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View Full Version : drug use, suicide, depression, RL medical, etc. roleplay?



randomhero00
2010-11-21, 09:53 PM
Do you ever bring that in with your character?

So far I have successfully seen an alcoholic roleplayed. Which has made me think of other real life issues that might be roleplayed out to give the character real depth. Anyone else done this?

PS oh and also a phobia of fire and water (two separate characters.)

Callista
2010-11-21, 09:53 PM
It's difficult to do without getting into angst overload, unfortunately.

randomhero00
2010-11-21, 09:59 PM
It's difficult to do without getting into angst overload, unfortunately.

Really? My group hasn't had a problem with it. it can bring real flaws to the character and emotional background.

amaranth69
2010-11-21, 10:04 PM
I have seen in one of our 4th ed groups an elf swordmage who was an alcoholic and had a deathly fear of gnomes. Great roleplay.

The Vorpal Tribble
2010-11-21, 10:04 PM
Oh yeah. I played a really tragic fellow. Fell in love with a girl he found half-drowned by a river, they fell in love over time, but though she would 'lead him on' she never would express her feelings. He asked her to marry him, and she spurned him. So he took a new girl out of spite and paraded her around in front of this girl... who then committed suicide.

He found her diary, which spoke of her having escaped a hag who cursed her to never accept the care of another.

Beside himself with grief, he went to throw himself off the waterfall where he proposed to her, but such was his self loathing he refused to let himself off that easy. Instead he vowed he would spend the rest of his life aiding others, especially women. His 'stigmata' was that his hands constantly have blood upon them that cannot be washed off, so he wears gloves. He knows that when the blood leaves, he'll have done enough, and then he can die.

Has the Stigmata (of course) and Vow of Celibacy feats. He has inflicted on himself the curse of the hag, and will never let himself be loved by another.

Very darkly romantic, self-sacrificial character. Loves everyone but himself.

randomhero00
2010-11-21, 10:08 PM
That sounds very cool Vorpal Tribble. Similar to a character I'm playing atm. Very self-martyr. May end up offing himself for the greater good because of what he has become.

Dr.Epic
2010-11-21, 10:10 PM
If I ever decide to play an Alan Moore character, but as of date, I have never (unless you count all dwarves as alcoholics).

randomhero00
2010-11-21, 10:25 PM
If I ever decide to play an Alan Moore character, but as of date, I have never (unless you count all dwarves as alcoholics).

No but random phobias for all the characters can be fun. We've done such where one would be afraid of water, another of fire, another of dogs, and so on. Made for funny roleplay.

Coidzor
2010-11-21, 10:31 PM
If I ever decide to play an Alan Moore character, but as of date, I have never (unless you count all dwarves as alcoholics).

It's not alcoholism, their bodies are just designed to run on it. :smallbiggrin:

The Vorpal Tribble
2010-11-21, 10:37 PM
It's not alcoholism, their bodies are just designed to run on it. :smallbiggrin:
Dwarven Model-T's... Farmpunk style! :smallbiggrin:

unimaginable
2010-11-21, 10:53 PM
The vast majority of real life drug use is not pathological; the same should be true in game.

For example, the Augury spell requires burning 25 gp worth of incense. In a previous campaign, the FS's player and I worked it out so that he had a pipe in which he would smoke certain plants to trigger visions as the mechanic behind any of his divination effects. Even if you don't take it to that extreme, burning and inhaling the smoke of incense already counts as a form of drug use, so the Augury spell is inherently drug related in the RAW, just not spelled out as such.

Talyn
2010-11-21, 11:08 PM
Playing an alcoholic can turn into just an excuse to be disruptive. Not particularly fun.

Playing a rocovering alcoholic who desperately wants to stay sober, on the other hand, makes for a great character.

El Dorado
2010-11-21, 11:13 PM
Depends on the system. Our group has done it more with Vampire than D&D. Occasionally, our DM will throw it in---my bard almost became addicted to drugs due to his fast living.

edit: forgot the best part: my bard started the game with a phobia of being alone. he actually took penalties if he spent any great stretch of time by himself. great incentive to always be the center of attention.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-11-21, 11:14 PM
I played a character who was woefully addicted to spheroin (space heroin, or 'sparrow' as we took to calling it). It made for some interesting complications, like getting his fix in the vast darkness of the black, and keeping it secret. But that game only lasted for three or four sessions, so we didn't get to see any of the really complicated issues that it would no doubt have brought.

