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How to improve at roleplaying?


Advice

Dark Archive

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I've been playing Pathfinder Society a few times a month since the beginning of this year. I never played tabletop RPGs except once, maybe twice in high school. I've learned the rules well enough that I can get by judging tables and I feel like I can put together an effective character.

I want to take the next step to get more enjoyment out of the hobby and get more life out of my characters, and hopefully the ones around me.

I want to get better at roleplaying.

What is a good way to start?

As to making a believable character, I suppose a backstory is nice. Is there a list of things that might come up in game fairly often that I could flesh out? (something like, a) favorite color, b) fears, c) social quirks, etc)

I'm open to any suggestions, it just seems to me that some people have it, and others don't. Some people have good voices, are articulate, quick witted, clever and funny. Others are shy and awkward.

Help turn me from awkward to clever and funny.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Did you ever play pretend as a child?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It starts, plainly, by not being afraid of ridicule. Sometimes, when you're roleplaying, you are going to be ridiculous. Period. The best advice I have is: Don't care if you look or sound ridiculous, as long as your point gets across. Once you lose those chains, it gets easier and easier till it just comes naturally.


I think it just comes with time. Once you understand your character background, let yourself go and lose yourself in the moment!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
FireclawDrake wrote:
It starts, plainly, by not being afraid of ridicule. Sometimes, when you're roleplaying, you are going to be ridiculous. Period. The best advice I have is: Don't care if you look or sound ridiculous, as long as your point gets across. Once you lose those chains, it gets easier and easier till it just comes naturally.

Yup. If someone at the table judges you for it, they are the ones holding the game back, not you. Just go for it.

The problem PF / D&D players usually have that no one playing any other RPG has is an expectation that the GM will follow the rules and always let them win. This expectation is the mind killer when it comes to RPing and why so many people who get into other games never come back. When the GM describes something to you, just picture it and respond to it. If you stop to figure out how that thing has happened according to the rules, you are screwing around, ruining the game, and ruining the immersion experience for yourself.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I watch movies and mimic scenes sometimes to get a feel for how I want to RP a character.

Also, don't be afraid to be cliche'.


For the record, I have seen children that do not "play pretend."

Not sure how I expect that to impact the discussion (other than to make you sad), just wanted to note it. And yes, it was very sad to see.

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Check out the profile of this character (click on the avatar) and you'll see the questions from PFS which I use.

The answers she would say aloud are in black, her answers in her thoughts are in blue.

If you like the idea of applying a bit of freudian psychology, neither of those answers is perfectly true: it has got her ego (how she would like to be seen) and her superego (how she sees herself) but leaves my some room for her id (how she really is).


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Foghammer wrote:

For the record, I have seen children that do not "play pretend."

Not sure how I expect that to impact the discussion (other than to make you sad), just wanted to note it. And yes, it was very sad to see.

That's why I asked.


Mivvy Hetherington wrote:

Check out the profile of this character (click on the avatar) and you'll see the questions from PFS which I use.

The answers she would say aloud are in black, her answers in her thoughts are in blue.

If you like the idea of applying a bit of freudian psychology, neither of those answers is perfectly true: it has got her ego (how she would like to be seen) and her superego (how she sees herself) but leaves my some room for her id (how she really is).

That's pretty good. I should definitely try that one day. My characters usually end up either being like Fafhrd or Grey Mouser.


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Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Another good tactic is to get out of the store. Role playing with an audience can be tough if you're new to it, and PFS at not be ideal for developing the skills needed. Sitting around the kitchen table with some close friends, however, may be just the environment you need to build those skills.


Your not going to be able to anticipate all options but it helps to have a few default reations or traits to fall back on.

Something your character is afraid of ie Indiana Jones and snakes.

Something that you would fight to the death over.

I once played a half elf barbarian who was incredibly touchy about his heritage anytime someone mentioned bastards, half-breeds or anything of the sorts they got a fist. By making the decision of what I would always do in that situation anytime it came up in play it was easy to act (even when it was unadvisable or anti-strategic).


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Just like the one ring to rule them all, there is one act to rule them all in improving your "role play" (and yet, just as there were many rings beholden to the one ring, there are many pieces to this act):

Dive into, and play according to, your character's persona.

More important than anything else in role-playing is to build a character persona. Who are they and how do they see the world around them? Figuring that out will help you to understand how they will act or react in given situations and how much the results of those situations will affect them going forward.

