A recent article asked if all we really play in Amtgard is a pseudonym, rather than a true persona, and attempted to explain why this might be the case. While it is true that many of the battlegames of Amtgard are not conducive to roleplaying, I thought there might be more to it than this.
It is true that battlegames in general are not designed around roleplaying. I tend to see ditching especially as anti-roleplay. You don’t pay a class – the prime vehicle for on-the-field roleplaying. However fun it is in and of itself, ditching, in my mind, is essentially meant to hone fighting skills that would otherwise not be formed at all – especially for magic using types such as myself.
Class based battlegames, on the other hand, are ideal for roleplay, but this is not how it often works out. As pointed out in the aforementioned article, a roleplayer on the field tends to be killed quickly by those who are out there simply to win. However, whenever we assume our classes, we are already roleplaying, albeit to an extremely small degree. There’s no reason not to embellish slighty. This can be done without sacrificing the edge needed to fight seriously. Act out pain from wounds and die well (there’s even a reward for this). Communicate with enemies and allies in character when not directly engaged - shout in character taunts or gasp, “I am wounded, please healer, do what you can”. When walking along a path between your base and wherever the battle currently is engaged, interact in character instead of asking about the latest episode of your favorite TV show. When actually in combat, by all means, fight seriously and to win.
Quests, of course, are much more tuned towards roleplaying. Monsters should always play their role to the hilt. Questors also should remain in character as much as possible.
Outside of the parking lot and other ‘staging areas’, anyone at a feast should play their persona as much as possible. If you must talk about the president or the Yankees, take it outside or to the restroom. While in the feast hall, you are not Joe Mundane. You are an Amtgarder who doesn’t even know what the US is, let alone anything about mundane politics.
I also heartily encourage atmosphere on the part of Color. Regardless of the rulebook, I believe Color should be just as much a class as the other non-fighters. In that regard, there should be a Guildmaster of Color to ensure people are playing the class correctly, rather than just showing up in mundane clothing and taking a Color credit. Colors are those who show up in garb and act as entertainment, water bearers, ambassadors to new comers, or simply atmosphere. This means play in character! If those on the sidelines stay in character (most of the time), fighters will be encouraged to do so as well. Colors also make great non-fighting NPCs for quests – just give them the gold “enchantment” strip like for non-fighting pages.
All the above is great, but what is ‘in character’? Is a persona really just a pseudonym if it doesn’t have nine pages of back-story, an in character genealogy, and a list of NPCs it knew/was trained by/is hunted by? I was thinking about this in regards to my own persona, and, in fact, this is the reason for part two of this article, which will be posted tomorrow.
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