Ask Again Later – Crusading can become Embarassing

During the Ask Again Later role playing session, I took on the guise of Fitzgerald Gray. In designing the character, I neglected to realize I had designed an absolute combat powerhouse out of a normal non-supernatural character. Upon receiving my character sheet, I saw that many of my combat abilities had been taken away, while one was added: Holy Warrior. Suddenly rather than simply being an aimless, orphaned drifter looking for purpose, I was a witchhunter greatly concerned with keeping that a secret and wholly willing to do what was necessary to keep it that way. This resulted in some conflicts between my personal desire and what my character desired. A crucial personal factors bled into the character, under Bowman’s definitions. Through my outside knowledge bleeding into the character, I assumed that the supernatural player characters weren’t the overall antagonists of the story. I was suspicious of Jameson, the eventual villain from the beginning, and would’ve taken steps to dispatch him if I’d realized that there were opposing player factions. Additionally, my personal desire to be nice and friendly, made me nervous to be as standoffish as my character would be. Since I was interacting with strangers, I wanted to avoid seeming unlikable due to my character actions. Thus, when my companies Jodie and Boom were attempting to stop a stranger from following us into the mines on our dangerous quest, we found it difficult to be mean and simply reject him as our characters might have.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end, I truly reached a unity with the emotions of my character. In the dark back staircase of the Gray Center, there was both great tension and satisfaction when I put my gunplay skills to work striking holy bullets at the creatures spawned from the pit. After the actions in the mine, the nervousness about being Fitzgerald faded and I fully assembled into the character of a holy warrior trying to keep the unnatural under wraps. I held another player at gunpoint, until my companions refused to support me, because my holy bullet had winged her and she was a confessed witch. Then, it was a matter of finding the escaped hellhounds to avoid word of them getting out.

At this point, a second problem emerged with my character that he was a direct block to the knowledge of other characters. A core principle of improv as discussed in class is the idea of always yes anding other people’s ideas and stories. Back in the pit, I would’ve loved to have entered the pit and seen what that would cause. However, I also recognized that my character wouldn’t so I tried to give room for another character to, but noone was interested. This meant the true nature of the pit went undiscovered as it had little to do with the main story of the game. Additionally, when chasing the escaped hellhound, I discovered it had moved into a pack of civilians. Rather than engage them in the story and answer their questions, I lied and insisted it was a normal dog with rabies until they agreed to not dig further. Though it lead to them eventually joining the mayor in a campaign against the evil, simultaneously, I had avoided really engaging with their characters. Thus, in the context that roleplaying is improvisation, there is a clear divide their. In comedic improv, you can generally continue to evolve things for the comedies sake. Whereas in a larp, without a good overhead perspective, you must behave as your character even if you don’t think its contributing to the best story possible. I had always viewed narrativist roleplaying as a way for characters to intersect to construct stories, but it was interesting to see how I was as an individual able to carry out a story that diverged from the main one. My plotline with the pit, the hellhounds, and finding my ally Boom’s missing cat had almost nothing to do with the town civil war most of the rest of the players were involved in. However, despite its lack of mention in the epilogue, I had a pleasant little time in my own private war with the forces of hell.

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