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Our group is running through a campaign setting where, among other things, Inquisitors are universally feared persecutors of magic users. (Shocking and original, I know.)

The GM's girlfriend has just joined, playing an Inquisitor character, with the twist that she herself is a sorceror who is only pushed to magic use by dire straits. Due to the fact our group was trapped in a purgatorial dungeon realm for a period, you can guess she began slinging spells immediately. She joined the adventure at the start of the last session of our escape from the dungeon realm, so there was lots of exploration, preparation, and boss combat.

At our first out-of-character snack break, she complained to me that she was disappointed that nobody had RPed with her character at all, or voiced fear, or investigated this or that about her, etc.

I noted to her some observations:

  • due to the rush to finish the arc this session, RP had probably fallen by the wayside
  • she didn't talk to anyone else to involve them in her character or focus on the aspects of her character she wanted to highlight - most people are usually thinking about their own character or strategy, and thus need prompting to think or talk about hers
  • I had a hard time involving her character using my own, because he's written as a fanatical and spaced-out cleric who cares little for worldly affairs

I recommended that she try to get involved in other RP interactions as they're happening, or start them herself, if what she wants is to be noticed and characterized as a paradoxical inquisitor, rather than waiting for other people to do the legwork for her. But, she's maybe a bit shy, maybe a bit hoping that such things would happen naturally, and is not desiring to initiate interactions.

My character is clearly a weak point, because if I could think of a way to interact with her PC, this wouldn't be an issue. I also have too much experience trying to give people advice to believe that anyone will actually take it. But I'm not convinced IC is the only way to help.

With all of that in mind: assuming that she does not change her behavior, how can I help get this player involved?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What feels kinda odd to me is that if you're an inquisitor, you probably want to keep that a secret, plus "inquisitor" literally is Latin for "i'm the one asking the questions here, punk". \$\endgroup\$
    – biziclop
    Jul 19, 2023 at 9:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you're dealing with a very particular situation where she was expecting an emergent concern about something that her character did not explicitly point out to the other characters. I see her point that calling it out explicitly (either the PC or the player themselves) ruins the organic narrative there. Was she disappointed in the sense that she was upset and feels like people played "wrongly" (for lack of a better term), or was she disappointed in the sense of "it's a shame that no one engaged with it - oh well"? I can see room for both possibilities here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flater
    Jul 21, 2023 at 1:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ What RPG and edition are you asking about? Certain systems may have built-in tools for resolving this sort of thing, or may be designed for a different kind of playstyle than one of you is expecting. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 28 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ voting to close, opinion based \$\endgroup\$ Feb 3 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard This is a well defined social problem that many people are likely to have experienced. This question falls under “good subjective”, see here: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/q/3206/62294 \$\endgroup\$ Feb 3 at 19:04

5 Answers 5

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Prompting roleplay doesn't have to involve starting a conversation

Let's assume you are well aware that you and your PC are not the same person, and while your PC doesn't have much interest in getting to know this new member of the team, you as a player would like to. That's what I get from your question anyway.

To achieve that, you have to leave for a moment the actor stance (as described in the GNS theory).

It details four stances the player may take in making decisions for their character:

  • Actor: Decides based on what their character wants and knows
  • Author: Decides based on what they want for their character, retrospectively explaining why their character made a decision
  • Director: Makes decisions affecting the environment instead of a character (usually represented by a gamemaster in an RPG)
  • Pawn: Decides based on what they want for their character, without explaining why their character made a decision

Maybe your cleric literally bumps into this inquisitor while walking back from his morning prayer? Just describe how careless he was, how easily he loses his balance... Maybe he doesn't have money on him, he needs to borrow some, and the inquisitor is the only one around? Describe how he seems more nervous than usual, like he has something to ask but feels too guilty to actually do so.

Now, if that's not enough (for example if she doesn't follow on those prompts), you can plan it directly with her as a player. You can do that during breaks, outside of sessions, or whenever the GM is taking someone outside aside: work together to find a setup that would give her a good occasion to interact. Maybe she lost a trinket and you found it?

As you start knowing each other's characters better, it should become easier to find good occasions to involve each other in more scenes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Accepted. Thanks for introducing me to GNS theory and offering IC suggestions. \$\endgroup\$
    – order
    Jul 19, 2023 at 14:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @anne I like this answer and upvoted, but in your 2nd to last para, this phrase "or whenever the GM is taking someone outside apart" doesn't quite read right. Maybe you mean "or whenever the GM is taking someone aside"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Jan 25 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack thanks! fixed it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28 at 14:16
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Don't fall for my guy syndrome

It sounds that you think you all would have a bit more fun if your character talked to her character, and helped her become a member of the group. Just do it.