Coidzor
2010-11-21, 11:14 PM
Dwarven Model-T's... Farmpunk style! :smallbiggrin:

Ok, I'm imagining dwarven left for dead where the cars just explode from being jostled instead of having car alarms.


Even if you don't take it to that extreme, burning and inhaling the smoke of incense already counts as a form of drug use, so the Augury spell is inherently drug related in the RAW, just not spelled out as such.

Um. Incense? Seriously? Is burning candles for the scent drug use now?

Dr.Epic
2010-11-21, 11:16 PM
No but random phobias for all the characters can be fun. We've done such where one would be afraid of water, another of fire, another of dogs, and so on. Made for funny roleplay.

Fear of water? What happens when it rains and you're out in the middle of nowhere with no shelter?

RebelRogue
2010-11-21, 11:16 PM
While I get that these ideas are potentially awesome for some groups/players, always make sure you're not stepping on somebody's toes. If you're a recovering alcoholic or suffer from some kind of psychological disorder, chances are you don't want to be reminded of that all the time while gaming.

Edit:

Fear of water? What happens when it rains and you're out in the middle of nowhere with no shelter?
Hilarity ensues :smallwink:

Coidzor
2010-11-21, 11:19 PM
Hilarity ensues :smallwink:

I think the bigger question is how the person survives without being capable of drinking. Which Pratchett dealt with when he brought up the concept of using hypdophobes to reflect water to enable levitation via sheer fear-hate.

WinceRind
2010-11-21, 11:20 PM
Halfling cleric with Hunger and Sloth domains who's never without his pipe...

It doesn't have to be dramatic.

Otherwise, I haven't had any chance. My D&D experiences up to date kind of suck, to be honest. Never get a group that actually roleplays, or a group that is willing to do interesting campaigns, not to mention characters. I've had better luck roleplaying in WoW, and doing it fairly well, then in D&D.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-11-21, 11:20 PM
Oh, and as far as suicidal tendencies/depression go - that's hard to roleplay accurately. It's even harder on the group, as your character becomes more and more withdrawn and unable to function. That said, many characters are prone to 'noble sacrifice' and may put themselves in a position where they will likely die, but I don't think that's quite what you meant.

And as RebelRogue said, it may cause some personal issues, if you decide to play a person with depression/addiction/schizophrenia when there's someone in your group who suffers from any of those conditions (or is close to someone who does). It can be painful to see what others think and assume your condition means, if they get it wrong it can be insulting, and even if they get it right it is not typically something you want to be reminded of. So it takes finesse and a good knowledge of your group to know if such characters are appropriate, in the first place.

Admiral Squish
2010-11-21, 11:23 PM
I have a lot of interesting characters along those lines.

I had a halfling paladin of freedom who rode a Brixashulty once. He has a pipe that he smoked constantly, and was basically your typical high-as-a-kite pothead. He was a fun character, but it was a silly campaign.

I had a semi-suicidal satyr. He'd fallen in love with an elven woman, served beside her in the army. This was a world where anything non-humanoid was considered a monster. Eventually, the couple was openly spat upon and abused. The turning point came when he came home one day to find her getting raped by a number of the townsmen. He snapped, killed them all, and was arrested. The law managed to turn it around and he was convicted for both raping his wife and murdering the men that 'had come in to stop him'. He was convicted and sentenced to an adventuring party that was going to explore an unexamined plane, which was assumed to be essentially a death sentence. He was sorta resigned that he wasn't going to come back from the plane, and, thus was a ridiculous daredevil. He did all sorts of crazy stuff and, to both my own and his surprise, he continued surviving.

I had a half-giant knight who had been hit with hold monster then had his wife murdered in front of him before the wizard lit him on fire. Horribly disfigured, he managed to convince a blacksmith to make him a suit of armor that he would never remove. It was a little awkward to have him clanking around EVERYWHERE in his armor, but the physical disability aspect was fun to RP.

