*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 20, 2014, 06:04:08 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 55 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: Suspension Of Reality And Playing Odd Characters  (Read 12616 times)
Galfraxas
Member

Posts: 75


« on: November 05, 2001, 10:21:00 AM »

I recently got into an arguement with a friend of mine about RPGs, and how certain things aren't playable as characters, and how people can't suspend reality to a certain point. To make this as simple as possible, I'll use the example we used in the arguement, a dog. I believe that it is possible to roleplay a dog, and be an active part of a roleplaying group (not necessarily comic relief), and that people can suspend reality enough to allow a person to play a dog. His arguement is that a person could never hope to roleplay a dog, even for comic relief, and that the human mind couldn't tolerate that level of reality suspension, which results in a total shutdown of the human mind. (Just a thought, if my brain turns off, does that not mean I am dead?) Any comments?

Galfraxas  
Logged

Imagination is the key to inner peace. Do you know which door it lies behind?
333Chronzon
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2001, 11:20:00 AM »

As somone who has roleplayed a dog before I have to object to his statment in the stongest possible terms:

Woof!

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Woof!

Grr...

Ok, that said, we need to reall focus in on what your friend is really going on about?

Does he mean 'roleplaying' in the sense that a person so deeply immerses themselves into becoming a dog that they 'actually' achieve a complete 'dog mind' and push their own 'human mind/personality' so completely away that they 'become' a dog?

I would say that yes it is possible, but it's not so much 'roleplaying' as going really too far.  (Whether one might call it going 'insane' or not probably depends on whether or not the person can 'get back' to being a 'human' and how easily he ca do it.)

Most roleplaying (particularly in the context of a roleplaying *game*) never really goes that far.  Hell, last night I played a little green man from Mars in Universalis.  Not to too much 'depth' of course, but I really don't see how one can put limits onto the mere act of roleplaying anything without considering to what *extent* one is taking the 'personal identification/ immersion' into the role.

Really *alien* things can be hard to do - without any frame of reference I can see it being next to impossible to 'deeply identify' with something like a Mi-go for instance.  

But a dog?

Scott B.
 
Logged
unodiablo
Member

Posts: 149


WWW
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2001, 11:31:00 AM »

Hey Tim,

Clearly, your friend is insane. :smile: I played a large mutated dog for nearly a year in an old Gamma World campaign. And he didn't have Heightened Int., or Telepathy or anything that gave him human-level intelligence. In fact, my brother's "Paladin" used my character Greyfurr for a mount.

I had much fun stealing stuff, getting into trouble eating food that he hadn't paid for, whupping some podog ass, and even got captured by Knights of Genetic Purity...

And what about the Wicks' new game, Cat? And I know there's another Cat game by a Forge member, Jared's working on a dinosaur RPG, and I think it's Eloran who has an animal RPG.

I agree with Scott, the only thing you can't play is something you really can't 'imagine' being, like a Mi-go, or an Elder God or something...
Sean
Logged

http://www.geocities.com/unodiablobrew/
Home of 2 Page Action Movie RPG & the freeware version of Dead Meat: Ultima Carneficina Dello Zombi!
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2001, 11:43:00 AM »

This point has been brought up before, and it kinda baffles me. I mean, sure, when I play a dog, I don't really believe I'm a dog. But when I'm watching Star Trek I don't really believe that there is a starship flying around out there. Do I buy into the story emotionally, tho? Sure. I suspend that natural disbelief so that I can. I'm with Scott. If I ever actually believed anything from an RPG was real, I hope y'all will have the decency to find me a nice mental institution to recover in.

Do some things break my suspension of disbelief more easily than others? Sure, I suppose. But playing a dog isn't even close. Actually, I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for pretty much anything. Magic, Wire-Fu, Soft Sci-Fi, Action Movie action...why would you want to disbelieve?

My motto: be easy to satisfy. That way you won't be disapointed as often.

I find that too often people put barriers on their SOD, and when you ask them why, the answer is invariably pointless.

