Playing Across Age Lines

edited April 2006 in Story Games
Over in the Playing Across Gender Lines thread a very interesting tangent cropped up. It started with Joshua K saying: Oh -- a question: how does people's discomfort or comfort with gender switching relate, or not, to playing children or childlike characters? I know there are groups that have real problems with people who play children, or even characters that more or less act like children (kender, malkavians, pookah).

And, of course, how does this relate to playing gender-switched children? Is it different for a guy to play a little girl (or a woman to play a boy) than a woman?

And, for that matter, how does this relate to going the other question -- playing characters much older than the players? Isn't this even less believable (except when done very well) than gender play?

And then went to me saying: I don't have problems with those who play children, so long as they do it with some kind of positive agenda or thought. I'm an elementary school teacher though, so those who just "act childish" without a plan often end up irking me. Not reaonsable, I know, but it happens anyway.

Childlike adults and "magical retards" really, really, really, really piss me off. I've worked with special needs children and adults on and off for years, and the ways that other supposedly mature human beings portray them -- even when they think they are being positive and uplifting -- drives me towards rage faster than someone using the word "literally" wrong.

I think its worth noting that both of those are due to specific things I've done/political issues that I've dealt with IRL. Back before I taught I used to play in groups with childlike PCs all the time, and the only time it annoyed me was when it was used as an excuse to Prima Donna, Mary Sue, and otherwise steal spotlight time. That was always irksome, but is (I think) something people do with it rather than something inherent to the form.

Oh, and when people play kids I probably pay less attention to gender than with adults. Though I suppose it depends on the specific age of the kid. Those under 8-9 and those 10 to teen have different psychologies, and teens are their own whole thing....

And then to Mo saying this lovely bit:This is another discussion that I think is fascinating. Aside from all of the immortal or extended life kinds of folks (immortals, vampires, altered humans) who most often even to *appear* young, the vast majority of PC's I've ever (been or) interacted with were teens or twenty-somethings. I've often wondered if it has to do with self projection, wish fulfillment, concepts of virility or capability or beauty or all of the above.

I played an elderly man who was a grump Nocker in a Changeling LARP who was intentionally as old as he was because he was created for me to explore a "Rage! Rage! Against the dying of the light!" theme. I've played very few of these kinds of characters, and never, I think, have I chosen one just incidentally. Nor have I chosen to play someone middle aged. Funny that.

By default, most of my characters end up in their middle 20's. When I was in my middle 20's, I thought that's just cause I was defaulting to my own status quo - the age didn't matter so it might as well be my own age. Now that I'm in my middle 30's, while a number of my characters are middle 30's, the majority still turn out to be in their middle 20's.

Why? Maybe because I had my most vibrant energy at that age and my characters often have a kind of vibrant energy. Maybe because standards of beauty trend that way and many of my characters play with concepts of beauty. Maybe it's because I underwent some of my greatest emotional evolution in my middle 20's and emotional evolution of character is fascinating and "F" fulfilling to me. Maybe I'm just copping out.

Yet, I find it funny that in 1000 Stories when we started playtesting chargen almost all of the test characters that I created were elegiac 30, 40 and 50 year olds. So maybe it's not entirely the players, maybe it's the games. How many of them encourage us to move beyond the decade of our adult youth? How many reward or encourage not being strong, or fast or traditionally lovely? How many reward caution and wisdom over courage and impulsiveness? How much do we tell ourselves that our best, most epic, most worth-telling stories are the stories of our youth?

God, I sound old don't I... and is that a bad thing?

So, to make this into it's own thing:

How often do you play characters significantly older or younger than you? How realistic do you find it when others do? Do you play kids? Senior citizens? Mostly 20 somethings?

What patterns do you notice in your own play around the age of characters and their position in life. How much of it is coming of age stories vs. I'm old enough to look back on my life and be ambivalent about the choices I've made stories?

And why do you think that is?

