to free people from dimensional influences.

    Really, if you make the characters aware that stories and lengends matter, you might be able to get them to care about the world. If they care about the world, they are more likely to get into character.


    In Earthdawn, a friend and I both had trolls in one party. We played siblings, and there was supposed to be a minor subplot (at most) with troll territory. Well, we went out of our way to make treaties with the troll and recruit them on our side for the upcoming battles. We even settled down and had families. In the campaign ending battle my "brother" sacrificed himself and his ship to save everyone. In response I carved a statue in his honor. And, that was pretty much all stuff that was invented by us once we decided to care about the legends and stories of our "family." We even got out "father" a ship a crew to go be a sky pirate doing the things he loved. Ah ... good times.

    Even though Earthdawn makes this central to the mechanics, the basic ideas should be transferable.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    CarpeGuitarrem's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Steal from Burning Wheel, in part or in whole. There's three bits I'm thinking of.

    Beliefs
    Statements of a character's goals, ideals, and/or motivations. For instance, "Evil is evil, so I will bring Lady Thera down at any cost."

    Instincts
    The reflex impulses of a character, like "When insulted, always strike back with the first retort that springs to mind." (They're not absolute, but in Burning Wheel, you get rewarded for pulling your instinct out when it would cause trouble.)

    Traits
    Single-word sum-ups of an aspect of a character, such as Loner, Jaded, or Alert (or, rarely, a few words that encompass an idea, such as "Aura of Martyrdom").

    Now, each of these has a specific rules tie-in, but I also find that merely writing them down has a massive effect on your sense of character. If you've defined these things for a character, knowing that alone will help you step into their shoes easier. (Also, Beliefs in particular change frequently in the game, even session-by-session. Instincts as well; Traits have to be voted out by the players at the conclusion of an arc, and you only gain new Traits by vote.)
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lorsa View Post
    The only thing I can think of is setting the scene for them. Like "it's early morning and you are all sitting at the breakfast table at the local inn". Something that tells them the game has begun and it's time to be in-character.
    This, but I expand on it, using two things:
    - more details "...the breakfast is a sweet gruel with raisins and honey served from a shared bowl "

    - making the players participate in the scene building. "OK, each of you shortly describe what you did before coming down for breakfast, what you're carrying with you, and how do you feel physically and emotionally. I remind you that you've been drinking heavily last night after a successful adventure, your wounds should be healing well after a good night's rest at one of the best inns in town"

  9. - Top - End - #9
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    AKA_Bait's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Quote Originally Posted by prufock View Post
    1. Recurring NPCs. You need an NPC, whether a follower, cohort, hireling, or just a recognizable citizen, with a memorable personality or connection to the PCs. Just let it be whomever your players seem to respect or gravitate towards in-game; don't try to force it, let them decide. Then have the NPC involved in the early part of the session and interact with the PCs.

    This is the method I used most often. If you have a handful of NPCs that float around, they can be used to trigger most discussions between the PCs that need to happen at the beginning of the session. Another way to use NPCs in this fashion is to have an NPC that is part of only one or two of the party members back stories appear with a problem. This puts the PC who knows the NPC in the position of having to introduce them and discuss with the other party members if and how they are going to help.

    A second option if this doesn't seem to take, some what sneakier, is to simply come out ask one of the players out of session if they wouldn't mind being the catalyst to try to get the PCs talking. I've found it's much easier for the players to avoid or dismiss a conversation trying to be initiated by an NPC than one by another player.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    The two necessary attributes are:

    1. Players who want to play in-character, and
    2. Characters designed so that playing that character fits that game.

    People who just want to design and play optimized fighting machines aren't there to role-play. And characters who don't fit the scenario (Stalwart heroes in a sly political game, or evil thieves in disguise in a Paladin camp) can't be played correctly.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    I usually try to loosely follow this pattern to get my players ready for the roleplaying - not necessarily in this order.

    1. Give them time to arrive and talk about stuff they need to get out so they don't start like "oh my god I need to tell you what happened yesterday..." in the middle of the game session.

    2. Make them talk about their character.

    3. Plan ahead stuff like "what and when are we going to eat tonight?"

    4. Play some music that fits to the atmosphere of the roleplay.

    5. Let them have a smoke break before starting playing. You could think it is common sense, but I had it happen not only once that people called out "omg I need a cig" 10 minutes after starting. Really disrupts the play.

    6. Tell them at the beginning when you plan to make a break for eating and stuff so they can get that out of their mind.

    7. Let somebody some up what happened last time.

    8. Let them describe their character's appearance. Really became a ritual with us.

    9. Start with something roleplay-heavy that forces a reaction of the character and is NOT COMBAT. Combat takes you away from your character play and into the dice role mode.

    10. Agree upon that there will be breaks and ask them to not stand up and roam around too much. It can be really disruptive if every 5 minutes somebody gets up to make a sandwich or stuff.
    Last edited by Lafaellar; 2013-08-23 at 03:24 PM.

  12. - Top - End - #12
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    Eonas's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    When I REALLY want to get in character, I go out into sewers, kill people, and take ther stuff.
    This is the end. Unless, possibly, it isn't.

