Playing (With) Yourself

Commentary Playing Yourself Suicide World of Darkness

We’ve all dreamed of being the hero right? I mean come on, isn’t that at least a part of why we game in the first place? To be someone/something more than what we really are?  But what happens when we get that chance, when we become the hero in game? When a game is set up to use a player’s skills/abilities/personalities as their character’s?  Not just the little piece that we all put into the characters, but the whole magooger…

Year of the Reckoning

My comments on Chase’s “Top Five Games Over Time” post got me thinking back to 1999, the ‘Year of the Reckoning’ for us World of Darkness (WoD) geeks.  By 1999 I had been in the WoD for a fair number of years and when Cathy, another member of our group said she was going to get the “Hunter: The Reckoning” books I was fairly piqued, interest wise.  So as not to bore you, the 25-cent version of the game is: ordinary people who are suddenly infused with powers to battle the supernatural things, all of whom are ‘evil’.

As I said I had been in the WoD for a bit at that point and usually played the same types of characters across the different cities (campaigns), as did everyone else. We all had basically played the same kinds of characters with different names, so I suggested that we try something new.  This game was supposed to be ordinary people suddenly becoming ‘super’ right? Then let’s pitch character creation rules right out the window and just make ourselves!

Playing Ourselves

The making part was no problem, a little one on one with the Storyteller to plead your case and you were done.  Now Cathy is a bit of a character sadist like me, so she kept our characters’ Creeds (the kind of Hunter and basis for their powers) secret until the game actually started.  Playing ourselves, however, was something different all together.  I (Jacob) ended up as a Martyr; my goal was to save others at any cost, including my life.  His main power used his own life force to fuel it, so he took damage every time he used it.  The legendary Aaron played David, my character’s younger brother and a Judge. It was his duty to weigh all the factors and mete out a fitting justice to the monsters.

Playing yourself as yourself is hard.  I mean, like driving-on-the-left-side-of-the-road hard for some of us. When you’re a Dwarven Berserker, flying into battle is expected, but I was suddenly a human grocery store assistant manager!  WTF am I supposed to do, price check the big bad vampire?  And I suddenly had these new powers.  Did I also mention that Cathy didn’t tell us at what levels we had them? We had to find that out for ourselves.  So I (and the other players and us as group) suddenly had to really think about our actions. No more “waste ‘em with our crossbows first and ask questions later,” we were human in a human world with laws and morality (boo hiss!) to think about.

I’m still won’t bore you with a blow by blow account of the game, but suffice it to say we were all forced, rather unintentionally, to take a long hard look at ourselves, both as players and as people.  The mildest player suddenly became a bit more vocal outside of the game, and the tactless a$$hole discovered that sometimes I needed to bite my tongue.

Judgment

Why did I mention Aaron at the beginning, you may ask?  It’s because he did something in character at the end of the game that startled everyone: he killed himself.  Not Aaron, but David, who was created based on Aaron.  I said he was a Judge and was supposed to weigh all the facts, yadda yadda.  Well he did, and we had acted based on his judgment and took down what we thought was the ‘big bad,’ only to find out he wasn’t even a little bad.  This made David see himself as a ‘monster’ and he passed judgment on himself.  Now I’ve seen TPKs, had some of my characters killed, and even killed others PCs myself, but I had never and have never since experienced PC suicide.

Not to leave you all on the bummed-out tip, I’m linking here to Cathy’s main web page she started while we were gaming in the WoD.  She has since kept it up, although less frequently of late.  Enjoy the pictures and songs, and hopefully a few of the stories. Ask me, or her for that matter, any question you may have about what we did and why.

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Have you ever been involved in a game that used the players as character models?  Have you learned any personal lessons from your RPG character?  Are you still snickering at the title, because that’s just dirty.  I reckon that it’s about time you leave us a Comment!