Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You Don't Explore Characters? How Sad.

Okay, okay, I know I promised posts on sci-fi. That's coming up. First I have to get this off my chest.

Have you noticed this obnoxious little meme floating around the old-school community? "We don't explore characters. We explore dungeons." This, apparently, is the new slogan for the OSR. This is what we're doing now: inventing some kind of trumped-up mutual exclusivity between exploring the campaign world and all that stuff that used to get filed under "good role-playing" back when I was first learning this game.

Well... lah-dee-freakin'-dah! Seriously, where does this pig-headed macho bullshit keep coming from? If you want to play in a role-playing game where the characters don't have any character, that's fine, I guess. But it sounds damned dull, if you ask me.

I play old-school D&D for the characters. Literal dungeons are incidental. Actual dragons may or may not be involved. I explore dungeons, the wilderness, the planes, outer space, and my character's psyche... and I am old-school.

The drawers of boundaries, the builders of walls, the sayers of "nay," are all cordially invited to choke on that.


  1. Amen to that. One of the great things about our weekly game is that stuff happens to our PCs outside of the dungeon forays. You may have run us through Keep on the Borderland, Secrets of the Silver Princess, Castle Amber and The Isle of Dread. But, there is no module to cover Lt. Hornsby's rise to national hero, or John's betrayal of Avalon, or Goldbane's plot to set up an international dwarven crime syndicate. All of that came from out characters, not the dungeons. It's what keeps me coming back every week.

  2. I agree completely. It's not the dungeon crawls that keep a game going. Without a STORY, what's the point? And you can't have a good story without compelling and/or amusing characters.

    It certainly was not the circumstances or environment that made our Sprocket and Mira campaign such a success (not that those details weren't awesome, you completely wonderful referee! ;) ). It was the INSANE plans we (well, mostly Sprocket) came up with, the political alter-egos, the maniacal tinker-gnome charm. And the strong sylph who wasn't TOO proud to put up with his eccentricities. I rather miss being called "Birdsteeda," and hearing the NPCs incredulity at, "You let him get away with that crap?!"

    I've been rather quiet with the personality of my current character, but that's a consideration I made based on the size of this group. There are already enough voices trying to be heard. So I worked that into the character. It makes her a little less interesting, but I keep gaming because the other characters are entertaining.

    On another note,
    If ever there are gamers who don't understand that a character with a roguish personality SHOULDN'T try to betray or steal from their party because it's "who the character is," I want to point them to Farscape. You can have characters with widely different motivations without having a party fall apart.

    That's just a related thought that we've been discussing recently. It's certainly not a gibe at our party's sorcerer, who we consider a "betrayer", yet he really IS a Farscape sort of character (and if he was a Farscape character, he'd totally be Scorpius.... [insert maniacal laughter here] Or is he more of a Sikozu?... I'm not quite sure.)

    Sure, his political motivations make working with him a little tough, but it's actually interesting. And remarkably well thought-out considering it's the player's first foray into role playing.

  3. I definitely missed seeing Goldbane's crime syndicate bit (such a shame!) It's too bad he wasn't there the day I joined. I was debating between human and dwarf and might have leaned that way had I the foresight for how entertaining that would have been to play. Lately we've been coming up with corny dwarven pick-up lines. We need to actually role-play that more.

  4. Well, this week's session was definitely character-driven as much as plot-driven. I'm sure if we headed south to the airship right away, we would have faced Fergus and company sooner. But I think the exploration and acquiring a few "mounts" made it all the more worthwhile.

    And I think I have finally figured out what kind of character Reg is. He's turned from Graham Chapman's stuffy Army Colonel to Ace Rimmer to something all his own: an affable, patriotic warrior with a shamless sense of self-promotion. After all, one does not become a renowned hero without doing some PR work.


  5. I did appreciate that moment with a frozen Fergus. I almost said, "Now THERE'S acting in character!"

  6. Just as a warning, but I may be pointing some new eyes to this blog soon. I'm taking part in a "blogging from A-Z" challenge and tomorrow is C. Or more specifically, "C is for character". I refer to this post a few times.