"I don't like it because if breaks my SOD". Why? "Because it's not realistic."

I'm always baffled to find people who can believe in FTL travel, but not magic. Or vice versa. There are about equal amounts of evidence for the existene of each (i.e. none). Take it as an assumption that, in the universe in which we're playing, these things exist as advertised. Is that really so hard?

Play a dog? Hell, I bought into Scott's little green man last night (not to mention Tom's Ghost Miner with the adamantium mining pan). And Scott wasn't even trying hard (I've seen him try hard).

So, Tim, when your friend says that he can't suspend disbelief for someone playing a dog, is he saying he can't have fun in a game in which something like that is done? If so, the guy has my sympathy. He needs an imagination injection. OTOH, if he's a player, well, I suppose you should take his feelings into account.

I'd be interested, tho; where does he draw the line? Can one play and Elf? A memeber of the opposite sex (much harder than elves)? What is allowed? Or can one only play oneself? But that's silly, I'm standing right here, how could I believe that I'm somewhere else? :wink:

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2001, 11:50:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-11-05 14:31, unodiablo wrote:
I agree with Scott, the only thing you can't play is something you really can't 'imagine' being, like a Mi-go, or an Elder God or something...
Sean


But as a GM I play these things all the time. Or maybe I simulate them. But it's all the same to me. When I play a character in a game I only simulate them, I don't become them. I can even become Immersed without "becoming" the character (it's more about buying into the setting for me).

I suppose that I cannot describe a mountain well as I could not ever "be" a mountain. Silly. I do pretty good mountains, if I say so myself.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
333Chronzon
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2001, 12:09:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-11-05 14:50, Mike Holmes wrote:
Quote

On 2001-11-05 14:31, unodiablo wrote:
I agree with Scott, the only thing you can't play is something you really can't 'imagine' being, like a Mi-go, or an Elder God or something...
Sean


But as a GM I play these things all the time. Or maybe I simulate them. But it's all the same to me. When I play a character in a game I only simulate them, I don't become them. I can even become Immersed without "becoming" the character (it's more about buying into the setting for me).

I suppose that I cannot describe a mountain well as I could not ever "be" a mountain. Silly. I do pretty good mountains, if I say so myself.

Mike


I play them all the time too :smile:

The issue for me is to what kind of 'depth' I'm supposed to 'be' the thing.  How much am I really able/supposed/desire to identify with the 'really alien?'  As a GM really only so much as necessary to make the overall game fun and exciting for me as well as for the players.

The 'truely alien' is really difficult to 'fully identify' with and, as you say, for the most part all one can do is simulate what I think an alien's purposes and motivations and intentions are.

Identifying with a Mountian is an interesting example, in Primeval the world is very 'animist' and mountian *do* have wills and desires so as an Oracle and a Player that aspect of the world can be played to to a varying extent :smile:

Scott B.
 
Logged
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2001, 12:30:00 PM »

Quote

Identifying with a Mountian is an interesting example, in Primeval the world is very 'animist' and mountian *do* have wills and desires so as an Oracle and a Player that aspect of the world can be played to to a varying extent :smile:


Oh, cool, I can totally see it.

Kargudal Titanfoe begins his ascent of Mount Erebius. The mountain displeased that any mortal should dare to climb it's slopes first throws boulders down at Kargudal who avaoids them be deftly leaping from one to the next. The Great Mount frustrated and infuriated then blows it's top sending a river of lava and clouds of ash at the hero....

Neeeat...

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
333Chronzon
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2001, 12:41:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-11-05 15:30, Mike Holmes wrote:
Quote

Identifying with a Mountian is an interesting example, in Primeval the world is very 'animist' and mountian *do* have wills and desires so as an Oracle and a Player that aspect of the world can be played to to a varying extent :smile:


Oh, cool, I can totally see it.