Comments

  • I'm twenty-four, and I've been playing RPGs since I was eleven. I tend to play a variety of ages, although I most commonly play characters in their mid- to late- twenties. I think this is because that's the age that I associate with a person who has started their adult life, and has been settled into it for a few years, which makes the character flexible. They are old enough to have a plan for their life but young enough to roll with the kind of changes that normally happen to the protagonists of RPGs.

    Your questions bring up some interesting points. I don't know how realistic it is when I play younger or older characters, but then again I don't know how realistic it is when I play a character of my own age... if that makes any sense. I suppose I'm not sure what it means to say "play a child/elderly character realistically." I know children (plus, I've been one), and I know elderly people, but when I play a character, I do it based on my conception of them influenced by the particular game being played. I don't tend to concern myself with realism in the first place, so maybe that's another issue on top.
  • Chris,

    Damnit. I went and used the realism word, didn't I.

    Fuck.

    Okay, everyone, don't worry about "realism" because I meant something more along the lines of "verisimilitude" or "believability."

    Okay, as for the rest: I like your stance on the age of characters you play. These days I most play characters somewhere in their 30s, as I'm big into the whole "I'm old enough to look back on my life and be ambivalent about the choices I've made stories" that I mentioned. (It is, btw, a Tom Hanks quote about why he changed the direction of his career from his Splash days.)

    Can you give me some more detail about what you mean by the "conception of them influenced by the particular game being played" part? I think I know what you mean, but I'd like to hear a little about the structural logic and process of what you do.
  • Brand,

    I have never heard the term "magical retards" before. I don't even have the foggiest idea what that might be. You'll have to clarify.

    Regarding Mo's quote above:

    I think the twentysomething thing might be a holdover from D&D. The age tables put starting humans at late teens to twenties. And the whole level progression thing implies starting off inexperienced, and thus youngish.

    I always wanted to make elderly wizards in D&D, but the mechanics never really backed that up.
  • Larry,

    For Mo? Not directly -- she hasn't played D&D since she was 8 years old. For the hobby as a whole? Maybe. Though I think that may have less to do with the starting age table (I never used them, for example) than with the "coming of age" and "free to roam the world" aspects of D&D and quest play. After all, its just easier to wander the world footloose, fancy free, and violent if you're old enough to be an adult but young enough to still be swinging. And that emphasis on the quest and action movie setup of many, many RPGs probably has influenced everyone that's played trad RPGs for any length of time.

    "Magical retards" is a nasty term that I use to describe movies and books in which a mentally disabled person is made into a magical tranformational character in the lives of everyone around them in ways that end up belittling mentally disadvantages folks more than actually supporting them. I'd give examples, but I'm tired and I'm sure we can probably all come up with many for ourselves.

    Now, as for your elderly wizards -- I find this both interesting and true of my own experiences. Why, my friend, did you want to play elderly wizards? And what did the mechanical blocks do to your expectations about it? Would you rather have a game that didn't change any characteristics based on age, or one that did so in a way that actually made viable choices for playing characters of different ages?
  • edited April 2006
    Damnit. I went and used the realism word, didn't I.

    Fuck.

    Okay, everyone, don't worry about "realism" because I meant something more along the lines of "verisimilitude" or "believability."


    Hey, it's ok. I figured you meant something else, but I was sort of picking on you for using "realism." As for verisimilitude or believability, those are important, but rather than "believable as a child or elderly person," I shoot for "consistant with how I want the character to behave. "Child" and "elderly" aren't the most important defining features of the character.

    Can you give me some more detail about what you mean by the "conception of them influenced by the particular game being played" part? I think I know what you mean, but I'd like to hear a little about the structural logic and process of what you do.