People always start with backgrounds ... and that's good, but the point of a background isn't just to give people something cool to think about. It's to build a reason for why your character's persona is what it is. It helps you flesh out how they think, what they do, who they trust, and what is important to them. THAT is the important part.

Think of a very basic character goal before you do ANYTHING else in your character creation. It should be really simple, giving a pretty straight forward sort of 'mission statement' of your character:
* Protect the downtrodden
* Discover of hidden knowledge
* Seek redemption for a prior heinous act
* Quest for glory
* etc

A primary motivating factor is very important. It helps color all of your decisions.

Next, come up with a very basic description of the character:
* sheltered academic
* barbaric shaman
* religiously-devout noble
* selfless street rat
* etc

Now you've got what you need to build a backstory. You have a motivation and a 'who you are'. Start thinking of what made you who you are, and especially what might bring your character to the starting point of the campaign.

With both of these things figured, and at least a basic background thought up, you can start building your statistical character. Use this opportunity to further flesh your persona. Did you roll poorly for one stat? Which should it be? Why? If point buying ... why are you putting more points into one stat than another? Are you using one or two stats as 'dump' stats? Why? ANSWER EVERYTHING IN STATISTICAL CHARACTER CREATION THROUGH YOUR CHARACTERS PERSONA. Give them a REASON for having skills and feats ... and, in fact, if a skill or feat does not make sense for what you've built persona-wise, do not take it. If you've built a real persona, you're not going to "gimp" yourself ... you're just going to build a character that makes sense.

With your statistical character fleshed out, you should have enough of an idea of who you're about to play. At that point, it's all about "getting into character". Challenge yourself to think in the mind of your character ... "dive in" to your persona.

* Are 20 ft. rock golems something you see every day? Or are they something you may be cautious of charging into melee with?

* Do you like or trust the mayor who wants to send you on a quest?

* You've just spent a whole day slogging through the rain ... is your character REALLY doing just fine even though no hit points have been lost? ( I'd argue they're probably in a pretty rotten mood )

* You just found a huge pile of treasure ... what are you going to do with it? Build a castle? Take care of mom and dad? Give it to the poor? Donate to your church? Spend it on beer and women (or men)?

Think of every situation as your character would think of the situation, not as you ... the player of many games who knows what his/her DM tends to do ... would think of the situation.

Ok ... my second tl;dr post of the day ... I'm stopping here ... I've got more to say but I think the basic premise is there.

Last note ... one of my least favorite things in gaming is when the battle mat comes out and people start talking to each other "If you move 3 squares that way and circle around here we can flank goblin 23". Why not "Kelthor! Get around and flank this bugger!"? Seriously. Same thing ... one is ridiculously "game-y" and the other is role-playing.


Try to think of stuff from the character's perspective, rather than player perspective. If you find you cannot, because some basis for doing so is missing, flesh it out more. Until you find yourself wearing your character's "glasses" so to speak.


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What they're saying abut being ridiculed is probably the hardest block. In my experience though, it's unfounded to an extent. People playing dnd understand it, and you've got to stop caring about what other people think. The first time I played in PFS, my dwarf character was the most memorable thing about it. More so than the adventure itself. Not that he was pretty impressive in combat or anything, but the way he talked people remembered. I kept in character, even during out of character conversations.

I.e: [insert over-the-top dwarf accent here] "Ah 'it 'im with me 'ammer." (rolls dice) "'At's a fi'teen. Do Ah 'it?" (GM: "NO") "!@#$"[/insert over-the-top dwarf accent here] So that's my advice. Don't be afraid of cliche's. People understand them for a reason. And once you get into character, stay there.

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2013

As a beginner, read the setting. Find a place you find interesting. Be someone from that place. Expand from there.

Dark Archive

Fantastic responses. I love the ones that get into more academic approaches with preparation and psychology. Unfortunately, I have more time to read and prepare than I do to actually play, so these fit someone in that situation.

I look forward to reading how other people have improved their skills at role-playing.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I also keep a short list of one-liners and important character flavor facts with me.

Best advice, steal stuff. Be it movies, books, video games, whatever. You like the idea of your character acting like one of your favorite characters in one of these, do it. Don't be afraid to be over the top.
It's all about having fun.

The Exchange Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

6 people marked this as a favorite.

