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I've recently gotten into a custom D&D-like role-playing campaign and have developed my character to be a quiet, contemplative rogue who has a backstory that mostly represents a lone wolf.

I've just finished up with my second session and I think the DM is getting the idea that I'm just a quiet person or that I'm zoning out during play. As we're playing over roll20.net and skype, it's a little harder to convey body language than I would prefer. I also find it difficult because the group seems to really enjoy talking in first person when they speak and/or describe their actions. I've considered the possibility of using more emotes (ie. "Character shifts his eyes towards the door", where Character is my character's actual name), but I'm not sure of the effectiveness.

The end result is that I think my character is the type of person who would prefer to stand in the shadows for a combat advantage over involving themselves in conversation but I think that directly conflicts with my personal goal of engaging the group.

How can I play my character so that he is both believable and adds value to the group?

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Lone wolf can mean a lot of things besides just being quiet. A possible avenue of play is to move ahead of other characters, with the intent of getting into position or "taking care of business." This means that you get into trouble, and your team gets you out of it. Or, they only think you're getting into trouble, and get into it themselves. A love interest in the party would help. I think it's the case though that any way you play this character, it is going to be asking for more than usual from the other players. –  AndrewK Jul 1 at 1:26
    
Maybe you don't want to tell the other players what you're trying to RP (though I would brag... er tell them), but you should certainly tell the DM. Be open about it. –  Simanos Jul 9 at 9:07

6 Answers 6

up vote 45 down vote accepted

When I've played (or joined in others playing) these quiet characters, the best way to run them is have an almost noir style internal monologue.

"I looked at the wall, and frowned. I wasn't certain, but there might be something behind it. Best not to mention it though, I'd look like a chump if I was wrong."

is much more interesting than.

"..."

Characters are always "talking." The trick is that quiet characters talk with their bodies and thoughts instead of their mouths. A lack of communication is a lack of communication. A lack of talking merely presupposes other forms of communication.

It's important not to be passive aggressive with this, as you need to be able to engage in what amounts to dialogue with your body language (a passive aggressive version would be to "transmit only"). But so long as you embody "communicating without talking" you'll be no more passive aggressive than the character would normally be.

Think of the group's "awareness" of people like a spotlight. In a good group, most people will share the spotlight to whatever degree they're comfortable with. Just like on stage, to communicate, you don't have to speak when in the spotlight, but you do need to actively control when it shines on you.

You may also want to read Making the Tough Decisions. While it's possible to make lone wolf characters, a group narrative doesn't support them particularly well. There are all sorts of tropes that aren't appropriate for certain genres of games, and the lone-wolf-in-a-group... is likely one of them. Pulling off the lone wolf with adequate spotlight control is a challenging activity that I wouldn't enter into lightly. Make sure your game welcomes deep character studies that explore the inner motivations of characters.

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I've seen lone-wolves done well, but I agree it is challenging. Doing something like play-by-post or email makes it easier because you can easily add in more of the character's internal monologue without yanking the spotlight away. –  TimothyAWiseman Jun 27 at 17:29
  • Use out-of-character discussion to let the other players know you're engaged and not bored. This is more important in online gaming because you don't have any body language, eye contact, or other social cues to work with. In particular, tell them that you're playing a loner.

  • Engage with the group in-character privately, when NPCs aren't around. Keep your loner motif while providing useful roleplay opportunities with the other characters and developing in-game plans, such as combat tactics that favor your character and backstory relevant to the current situation. Provide opportunities for other PCs to gently pry at your loner exterior, but convey that you're fine with this as a player.

  • Open up as play continues. No character is an island. There's is (or should be) a reason the characters are together, and you should explore that during play. That exploration should change your character—perhaps to be less of a loner and more someone who cares more about the party and its goals.

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I really like the second and third points. The second because it gives me the idea to exploit the idea that the character knows how to fend for himself and thus may be able to provide the party with a plan. That plan requires some sort of communication to get across. The third point because it's true and something I haven't explored. –  vmrob Jun 27 at 5:21

There's two ways to make the loner character work in an rpg.

First, descriptively. Constantly narrate HOW you do things, the gestures, the attitude that comes across in your actions, along with the internal monologue. (Brian Ballsun-Stanton's answer is very good about this).

Second, have small conversations instead of big ones Get aside with another PC and have a one-on-one conversation. This is pretty much what you see happen a lot with classic loner characters in comics, movies, etc. They DO have conversations, it's just very private ones. This can be more difficult for some RPGs if the group is used to being in a party at all times, instead of breaking up for short scenes as smaller groups or solo scenes.

Also, let your group know, "My character is a loner/quiet person BUT that means we're just going to engage differently rather than not at all. It might make more sense to ask me to narrate my gestures than to ask in-character how I'm feeling, or to meet me one on one", so everyone can work with it.

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Playing the quiet type: Describe your actions and reactions, even if you have nothing to say. If you do have something to say, your conversations ought to get directly to the point. Know what your point is before you start the conversation, get to the point and be done with it. Though, I have to say, that's kind of boring.

Playing the loner: If your character is a lone wolf and you want to interact with the other characters, the best way is for your character to have a good reason to interact with them, either by helping them, or needing them. I recommend the latter. If your character needs them, it might be a humbling experience for him or her and challenging for you, hopefully in a good way. It should also bring down the barriers quite quickly and allow your character to open up to them and share their history and feelings, etc.

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First of all, I think that the other answers are fantastic. That said I'd just like to complement them with my own thoughts on the topic. (I'm going to paint a picture of a supportive introvert for the rogue in hopes of better communicating certain points. Remove supportive introvert and insert whatever motive you have for your character.)

Just because your character is a loner that doesn't mean that he can't watch out for the pack. Silent people are often INCREDIBLY observant, which often means that they get good at predicting the needs, desires, intentions, and actions of the group that they are with.

  1. Try to be observant and try anticipate the needs, desires, intentions, and actions of the party and it's members.
  2. Position your character as someone who can either fulfill the needs of the party or better yet be the character who enables the party to accomplish its goals collectively, and aid the sub-goals of party members.
  3. As a result you should be better able to endear you loner to the group as an essential member.

During play let the internal monologue that Brian Ballsrun-Stanton suggests show what your character thinks of his party and how he thinks his actions are supporting them. If you choose to open up your character at some point as okeefe's third point suggest then remember your character is

"...a quiet, contemplative rogue..."

if you don't want to break that introversion, but still want to let the other players know that you are thinking of them as you act, make the subtext that would naturally show up in room show up as actual text. Ask yourself questions like "what does my character do when he's looking out for his friends(or the closest things he has to friends)?" Whatever your answers are let that show up in his actions, but since you are online define your characters actions to the group, so that they know what you're trying to accomplish and why.

Example: The DM puts a group of thugs between you and your NPC bartender friend who helps you're party, the thugs are drunk and about to rough up your pal.

Player 1: "Let him go and we won't have a problem!"

You: Whispers to *Player 4* "I know where this is going." I figure that every hammer needs a good anvil. Player 1 might be able to hold them off for a while, but if I sneak behind them for a surprise attack she'll make short work of them.

Point being try to develop a rapport with your party, so that they don't just overlook you and the beautiful anvil you bring to their hammer. If you want the party to know that you're involved then you're going to have to go the extra mile to type up all of the subtext that you want to convey to them.

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Your character must be a loner for a reason. e.g. Brooding characters have a history of being confronted with social interactions in which they got the short end of the stick. Try to have your character engage in one-on-one conversations with other PCs because that's when they feel they have more control of the situation. At Roll20.net, there are often lulls in the actions when the DM is setting something up. If you're still at the tavern, why not do this then? If other characters start joining in, make it clear that your character is not really interested in full-on debates with the entire party. This means that when everyone is talking, your character is sitting there brooding; but when everyone is quiet, you will actually be the one taking the center spot keeping the liveliness going. (Oh yeah, that guy's still here too.)

Of course, you must have something to talk about. Even loners have interests. If your character is quite partial to weapons, he may strike up a conversation about another party member's magic sword and the story behind it. Who did it belong to? Who made it? Which battles has it seen? You should be able to scratch down some notes on pretty much every other party member about which questions you could ask at any given time before the session even starts so that you can just keep them handy. DM's use notes, there's no shame in using them as a player just to make your character fit in the way you want him to. (Wow, this guy really likes weapons. And he sure knows a lot about poison...)

If you really want to make an impression, follow the above two suggestions, but come up with some real conversation killers that can have your colleagues scratching their heads whether you're being serious or not. Did you know if you grind Blackroot and Turtlebriar with a teaspoon of alcohol, it will turn a person's skin into charcoal like a fire burning on the inside? (I'd better keep an eye on my wine tonight...)

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There's some good advice in this, but the first two sentences seem inspired by overexposure to lazy characterisation. Nobody needs a traumatic life event to justify a personality trait, and the question doesn't seem to be specifically about "brooding" personalities anyway. –  BESW Jun 29 at 3:02
    
Agreeing with BESW. I really like the idea about engaging in one-on-one conversations with a predetermined topic (at my discretion). –  vmrob Jun 29 at 3:49
    
@BESW Perhaps I worded it poorly because I think you misinterpret my meaning. We are all what we are because of past experiences. They shape our character in every way. The same thing goes for the characters we play in games. I was just saying that when you are roleplaying that this is something to consider. –  Wineballs Jun 29 at 9:59
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@Wineballs Maybe you could do an edit for clarity, then? I suspect one of my problems is that your second sentence seems to define "quiet loner" very narrowly, dismissing many possible nuances of the personality trait; this makes it hard for me to read the rest of the answer as being about a broader context. –  BESW Jun 29 at 11:59
    
@BESW Better now? –  Wineballs Jun 29 at 12:34

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