All the World's a Stage: Odd man out

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All the World's a Stage: Odd man out
Robin Torres is subbing for a very busy Michael Gray. Please ignore the muffled sounds coming from the other room, as it is just my pet ... hedgehog ... yeah. And pay no mind to that mostly used roll of duct tape. I was just making some plumbing repairs.

When trying to become a better RPer for the For Gnomeregan! project, I went through and studied many recent All the World's a Stage columns. But I have to admit, I didn't even glance at the "You can't be a vampire" article because, well, I figured it was just vampire RP bashing. (The Twilight photo was a bit of a deterrent as well.) I read it last night, however, and discovered it was actually about how to discourage someone who is derailing your group's roleplay by playing a far-out character. This week, we're going to look at the other side of the coin, and offer suggestions for the person who wants to play that challenging character who doesn't quite fit in.

Are you derailing your group's roleplay?

If you are playing your odd character by yourself, then as long as you aren't being spammy, no one will care except for the RP fascists. But if you are a participating in a troupe/guild/event, then your unusual story could conflict with your teammates'. Sure, your story is awesome and creative and you think it's the most fun ever; but are you sucking your group's RP fun while you play it? Ask yourself these questions:
  • Does your story follow the basic premise of your troupe? We formed B.L.O.G. for the express purpose of preparing to retake Gnomeregan. Of course, some people are only pretending to help for their own nefarious purposes. But someone who doesn't know about Operation Gnomeregan has no place with us. Nor does anyone who isn't even pretending to be on our side. If your character isn't following the main purpose of your troupe, he doesn't belong and shouldn't be a part of it.
  • Do special rules have to be made for you? Are you refusing to use the magic that powers your guildchat because you shun magic on your character? Must you walk everywhere because you are too old and tired to run? Are you a pacifist and therefore unwilling to do most quests in-character? If your group has to make special rules just to accommodate you, you're being a bit of an RP funsucker.
  • Do others have to pause their RP to participate in yours? If you are playing an alien who doesn't know basic language and requires everything explained to you, your friends have to spend all their time trying to communicate with you. Or they'll ignore you completely, which will be frustrating for you and not good for group cohesion.

Become the odd man in.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are not roleplaying well with others. But that doesn't mean that you have to discard your awesome story. You can still be unique and remain part of the group with some extra creative effort.
  • Hold events. Rather than play your uniqueness as part of the regular day to day RP in your guild, invite your RPmates to join you in events to play out your story. This way you will have their permission to share your story with them. And you'll be giving them extra fun, rather than interfering with their enjoyment.
  • Get an accomplice. Invite one of your friends to RP your character's eccentricities on the side.
  • Fast forward your story. If you will eventually be able to fit in due to a life changing event coming up in your story, then just skip ahead to that point. Write up what happened and post it so that your guildies can read it and understand.
  • Take your character off-stage. Rather than RP your special creation with your friends, play his relative/friend/sidekick/minion -- whatever works for your story. Twice the roleplaying is twice the fun! For example, if your unique character is an amnesiac, play his doctor or therapist. Make the doctor be an appropriate part of your group, but have him be saddled with the constant care of his patient. You will still be telling your story, but your teammates won't have to be the ones explaining every little thing and taking time out from their stories to do it.
  • Create your own separate troupe. If your story is going to take some time to play out, with a nice pay-off at the end, create your own guild to do it. Think of it like a play with a beginning, middle and planned end. If you sell this as a project with a finite time frame, you may be able to attract a small group of people looking for a side challenge. You could even create it as a chat channel so that people don't have to leave their guilds or create new characters to participate.
  • Ask permission from your leader. Your GM may be open to working with you on your story. This is less likely to happen, however, if you just foist your oddness upon everybody without warning. So take your GM aside before introducing your gnome possessed by a blood elf to your draenei-only troupe.
Your RP fun should end when it infringes upon the fun of a fellow RPer. (Captain Obvious says that really applies to every activity, in-game or out.) You don't have to conform to a cookie-cutter character that stifles your creativity in order to get along with your friends, however. Just be careful not to tread on their toes and give them the choice to participate in your unique story. But if your efforts to get people to join you don't work, don't burn bridges by issuing ultimatums or having a diva tantrum. Just blog your story and try again with a different character. After all, creativity isn't your problem and you should have plenty available to make another story you want to play.

All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. You might wonder what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, or to totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying, or even how to RP on a non-RP server!

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