    Well, the key to that phrasing was that I sometimes have a conception of the character that is external to any system that is being used. The system, when added in, can have an effect on how I can play the character, which can therefore alter my conception of the character. I'm having a rough time coming up with an example, since I don't play much living in Japan, and when I do it tends to be stuff where the undue influence of the system on character concept is minimal.
  • Well, under AD&D at least, there were stat penalties for old age. But your sixty-your old wizard wasn't even a shadow of Gandalf, he was just as incompentent as the twenty-year old apprentice. So right there, your hero's competancy comes into question. Did he decide on a change of career? Is he just slow, and finally finished wizard school? The opportunities for farce here are many. Solution: make a youngish wizard.

    The contemplated application of the haste spell (ages you one year as a side-effect) was a consideration on my wizards' starting ages too, even though I seldom used that spell. (That's what elves are for.)

    Later point-based systems added Disad stuff where you got a bunch more points to spend if you made your character elderly, which I thought was a good gesture. Too bad I think those systems are painful to actually play.

    Really, though, I think the problem was I just wanted to play, from the outset, the crusty, seen-it-all, mysterious wizard seen in fiction. 'Cuz the youngish wizard is, you know, kind of a dweeb. But under the rules, you had to earn that guy through years of play. So I guess it's more of a, "Why can't we just make guys at the peak of their power, instead of promising nobodies?" issue to me. I find the abstract Sorcerer approach to character advancement very appealing in this regard.

    I might have scratched this itch with Ars Magica, but I don't recall clearly.

    (While I'm going on about history, I may as well mention that Traveller actually had chargen than incentivized middle-aged characters, and even knocked other RPGs for creating unskilled newbies.)

    I think the mutual youth of the characters is sort of a neat theme. They've got a bond kind of like high school classmates. So that's appealing.

  • Larry,

    Sounds much like an issue I always had with Changeling -- I liked playing grump characters who were at the height of their power, or just past it, and who were on the downward slide. But the built in "Xp gain" mode of RP made that rather the opposite of the way the system assumed play had to go. You start off all young and ready to go, and gain power and confidence as you adventure....

    Sigh.

    Anyway, looking back it was an interesting time. I was 25/26 at the height of my Changeling playing, and in Changeling rules when your character hits exactly that age you go from being a Wilder (a young quester and force for change character) to a Grump (the old fogeys of the fae world) -- and it was obviously something I was messing about with due to my own place in life at the time. I was finishing grad-school (well, I wasn't, but I thought I was), starting to get a real job in teaching, and generally feeling a shift in the way my life was going.

    In retrospect it really makes me wish I'd had Polaris for the stories I wanted to tell with those characters.

    Anyone else ever had something like that? Where you realized that as your position in life was changing, the position of your character's lives changed as well?
  • Short comment, to be followed up later: one of the most telling instances of this question for me was when I picked up Dogs in the Vineyard, where you play a twenty-year-old who is entrusted with judging religious law and enacting divine punishment on his elders. That someone with so little life-experience is entrusted with such a responsibility is one of the most intriguing elements of the game for me.
  • There were also stat penalties for CoC. I remember the first time that a friend played an old man (the PC was in his 60's) and it blew the whole group of us away. It seems odd now.

    I think it's actually easier for me to play an older PC than it is to play a child. I think it's because I do draw off of things in my real life and I can honestly say that my childhood was not even remotely a normal one. I was once told that I was never a little girl, I was an unbearably cute short woman. *laugh*

    But back to the topic at hand. I was first able to play someone older than me when I was about 22 or 23. And that PC was in her late 30's. *laugh again* But that was right at the time too when my life completely changed. So I have to agree with Brand here The change in my position in my real life -did- have a huge change on my PC's.

    Lisa P
  • Lisa,

    Fascinating isn't it? Can you give me some more details about that CoC character? How did the stat penalties effect the character and player? Did the way the character got played affect the game, or did it become an old guy whose the same as the young guys?

    And yea, I'm waiting to see what kinds of characters I play when I'm in my 40s. No clue how that change is going to hit me.