This is a topic that is up on another recent Paizo Forum.

Here is my contribution to that thread, tailored a bit for PFS, and edited for some clarity:

Roleplaying in PFS is not easy. Nonetheless, here are some things that I believe to my very core about how to roleplay well in Society Play.

#1: Character over Class: I believe that character comes before class and 'role'...and it's not even close. It's how your interpret how your character would do or react to situations and stimuli that is important to me: not your class or what others think you should do.

Nothing makes me sadder than a guy sitting down at the table thinking "I'm a fighter so I need to X, Y, or Z." Or someone who introduces themselves as "I'm an cleric." They truly don't get it...they aren't roleplaying. They are moving a joystick for paper version of the game Gauntlet. Roleplaying is having a character with motivations, feelings, quirks, styles, and whatever else...it's not about being a 'fighter'.

I want to play with characters who's class and build I *NEVER* know...but who's motivations and actions are a part of a larger being with feelings and emotions. I want to know their character, not their build.

Roleplaying is about putting the expectations of others behind and concentrating solely on the character that you want to play and then weaving that vision into the game. Roleplaying is not about talking in a funny voice or having a perfect mini for your character but about how you interact with others *as* your character.

#2: Real Motivation: Having 'real' motivation for your character is important. Truly important....as important as anything. An answer to the question: "Why are you here risking your life?" I want to play with characters who truly believe that they need to save the Princess/World/McGuffin because they have real motivations for wanting to do so...and they should be interesting and relevant.

For example:

Thorne, the most powerful Mage in *all* Absalom was motivated to prove himself as the most powerful mage in *all* Absalom and traveled with the Society to learn more and grow in power. (He failed miserably on all accounts, but was fun to play.)

#3: It's a Social/Team Game: Pathfinder is a social group game and that, by definition, means that roleplaying cannot be solo or an isolated endeavor. Within your playing good roleplayers will find ways to include others or give other players options and opening for interaction. Great roleplayers create these connections and allows and encourages others to shine and do fun and cool stuff.

If you've built a character that is overpowered for your group, unduly shines and excludes others, or one that is designed to cause problems for your GM? You've failed to be a good player.

#4: Perfection sucks: Don't ever play or build perfect characters: they are boring. Build characters that are 'broken' and 'imperfect'...that have real flaws and inabilities. Great roleplayers aren't afraid of imperfections: but rejoice and revel in them.

Give yourself room to grow and improve over the life of your character. If you roleplay your character as perfect, how are you going to grow and change over time? How are you going to mature? Where will you go from there?

The more flaws and pieces of interest you give a character, the more chances your teammates and GM will have to hook onto, interact with, and find areas of growth. Conflict, especially good-natured conflict, adds interest and tension.

By not being perfect, you allow for those situations to exist. Build them in as you think about your character. Your group will find room for humor and fun therein, conflict and decisions: stuff that makes campaigns great.

#5: Roleplay over rules. Roleplay first, rules second. Every time. Rules considerations second to the concept of what your character would do/wants to do. Figure out first how and why your character would be doing something...then work on the rules to make it happen.

#6: Separation of IC vs OOC. I believe that there is a separation in game terms between In-Character and Out-of-Character knowledge. Roleplaying is about separating game terms from your in-character actions.

For example: In character, your characters have no idea what differentiates a 'paladin' from a 'cleric' from a 'holy warrior'. There is no such thing as "Divine Grace" to the average person in Golarion. There is only that some holy warriors seem to resist spells well. Or that a particular holy warrior can almost smell evil.

My characters would never call someone a 'paladin' or 'druid'...for those are likely to be out-of-game terms. But 'holy warrior' and 'treehugger' might be more appropriate.

For example #2: In our world, there is something called a "Barbarian"...it's a class with rage, fast movement and whatever else. In the game world, "Barbarian" means nothing. The word "barbarian" (small 'b', referring to someone who is 'barbaric or uncivilized)can mean any sort of uncouth fighting type who might use any sort of weapon or combat style.

#7: Trust/No Fear: Roleplaying doesn't work if your players don't trust you...and you don't trust your fellow players. A *huge* part of roleplaying is trusting your fellow players to respond in kind, not take in-character things too seriously, and understand this is a game.

