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My DM is doing a one shot in-universe for a historical moment in our main campaign's world, and my DM is requiring that I play a female character. I'm not really comfortable with this, nor the personality I will have to portray.

How can I best not be a spoilsport?

He won't re-gender one of the characters for me. I know women are just people too but it still makes me uneasy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ [Related] As a man, how can I roleplay a woman better? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 24 '18 at 4:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.se! Have you taken the tour? This is a great first question. It may help to provide the DM's reasoning for why they want you to play a female, if you know it. Thanks for participating and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Nov 24 '18 at 4:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ How many people are in your group for this one-shot? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 24 '18 at 20:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be helpful to mention the kind of personality that the DM wants you to play here. Does it seem like the DM has created a stereotypical character? Or is the personality something you don't want to play for a different reason? The best response might be different in these two cases. \$\endgroup\$ – Obie 2.0 Nov 25 '18 at 5:04
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Don't do something that makes you uncomfortable

RPGs should be fun for everyone involved. If you are actually uncomfortable with this the DM should not be asking you to do it. As is always the best advice you should talk to the DM respectfully outside the game and explain that this isn't something you want to do.

If they still insist you must play a female character against your wishes you have two options:

  1. Don't play. This isn't the game for you. Explain that you don't feel comfortable participating and hope they have fun for the one-shot.
  2. Make the best of it. If you are able to overcome the discomfort then this could be a great opportunity to roleplay outside of your normal character. We have a great question on this site that goes into techniques for roleplaying a female as man. I suggest you check it out for better advice than I could give.

Personal Experience

About 6 months ago my main character decided to leave the party for key story reasons. In order to continue playing in the next few sessions the DM suggested I should take over the female NPC that was travelling with our party. Initially I was hesitant to play a female full time. I had done it as a DM but never as a player.

After I started play the fact the character was a female wasn't an issue however. I grew attached to the character and am still playing her. I'm not saying this will happen for you but if you are willing to give it a go it may be easier than you think.

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I want to start by saying that I understand your impulse, here. Maybe not fully-- I'm not in your head, I don't know the precise reason for your reluctance-- but I do understand it. I shared it in some part, as I have also been fairly reluctant to portray characters of the opposite sex. (In my case, I was mostly concerned with getting it wrong, making a fool of myself, inadvertently offending someone, etc.) I have known other players very hesitant to do this, too, and their reasons (those that I know reasons for) are not nefarious.

So if you really, absolutely, positively can't or won't do this... don't. If it's not fun, it's not fun, and being forced into it sure won't help on that account.

You might ask the GM why they are so unbending. They might think they have a plot point that requires this (although I'm much much more skeptical of this now than I would have been ten or twenty years ago.) If it's the personality that bothers you more than the sex, maybe that is more easily negotiable. Likewise, if you have concerns about certain situations, maybe you can get assurances from the GM that they won't happen.

If there's something really specific to your reluctance, and you can work around it with the GM, that's one way to at least try to avoid being a spoilsport.

But.

(You knew there would be a "but," right?)

I found one-shot adventures (usually but not always convention one-shots) to be absolutely ideal sandboxes. I figured no matter how badly I screwed up, at least the damage was limited to that one session, that one game. During my relatively brief period of convention activity, I actually made it a point to play at least one gender-swap character if possible. It was a valuable experience. I'd like to think it improved my ability to GM as well.

This may be your lowest possible cost opportunity to experiment-- a one shot, and you don't even have to pay travel costs or convention fees.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the comment about being suspicious of why it's so important to play a woman in this one-shot, if it is supposed to be a plot-related thing. I would be extremely wary of any plot point that's supposedly only able to happen to a woman-- barring a "No man may kill me" or pregnancy situation. (Discounting the potential for having trans characters at all, which seems unlikely based on the descriptions given here.) \$\endgroup\$ – Blue Caboose Nov 24 '18 at 22:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @L.S.Cooper I can imagine accidentally writing myself into a corner like that. What left the door open for me was "historical moment," meaning there may have been a famous event with three men and two women, and aw shucks the first four have already been assigned. But I am still highly skeptical. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Nov 24 '18 at 23:02
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Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable

Sadly, many nowadays are unable to distinguish between legitimate PTSD triggers or considered moral/ethical lines and simply "being uncomfortable" in terms of appropriate response and so give you carte blanche to skip out on anything challenging. But that's how you never grow as a gamer or a person.

While it's fine to refrain from anything that fits in those former categories, part of the glory of any hobby is pushing you outside your comfort zone - either something as straightforward as doing an Iron Man triathlon when you never have before as an athlete, or in this case something more cerebral and complicated, like crossgender roleplay.

