Posted by: Jess Riley | March 16, 2009

Types of Roleplayers: Part One

There’s a lot of different ways to categorise ‘types’ of roleplayers – by style of roleplaying they do, by their level of aggression, by how often they roleplay… the list goes on. I thought that I’d devote a couple of posts to different kinds of roleplay, what they say about you, and how they work with other types of roleplay.

There’s so many different kinds that I don’t think I could ever cover them all, but first of all, I want to talk about the four I think are the most archetypal dedicated roleplayers (that is, those who play primarily for roleplay, and not for combat, or socialisation, or achievements). These four are the Method Actor, the Specialist, the Story-Teller and the Tactician.

As the post ended up getting over-long talking about all four, to begin with I want to discuss two which are possibly the most closely related – the Method Actor, and the Specialist.

Method Actor

The Method Actor is the type who writes up a character, personally identifies with them, and is motivated primarily by staying true to their concept and exploring their characters in as much depth as they can. Every choice they make in the game, and everything they do, will be based on a simple question: what would they be most likely to do in this situation?

Personally, I identify most of all as a Method Actor – I like coming up with a concept and exploring it in detail. As someone who’s very interested in how people think, my favourite part of creating a new character is coming up with an interesting point about them which is different from things that I have previously experienced, and trying to figure out how it works, how they tick.

On the other hand, there’s the pitfall that being so character-centric means that sometimes story can suffer – if you get too caught up in what the character would be most likely to do, rather than what the most interesting course of events would be, it may not end up all that interesting. After all, if a shy character is given full rein of their actions, they may not go out and communicate much at all, and then you won’t have much roleplaying to do. A very passive character may avoid conflict like the plague, and you know that we here at Blogatelle love to push conflict as a way to encourage interesting roleplay. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a Method Actor, but care must be taken to ensure that you don’t fall into such problems.

Specialist

The Specialist is the type of person who takes the same, or a very similar concept, and transplants it into a wide variety of scenarios. This is the person who will originally write a character for an Unknown Armies game, and then turn that same character with minimal differences into a Harry Potter character, a night elf priest, an undead warlock, and a gnome Death Knight, and see how the circumstances deal with them and change them. Like the Method Actor, they’ll frequently want to get into the nitty-gritty of their character’s psyche and be devoted to what is most appropriate to the character.

A lot of people do this to some extent – write a character for one game, and then rewrite a very similar concept and use it for another game. It can be interesting to see how the same character traits mold and shape to different circumstances, and how the same character can be developed and changed – and possibly, end up radically different – depending on what happens to them over the course of a game.

Problems can arise with the specialist, too, if they become too caught up on their character idea. Sometimes, the idea just won’t work in a particular concept, however it’s rewritten and recontextualised. Additionally, if you are a specialist type, ensure that you’re not using your one character archetype as a crutch to help you into a game in which you feel lost and unfamiliar. Once again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this type of play – but you should be careful to avoid these potential pitfalls.

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Responses

  1. I was always fond of the old BBS joke bit; the Real Men, the Real Role-players, the Munchkins, and the Loonies.


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