Since we didn't have a listener e-mail this week, DCR took it upon itself to revisit one of our favorite podcasts and give it some fresh perspective. We put forth our thoughts on the subject of playing characters of different genders. So when it comes to putting the shoe (or heel, or sandal, or whatever) on the other foot, DCR says:
1. Pay attention! Other players can't do this for you, so it is up to YOU to remember your character's gender. Failure to do so can lead to some pretty wild and, quite realistically, uncomfortable assumptions being made about the character you play. To avoid perhaps one of the most divisive subjects from ruining your game, just always bear the appearance and gender of your character as you play. Our own gender will tend to creep through just as a matter of course. Males tend to behave like males. Females tend to behave like females. Neither is bad by any means. Which brings us to...
2. Purely cosmetic. When it comes to the mechanics of a role-playing game system, gender doesn't really alter the statistics. BUT, it has a strong (and often hilarious) tendency to alter how each player moves forward. This is good. The personality and mannerisms of your character are where distinctions are truly made. There isn't (nor should be) a game mechanic that rewards or penalizes characters for being one gender or the other, or both, or neither. At this point, there is no reason to not try playing as a different gender if you think it would be fun. But...
3. Research. Ask other players if they are uncomfortable with certain subjects of the opposite gender. Don't derail your game by offending another player over something you should have just asked about beforehand. "My new character is female. Are there things about females that are not okay to talk about? Are there things that are acceptable? When is it okay to joke about this?" These are all good questions to ask. However, this is just a game. No need to take it further than this. If another player is getting creeped out or offended, do everyone a favor and just drop it. If another player is visibly upset at what you said, apologize, acknowledge your mistake, then move gracefully forward.
Bonus XP: Playing as a different gender for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience. It doesn't have to be. To take some of the edge off, some good films dealing with this include: Mrs. Doubtfire, Victor/Victoria, and Tootsie. Also, investigate the Eclipse Phase line of RPG products. The setting and mechanics make gender almost completely irrelevant.
DCR Gamer Forge Listener Email:
Comments: Okay this may sound strange coming from a woman. However in my pathfinder game that I play in I am wanting to transition my rouge character to an assassin.
The guys are giving me crap about it because they don't believe I could play that type of character because up until this point my character has mainly just been a pick pocket and show no tendacies for violence.
My DM is asking for a legit reason for the change. I am struggling here because I really want to make this leap with my character.
background on my character she is a half elf woman who's elven mother was raped and then left for dead. Some clerics found her and was able to keep her alive but barely. During child birth she passed on. I grew up under the watchful eye of the clerics and was really pushed around for because of it.
When I turned 16 one of the clerics tried to force himself upon me and in my desperate moment I stabbed him with a dagger I happened upon. The clerics sided with their brother and threw me out. I sturggled to live but found that I had a knack for pilfering things and eventually became very good at it but never stealling more than I needed or from those that had less than I.
Then there was an event that forced me into this group of adventures that I am now with. Namely I was caught stealing from a local lord and forced into servitude to this group so that I can be free of my crime. The group has come to rely upon my skills.
So can you help me justify a legitimate change? And how I can do it?
Thank you megan!
DCR Gamer Forge Response:
When taking on the unfortunate (and awesome) role of an assassin, DCR says:
1. Find and connect an emotional response. She's already given a good reason to want to kill someone, or at least a justifiable one. It's as simple as illiciting something mercurial, even primal, about wanting to kill. Tap into the very core emotions in your backstory. Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride is a classic example. He is good at killing, but for the singular purpose of revenge. Once you've got your GM/DM/Referee/Storyteller/Watcher/Whatever bought into your reason, obtaining the class of your choice is as good as done.
2. Responsibility vs. Enthusiasm. Some famous characters actually like killing. Others see it as a way to make a living. Both have this in common: they're good at it. Make sure you define this when advancing your character through the levels. This is a great roleplay opportunity for you and your group. Is it something your character sees as just a job, but feels bad about doing? Is he/she finding that killing is far more intriguing than the whole "letting people live" thing. This is character development gold.
3. This is only a definition of a talent or skill, not necessarily a chosen profession. Some people, regardless of chosen profession, possess skills in other areas. So taking a class, any class, is only a description of heightened training or talent. Characters may have ten levels of "bard", but the actual method of earning that sweet "dollah-dollah" are literally myriad. Conan the Barbarian was very good at killing people, but made money by theft. Sam and Dean Winchester are good at killing demons, but make their money by scams and pool hustling. Remember this when assigning trained skills or skill points or the like.
*To go the extra mile, watch episodes of The Equalizer. A tv series from the late 80's about a mercenary who had the tragic knack of killing lots and lots of bad people. A recurring theme of the show examines the emotional cost of killing bad guys. Also, Artemis Antreri from the Legend of Drizzt novels is excellent for examining interest in killing others for money and embracing that skill to a fault.
