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Author Topic: method roleplaying  (Read 4821 times)

Posts: 48

« on: May 02, 2001, 03:54:00 PM »

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2001, 06:10:00 AM »


There are a lot of good points in what you say. I liked nearly everything on your list, but two items caught my attention: the "speaking in the character's voice" and the "interact only in character" parts.

I want to suggest a potentially upsetting or tricky thing: that "actor" stance - be your character, think like your character, talk like your character - may not actually have much to do with good and enjoyable role-playing.

Yes, I know that this idea contradicts everything people SAY about role-playing - that it's cops&robbers with rules, that it's like acting in a play or movie, and so on. But these well-worn phrases, frankly, are false. Role-playing has NEVER been well-described in role-playing game text, although the best metaphor I've heard came from Chaosium, regarding free-form jazz.

I suggest instead that good role-playing emerges from shared or at least compatible goals (and here's where this G/N/S stuff comes in, because those are three common and coherent goals).

For two of those goals (Narrativist and Gamist), apparently the most effective "stance" [relationship of player to character] is "Author" stance. In a Narrativist situation, the player considers the character to be the protagonist in the PLAYER'S (and the rest of the group's) STORY. In a Gamist situation, the player considers the character to be the expression or "holder" of his strategies - some folks call this "Pawn" stance. Neither of these stances means the player is constrained by the character - "out-of-character" discussion and decision-making is common to both.

Degrees of "acting" can be added into Author stance, but I have found this to be a highly variable, generally irrelevant issue to the quality of play. One of my current players always uses the third person; several of the others almost always use in-character dialogue. Author stance works either way.

Anyway, I wanted to bring up this idea that there exists a pretty well-worked-out set of concepts about how players relate to characters, and one of the surprising conclusions - that "method acting" is perhaps NOT the most effective model to follow. There's a lot of material in the Sorcerer forum on GO about it.

One final point - I've read quite a bit of Stanislavsky as well as been involved extensively in theater. One thing that surprised me is the difference between Stanislavsky's TEXT (what he really says) and "The Method" as perceived and adopted by the American dramatic culture. They are hugely different - I consider Stanislavsky to be handing the actor much responsibility for creative portrayal, through tapping into his largely unspoken awareness of human behavior and emotion, for purposes of conveying the story BETTER; however, I consider "The Method" (as interpreted by others) basically to be REMOVING such responsibility from an actor so that he can mumble and scratch his ass instead of conveying the story.

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