Rhetorical tropes on being a Player Character

2008 August 7
by Dante

The road from Dungeon Master to Player can seem difficult and confining. On Tuesday, I outlined a few reasons why the transition from DM to Player has been exciting for me. I readily accept that the path is more difficult for some, and today I hope I can offer a few thoughts to help those of you that find it hard to step back into adventuring shoes*.

Learning to love your small pond

Phil, The Chatty DM pointed out in his comment that after 25 years of DMing he has lost the ability to be a player. I love Phil, but I disagree with this statement: he has just become very good at being a massively multithreaded player (to steal a Computer Science term). Putting on your adventuring shoes forces you to become a single threaded player, focusing on only one character’s development, storylinee, passions, and needs.

Instead of painting in broad strokes, you get to paint in fine details. It’s D&D pointalism, people! To me, part of the fun of being a player is obsessing about and exploring the fine details of this character whose actions I get to guide for awhile. Learning to love those details is the path toward enjoyment of being a player again.

Get yourself a big bag of contentment (max load 50 lbs)

Just as in life, we suffer from the ability to always want what we don’t have. Another key to becoming a player again is learning to be content with the pacing of the campaign and the treasure/spells/abilities/random miscellanea that you have been dealt. Feeling confined is natural when you’re used to calling all of the shots. You, the person (not the character), can make the choice to be pleased with your cozy new niche or you can be frustrated by the perceived restraints as Phil so articulately phrased it.

The choice, as they say, is yours and yours alone! Make the most of it!

Special thanks go to Phil for inspiring this post, and to Mad Brew Labs for accurately guessing The Simpsons episode, “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer”, that I was referencing yesterday! Thanks guys!

* Adventuring Shoes are magical shoes that appear tattered and worn and grant a +5 bonus on all Perform checks when telling adventuring stories.

One Response leave one →
  1. bbrandt permalink
    August 8, 2008

    That’s a great one: “massively multithreaded player”. I have just been lured back in to RPGs after a 22 year absence by a friend starting up a 4e campaign. I primarily used to GM, and am in a profession where my “context switching latency” needs to be low, so I have been facing the same problem you describe. The approach you suggest of spending extra cycles on deepening my character has worked well, but I have had to hold back at times to not take time away from other players’ RPing. In combat, it has really helped me to focus on team tactics and keep track of combat stats (e.g. HP, initiative order, powers used) to keep me from going stir crazy.

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