As I mentioned last week, I have been playing tabletop RPG’s for nearly my entire life. All of this was thanks to my father, who was one of the original D&D geeks. I started gaming with Dad around the age of 7. He ran a weekly game for some of his friends and I would always have to watch and generally be bothersome. Eventually, after months of begging to be a wizard so I could throw a fireball, my Dad caved.
One of the first lessons I was ever taught about playing RPG’s was to put myself in the character’s place. At such a young age I was not really able to develop interesting and compelling characters, so everything I played was really just me with cool powers and abilities. So my first lesson was about immersion and the idea is simple: don’t think of your character as a piece you are moving around on a board; instead, imagine yourself in your character’s situation.
Half of the point behind the game is to escape, even if only for a few hours. Why not let yourself do just that by truly stepping into the shoes of your character?
Every time I sit down to a gaming table I cease to be just Jason. I blend with whatever character I am playing and try to get into their head. What would I do if I were this person? For example, if I were to encounter a dragon just Jason would wet himself and run away as fast as possible, but if I was Caeldon the young ambitious knight trying to prove himself to his liege lord, I would charge into the fray for the sake of honor and glory.
The more you are able to step into the persona of your character the easier it is to make an honest and believable personality. In fact, I usually find that I never really know the character until I have played them for a few sessions. During creation, I make a concept that sounds good to me; kind of an outline. This rough sketch is what I take into the first game and the interactions with the GM and my fellow PC’s help me find the fine lines hidden within the broad strokes. Slowly but surely, a character is born.
Bear in mind that one does not have to go overboard to immerse themselves in their character. Chances are no one at the table is expecting an Oscar-winning performance. How deep the rabbit hole goes is really up to you and your style of play. However, even a small amount of character immersion can go a long way to keeping you engaged and entertained. Speaking as a player and a GM I always have a better time when other people in the group are getting into the story and action.
Sometimes all it takes to get your creative juices flowing is that one spark that you get by seeing what someone else made. The next thing you know, you have a table full of well-developed PC’s and a GM inspired to create by his players’ excitement. That, my friends, is the place where all the best gaming stories come from.