Its Just A Game, Part II: Emotional Insulation and Player Characters

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This is something of a follow-up to my last post.

There have been times, in the past, when I’ve become too emotionally wound up with a character I’ve been playing. This happened more often when I was involved in LARPing where the immediacy and direct correlation between a player and PC was particularly strong. My playing style involves a degree of identification with my character. I still sometimes get upset if bad things happen to my PC that I didn’t want to happen. With a few exceptions, character death is no fun for me.

Now, I tend to deliberately play PCs who themselves aren’t upset when bad things happen. They may be exceptionally stoic, composed, or flippant… but just as often they don’t perceive the bad things in a normal way.

In Nobilis, for example, I am essentially playing a spirit of chaos and secrecy. He had his life threatened in game recently. It was about as credible a threat as possible, and the reason for it was based solely on his identity. This might have bothered me as a player more, but my character responded by focusing on the novelty of the situation. He took the threat seriously, but more of as a challenge and opportunity than as something to be upset by.

Another character I played (in a different game) was insulated by a combination of an overdeveloped sense of his own capability/invinceability and, ummm… self-medication via magical drugs.

These are extremes, though. I’m currently playing in two 3.5 games. In one, I play a religious monk – he takes solace in his faith and asceticism. In the other, I play a gnomish beguiler who has been in training for a life of adventuring. He accepted the risks a long time ago, and has some particular drives to fall back on for inspiration. In a third game (Morrow Project using WoD rules), my character is sort of an ass. He’s extremely well-composed, which helps… but he also probably deserves whatever he gets.



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