Trust:
Trust your GM to play along and not (unfairly) penalize you for roleplaying.
Trust your fellow players to play along with you.
Give *your* trust to your fellow players and create an environment for roleplaying.

Part of me believes that overcoming fear of failure is essential to roleplaying. I, personally, would rather fail in my task/mission than fail to act in character. I have to trust that things will work out in the end...and if my character would do X (within reason), he should probably do it and rejoice the earned outcome rather than metagame towards what will earn his 'reward'.

* * *

For when your group is playing their characters together: therein lies to the path to Roleplay Nirvana. I don't get there often enough, but I can try to be a better roleplayer to get there more often.

More great commentary HERE. Go read the fabulous ideas from others there.

-Pain

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Watch movies. The people you see in them are role-playing. They just have it written out beforehand.


great topic, never tought 'bout asking this myself
thanks

Shadow Lodge Dedicated Voter 2014

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Treehugger is kind of modern and does a lot more to break verisimilitude than druid
Which is an in game term as well as an out of game one

Sczarni Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Shameless Plug. There are other posts of mine that might help. I plan on continuing to write about the subject.

To be honest, Painlord and the others here have pretty much covered it but here is my quick two cents.

- Know your character's history before they started to adventure.
- Know why they are adventuring.
- Have clear in character goals. (What does the PC want to do?)
- Know how your character feels about every PC.
- Have clear and genuine reactions to NPCs, monsters, and situations. (Do more than the standard "no F***s were given" response."
- Don't be afraid to speak up and say something, especially in battle.
- Don't be afraid to do something that isn't optimal or typically a bad idea. People are often acting on emotion and not logic.

Hope this helps!

Shadow Lodge Dedicated Voter 2014

Painflord wrote:
For example: In character, your characters have no idea what differentiates a 'paladin' from a 'cleric' from a 'holy warrior'. There is no such thing as "Divine Grace" to the average person in Golarion. There is only that some holy warriors seem to resist spells well. Or that a particular holy warrior can almost smell evil.

I'm with you on divine grace being unknown to the general public, but 1 rank in knowledge religion should let you know that a paladin is more smashy and less casty than a cleric, as well as a stick in the mu... champion of law and order, whereas a cleric will be a lot more variable in their outlook on life depending on their god.


Some good answers in this thread.

OP, I'll just throw in that "It's all about attitude" and "Think like your character would". Don't worry about speaking in "thees" and "thous".

The Exchange Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Painflord wrote:
For example: In character, your characters have no idea what differentiates a 'paladin' from a 'cleric' from a 'holy warrior'. There is no such thing as "Divine Grace" to the average person in Golarion. There is only that some holy warriors seem to resist spells well. Or that a particular holy warrior can almost smell evil.
I'm with you on divine grace being unknown to the general public, but 1 rank in knowledge religion should let you know that a paladin is more smashy and less casty than a cleric, as well as a stick in the mu... champion of law and order, whereas a cleric will be a lot more variable in their outlook on life depending on their god.

This is where you and I (more or less politely) disagree, Mr. Wolf. The average (or even unaverage) Golarion sentient entity doesn't know all the technical/mechanical differences betwixt and battle cleric and a paladin. I don't believe such classifications exist within Golarion.

Furthermore, and more directly to the OP's point, assuming that a character can do XYZ (or even wants to do XYZ) because you know their class is bad/wrong RP, imho. Since such classifications don't exist, such that relying upon IC knowledge that 'your character should be able to ABC!' is metagame knowledge. If you want to RP well, you shouldn't be making assumptions about what other characters can do: characters are not static classes. Within Golarion, classes don't exist.

And, yes, there is a fine line between: 'Some people like you that I've met in the past can do ABC, don't suppose you can?' and 'I expect you to hate devils and undead and smite.' The truth is that some holy warriors can and some can't...your character isn't going to know which until they ask or see it happen.

-Pain

Dedicated Voter 2015

blackbloodtroll wrote:

I also keep a short list of one-liners and important character flavor facts with me.

Best advice, steal stuff. Be it movies, books, video games, whatever. You like the idea of your character acting like one of your favorite characters in one of these, do it. Don't be afraid to be over the top.
It's all about having fun.

This is something I do all the time. It's incredibly helpful to ask yourself "What would robocop do?" or "How might the count of Monte cristo deal with this guy?". Having a basis for your character, the motivation, the goals, fears, and hatred is what I find most helpful to good role playing.