Kargudal Titanfoe begins his ascent of Mount Erebius. The mountain displeased that any mortal should dare to climb it's slopes first throws boulders down at Kargudal who avaoids them be deftly leaping from one to the next. The Great Mount frustrated and infuriated then blows it's top sending a river of lava and clouds of ash at the hero....

Neeeat...

Mike


Yes, that's *exactly* it.

Time being what it was last night there was little opportunity to go into such things in depth, but Fate and the Spirits (of the Wind and the Elements, etc.) are often sources of active, 'willfull' opposition for the Heroes.  

The Oracle represents the Will of Fate and that is why you *never* want him to end up telling the tale of what happended - that's why there is a 'minimum number of successes' set by the Oracle to indicate how great the Challenge is and what the result of failure is likely to be.  

Scott B.
Logged
Laurel
Member

Posts: 243


WWW
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2001, 03:34:00 PM »

I think that given the right circumstances, odd characters can be both entertaining and believable.  I don't have fun participating in games that contain odd characters, however, when the character's particular kind of oddness seems to be antithetical and destructive to the Premise or the setting.  I think I know the point your friend was probably trying to make.

As an example: I was participating in a fairly melodramatic game based on Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.  Someone introduced a wolf "companion" to the game that really didn't act like a real wolf or even a real dog: it acted like a seven year old child with paws.  I finally threw a huge fit the day the wolf started having telepathic conversations with one of the vampires, wanting to know what "human sex" was like and if the vampire would fondle its you-can-guess.  

Had we been playing some other game, with a different and more sex-starved childlike wolfie telepaths Premise, I could have appreciated that particular odd character.  Well... maybe. :smile:
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2001, 03:46:00 PM »

Tim,

As most replies have disagreed with your friend, I'd like to point out that one Forge member has a VERY good argument in his favor. It has to do with the other people at the table.

(Oh Forge member? You don't mind if I paraphrase you, do you? Identify yourself if you want to. We had this conversation with you, me, and Greg Stafford.)

Hypothetical example. So here I am, 37-year-old white guy, and I am playing a 24-year-old black gangsta character from Jersey City. I "do my wrist" funny and speak like stuff I heard from a rap album. I make decisions that seem to me to be consistent with the character's background.

Well, so his argument goes, everyone at the table is simply not going to be able to buy my character. They cannot get away from the fact that I, Ron, am doing an imitation, and a fairly uninformed imitation at that. No matter how much I'm into it, they are not going to be.

He has a point! If we were talking about a story I've written, then maybe my depiction of the gangsta character would not kick off this negative reaction. The medium allows me to rely wholly on the visuals generated by the reader, and as long as I'm not too off-base, that acts as a major piece of the imaginative commitment. But in role-playing, the gross evidence that the character is a construct is too overwhelming.

Same goes, he says, for gender-crossed characters. He simply despises going to the squint-eyed imaginative commitment necessary to believe that pasty Todd's character is really a well-muscled green-eyed anime vixen. He can buy that equally-pasty Janice can "Explore" such a character, but not that Todd can.

It so happens that I do not agree entirely with this Forge member on this subject. However, he has a DAMN good point and I think it deserves consideration, before we all start agreeing that anyone can imagine or depict anything successfully.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-11-05 19:14 ]
Logged
kwill
Member

Posts: 167


WWW
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2001, 05:04:00 PM »

I think there are two issues at stake here, both the difficulty in portraying a character oneself, and the difficulty of suspending one's disbelief for someone else

in CLAWs (my local gaming society) the issue is referred to as the "gnarrlibur" issue; gnarrliburs are cute, blue boxes with three eyes with a Boing skill and no real communicative abilities

the original article addressed the difficulty with "cute" characters (gnomes, halflings, fey), but extended to cover any alien-to-human-type characters; the central claim has been that any non-human portrayal will end up stereotypical (or anti-stereotypical)

I think there is a fine line to be walked, affected by the SoD everyone at the table, whether they be happy-go-lucky Mike's or hardline Anonymous Forge Member Who Got To Speak To Greg Stafford, The Bastard

I think that an overlooked point is asking why you have chosen a potentially Suspender Snapping character... if you're playing D&D and you play a gnome, no problem, other members of the group need to get over themselves with respect to short humanoids, if you're playing a gnarrlibur, there may be a problem

my line is drawn at non-sentience (I appreciate the term is rather fuzzy); if you're non-human-intelligence dog, I've gotta ask, why? how are you contributing to the party/game in a meaningful way?