Gamer Forge Listener Email:
Comments: Okay so I want to play a character that is not your average character but everyone in my group is teasing me about and pretty much refusing to let me play.
I want to play a character that is honestly just a bumbling fool. He is weak and pathetic but has a heart of gold! Kind of like Steve Rodgers before the Super solider serum. Where he would get his but kicked day after day and would be lucky to ever win a fight but be willing to jump in frount of a dragon for his comrades.
However the rest of the group doesn't want to be having to continually watch out of this character and spend their time and energy looking after him.
Can you guys help give me some suggestions about how to win them over let alone what your thoughts are on the character?
Gamer Forge Response:
A weak character is a good idea! DCR says;
1. Look for, and define intangibles. This flimsy hero should scream "Pay attention to me!" at all times. Contribute to the success of the quest in any way you possibly can. Good at talking? Go talk! Good at sneaking? Sneak away! Broker deals and haggle with everyone and anyone. You may not be good in a fight, but you should always be doing something. Which brings us to...
2. Opportunities. Pay attention to everything going on and exploit any openings as soon as you can. Look for points to sneak in a good verbal rebuke and diminish the morale of the opposition. Your wit will serve you far greater than any pointy thing. This is where you will shine.
3. Buddy system! Make a friend. Preferably another player character. Someone who will have your back. This way, only one person has to worry about you, and not bog down the rest of the group. "How do I convince them?", you may ask. Remember that you only have to convince one of them. That should ease the pressure. Also, money buys a lot of friends, and mercenaries are doubly susceptible to the charms of bling. Lastly, try genuinely befriending one the others. A good friendship goes a long way.
*To go the extra mile, watch Peter Dinklage's performance in Game of Thrones. A sterling example of the buddy system!
Gamer Forge Listener Email:
Name: Targ of Malboone
Comments: I am starting up a new group and playing for the first time. Any hints or suggestion on how to do character creation quickly?
We are running 3.5.
Gamer Forge Response:
To speed things up, DCR says:
1. Use the pre-generated score arrays. The D&D fourth edition core rulebook gives a listing of scores that, when used, put everyone on the same level playing field. This also takes a step out of the process of generating ability scores and now all the players have to do is assign those scores as they see fit. Also, the 3.5 handbook assigns starting equipment packages to the classes, USE THEM. Let characters shop later. You've got a game to play!
2. Time limit. Give them a set amount of time to finish characters, or at least be ready to play with characters and stick by it. You say 20 minutes, the game starts in 20 minutes. You mean business and so should they. Veteran players should be able to finish in 20 minutes. Which brings us to...
3. Let 'em try on some shoes. Certain things don't need to be filled in to start the game. Final skill point allocation, feats, and even spells can be cemented once the new players have had a chance to see exactly what does what. Let 'em play once and see how the mechanics work and what more than can do, then by the next session, have them cement their final statistics. Also, vitals, such as height, weight, hair color, and favorite color don't need to be written in to start. Give a little leeway on that. In the end, its not what's written on the paper, its how the players describe it.
Here are your experince points on the subject to help level up your game.
1. Think differently than your characters. Superman is good because of his morals. Lex Luthor is evil because of his. Take one or two aspects of your characters and skew it. Twist their ideas and warp them into a new, if not alien, set of morals. Make the players question their's.
2. Think BAD-ASS! Want to draw attention to your villains' villainy? Give them shinier toys. Give them bigger cars. Give them the girls/boys. Give them bigger hair. Make them transform into cooler things. Villains always get cooler clothes! Except for Batman and Gambit.
3. Think "street cred". Nobody wants to hear a giant backstory for an NPC. Don't waste your time with it. Let the villains' actions speak for themselves. Kill innocent villagers. Smash two planets together "just to see what happens". Push limits. Push buttons. But still give them a motivation. A driving force behind his/her actions. Players should have every reason to fear the moment they actually meet the head villain(s), let alone fight them.
To really go the extra mile, strive to have a villain who can blur the lines of morality. Some good examples are Alonzo Harris in the film Training Day, played by Denzel Washington, and Ozymandius from the Watchmen comics and trade paperback. Both are good uses of your time.
The GamerForge is DungeonCrawlersRadio’s most favoritist segment of the entire show. Have you ever had a boggling rules question that no one in the group can figure out? Write in to us and we’ll help try to solve it! Are you a Game/Dungeon Master who needs help squashing animosity at the table or dissension in the ranks? Perhaps we can help!
If you are in need of help, encouragement, or an uber devious way to get a TPK, we are here to help. No matter your needs, we’ll help you get more from your gaming!
The Gamer Forge
Where Players & Game Masters can come for valuable information to level up your game!