Five tips to improve your roleplaying

In my opinion there are a lot of people who mistake roleplaying games for miniature combat games. But what makes RPGs so much fun is the roleplaying part. When you do your job (as player or GM) right, the character you play truely comes to life. There are some simple tips that can help you improve your roleplaying skills.

  1. Give your character some background
    You can of course roll up your character, write “Bob the Barbarian” at the top of your character sheet and be done with it. But to make things more interesting, think about your character’s background. Where did he come from? Who were his parents? What are his motivations? Give your character some quirks, think about the way he talks and what he loves, hates and fears. And while you’re at it, think about a proper name!
  2. Use direct speech
    Sometimes using indirect speech can speed things up. But it should not be the preferred method in my opinion. Although indirect speech has its uses in roleplaying, I prefer direct speech. “Greetings, friend. May I ask thee where I can find the inn in this nice city?” is much better than just “I ask for directions to the inn”. Think about what your character would say something and even how he would say it. If you have any talent for dialects or accents, you can use this to spice up things. Some players really love to act their characters out and make heavy use of gestures while playing their character. And trust me, everything is better for your roleplaying than “My character says to your character…”
  3. Avoid clichés
    Ok, roleplaying games are full of clichés. In most fantasy settings dwarves like beer, use axes, have long beards, et cetera. In one D&D campaign I decided to go against the cliché with a dwarven ranger that always had a close cropped beard, fought with a rapier and his means of transportation was a cart drawn by his trusty mule. I was probably violating every cliché imaginable but it was one of the more memorable characters I played.
    Also, don’t let clichés control your characters actions. Remember that player characters are usually heroes, people that vary from the norm and that do exceptional things. Even when the race description tells you that Dwarves hate gobinoids you don’t have to attack every greenskin on sight. Just think about what your character would do.
  4. Make your weakness your strength
    No character is be perfect in everything he or she does. But that’s actually a plus in my book. Playing a perfect character would be pretty boring. Most often the weaknesses define a character more than his strengths. When you check out superhero comics you’ll notice that every hero has his weakness. What’s your character’s Kryptonite?
    This weakness can also be tied to your attributes. Imagine a wizard with an exceptional intelligence but low dexterity who tends to drop things, bump into other people. If you want to bring some fun to the table this clumsy mage is more interesting than any Elminster wannabe.
  5. Let your character evolve
    Let me tell you the story of Bob the Barbarian. He starts off as a farmer’s son, defeats the evil lich Morg in his teens, travels the seven seas before his 30th year and in his last years he rules the kingdom of Akilon until his death. And you probably will agree that it would be very strange if Bob the King would still feel, think and act as he still was Bob the Farmboy. But that’s what happens often enough in roleplaying.
    So let your character’s character evolve with his skills and abilities. Think about how the events he or she experienced changed his or her outlook on life. Perhaps the struggles and losses left some emotional scars or even made the character stronger. Take all this in consideration when you play your character and your 20th level fighter will be much more than just a character sheet with some numbers on it.

I hope these tips will help you to improve your roleplaying. Of course a lot depends on the style of play you prefer. Some groups are perfectly happy with Bob the Barbarian, Terry the Thief and Mick the Mage slaying monsters all day without even uttering a word (aside from the occasional “Booyah!”). But if you want more out of your roleplaying experience, these tips will probably help.
And please, give your characters proper names and avoild names like “Bob the Barbarian”! Thanks!

A look back on 100 posts!

Behold the 101st post on Stargazer’s World. When I started that blog in August 2008 I had great plans and much greater hopes but of course nothing happens exactly as planned. There were some pleasant surprises and also some unpleasant ones. But all in all I am very happy with how Stargazer’s World has turned out. And I have the feeling that 2009 will be a great year for the RPG Bloggers community. But let’s talk a bit about the last 100 posts…

My most successful post is surely “D&D 4th Edition Firearms“. It was the most viewed post during the existence of this blog and quite a few people have been linking back to it. I have to admit that I haven’t actually have the time to playtest the firearms rules since we haven’t been playing D&D 4th Edition that often lately, so if you’ve done so, please let me know.

The most controversial post was probably “Some 4E myths“. When I wrote that article in October I thought that a lot of people were bashing D&D 4th Edition because they had some misconceptions about the game. The discussion got quite heated when 4E fans and 4E critics started to bash each other relentlessly. But luckily the whole controversy about D&D 4th Edition has calmed down a little since then and the 4E fans and critics peacefully coexist on the RPG Bloggers Network.

My personal favorite post is still “Roleplaying music – Five essential soundtrack albums“. I always use a lot of music in my gaming sessions and there are five soundtrack albums that I believe should be part of any GM’s collection. I also included some short audio snippets, so you can check out the music before you buy the CDs in your favorite shop. When I remember correctly it took me hours to complete this post, but it was worth every minute.

During the last two months of last year I suffered from some kind of winter slump and the quantity and quality of blogging declined. I am also not happy with how my steamfantasy campaign Asecia turned out so far. In November I posted about my ideas for a reboot of the setting but I haven’t had the opportunity to work everything out. Perhaps some of you have some ideas on how I can “save” Asecia. During the last weeks I started writing about the SF campaign idea that has been floating around in my head for some time. And I am really interested to see how it will turn out.

I also want to thank all my fellow RPG bloggers. I am always amazed about the quality and quantity of posts the Network is churning out every day. And I have special thanks to the Chatty DM who helped me a lot during these last months.

At the end of that post let me give you some statistics on “Stargazer’s Blog”:

  • Total number of posts: 101 (including this one)
  • Total number of approved comments: 370
  • Number of (unique) visits: 8711
  • Active WordPress plugins: 10
  • Technorati authority: 4 (don’t let the widget fool you, and if you know how to fix that, let me know)
  • Google Page Rank: 1
  • Cups of coffee consumed by me during the writing of that post: 2

What are your thoughts on the last 100 posts? What did you like? What was not to your liking? What would you like to see more/less? As always I am interested in your comments! So please use the contact form on the About page or use the comment section of that post! Thanks!

Dead Alewives – Dungeons & Dragons

The Dead Alewives were a comedy troupe from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although the troupe stopped performing in the late 1990’s they will always be recognized by roleplaying game fans all over the world for their “Dungeon and Dragons” sketch. 

After a dangerous and exhausting trip to the dark and cold depths of the internet I was able to unearth two precious audio files for you to listen to:

Dead Alewives – Dungeons & Dragons Part 1

Dead Alewives – Dungeons & Dragons Part 2

A Roleplaying Games blog

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