(not dissing anyone here, I've just not come across an example of this where a player contributed meaningfully to the game except that "gosh, he played a dog"; perhaps I just don't see a dog being a meaningful protagonist)

Anonymous Forge Member WGTSTGSTB brings up a good point with regards to opposite-sex characters, but in the end every character that we play is in some respects unknowable to us, some are just more unknowable than others

(tangent: although I find there's always an aspect of a character that I identify with, and certain characters archetypes that I just can't see myself playing)

my Delta Green investigator, St John, ended up with a SAN of zero, and I kept on playing him, the rationale being that although *I* didn't understand his thinking (and hadn't for a while know), his own skills and abilities allowed him to fool the rest of the party, while he merrily served Nyarlathotep in the background; the other players didn't know anything about it, although things became more and more obvious as the campaign drew to a close (very obvious when Gnarly sacrificed St John to prevent the coming of Azathoth)

finally, I'd suggest that group-based party creation would avoid some of these issues as people get to discuss ideas, identifying their borders of suspension of disbelief (BOSODs?); then again, I think group-based party creation is the cure of most evils

also, I think that following thru in your portrayal of increasingly alien characters assists others in their SoD; showing that your commitment demonstrates that you want to contribute to the game rather than simply be a disruptive gnarrlibur

boing

Logged

d@vid
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2001, 05:08:00 PM »

I officially adopt "gnarliburr" as technical Forge jargon, courtesy of David. I'm not so sure about BOSOD, though - great concept, but a terrifying acronym.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2341


WWW
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2001, 08:11:00 PM »

Hey David,

Anonymous Forge Member WGTSTGSTB brings up a good point with regards to opposite-sex characters, but in the end every character that we play is in some respects unknowable to us, some are just more unknowable than others.

I think the important aspect of the point WGTSTGSTB made in relation to gender is that character protagonism depends on communication from player, through gameplay, to audience. Pasty Todd may be well into Actor stance with his vixen character. He may roleplay her through jealosy, betrayal and revenge. He may deliver his flirtatious giggle to the arresting officer NPC on the scene. But if the other players can't get past the incongruity, the communication of the vixen's protagonism is lost in the noise of Todd's maleness. Male writers of romance novels use female pseudonyms for a reason.

The issue isn't whether the character is unknowable to its player or not. It's that the other players fail in being audience to the character's protagonism.

Paul
Logged

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2001, 08:16:00 PM »

Hey,

Paul hit it directly on the nose. That's exactly what - whoops, almost typed his name - was driving at. Our discussion at the time moved directly into that very issue.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Jared A. Sorensen
Member

Posts: 1463

Darksided


WWW
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2001, 09:46:00 PM »

Yup, Ron and Paul have pretty much got it. For lo, I am Anonymous Forge Member WGTSTGSTB. Like you couldn't figure that out...sheesh.

- Jared, who also got to order Indian food for Greg Stafford (and whose head almost exploded while listening to him and Ron discuss...things. Weird things)

Oh yeah, a point.

Ultimately, it all boils down to this: WHY is the player playing an opposite-gendered character? A lot of the time, it seems like an arbitrary decision. And if you've pulled a character out of your ass without any concept of why you chose to play that character, then dammit you're not devoting enough time and thought to the game and I just don't wanna play with ya.

There's some other stuff but I forget what it is and my room's filled with dust from packing boxes.

_________________
jared a. sorensen / http://www.memento-mori.com
indie game design from beyond the grave

[ This Message was edited by: Jared A. Sorensen on 2001-11-06 00:48 ]
Logged

jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!