Action is character

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Action is character.”

A few years ago a friend of mine came up with the theory that we often play our polar opposites in games. The players under scrutiny here were myself and himself and our characters were a honourable charismatic paladin and a sneaky cutthroat backstabbing rogue. I disagreed at the time but missed out on the bit where he was calling me a sneaky backstabbing rat in real life. I’ve never been clever with that sort of thing.

Aidan remarked the other night that he believes more accurately that we play characters we would like to be. This kinda still leaves me as a sneaky rat but at least this time I wish I was a paladin.

On the other hand, listening to F. Scott Fitzgerald, we define our character by our actions. This is kinda obvious but it’s good of old F. to help us with making it into an interesting soundbite.

About matt

Gamer. Writer. Dad. Serial Ex-husband. Creator of The 23rd Letter, SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO, ZOMBI, Testament, Creed. Slightly megalomaniac
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5 Responses to Action is character

  1. Aidan says:

    I think this is something that mediocre roleplayers sometimes miss, and so they end up just playing the same character with different abilities in every game.

    It’s interesting to try to play a character who is not prone to “action” – like Indigo in the WatchTower game. As a result, his character is defined by his inaction (he’s a bit of a coward).

  2. matt says:

    I think a post about “what makes a good or mediocre or bad roleplayer” would be suitable.

    I see Indigo as a reluctant hero, forced into a suit because of happenstance and the desires of his boss to make something of an impression.

    I see Jack White as a sympathetic figure who may honestly think that the way to set the world to rights is to take the power away from politicians.

    Skycrane is motivated by being the biggest, best, most desirable. Primitive desires really. He gets visibly upset when someone says he can’t do stuff.

    Yellowfist has a lot of stuff to prove. For himself, for his society.

    Balance ….well. He’s a looper.

  3. Aidan says:

    Ooo, I have in my head a desire to do one of those magazine-style surveys …

    “Please choose one of the following four responses which most closely resembles your own.”

    Rate yourself as a roleplayer.

    Ahem. Yes, a post on what makes good, bad or mediocre roleplaying is worth writing. I’m on it.

  4. aidan says:

    Action is character. That seems like a fundamental upon which a game system could be based.

    Pendragon has some of that, where your actions are forced by your beliefs (passions/traits). I know some diceless/GM-less games use rules of influence/action points.


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