    Joshua BishopRobester,

    Yep. It's one of the things thats always gotten me about the LDS church too -- the young men sent out on missions in a church that normally runs on seniority and deference to the elders.
  • Looking over my list of PCs, most of my characters have tended to be in their twenties -- regardless of whether I was a teenager, twenty-something, or thirty-something. That's influenced by both system and genre. You generally want to be an adult, but it's tricky to have a long history of adult experience at the start of a game.

    I have played children a number of times but never in an extended campaign. I've played older characters a number of times. In an Amber campaign that I played when I was 22, I played a princess of Amber who was married with two sons (one adult, one age 12). Then again, that campaign was something of a disaster. I think it could have worked reasonably. I had written up her homeworld, husband, and sons for myself -- one of the perks of Amber.

    A few years ago (when I was 30), I played an aged folk hero in a fantasy campaign using The Window system, named Sarken the Wanderer. It didn't work very well in my opinion because he was someone who was supposed to have been around for a while, but I as a player didn't have a sense of knowing the homebrew fantasy world. His history and reputation only came in token ways. I think it would be easier in a game-world with detail and history that I knew, such as Harn.
  • Brand,

    Geez you know I'm not sure. It was actually Eric's character and we played that particular session of CoC when we were in college in 1993.

    What I do remember is that he was 'frailer' than the rest of us. I remember at one point he dislocated a hip. And I do remember his stats being better than my PC's stats overall. I do not remember it affecting the game at all.

    But beyond that, I think he did end up just being an old guy who was the same as a young guy.

    Lisa P
  • edited April 2006

    I have had older (at least middle-aged) characters in Call of Cthulhu and, more recently, Shab al-Hiri Roach. Here I think there's an explicit emphasis on older, academic types, where young 'uns would be too clueless to get in on the horror.

    Characters who are parents? That's rare in my experience. Even though it seems like a good fit for feudal fantasy.

    Regarding children... historically there have been many eras where what we today consider children where placed into dramatic situations as young men. (Here I am totally thinking about Nelsonian midshipmen.)

    BURNING WHEEL! Great system to incentivize older characters from the beginning!

    Just another 2¢ in the jar.

  • I mostly play characters between 15 and 35; younger and I start getting into 'magic child' issues, and above 35 you have to start explaining why they don't have kids. Until recently, I wasn't really comfortable playing characters who were parents, so I ended up with mostly characters in the extended-adolescence range.

    That's changed in the past year, though. I'm about 2/3 of the way through a one-on-one Ars Magica game in which I've taken the character from birth and will play her all the way to her death. Playing a character who has children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren has been a big stretch for me, but it's been terrific, and I'm ready to take this into the other games that I play.

    There's also the lazy perfectionist factor in playing older characters: there's just more backstory to create, and it's less obvious what their life trajectory to that point will have been. Make an 18-year-old and their history will have some very strong similarities to most other 18-year-old characters. Make a 48-year-old and their lives can diverge much more from other people their age. I want to do the character right, and that means figuring out what all those life choices are, and what they've done with their relatively large amount of freedom (compared to the 18-year-old). When I create older characters, I often create them at 18 and then actually advance them through their life, trying to introduce both the expected life changes and some unexpected challenges. It takes longer, but it's worth it to me in the richness of the characters' adult lives.

    --Jess
  • John,

    Your comment about not feeling like the character was fitting into the world is a very keen insight. I think it fits in with the things I was saying about questing, but takes it further and with more clarity. When you're playing a character who is more a part of the world you need more knowledge, system support, or authorial focus on the world in order to get the right feeling.

    Can you think of any games in which you think you might get the kind of support you'd want to play a character like that? Or settings that you know well enough to do it on your own?

    Lisa,

    Huh. Interesting. I must mull over that.

    Larry,

    Yea, some of my favorite Burning Wheel characters are old, have kids, and such like. Of course, they also have "youthful vigor" so I don't know how fitting it really is. All these old guys with all their youthful vitality still around. At least they mostly do have kids. Especially the female characters, as many of the "mother/wife" lifepaths are among the best deals in the game.

