Central to the core of Untitled is the act of playing a role in a story that takes place in an imaginary fantasy realm, role-playing. To facilitate this, players will create characters that represent them in the world, and allow them to explore and enjoy the narrative.
A player must first decide what type of character they are going to play. Are they going to play a character completely different from the way they are in life, or will they insert themselves and play exactly the way they would react?
A self-insert is where the player develops a character that they feel will be a literal representation of themselves, and whose emotions and interactions will be guided by how they would react given the same situation.
This is perhaps the most comfortable method of character design, particularly for those new to roleplaying, but can be difficult as the situational input, choices and limitations within a fantasy world will often be different from life in the real.
Context: In-Character versus Out of Character:
One of the more challenging aspects of role-play may involve keeping what is out-of-character, being what is said between players in conversation around the table, from influencing your character’s actions.
To aid in this separation, think of players and characters as different entities. Players are you the individual, likely sitting around a table and drinking something tasty. Characters are the entities players have described on paper who exist only in the fantasy setting. This is theatre.
To be In-Character (IC) means to respond and perform actions as if you were your character. You might for instance want to converse with the barkeep to inquire of the local gossip, an interaction which likely occurs between you and the Storyteller each playing a part in the exchange. Whether you adopt a particular voice, accent or style of speaking or simply speak plainly is entirely up to you, but what you say or describe your character doing should be done in-character.
Out-of-Character (OOC) is a term that is simply meant to describe everything that is not being performed or discussed In-Character. Discussing how work is going, what is for dinner, or the repairs you had to have done to your car, are some of the more obvious ways we can be out of character. Where players often find themselves in a gray area, is when they ask out-of-character questions about in-character topics or events, like “what should we do with that map?”, or “You said you’re a noble, right?”
To help your fellow players try and stay focused on the game and what is happening in the world being described by the Storyteller, it may help to append “my character says” or another similar description onto your actions.
Try to remember throughout that you are playing as your character, and keep out-of-character chatter to a minimum. When the group is challenged, remember also that your characters may not have the same acumen or understanding of the world that you, the player, do. In those cases, it is best to let the dice tell the story.
To put it simply, meta-gaming is when you apply your own personal knowledge to your character in a given situation. This can give your character extranormal knowledge they wouldn’t otherwise have.
While it can be difficult at times, avoiding undue influence of your character or their decisions in this way will often lead to a more enjoyable and engaging experience. Your character likely knows some things that you don’t, and should not know everything that you the player do.
For knowledge-specific challenges, your character should have a skill in that area in order to answer said challenge. Knowledge-Religion, for instance, will give your character insight into religious practices, rites and rituals that may be necessary for exploring ancient ruins. Knowledge-Nature will give your character insight into plans and herbs, farming, and wildlife. These are skills like everything else, and represent the time that character has applied themselves studying a topic. Local Knowledge differs slightly, being more about the ability to discover, collect and catalog knowledge from a character’s surroundings. Just because you know that it’s okay for your character to eat the mushroom they found, your character might not.
Meta-gaming also applies to situational awareness. You the player have ears, and presumably use them to listen to what is happening around the table. As players we may be privy to the backstory of the character across the table, but your character won’t know until they ask that character. And just because your character asks, they may choose not to answer.
And if your party is split and ends up going in two different directions, you should try your best to focus only on what is happening to your character and those with them. Even if the other players wake a sleeping dragon, unless they have some way of telling your character, they do not know.
The term power-playing can be used to describe two different behaviors, both of which should generally be discouraged and avoided.
1. The first description would be choosing to design your character in such a way as to defeat a game system or mechanic or to purposefully remove the challenge from gameplay. No one will fault you for wanting to play an optimal character, but one should never do-so at the cost of true character development.
2. The second description of power-playing would be to describe the actions of other player’s characters or to state that a particular action’s results without giving the other players a chance to respond. As a player you will typically be responsible for only one single character and as a respectful player will want to make sure you are only ever describing what your character does.
“My character jumps up from his seat and grabs your hood, pulls it over your head and then slams it into the table.” Not only did you assume surprise but your stated action(s) seem to imply the other player’s character(s) did not attempt to defend themselves.
“My character jumps up from his seat and quickly attempts to pull your hood down over your eyes.” While we all hope to avoid in-fighting within the group, this is correct. It gives the other person a chance to react and describe their own actions.
Now that we have covered the basic concepts of how you can play the game and established some good table etiquette, let’s talk a little bit about how you will go about creating a character.