Character, or Cog?

Have you ever had anyone tell you that you aren’t playing your character “right”? There’s a great moment in the wonderful movie, “The Gamers: Dorkness Rising” where a new player gets berated by all the others because she put Charisma as her highest score for her new Fighter character. They treated her like she was an idiot… until a bit later when she shines as a fighter and puts all of the rest of them to shame.

If you’ve ever had the experience of someone else, whether it be a fellow player or the DM, tell you that you’re “not doing it right”, I understand how you must have felt. In my own weekly D&D 3.5 game, someone recently told me that I am not playing my Druid right, and that I should focus on being more of a support character, as a “buff” enabler for the rest of the party.

Role playing games are not about playing a role, as odd as that might sound. It’s about playing a character. That’s not the same thing. My Druid is not a cog in the party. As the player, I make choices for that character based on how I see her personality, and how I see that she would react. I don’t always make wise choices, and I often try too hard to be a fighter. That doesn’t mean I’m not playing that character right. Look at the circumstances surrounding those choices, and it’s entirely plausible that the character would make those choices.

The same should go for you and your characters every single time. Break out of stereotypes. Bring the characters personality out and show it off. Do you want to try to be a front-line fighter with your low level wizard? Go ahead! Why the hell not? I don’t give a rat’s ass if the party fighter wants you to take the time to put some mojo on him that will make him even more bad-ass. Shine on with your bad self!

I’m not here to buff up the party. I’m playing a Druid, not an employee. Sure I want to help out, but what if I want to shape-change into a rhinoceros and charge the group of bad guys instead of just stand back and cast spells on the rest of the group? You don’t like it? Tough bananas.

There is no right and wrong when it comes to being in character, as long as you don’t use that character to be harmful in the real world to people around you. Even an evil character can be played without being an asshole. Even a Cleric can be more interested in treasure than in just being the cut-out standing by waiting to heal.

If they, whoever “they” are, tell you that you aren’t playing your character “right”, tell them they’re right, and then just keep on truckin’.

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