June 28th, 2010

Voodoo Dolly

Character Interaction

A few months ago my younger brother decided to try roleplaying online again after a long hiatus.  His character was a young chief of a small community, who was sent out into the world to view how other people acted and make note of what the world was like.  Coming in with a blank slate, he wound up being very shamanic, contacting the local spirits, making pacts with them, and gaining spirit allies who could help him survive in the wilderness and deserts which stretched out between tribes and nations.

The thing is, the reaction of the players kind of threw me off.
A few of the players seemed to develop a strong dislike of the character because of his contact with the spirits.  He picked some lesser spirits who can grow and evolve as he does, and because he chose natural, elemental forces, he was able to ask them to do things for him (carry him to travel, provide water to drink, shape the earth or trees).  This was something any character could develop in the setting, but nobody seemed to desire to, and instead they got upset when someone actually did, and proved good at it.

A few players seemed to get upset with the character's attitude.  The character came in as a clean slate, watching how people act and react, and watching the impression it left on the spirit world.  He'd discuss philosophy with the spirits, an over time developed a view of what was 'good' and 'bad'.  Because of his ties with the spirits, if there was a contradiction between his view and the views of others around him, he'd go to the higher source to try to figure out 'how things work'.  The fact that he never simply accepted what people said seemed to rub them the wrong way, and one player even complained about the character's confidence -- that he was very certain when he came to decisions, even though people didn't actually try to teach him otherwise.

The last thing, I think, that bothered people was that when he went back to his community, he laid down some rules -- take only what you need, physical objects are transitory and not to be collected, but shared with the community, the needs of the community outweigh the wants of the individual, everyone gives to the community, and those who can not must be tended to by those who can.  He disallowed money in his community, instead enforcing a 'if you need it, take it' sort of thing.  This apparently really upset one player.  The character had a very, very strong moral character and wouldn't deviate from it, and even that seemed to bother people.

Anyway... it just struck me as weird, and I was somewhat thrown off by the reactions I saw.  Interestingly enough now, the character's been tossed into a more advanced society (going from a stone age to a middle ages civilization).  The player's having fun, noticing just how different everything is from what he knows, and he's willing to delve in and try to hold himself to his character's values -- and he's mostly being avoided for it so far.

Just... strangeness.
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative
Voodoo Dolly

Setting Question

Something that came up with my last post, and made me consider writing about my views here on that.  Specifically, the importance of race and nationality in a roleplaying game.

One of the things I have tried to stress from time to time in games I run is that non-human races are not human.  They have traits and conditions which set them apart from human beings, and these traits will alter how they see things and how they interact with others.  The second thing I stress is that nation matters.  A character's nationality, where they are born and raised, will prejudice their views on certain things, be it religion, custom, music, art, or their views of people not of their nation.

I've noticed a few times in online RP, and unfortunately among some of the players in TT games I run or play in, that people will completely ignore these kind of things the moment they're inconvenient to what the player wants to do.  I've seen religious characters who ignore their religion entirely when dealing with people of rival faiths, or who throw away any loyalty to their nation, or who completely ignore cultural mores when dealing with others.  As a GM, when I enforce the culture or racial characteristics, I've had some players get quite mad (and some quit the online game entirely).  (Mind you, the way I tend to enforce it is to let them know they're skewing radically from the 'norm', and then if that doesn't help, I'll bring someone in from the culture / race of about equal level to the PC, and have that NPC stick to the culture / religion and give the PC the hairy eyeball).  Worst-case scenarios happen if the PC's actions make it up the chain of command to their superiors... that never goes well in some games.

As a player, I love playing with this sort of thing.  Exploring cultures and religions, seeing how they interact and how it flavours a person's views, this is the stuff I find cool.  I love playing characters with an alien mindset, and even more doing the 'stranger in a strange land' thing where the character is a fish out of water, and needs to adapt and learn, balancing the character's views / morality with that of the world around them.

So, in your games, how much do you try to enforce cultural / religious / racial setting, and what have you seen of people skewing it or diving into it?

  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative