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Character and Social Oriented Role by Amun Quoi

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scalyface

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Character and Social Oriented Role Playing

First off, please note the difference between the terms "player" and "character". A player is the real-life person at their computer, playing a game. A character is their current representation inside the game world.

Neverwinter Nights persistent worlds are places where many playing styles coexist. I will present two in this article: social oriented and character oriented styles. There are others as well, and no-one should be needlessly categorized. An individual person can change to a different style depending on situation and mood.

The social playing style
In social oriented playing, the game is the most important thing. The purpose of it all is clear: to play a game with friends and to have fun. This always comes first. In role playing terms, it translates to all members of a party always working together, regardless of alignment, character goals, deities, and whatever else. It's like a good movie where the main characters end up working together to save the world even if they hate each other. For example, an evil assassin will travel with a band of holy men, but she will constantly make quips about the dark side, killing people and generally being evil. And the good guys will respond in kind, saying that she's hopeless and trying half-heartedly to convert her. But they all stay together, because the higher goal is playing a social game, not what's actually happening inside the game.

The character playing style
In character oriented role playing, the above is reversed. The most important goal is to keep in character, think and act like a real person, regardless of the consequences. The game is secondary, and social interaction comes from two or more people playing character interaction realistically. Everything else in the game simply facilitates this. Because keeping in character is the main goal, this can and will often lead to two players breaking up because their characters do not agree on something. This is perfectly acceptable and valid, because both are sticking to their characters - it's the immersion and ability to realistically "write" a character that matters.

Conflicts between styles
Most of the time social and character role playing work together well. But when two characters come to an in-character disagreement, and one is played by a character role player and the other a social one, chaos ensues. The argument can be a conversation about morals or religion, or simply a lightsider seeing a darksider. Any in-character disagreement can spark the conflict between players. The character role player takes the disagreement all the way out, possibly even insulting the other player's character. Sometimes the character role player may just avoid the other one, as their character would do so. The social role player cannot understand this hostility or avoidance, because he is accustomed to players always sticking together. The character role player cannot understand why the social one expects him to join or remain along even after both characters have disagreed on something.

The character role player also has trouble understanding why the social player's characters are always tolerant of everyone else - say, being friendly towards drow. To him, the social player is "copping out" and playing unrealistically. The social player doesn't see it that way, because he expects that everyone should be able to play with anyone else, and that the fun of playing races such as drow comes from the the conversations and conflicts while he's in a party.

How to resolve conflicts
So, after all this, what can you do if a situation such as this one arises? I have to say that I haven't found a perfect solution, at least not yet. Forcing a social player to character-oriented playing or vice versa will not work, although it is possible to readjust if in the proper mood. Neither is it particularly effective to go around saying whether you're a social or a character player, since these two are only imaginary categories, and each person is an individual. Furthermore, starting every conversation by jumping out of character and explaining what kind of player you are is not very good, either.

The only thing you can do if you realise that a situation such as this is happening is to try and break free before it escalates. If you are willing to switch to the other type, do so. If not, bow out gracefully. The most important thing is to realise that the situation you're in is simply a result of people being different. In realising this, you can get out of the situation without hurting anyone's feelings or ruining anyone's playing fun.

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