    But then my grandpa rode horses until he was 83, and my mother in law kayaks 10 miles a day in the summer… so I suppose it all depends on which old folks it is we're playing.

    Jessica,

    Good points, especially about having kids. I think that sort of ties in with what John was talking about, and older characters being more grounded into the setting.

    In terms of more background, have you ever had a look at Burning Wheel or similar lifepath games? I find they work fabulously well for developing a quick sketch of the character's history without overburdening. Of course, YMMV.

    So, I want to toss the question I asked John out to everyone: What do you need in a game in order to be able to feel comfortable playing older (or younger) characters? Where do your current games work? Where do they fall down?
  • I suppose I should answer my own question. :)

    My default character ranges from 15 to 25. (ignoreing wierd things like young adult 100 year old elves). That said, I very much enjoy playing children, maybe because of the freedom from experience that brings, and the ease of playing such a character more compitent than expected (frex, while I never played much Changeling, the character I created for our review playtest was a very serious 7-8 year old childling fairy knight), my most played Everway character started as a very powerful 9 year old mage, and I've played in a largish number of con games featuring young characters). I've certainly played a 40something mother of three, but I'm not sure how much older I've gotten ignoring life extension (for some reason, playing a 200 year old shaman, even one with large numbers of kids and pseudokids doesn't feel lke playing an 80-year old non-extended person). Not sure why; maybe because I still treat rpg games substantially, if not entirely, as wish fulfillment games?

    I do find "magical retards" in fiction irritating in a way that makes it hard to enjoy the story. I know De Lint has done this -- Diane Duane's _A Wizard Alone_ does something similar with an autistic kid.

    OTOH, I don't have a problem with character that are of normal or higher intelligence but very childish. Perhaps this is because I am, myself, very intelligent but capable of moments of substantial childishness? Regardless, I definately find such characters to be an asset in moderation...as long as they're played in a social, not antisocial manner. Characters played as stupid are much more problematic, and can be an annoyance much faster.

    That said, I can think of several examples of stupid characters that succeeded in being funny rather than offensive (The "worhsip floor" troll in the Tales of the Arabian Nights larp and "Moose" of "Moose in the City"). I'm not sure what the difference there is.
  • But beyond that, I think he did end up just being an old guy who was the same as a young guy.

    Charles Emmerson Thurmwood III was 66 years young. He was a blast to play, and a total departure for the entire group. We would have all been 18 when we played that game.

    The decision to make the character that particular age was entirely due to the rules. In Call of Cthulhu you start your character with a random Education statistic and a random age, which, as I recall, starts somewhere in the 17-23yo range. During character generation you have the option of increasing the age of the character in exchange for more points of Education. More points of Education means more skill points, so I was loading up. I recall that there were a few physical trait points lost, but the character was statistically still fit and strong. Just a lot better educated.

    I played him over the top, boisterous, and suffering from a preinneal dimentia. He was a famous big-game hunter who had every ferocious kill he ever made stuffed and mounted in his trophy hall in Boston. Playing CoC, this eventually meant that he had Zombies & Fungi from Yuggoth mounted right along side his prize bengal tiger. Rockin'.

    In retrospect, I did play him much differently than I played any of my 'younger' characters. But then, my previous CoC character had been an ex-cop in his 40's. I played all those characters true to my vision of action heros in similar age categories. Well, maybe except for the cop. He was a little more Noir, but still with plenty of action.

    Hey Lisa,

    You totally forgot about Piper. How old was she? Was she 14 or 16?

    -Eric

  • Eric,

    That sounds pretty damn kickass.

    So would you say that, in your eyes, the rules actually encouraged you to play an older character?
  • So would you say that, in your eyes, the rules actually encouraged you to play an older character?

    Totally. CoC has a pretty high whiff-factor. Getting lots of skill points cuts down on the whiff-factor, and older characters have more skill points. I was maxed out on so many freakin' things.