You character has no power over you, it is you who controls who that character is and what he does. Don't abdicate that and hide behind what your character "would do". Maybe he has taken an interest in this unusual inquisitor that makes him engage for a while, spaced-out cleric or not.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this is my guy syndrome. The inherently point of roleplay is to stick to the character's situation/abilities/... as opposed to your own, and that's what the OP did. There's room for circumventing this by creating an organic event (but then still having your character act as you would expect them to), but changing your character's traits to fit a group narrative is not always the right call. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flater
    Jul 21, 2023 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Flater Sticking to the character when it detracts from the enjoyment of the game for the players is the very defintion of my guy syndrome. That said, I entirely agree there may be other ways to overcome this, as pointed out in the accepted answer. I merely felt that not falling into the trap of feeling you have to act in a certain way, even if noone enjoys it, just because "the character would do it" was the most important message to convey, and also can solve it. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2023 at 8:14
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I had a hard time involving her character using my own, because he's written as a fanatical and spaced-out cleric who cares little for worldly affairs

You are in luck!

You get to write what your character is. You have written your character as a fanatical and spaced-out cleric, so you should probably continue in a way consistent with someone who comes across as a fanatical and spaced-out cleric.

But other than that, you are free to change your character's motivations, thoughts, and behavior.

What more, you can change the circumstances. You can invent circumstances where your character would behave differently, and conspire (as a player) to bring them about.

Find an aspect of the other PC

And run with it. The race, the sorcerous origin, the inquisitor faith, whatever. Find some aspect of the other PC, and write a reason for your PC to care about it, at least enough to trigger interaction.

Find some aspect of the world

You are in a strange circumstance. Take some piece of that circumstance, and write that into being a motivation for you to behave differently. For example, maybe after such a lethal set of events, you feel it is your responsibility to take confession. Or maybe you think it is your responsibility to record the thoughts of and beliefs people who do heroic stuff and send the stories to your god as an offering.

Invent an excuse

Even a fanatic might talk about food. Talk about food. Talk about how bad your rations are, and how you miss (food you cannot get). It won't break your character. Ask other PCs, including hers, about what food they are missing.

Completely casual conversation about a topic of no impact. It doesn't have to be that long.

It might mean your character is fanatical who cares little about the world, but is also (secretly) a foodie. That is great! It is consistent with your past character description, yet now you have a reason to interact with the rest of the party casually.

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"If you leave people to guess how they should be interacting with you, they're probably going to guess wrong."

Everything may seem very obvious to a player who knows all of their character's secrets and their player motivations, but literally nobody else playing the game knows any of that. Not even you! Did you know everything they wanted before they told you?

One thing a lot of for-public-consumption actual-plays tend to leave off camera is the coordination that happens between the players at table, both PCs and the GM. Table talk about what anybody wants out of the plot and how someone else can give it to them is just going to spoil all the dramatic twists for the listening audience!

Roleplaying games are a thing that make you be the actor, the author, and the audience at the same time in the same person, and if the actor wants a scene or the author wants a story beat, they have to work "offstage" with all the other actors and authors at the table to make it happen.

Especially when you expect them to guess they should be antagonistic.

Absent any existing relationships, if somebody showed up as a new player to your group, would you want to have their character tried for heresy and possibly killed in their very first session, especially when they never said that's what they were expecting?

Probably not, right? If somebody shows up as a potential recurring new player then you want to make them feel welcome, at least if you want them as a new player too.

But all that aside, the degree and fervor of the antagonism in that relationship is also probably something that shouldn't be left to any prospective PC antagonists to guess.

A player who wants antagonism in a game where the players are generally there to cooperate against the GM should talk to both the GM and the other players about the kind of relationship they want and how far it should go.

Heck, one of the reasons the GM is there at all is to do the things none of the other players want to do, like run characters who lose, or who see their prisoners escape, or who die trying.

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Something I try to do when the party is planning is directly ask for the quietest person's opinion. It's still RP, but it might fit with how you imagine your character. I try to look for opportunities for other PCs to have their cool moments -- maybe you can guide her into RP moments by identifying moments when her character might be the right person for something, like get information out of an NPC, or talk to the shopkeep. It's really nice that you want everyone to have fun at your table :)

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