Dramatic characters require dramatic scenes, often spotlighting one or two PCs or NPCs, but how do we do this when games are designed to be a group effort? It’s simple: just learn to let someone else be the star for a bit. This isn’t a new idea, so let’s go through some of the methods you can use to help your friends bring their characters to the forefront.
Previously we talked about creating character backgrounds, and we even tried our hand at focusing on secondary attributes to create multi-dimensional characters. In today's blog entry I want to go more in-depth, looking at the mechanics of a dramatic character.
The above guidelines give us some key things to shoot for when creating a dramatic character, but of course the real question is how to play one. Many of us act dramatically in our games accidentally, but few of us plan for it or do it on purpose. If one is encouraged to take improv classes (as some do to learn how to respond to assorted challenges in gaming), we shouldn’t ignore dramatics. Most of us have some ideas about what drama is, but these ideas are often limited to the exaggerated, black-vs-white tropes of melodrama.
From the Ancient Olympics to the “Three Manly Skills” of the Huns―have played an important role in numerous civilizations. Since this is the case, why do we not see these in our fiction and role-playing settings? There have been a few attempts at sports-based RPG games like World Wide Wrestling or XXXX Extreme Street Luge, but very few sports are ever mentioned in non-Earth settings. This is a shame, because a good sport brings out many of the same opportunities as murder-hoboing―but without all the murdering!
Over the last few years I have replaced my weekend Netflix video binging with AP watching, so I am becoming very familiar with AP (“Actual Play”) tropes. While there are a few different types, such as studio shows vs remote games, the ones that totally annoy me are the viewer participation types. Some people may tell me I'm wrong, but hey: this is my March Madness, and my soapbox.
I generally avoid talking about specific game systems, but recently I started a D&D 5E game and I have some experience that can help you in building characters. In one short game, I had our monk character go up against a friendly monk NPC in a fighting match. During the fight the PC had an ability to cause disadvantage and no matter what I tried, I could barely hit the PC. This allowed the PC to overcome the superior NPC―and could allow you to do the same. First, let's do a quick review.