    I remember, I had something like a 95% Credit Rating skill, which we were playing off as the character's fame as a big-game hunter. Whenever an NPC would give me some kind of shit, blocking the character from what I wanted to do, I'd unleash the character's catch phrase; * "Don't you know who I am?" * I still dig that character. Hadn't even thought of him in ages.

    I just sat back and tought about it, and I don't think that any of my CoC characters were ever in their 20's. I think the youngest one I played was the 30-something baseball player, Gregor McConneley, I played over the course of the Horror on the Orient Express box set.

    But now... I'm scratching my chin and trying to remember just how many of my PCs were in their 20s. I'm having trouble remembering very many of them being that age. So, maybe it was the rules, and maybe it was the setting, and maybe it was just me.

    -Eric

  • Eric,

    I totally forgot about Piper! *smacks forehead*

    Piper was a 16 year old mage played by our friend Mike. I think Mike was 25 or 26 at the time he played her. That was at the same time that I played Dr. Payne, a 38 year old character. (I'm pretty sure I was 22 or 23 at the time.)

    Anyhoo, Piper was a run away and the self appointed protector of the Rusties (a group of other run aways that lived in an old, abandoned victorian style hotel on the outskirts of town). At first, I truly remember him playing Piper as just a 'punk kid' and that's really how she was. She began to grow up as the story went along and after some time, I think came to be more of an adult than Mike really was. *laugh*

    As for myself playing Dr. Payne was a rough stretch at first. She was settled. Had a routine. Had a 'career'. This throws back to what Brand said in the beginning of this thread. Once my life began to change (e.g. I got a steady, good paying job and one that actually gained some form of respect) I did notice the change in the way I played Dr. Payne. She became grounded and more stable than she ever had been before. After a short while, she was the one to come to when things went to hell in a handbasket. She was the one to find the answers that no one else could. She was also the one to ask the questions that most others were afraid to.

    It was about this time that the same sorts of things began to happen in my life. *scratches head* Man the parallels are kind of interesting now that I think of it...

    Anyhoo, that was the only 'old' pc I've played in quite some time. Meaning one well into a different generation than myself. I think I have begun to play younger characters lately (and very young ones at that) because I am begining to explore what my childhood should have been... even though it's long past me.

    Lisa P
  • I don't think I have an established pattern when it comes to character ages.

    One of my most enjoyable moments in roleplaying came from playing a child. It was a one shot game with a GM I didn't know very well. He made us create uber powerful and uber old characters, and then turned around and said 'ok now play that character at age 5.' No more direction, no more information about what sort of game it was supposed to be. I blinked and then I did. What made is fun is that I'm a Brownie Guide leader, so I know that age group. And I don't think the GM did at all. So I played a 5 year old little girl, not a roleplaying hero with cutesy overtones. The other players said my portrayal was spot on, but my impression was that it really was not what the GM was expecting, or knew how to deal with. It couldn't have worked long term, but it was fun for a few hours.

    I generally view significant differences in age between myself and a character I'm playing as a challenge, and sometimes with a bit of trepidation. I'm currently playing an older character, who's not old as we think of things, but of an age in her own socieity where she regards herself as old. I worry about playing her right when she's grandmotherly. I worry about how to portray the fear and acceptance of getting old. But I like playing her because she is different. She doesn't have the usual young, beautiful and ageless attitude that can be so prevalent.

    Claire
  • Claire,

    That's fascinating! I'm curious, what cues gave you the impression that the GM in question didn't know that age group? What was it about your portrayal (please speculate if you don't know from his mouth) that the GM found unexpected?

    Most importantly, I'd love to know why you felt like it was an unsustainable character.

  • Crap!