If you're ever going to GM, guess what, you'll end up portraying female characters! And orc characters, and mind flayer lich characters, and all kinds of "different personalities." It's a good skill to learn.

I get that you may be worrying about the group's response - but the GM is the one assigning you the character, and I would bet he probably has an additional agenda of trying to get the people in the group to stretch more, and this is a good way to make it "safe" to do it. It's a one-shot for God's sake, a safe sandbox that's over in one session. Do it, maybe you'll learn something.

You can also see As a man, how can I roleplay a woman better? for tips on how to do it.

Personal Experience

When I was a new gamer, I only played same-gender characters, almost exclusively elves, for a while. But then as I grew as a gamer, and did some GMing, I discovered that it was interesting to use gaming not as pure power fantasy but as a means to experience, slightly, other peoples' experiences.

So now I really like stretching with each additional character, always looking to play a different gender, race, personality/alignment, sexuality, class/template/playbook/whatever, and so on, and have found it very rewarding to be able to try to put myself into those other mindsets to gain greater perspective myself.

And I'm part of a group of professional mid-career people who are all comfortable doing it, and any given party we form has an interested set of diverse viewpoints - more diverse than our group of similar-aged mostly-tech white guys would otherwise have. It's made my gaming experience better and I have yet to meet anyone whose experience it hasn't made better.

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Sound out the whole group

This problem may go away if you talk with all of the other players.

Ask the GM to assign that role to another player

If you are uncomfortable with playing that character, whatever your reasons, and you are not the only player at the table, then a first step is to swap characters with another player who does not share your reservations. That seems like the least difficult way to still play and not play something you don't want to.

Ask another player to swap with you, and tell the GM

This is a different approach with the same objective: get another player to simply take on this character, and then the two of you inform the GM.

What if they still won't do it?

Either take the plunge and play this character - you might surprise yourself and have fun - or let the GM know that you are not comfortable playing this character, and that you are disappointed that there wasn't a way to swap characters with someone who had fewer reservations with this assignment than you did. (Ask a friend if they'll take your place in this one-shot).

If nobody will entertain your request to swap, there may be something going on in your group's interpersonal dynamics that needs a separate treatment.

Were you singled out for this role? You need to get to the truth of that, if for no other reason than peace of mind. If the GM specifically assigned this to you because "they think it's good for you" then you need to have a discussion in private with the GM regarding why they took this position. You may, after that discussion, see things differently, or not.

If, on the other hand, this character assignment was the result of 'pick names out of a hat' or 'roll for who gets what character' then we are back to:
1. Ask for a swap
2. Play anyway (you might have fun, per Novak's answer)
3. Not play, and ask another friend if they'd like to play that one-shot in your place.

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Listen to your intuition.

Our intuition can point to real risks of which our conscious mind has yet to discover. (The story of the Formula One driver who saved his own life by veering for unsure reasons is just one example.) It is commonly taught that for complex multivariate decision-making, intuition outperforms logic.

In college we read that Socrates was so beholden to his intuition that if it told him to cross the street to avoid a person, he would, or to take a different route, he would take the route even if it were longer.

I have seen players in games playing women who have been subject to misogynistic behavior by other players. They were "hit on", flirted with, and generally treated in unfortunate ways a woman can be treated. It should never happen - but it does. Your intuition may be anticipating situations you would prefer to avoid.

You can always defy intuition to discover if it was right - but be prepared.

Methods for Declining

One part of your question is how to decline the request of the DM so you continue to be a "sportsman."

One approach you can consider is assertive neutrality.

(Note: If you are looking for a deeper dive on this topic, Steven Levy, the author of 7 Habits for Highly Effective People, says one book he wishes he had read decades ago is "Crucial Conversations." This book goes into more depth and strategies on keeping difficult conversations on neutral ground.)

The idea of assertive neutrality is captured in the common aphorism "the dog that barks or cowers get bit." This implies that people (or animals) that are overly aggressive or overly submissive are the ones that get "bit." It is the completely neutral, almost bored, position that prevents getting "bit." (This is the foundation used in The Dog Whisperer to rapidly calm animals.) It is also used in society. The French call this technique of saying "no" to their children "Pas Possible." (Not possible.) It is method of expressing one's desire with neutrality and firmness.

Taking an assertively neutral approach means you can say things to your DM like: "Thanks for the offer of playing a female character. Unfortunately, that's not going to work for me. Let me know if there's another character I can play, otherwise, I regret I will have to miss the sessions until another opportunity opens. Thanks again."

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