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    AttilaTheGeek's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    One small tip that's surprisingly helpful is to speak in the first person. It is especially so in play-by-post games, where everything. If a player says "[My character] wakes up, prepares spells, and goes downstairs for breakfast" or whatever action you care to name, that creates a separation between the player and the character. If the player instead says "I wake up, prepare spells, and go downstairs for breakfast", that leads to a mental connection between the player and the character.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Try putting the combat at the beginning!
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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    I had a GM once who had the most brilliant way of getting people into character.
    The game I was in was fairly standard. Four blokes meet in an in deep in the woods, and then, the inn is besieged by strange undead things.
    But before the game, everyone had to come up with an in character story to tell around the fire before all hell broke loose. The paladins story was about how he came into his faith, the rouge talked about how he used to catch rats for a living as a kid and accidentally burned down a temple, the warlock told about the time he spent travelling with a minstrel show, and my barbarian told about this one time, when he got really, really drunk and got into a fistfight with a horse.
    By the time the stablehand stumbled bleeding through the door, everyone was in character, and a great time was had by all.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Quote Originally Posted by Concrete View Post
    I had a GM once who had the most brilliant way of getting people into character.
    The game I was in was fairly standard. Four blokes meet in an in deep in the woods, and then, the inn is besieged by strange undead things.
    But before the game, everyone had to come up with an in character story to tell around the fire before all hell broke loose. The paladins story was about how he came into his faith, the rouge talked about how he used to catch rats for a living as a kid and accidentally burned down a temple, the warlock told about the time he spent travelling with a minstrel show, and my barbarian told about this one time, when he got really, really drunk and got into a fistfight with a horse.
    By the time the stablehand stumbled bleeding through the door, everyone was in character, and a great time was had by all.
    Neat. If you still know that GM, please tell him/her that I'm using that.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    The two necessary attributes are:

    1. Players who want to play in-character, and
    2. Characters designed so that playing that character fits that game.

    People who just want to design and play optimized fighting machines aren't there to role-play. And characters who don't fit the scenario (Stalwart heroes in a sly political game, or evil thieves in disguise in a Paladin camp) can't be played correctly.
    This, with a few additions

    1) Something that in some way gets you to jot down notes on your character helps. This could be something like Fate or Burning Wheel, where your character personality is part of play. It could just be running through the random NPC personality generator from the 1e DMG.

    2) A GM that puts players in positions where their actions matter. It's harder to get attached to your character if your 'in character' decisions have no impact.

    3) A GM that gives players decisions that don't have "obvious" answers, but would instead be based on what the characters value more, and challenge their beliefs. You need to get in the Thieves' Guild to find out information on some stuff going on. Your initiation involves shaking down an elderly couple for protection money for their business, when its obvious they can't really afford it. Lives hang in the balance - not getting in the Thieves' Guild may result in delays that result in death. So what do you do?

    These are the types of situations that make you really consider who your character is.

    On a different level, you can always go with the Apocalypse World/Dungeon World trick. Whenever anyone slips "out of character" and starts talking mechanics, just look at them and ask, "Okay, so what do you *do*?"
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2013-08-26 at 05:42 PM.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Banned
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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    There's a lot of good stuff here, but I thought I'd add my own few cents here.

    First, minimize out of character time and distractions. Don't let small children run around, don't let players futz about on their smart phones, and if two people want to talk about something that has nothing to do with the game ask them to wait, or if it can't wait, to step away and talk about it elsewhere. Nothing messes up being in character like trying to divide attention.

    Second, make sure that players know who their characters are, and what they sound like. If a player knows where a character comes from, what that character's goals and motivations are, and what his or her attitude toward life, adventuring, and certain monsters is then it will be easier for them to channel that character. Everything from a character sketch to an accent to a particular way of phrasing things is what most players need to really know who it is they're portraying.

    Third, as the DM, YOU stay in character. If players realize that they can't move forward until they properly portray their characters, then they're much more likely to do it without having to be told. Keep all OOC bickering minimized, and insist that players solve their issues in character.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGirl

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R
    People who just want to design and play optimized fighting machines aren't there to role-play.
    Okay, I need to take offense here because I have been painted as one of those unfairly before. From my perspective, I was having to put less into RP bits of my character than before , mechanically, because the GM wasn't interested in RP, based on the wacky encounters that were getting thrown at us by a killer GM. I wanted to RP more, but the game was mostly just huge fights. Then, people started complaining about the dirty stinking powergamer because I wasn't dying.
    "We were once so close to heaven, Peter came out and gave us medals declaring us 'The nicest of the damned'.."
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Mordar's Avatar

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    Default Re: Good ways to get players into character?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    People who just want to design and play optimized fighting machines aren't there to role-play.
    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Okay, I need to take offense here because I have been painted as one of those unfairly before. From my perspective, I was having to put less into RP bits of my character than before , mechanically, because the GM wasn't interested in RP, based on the wacky encounters that were getting thrown at us by a killer GM. I wanted to RP more, but the game was mostly just huge fights. Then, people started complaining about the dirty stinking powergamer because I wasn't dying.
    I saw this too...please note the word I highlighted in Jay R's post though, before anyone else jumps in screaming "Stormwind Fallacy!"

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