    Shreyas beat me to my questions!
  • I find this interesting in that I don't often think of my character's age and, when I do, I tend to imagine them to be in their 30's rather than their twenties. Some of this may result from the fact that my first real non-AD&D experiences were with Traveller, a game in which young punks were useless, with players in their mid to late 30's. Some of it, though, deals with how I like to imagine my characters-- just enough past behind them to have some serious convictions, to have screwed around a little in their 20's and settled into some serious business about the time I pick up their story.

    Since I am just now beginning to stare 30 in the face, that means I have generally played characters older than me.

    My big exceptions are all related to Storyteller games, where I just jumped on the boat with the whole young and supernatural vibe. It didn't hurt that we were all early twenties college kids basically playing out supernatural alter-egos. Those aren't my fondest gaming memories--the games seemed less focused. That was probably one of the few occasions, though, when I played with peers as opposed to older friends, so inexperience was likely a culprit there.

    An exception to the exception--I have fond memories of playing a childer sluagh in a Changeling game. Most of the other players were doing the twenties-thing, so it made for some funny rping situations--like when all the other players went to the 'grown-up' party upstairs while I got stuck at the kiddie party--I enjoyed the twist, since it meant that I got to be both frustrated at being left out yet relish in the sudden disappearance of adult supervision (something Changeling seemed well-suited to playing out). I remember working pretty hard not to make her just aware enough of the adult world to understand it without particularly caring for it--the proverbial inside outsider. I wish I could remember how good a job I did of that.

    --Ian
  • Brand_Robins wrote:
    When you're playing a character who is more a part of the world you need more knowledge, system support, or authorial focus on the world in order to get the right feeling.

    Can you think of any games in which you think you might get the kind of support you'd want to play a character like that? Or settings that you know well enough to do it on your own?


    Well, any historical setting is obviously good for knowing well enough. Now that I think about it, another good technique is for the character to go through a major life change -- i.e. like moving to another country or somesuch. For example, I felt at home playing Morgause in an Amber game because I was able to design for myself her homeworld, and I was playing out her introduction to larger Amber society. Similarly, it would be easier playing an older person who just moved to a new country, say. I think Traveller is the same way: you had a past career in some service, but you pick up from the point where you muster out. It's easier to picture life in the service because it is simple in many ways.

    What was tough in particular about Sarken was that he had ostensibly been adventuring in that very area for years.
  • That's fascinating! I'm curious, what cues gave you the impression that the GM in question didn't know that age group? What was it about your portrayal (please speculate if you don't know from his mouth) that the GM found unexpected?

    His body language was kind of flummoxed. He seemed to find it quite difficult playing NPCs talking to my character. Maybe he did know the age group, but expected people to play a basic adventurer with cutesy kid colour over the top?

    My impression was that he wasn’t expecting me to play the level of randomness of a child that age. Where they’ll interrupt someone telling people important stuff to try and relate a marginally linked story about something that happened to them during the week. He was expecting me to play my character helping to save the world. And I played my character as able to understand that there was something important and scary going on, but not able to understand what it was. Which in a game that turned out to eventually be about connecting up the bits of information and putting the pieces of the puzzle again turned out to be basically rejecting the unstated premise of play.

    I didn’t discuss it with him afterwards, because he was a visiting GM from out of town, I’d had fun regardless, and he didn’t seem to be looking for feedback on how it went.

    Most importantly, I'd love to know why you felt like it was an unsustainable character.

    Because kids that age are more random, less focussed, and so on. What I was enjoying was playing the character, rather than the story. It would be hard to tell a story using that character. Particularly dealing with the sort of puzzle solving game that it turned out to be. I’d have felt bad about the way I played the character, which was definitely unhelpful to what the GM had planned, if there hadn’t been no information at all about what sort of thing the GM had planned.

    Claire
  • edited April 2006
    Claire,

    Most excellent points. I shall mull.

    John,

    What about worlds you make up with your group? Would those work, do you think? Or would you feel like too much of the burden/power/whatever was put on you because of your character's increased ties to the world?

    Though, starting just after a major life change sounds like a damn fine idea for many reasons, I must say.
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