Mage Evolving wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

I also keep a short list of one-liners and important character flavor facts with me.

Best advice, steal stuff. Be it movies, books, video games, whatever. You like the idea of your character acting like one of your favorite characters in one of these, do it. Don't be afraid to be over the top.
It's all about having fun.

..."What would robocop do?"...

I think this could be applied to anything in life really ;)

Silver Crusade

Think, "what would my character to right now, then do it."


Hey Veldebrand,

I feel sorry that your primary avenue of play is PFS right now. I think that only truly good roll-players can be successful with playing their character as they want in PFS. Don't get me wrong, you can be whoever you wanna be in PFS, but only a fantastic roll-player can be totally mentally aligned with their character. This is why I stopped playing PFS after a while. I was feeling much more fulfillment in my hombrew campaigns. I'm just now feeling like going back could be a good idea for me. Anyway, these are some of my opinions about PFS:

cons:
1. Groups typically aren't built with the same people, so you are forced to rollplay new relationships, which doesn't let you get into character as deeply as you might want to.

2. The emotional investment into PFS is dead compared to homebrew games, as the adventure begins and ends all within one (maybe two) sessions. The reality of your character is completely different from that of the others.

3. Focus on diversity makes it hard for you to clinch down on one thing that is totally YOU.

That all being said, I think that the very things I just typed can be seen as an advantage:

Pros:

1. You learn to more quickly build and roll-play dynamic relationships with those around you

2. You learn to more effectively find common ground with your party.

3. You learn to incorporate all the various aspects of your character into one dynamic character (which is more realistic anyway).

My Advice:

Keep grinding through PFS to learn these lessons, but get into a progressive campaign ASAP. It took me until about 4th level of a progressive campaign to actually feel like what I was saying was representing what my in game character would do. It's a nice feeling when you hit the "sweet spot" with your PC, where you've aligned your mentality with theirs. I think that one of the most important elements of becoming successful with roll-playing (among those listed above and others) is persistence. Just keep on going at it and you'll eventually feel it. If you never feel it, I suggest rolling up a new character that you feel you could really get in to.

Hope that all helped!

Shadow Lodge Dedicated Voter 2014

Painlord wrote:
his is where you and I (more or less politely) disagree, Mr. Wolf. The average (or even unaverage) Golarion sentient entity doesn't know all the technical/mechanical differences betwixt and battle cleric and a paladin. I don't believe such classifications exist within Golarion.

All of them no. But the basics certainly. There are in world orders of paladins, and its not like most paladins are exactly quiet about their beliefs.

Some classes are better suited to this than others. A barbarian is simply someone from the wilds, not a class. Rogue is a personality type, not a class. Paladin and Druid however are both.

Quote:
Furthermore, and more directly to the OP's point, assuming that a character can do XYZ (or even wants to do XYZ) because you know their class is bad/wrong RP, imho. Since such classifications don't exist, such that relying upon IC knowledge that 'your character should be able to ABC!' is metagame knowledge

The classes DO exist. While I agree that "Oh he's a 5th level druid he should only have 2 third level spells tops" is metagaming "He's a druid, maybe fighting him in the forest isn't the best idea ever" or "He's a druid, maybe we don't want to set his forest on fire" are adventuring 101. Likewise a healer should be aware that people going berzerk in battle can go from standing to dead if you don't heal them quickly even if they don't know what a barbarian is.

This should especially be true for pathfinder society. Presumably if you're going to be risking your life and limb with other people you should know what they're capable of. A professional (or anyone that wants to stay alive for that matter) makes sure to know their allies at least as well as their foes. I make sure everyone knows what my characters schtick is so that when he says things like "No one attack the giant snake, i got this" the party doesn't assume that he's crazy. (they often come to that conclusion anyway but at least its not an assumption)

Quote:
If you want to RP well, you shouldn't be making assumptions about what other characters can do: characters are not static classes. Within Golarion, classes don't exist.

I think you're going too far with that and denying the character something that they very well should know from living in the world.

Dark Archive

Kybryn wrote:

Hey Veldebrand,

I feel sorry that your primary avenue of play is PFS right now. I think that only truly good roll-players can be successful with playing their character as they want in PFS. Don't get me wrong, you can be whoever you wanna be in PFS, but only a fantastic roll-player can be totally mentally aligned with their character. This is why I stopped playing PFS after a while. I was feeling much more fulfillment in my hombrew campaigns. I'm just now feeling like going back could be a good idea for me. Anyway, these are some of my opinions about PFS:

** spoiler omitted **

That all being said, I think that the very things I just typed can be seen as an advantage:
** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **...