I had a warforged who was experimented on and modified in the early years of the warforged creation. We're talking having modifications bolted to his body while still awake, welded in place, having his plating torn off to replace it with spiked adamantine plates. they tried burying him alive to see if warforged could go crazy. Eventually, he went insane and murdered his way out of the facility. He kills and eats anything he can lay hands on, from small animals to people. He rationalizes that he was made into a weapon, and so his very purpose in existence is to kill and destroy. (Unrelated note, but his name? Ahm N'Ahm N'Ahm. I couldn't resist.)

There was a character who was a honorable divine champion sharing a body with a were-dire wolverine feral skullcrusher ogre bandit lord (It had a lot of house rules, don't ask). Basically, the two souls were in constant conflict, with the orge trying to corrupt the celestial and take over, while the celestial constantly tried to redeem the ogre. The secret part was that both wanted the other to win in the back of their minds. The ogre had tried being honorable but it had failed him, so he resorted to banditry. The celestial had been similarly honorable, but when he was betrayed, he only hardened his resolve to be good. But the celestial had seen honor fail and secretly wondered if villany was the only effective way to do anything. The ogre had tried both, but he secretly hoped that honor really was the way.

There are many, many more, but I've already spent too much time typing this up.

Coidzor
2010-11-21, 11:25 PM
I had a semi-suicidal satyr. He'd fallen in love with an elven woman, served beside her in the army. This was a world where anything non-humanoid was considered a monster. Eventually, the couple was openly spat upon and abused. The turning point came when he came home one day to find her getting raped by a number of the townsmen. He snapped, killed them all, and was arrested. The law managed to turn it around and he was convicted for both raping his wife and murdering the men that 'had come in to stop him'. He was convicted and sentenced to an adventuring party that was going to explore an unexamined plane, which was assumed to be essentially a death sentence. He was sorta resigned that he wasn't going to come back from the plane, and, thus was a ridiculous daredevil. He did all sorts of crazy stuff and, to both my own and his surprise, he continued surviving.

:smalleek: Suicidal? But that's primo BBEG motivation right there.

Actually, most of your characters sound more like BBEG candidates.

WinceRind
2010-11-21, 11:33 PM
:smalleek: Suicidal? But that's primo BBEG motivation right there.

Actually, most of your characters sound more like BBEG candidates.
They sound more like pretty deep anti-heroes to me. Pretty much like Batman but without some of the lamer parts.

The usual "tortured soul" kind of deal, possibly with some revenge tied in.

In my opinion, making a BBEG out of that kind of characters is just horrible.

Admiral Squish
2010-11-21, 11:40 PM
:smalleek: Suicidal? But that's primo BBEG motivation right there.

Actually, most of your characters sound more like BBEG candidates.

Ooh! on the subject of BBEGs:
I had a middle-aged thri-keen character who fell in love with an elf. Thri-keen lifespan is about 30 years, maximum. Elves live to 500 or more. Eventually, the lich BBEG made a deal and turned him into a vampire so he could be with her forever in exchange for his betrayal.

Also, in a not-D&D RP, I had a extremely nerdy character who was part of the team trying to stop a big evil which that was infecting the world. When it came down to the final battle, he turned on the rest of the party and took over the BBEG's organization. Turns out he was sick of being bullied and abused, and he wanted to take over. He became the BBEG for a later game.

unimaginable
2010-11-22, 12:17 AM
Um. Incense? Seriously? Is burning candles for the scent drug use now?Not if it's for the scent, no. Many kinds of incense contain known psychoactives, and while many people burn them just for the scent, some certainly do use them to evoke a particular mood, which may be related to the actual psychoactive effects of the plants in question. When that's the case, it's a form of drug use. It's the same as teas... most people who drink herbal tea are after the flavour, but if you select your herbs because of psychoactive effects that they have (for example: chamomile makes you drowsy, jasmine soothes you, ginger invigorates you), that's slightly different. What you're thinking of as drug use are simply the more extreme cases, where the psychoactive effects are very profound... which can be the case with incense or tea, provided you use enough of the right things.

In the case of Augury, it matches the profile of taking a vision inducing plant in order to gain insight into a problem. Makes a difference whether you're burning the incense outside and letting the breeze carry it away, versus inhaling a large amount of the smoke, of course...

Prowl
2010-11-22, 12:46 AM
What say we roleplay some nigh-suicidal grave robbers determined to deplete our hit point totals at all costs?

