The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Totally Guy's Avatar

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    confused Characters as Playthings

    I think I've figured out why I've been frustrated whilst playing D&D recently.

    I tend to think of my character as a plaything rather than as someone who always makes decisions based on his own wants.

    What I mean by this is that I want to use my character to bring about circumstances that I desire in the game as a player that will also aid with the larger party's problems. Although that character will act in a believable in-character persona, I feel that this is all I have to control the game with.

    So lets say I want to find ancient artefacts that are hidden in a city that would contribute to the in-game situation. I'm pretty much dependent on the DM having written about it at some point. I feel powerless to affect the game fiction even if we're close to a sandbox.

    What about preventing a war? I want to stop a war in a big dramatic diplomatic scene. But to prevent a war there has to be the threat of war. But I don't have the powers to bring that about. My character does not want a war so what action can I take to make it happen? It would look nonsensical to actually have this character cause the problems he's trying to prevent.

    This is why I consider my characters to be playthings because I'd sacrifice the characters wants to facilitate my wants. But sacrificing the character's wants just seems silly, so I get frustrated.

    I guess I'm dependent on communicating with the DM and taking whatever bones he throws my way. I spent a whole campaign as an unscrupulous collector of archaeology and every time I tried to direct the game that way my character ended up looking stupid.
    Attempting to say controversial things that everyone will agree with.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Characters as Playthings

    It's fairly common - you have a plan for your character, the DM has a plan for her campaign, and the other players have their own plans... and these don't match.

    The best solution I can offer is to thoroughly explain the personal goals of your character to the DM before you start playing, and to ask that you're given the scope in the game to chase these goals.
    In the game I played with my mates in my hometown, we used to have a relatively regular, post adventure question: what does your character want to do next, medium to long term?
    Whole nations and religious sects were formed, quests begun, new BBEGs established, and so on - all on the base of players' wants.

    Also, in your specific example of wanting to find game-relevant artefacts in the city, you may want to ask that the DM consider letting you run some research during your character's down-time, so that you can look for the artefacts once you have a clue about them. I'd like it if a player came to me as the DM to ask for that - I'd do my best to incorporate that into the plot. There are lots of dramatic examples in fantasy media.
    Last edited by Altair_the_Vexed; 2010-03-14 at 07:07 AM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Jun 2005

    Default Re: Characters as Playthings

    Maybe you could do what you want better as a DM than as a player? You'd have plenty of freedom to set up scenarios to have your characters try to do what you want them to. Though no single character of yours would get a lot of screen time, unless you included (DUN DUN DUN) a DMPC...

    Alternately, you might consider writing a story. Really, I see RPGs mainly as an alternative to that for when you don't want to control both the main character(s) and the plot. If you do, then why do interactive group storytelling instead of just authoring something of your own?
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    Lycanthromancer's Avatar

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    Default Re: Characters as Playthings

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Also, in your specific example of wanting to find game-relevant artefacts in the city, you may want to ask that the DM consider letting you run some research during your character's down-time, so that you can look for the artefacts once you have a clue about them. I'd like it if a player came to me as the DM to ask for that - I'd do my best to incorporate that into the plot. There are lots of dramatic examples in fantasy media.
    Yes...

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Characters as Playthings

    Quote Originally Posted by Glug View Post
    I guess I'm dependent on communicating with the DM and taking whatever bones he throws my way.
    Or you find people to play those Forge games. ;)

    Primetime Adventures might suit you. Rotation in scene framing, split narration and still character ownership.

    Or The Shadow of Yesterday, if you'd like to stay a bit more classic. Even though it features a rather classic GM, it very much enforces character driven play.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Characters as Playthings

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    The best solution I can offer is to thoroughly explain the personal goals of your character to the DM before you start playing, and to ask that you're given the scope in the game to chase these goals.
    In the game I played with my mates in my hometown, we used to have a relatively regular, post adventure question: what does your character want to do next, medium to long term?
    I agree 100% and also will add that you should mention your player wants as well to the DM as a "it'd be cool if some of these 'scenes' had the possibility of coming up at some point". Stress the "some point" and not the "tomorrow" nature of it. Basically if your character wants to throw a chair don't ask the DM "to describe the room" hoping for a chair, instead ask "is there a chair in the room light enough for my character to throw?" as a hint for the DM to take or ignore.

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