Your insights into Society are pretty spot on. One of the reasons I asked the question was because I could sense that during Society games it's more difficult to get into role-playing your character and I was looking for advice on how other people got themselves in their character's shoes.

Unfortunately I travel for work and getting into a homebrew is a no-go. With my erratic schedule, and varying lengths of times I'm gone, no group will want to add a "is he here this session or not?" piece. Society fits in that the adventures are four hour one shots, and you can come and go as you please. I'm lucky that when I am around to play it's often with the same circle of people. The more we've bumped into each other the more we know each other's characters and we are building lots of history with them, even in society play.

I'm just having a hard time really taking the next step and thinking and feeling like my character. The suggestions were wonderful and I spent the past several hours texting back and forth with my girlfriend, who also plays, with questions like, "So how do our characters know each other? Was their arranged marriage something sprung on them right before it happened or was it predetermined for many years? Why are we adventuring with the Pathfinder Society? What makes us get up in the morning, listen to some old venture captains, and recover necklaces off dead mummies instead of living back in Tian Xia as a married couple with 10 kids?"

Sadly, the answer to the last question is hard to answer. Exactly why is my character part of a society of treasure hunters? It's not like they give us the awesome artifacts to play with.


Veldebrand wrote:

for work and getting into a homebrew is a no-go. With my erratic schedule, and varying lengths of times I'm gone, no group will want to add a "is he here this session or not?" piece. Society fits in that the adventures are four hour one shots, and you can come and go as you please. I'm lucky that when I am around to play it's often with the same circle of people. The more we've bumped into each other the more we know each other's characters and we are building lots of history with them, even in society play.

Try an online game. Some people say its harder but games can be done via skype, ventrilo, or text based mediums sometimes. Those will allow you to travel and still do longer campaigns if you want.

The Exchange Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Veldebrand wrote:
Sadly, the answer to the last question is hard to answer. Exactly why is my character part of a society of treasure hunters? It's not like they give us the awesome artifacts to play with.

Oh, there is no arguing with this.

Why I am leaving the Pathfinder Society.

However, I happen to believe that this changing. I have spoke to Brock about it repeatedly and seen the posts he has made: I believe the story is coming and we'll soon be nearing the end of nearly every scenario being a meaningless errand mission wherein the macguffin is something you never see or hear from again.

-Pain


Thomas Long 175 wrote:
Try an online game. Some people say its harder but games can be done via skype, ventrilo, or text based mediums sometimes. Those will allow you to travel and still do longer campaigns if you want.

Online games with Skype or Google Hangouts are great ... with current technology allowing multi-person video chat with generally high res and little/no crashing it's actually very close to the feeling of being around a table.

Additionally, something like MapTools or (soon) TableForge (which is being built directly into Google Hangouts) give you your miniatures map, a dice-roller if you don't trust people rolling on their own, private messaging, and actually a pretty awesome way to throw images up to help everyone get into the setting.

In fact ... some of the online tools make playing online superior to playing around a real table in some ways. MapTools has character "line of sight" options that really help a chaotic battle stay chaotic ... being able to share images that show on everyone's screen is a lot more effective than propping up a single picture on the table. Having high-detail maps on your battle-grid is better than markers.

That said ... getting together "in real life" will always have the advantage of being a true human-to-human social gathering ... but at this point, that is the ONLY advantage of it.


Don't be afraid to describe actions of your character in third person. Sometimes it is easier to get into it by saying "Bob the Warrior goes over and does this or says this."