Hironomus
2010-11-22, 01:05 AM
I have a Bard character cannot cause direct harm to others and obviously doesn't carry a weapon. thats not so unusual but he is also totally insane, in the regular non-dangerous way. he often does things that carry the risk of real harm to him. like running head first into traps.

Coidzor
2010-11-22, 01:59 AM
They sound more like pretty deep anti-heroes to me. Pretty much like Batman but without some of the lamer parts.

The usual "tortured soul" kind of deal, possibly with some revenge tied in.

In my opinion, making a BBEG out of that kind of characters is just horrible.

Considering that usually in D&D settings, societies can actually be smashed, if the evil is society or at the societal level... And one has already fallen out of said society, but has gained great power through the practice of being a violent hobo, it seems perfectly natural for an individual to choose to destroy the society that scorned them and either rebuild something from the ashes or dance on the mass graves, depending upon how their time as a violent hobo affected them mentally.

Deciding to continue helping those who wronged them is either mores the fool them or another equally plausible but morally superior choice. Probability comes into play, as well, since it's only rarely going to be morally superior to destroy an entire society.


What say we roleplay some nigh-suicidal grave robbers determined to deplete our hit point totals at all costs?

So... melee happy dread necromancers? :smallbiggrin:

Nyarai
2010-11-22, 03:10 AM
What say we roleplay some nigh-suicidal grave robbers determined to deplete our hit point totals at all costs?

My aorta! It's been perforated! :smallamused:

Relatable Big Bads (or even good ones) are awesome. Beats the hell out of lackluster, "Because I'm evil!" motivation that so many seem to suffer from.

TurtleKing
2010-11-22, 03:11 AM
Lets see I played a character even after becoming an embodiment of failure, and being treated like the lowest of the lowest of the universe slave still kept going. He was given a divine quest from his deity right before she died. He went on the quest and after finding out who she wanted him to help changed the quest a bit. He managed to set up so she and all of the other dead human deities could come back to life. The reason he kept going after everything was he unknowingly even to himself loved her. He would not stop even Death himself had blasted him through a mountain and more. I have Depression among my few, and yet I still played him in defiance.

Have played a character with Multiple Personality Disorder with the count at five different personalities. Overall was fun and didn't affect the campaign much till the end when the party found out. I ran this by my DM and group to make sure they were ok with it from the start.

I have also played a Tortle who was a missionary for Dionysis. He was drunk a lot from all the rum. He would also try to convert people to his deity. The reason why is he did some things in his past that were violent, and he is trying to drown his memories of them with Dionysis's help.

Shademan
2010-11-22, 03:13 AM
I once played a sexually frustrtared, alcoholic and depressed ex-cop. A cybernetic right arm didnt exactly make things better, infact this was pretty much the source of the depression.
that character would still kick ass and do the right thing!
booyah

Callista
2010-11-22, 03:46 AM
Come to think of it, I did once have to create a houserule for suicide. I decided on coup de grace directed at yourself, but you couldn't willingly fail the save unless you had fear immunity.

The character in question was trying to avoid forced transformation into a nasty undead-type creature, with the hope of having the party pay for a True Resurrection later on; the character had failed all the saves and would've turned in the next round. Unfortunately people got too busy and they never did manage to retrieve that character.

Psyx
2010-11-22, 06:19 AM
You're not playing Cyberpunk right if your character ISN'T using recreational drugs!


It can work, as long as the theme doesn't dominate the game - but that's true of any character's defining traits, though.

Tetsubo 57
2010-11-22, 08:46 AM
I suffer from depression out here in the real world. So it isn't something I want to emulate in my form of entertainment.

wormwood
2010-11-22, 08:50 AM
To answer the original post, yes, I've played Call of Cthulhu before. That's what you were asking, right?

Tengu_temp
2010-11-22, 01:46 PM
Hoo boy. In the M&M game I play that's basically Evangelion Meets Kamen Rider, my character's little brother (and thousands of other people) was killed when she was young (well, younger, she's still a teenager). She had to go through therapy, and even now she's constantly on antidepressants - she can function more or less normally with them, but when the pills run out... She is also mentally addicted to the feeling of power, freedom and safety she gets when summoning her suit. And quite frustrated, since her love interest has an overwhelming fear of physical contact, so they can't even hug.

