Friday, July 9, 2010

Roleplaying without Combat

In the Serenity game we just started last Friday, I play a Shepherd (priest/minister). I also happen to be the groups medic and a good shot with a pistol. In the town on the back end of the 'verse where we started, my character found an abandoned church and some very eager people with a desire for a Sunday service. I ended up role-playing in a separate scene from the rest of the group for a large portion of the session and I had a blast doing it. I usually enjoy combat while role-playing, especially considering my miniature game background. I was very surprised how much I took to the role of Shepherd and Medic. During the session, I used my medic ability on two NPCs: a drunk and a sick little girl, gave money to the little girl's family to escape the town, cleaned a church, planned a bank heist with the group and preached a Sunday sermon as a diversion before a high speed chase to end the session.

One reason that this session was so much fun for me without combat was the prep work by the GM. He worked hard on the terrain and other visuals, as you can see from the pictures posted live last Friday, and focused on the backgrounds and roles of the characters to the point where he worked a lot of the backgrounds into the storyline. The GM plans on running the next session in the series in about a month. This time period is a hard wait, but worth it since this effort takes time for high quality play. Providing my Shepherd with opportunities to both heal and preach via an interesting skill challenge where I received rewards (plot points in this system) made my play experience seem fresh and provided that feeling like when I first started to play RPGs. I can hardly wait for the next session to see how I can continue my pacifist ways.

Some other highlights from my "homily." We essentially had an Ocean's Eleven type mission where my character provided a distraction from a position of trust and authority/respect while the rest of the group broke into the bank. In order to keep distracting the town, I had to roleplay and pass increasingly difficult skill challenges. I was in contact with the group through an almost invisible ear piece communicator so I would know how long I had to delay. At one point, the other players needed a key code that only I wrote down. I decided that I would communicate the code by incorporating the numbers/words into the sermon. I quoted chapter 9 verse 20 of ... where the BROADSWORD of the Lord... This use of roleplaying was the highlight of the session for me and drew a number of chuckles from around the table.

Anyone out there ever play a character that was essentially for noncombat in a combat oriented game? I would love to hear some stories to help give me motivation and ideas for the future. Being a preacher and a medic should cover a lot of this roleplaying for this adventure, and I want to avoid combat for as long as possible. This type of roleplaying may come in handy for me as I will be playing a Dr. Who game at GenCon and I would like to be ready in case I don't have any real combat abilities. (If you have seen the show, you know that physical combat is often a last resort ranking far, far behind simply running away). Also, I know it is pretty easy to never have combat in Call of Cthulhu, but combat is not the main focus in that game as many things you try to fight will simply kill you. I am focusing on noncombat characters in combat oriented games.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite 3.5 D&D characters that I have run is a gnome linguist (Rogue 10) named Vanessa that went through the Tomb of Horrors solo. She was going for a prestige class that required her to write a book of an adventure, one that was worthy of keeping in the intended group's library.

    I went through the entire tomb, fought 1 creature, and talked to the rest - my GM just about snorted all his soda when I insisted on making a diplomacy roll to talk to a Sladd, and made me show him that I actually possessed the language, which I did. I got to the end, saw the skull rise up...and backed out saying "not that curious!" and went on my merry. Knowing 40 languages, and having decent skill levels in Diplomacy and Knowledge: History (and Ancient History) would normally have made me an NPC exposition tool, but I used them to catalogue the entire tomb and even figure out a few of the secrets that the DM had swiped from the next adventure in the series.

    I think I enjoyed it so much because I love languages so much, and have some extensive real-world experience in what knowing a bunch of them can do for you. If you're looking for a character like this, you might think of what skills you love and find a way to use them fantastically in a combat-oriented game.


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