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'll add my thoughts without reading all of the previous posts. Sorry if there is some redundancy here.
One of the best roleplayers I've ever gamed with would develop a character based on a single strong trait. Everything that character did was determined by how someone with that trait would act in any particular situation. The characters were memorable and consistent. For instance, one character was "real mad." They guy was always angry to some extent, from merely grumbling to all out attacks. Another character was always happy, even when the situation sucked. You get the idea.
Another method to develop a character is to use the method many writers use, that of goal-motivation-conflict, or GMC. The goal is what the character wants, the motivation being why he wants it and the conflict being the obstacle in his way. Every character in a story has a GMC, both internal and external. For game purposes the external GMC will largely be dictated by the GM and the adventure. Internal GMC is something most GMs are happy to work with you on, especially if you're using APs and have traits to back it up.
You can also try characterization through the "job interview" method. Look up some common job interview questions on the internet and answer them in the manner that the character would. Keep the list handy and review it before each session.
All of these ideas are how to chreate a character, but not necessarily how to roleplay one. Roleplaying is largely a matter of style. Some groups prefer that players speak in character all the time, while others never do. The groups I play in generally speak in character occasionally, mostly for humor. Each group and individual will have a comfort level. Just find yours.
I agree with the poster who said that it is often best to state what your character says or does out of character. After all, as much as I would like to have a 20 Charisma, I'm not nearly such a smooth operator. A character with a 20 Cha will say things far more convincingly and appropriately than I ever could. The same goes for a charcter with a very high Intelligence or Wisdom score. I may be smarter than your pet rock, but I don't measure up to the knowledge of a Wizard with 12 ranks in Spellcraft and three other Knowledge skills. This same example can be applied to very low ability scores as well. Not many people are that gimped as to have a 7 Cha. Tell the GM the message you want to get across and let the die rolls determine how well you did it. Of course, that's just my view. I've played with others who allow 1st level 10 Int and 10 Cha characters to know and act in ways far beyond the characters ability simply because the player could speak well and think up things to say quickly. You'll have to determine what works best for you and your group.

Dark Archive

Some more excellent advise. Much of which is immediately useful in the building/prep stage which I spend so much time in.

Guy Kilmore wrote:
Don't be afraid to describe actions of your character in third person. Sometimes it is easier to get into it by saying "Bob the Warrior goes over and does this or says this."

I can see this working out quite well for playing a character of a different gender than the player.

mem0ri,

Do you know of a website or group that I could find to explore online gaming in more detail? Especially the groups that use video or some such method (i'd rather get a session in over an evening than the extended time PBP takes).


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Don't take this the wrong way, as it is important.

Would you describe yourself as socially awkward?


(completely stolen from Luke Crane) there are Rpg's that help you with the role-playing process. Sadly, Pathfinder isn't one of them.

Over at the Forge forum, they give each character beliefs. These are statements that guide a character's actions. They've got to be actionable, and wording counts.

So, imagine Frodo Baggins...

Poor belief: I hate Sauron.

Quality belief: I must be the one to destroy the One Ring on Mt. Doom.

The first one, while true, is weak. Doesn't really say what you will do. Drink more? Emigrate? Make a eye-shaped piñata? Compile a list of Sauron jokes, and hit the tavern circuit?

The second one is WAY more clear. It could guide your character in a lot of circumstances, which is the point, actually.

Dark Archive

blackbloodtroll wrote:

Don't take this the wrong way, as it is important.

Would you describe yourself as socially awkward?

Not in "real life" situations. It kind of comes down to 'being my character'. Some people are excellent with the dwarf voices, facial expressions and mannerisms. I think a lot of what people said about not being afraid to look silly is very appropriate. It just seems like my funny voices end up sounding like an old woman instead of a Tengu from Tianxia, and I'll hit the shyness barrier. I never took the time to prepare a good background for my character either, so I'd often just act superficially in regards to finishing the adventure.

The advice provided in this thread on creating a more robust character is amazing. After applying some of it, I can already feel how I think my character would feel about certain situations.


How does your character believe he/she should act in the world?

What is your character's gut reaction when facing an obstacle?

What is your character's personal goal for the near future?

What are your character's strengths and weaknesses?

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

I like to start with my characters' stats, then pick a motivation, and let the two combine to form a personality.

For instance: I made a strong but intelligent fighter (needed the INT for Combat Expertise and a couple of maneuver feats). So I figured he was probably very tactical, task-oriented and able to focus on the task at hand. A little on the quiet side.

I made a strong, fast, hearty, athletic rogue who is extremely mobile (has a climb speed, can make standing jumps as though he had a running start, and starting next level can roll twice on all Swim checks). So he's sort of the "action man" or "field agent" - like Mission: Impossible, he doesn't have magic but uses strength and skill to get into and out of impossible situations. He's the kind of guy who uses lingo like "target", "infiltrate", and so forth in his speech.

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