And she's not even the most troubled character on the team. I love this game.

grimbold
2010-11-22, 01:48 PM
i played a stoner druid once
however the DM was not fond of this idea so i was on a mushroom trip in the first encounter
i died trying to hug an orc who i thought was my brother

WarKitty
2010-11-22, 02:00 PM
Really depends on the group. Personally, I've dealt with mental illness both in myself and in a number of family and close friends. If you have a willing group, it can be fun to roleplay - I actually sort of enjoy putting it in an arena where I know I can walk away any time I want. That's part of the fun of D&D - the characters go through all these awful things, but it's not something I have to deal with for more than a few hours a week. But I would want to make sure the group was ok with it first, because I know not everyone feels the same way.

Callista
2010-11-22, 02:07 PM
I guess I was too quick to say it couldn't be done. Over the years I've just seen things like this done badly much too often; and I had somewhat lost hope.

I did write this for my blog, some time ago; maybe it will help some of you who are interested in playing characters with mental illnesses:

Role-Playing Insanity: Realism, Management Strategies, & Suggestions for Play (Part 1) (http://chaoticidealism.livejournal.com/25381.html), (Part 2) (http://chaoticidealism.livejournal.com/25614.html), (Part 3) (http://chaoticidealism.livejournal.com/25947.html)

I wrote down, basically, what mental illness is, how to make it work in a game, and then made a list of real mental illnesses with some suggestions as to which PCs they might be most likely to affect, whether you needed mechanical changes, and the level of suitability for adventuring PCs. Maybe it'll be interesting for someone out there.

I'll have to admit to it now: I have played a PC with a mental illness. The halfling in question was a sorceress with schizotypal personality disorder. She was eccentric, very superstitious, and tended to speak in a dreamy, off-topic sort of fashion. At one point I had her musing about what it might be like to be a peach farmer... while magic-missle'ing orcs. She was always somewhat frustrated by her inability to get her own mind under control and think in a "straight line", but she was also pretty good at thinking up off-the-wall strategies.

randomhero00
2010-11-22, 02:15 PM
Fear of water? What happens when it rains and you're out in the middle of nowhere with no shelter?

eh more as in deep water, such as lakes and oceans.

randomhero00
2010-11-22, 02:17 PM
Really depends on the group. Personally, I've dealt with mental illness both in myself and in a number of family and close friends. If you have a willing group, it can be fun to roleplay - I actually sort of enjoy putting it in an arena where I know I can walk away any time I want. That's part of the fun of D&D - the characters go through all these awful things, but it's not something I have to deal with for more than a few hours a week. But I would want to make sure the group was ok with it first, because I know not everyone feels the same way.

that's kind of what I've been thinking about. IRL I deal with crippling depression. I'm wondering if playing a character with the same might be cathartic?

Bruendor_Cavescout
2010-11-22, 02:17 PM
Playing screwed up characters is part and parcel to my gaming group. My current character in a friend's L5R game has the "Insensitive" Disadvantage, but I'm playing it not so much that he doesn't care about people's feelings, but more that he just can't seem to care about much. In his background, he was very close to his brother, who - through sudden but inevitable betrayal - turned to black magics. They fought, and the brother won, though his schemes had been temporarily foiled. Rather than kill my character, his brother left him alive. He loves his brother, and now realizes that he has no choice but to find a way to kill his brother and end his evil ways.

This manifests two things: first of all, he saw the power that black magic brings. If that's the road he has to travel in order to win, even though his name and soul be forfeit, so be it. Second, that betrayal severely depressed him, and he finds it hard to care about anyone or anything. I've heard descriptions of depression as being bored by things that would normally shock or horrify people, such as an automobile collision happening in front of you. He'd taken to drinking to force himself to feel something, starting off with sake, but moving onto hard liquor. Another problem I've heard about is tolerance - eventually, your body requires either stronger stuff or more of it to achieve the same level of intoxication. Alcohol ended up being a gateway for him to move into opium addiction, and even that's beginning to wear thin. He's just begun moving into the self-mutilation area.

So, he's pretty bleak. Where does the party come in here? Well, I figure that anyone this severely depressed and chemically dependent is going to be useless once the actual fight with his brother comes up. The party will have to encourage him to overcome his addictions and do what he knows must be done - otherwise, the second fight will turn out much as the first did, only much much worse.