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[Etiquette] Why is this such a big deal?

celebdae

Roll dice, tell stories
Validated User
Why is talking about your character such a big deal?

This was brought up in the 'London gaming etiquette' thread, and I've seen it complained about numerous times before.

However, this type of conversation is one which our group loves to have on a fairly regular basis. As long as it isn't one person dominating the discussion and generally attention seeking, no-one finds it annoying. I can see how it might be offensive: subjecting some poor individual to an unasked for hours-long description of how awesome your character is would be somewhat impolite. But I don't quite see why the topic incurs so much hate.

Admittedly, our group might be an anomaly due to our structure. We're a university society, with 20 more-or-less regular members, another 10 who only occasionally show up, and a further 5 or so whom we only see at the annual Nationals these days. We're all playing in the same world, but never all in the same game, and to further complicate matters, we all have several characters to choose from. Therefore, catching up OOC is somewhat essential, if only to keep up with what's going on in the bigger picture.

But even outside this, we're pretty keen to discuss character backgrounds, concepts, and ongoing downtime projects. I love to ask for the story of why someone's character has a phobia of moss, and they in turn are likely to ask me how my thief got her nickname. Another person might mention that his wizard would like to travel to Araby to study under the mages there, and someone else may well offer to run a mini-campaign set there.

It's generally such a positive topic for us that I have difficulty seeing why it's so taboo.
 

two_fishes

Mark Mueller
For me it is because I have been subjected to unasked for descriptions of how awesome some characters have been. Typically this has been from people I've only just met, and our only connection is that we both play RPGs. I've found that what was exciting in the moment at the table rarely transfers well to a re-telling. I suppose it might be a little like hearing someone explain to you the little inside jokes they share with a circle of friends you don't know. Except for the very rare occasion, it turns out dull and somewhat self-indulgent.
 

Tancred

All over the shop
Validated User
I think it's a bit like talking to someone about your dreams at length - while these can be interesting or funny on occasion, they're rarely of much interest to anyone but their owner.

It also seems be a horribly common situation to find yourself in with some roleplayers - get in a conversation, it leads, inevitably somehow, onto the various alter-egos they've played and wham... stuck in a long one-way conversation not only about people you don't know and don't care about, but which don't even really exist.

And almost always, subtle social clues like the audience yawning, failing to respond positively to anything the speaker is saying and desperately looking around the room for any excuse to escape are not picked up upon by the speaker who blithely ploughs on with their description of how Wando and Magnificent got his magic shoes of skipping and achieved level 37 at the same time.

Sounds like your group share an interest in the shared world and the conversation is two-way, so no problem. I envy your avoidance of this all-to-common conversational trap, easily encountered at RPG conventions. I only wish I could get those hours of my life back... :(
 

Fishmonger

aka SeaKittenMonger
RPGnet Member
Validated User
What two_fishes said. I have no problem if someone can tell me about their past character's history well and that character did interesting things or was actually interesting. Unfortunately, that's often not the case. A lot of the talk around a gaming table when in the middle of end of a campaign is shorthand and inside jokes because everyone at the table knows the context. What you often get is the shorthand and inside jokes without context.

Someone at the place I worked at also gamed, and I hated listening to his stories because they were all about how he'd managed to twink his PC by putting together these four prestige classes, and his character seemed to be defined entirely by how much damage he could do per round. I'm much more interested in the personality of a character, and from what I could see he was as uninterested in my stories of Ars Magica mages quaking in their boots when faced by a dragon as I was in his character killing off two dragons a game session.

When you're talking about your old PC, make sure that you're telling something that other people want to hear. The biggest problem in my experience is that people just want to monologue and stroke their egos rather than bond, convey information or entertain. A story about an old PC can be great, but that's not a given.
 

Anon Adderlan

New member
Banned
Gamers telling me about their characters, and parents telling me about their children, are both equally annoying and have frightening similarities I do not wish to explore further.
 

Ivan Sorensen

Amiga fan
Validated User
My only concern is when someone comes up to me in a gaming store, and starts talking about their D&D character, while Im looking at a Runequest book, or something similar.
 

Strange Samurai

BLABLABLARUAR of Blargh
Your character really isn't interesting.

Seriously.

It is not.

And neither is mine.

Nor is anyone elses.





What could be interesting, is perhaps something cool that happened that involved your character. That might be worth listening to, provided it's something really unexpected/funny/smart and in the process also reveals a little about your character. Or perhaps just a short description to give me an idea of what you enjoy.
 

Myrme

Historian for Hire
Validated User
It can be irritating, I suppose. I'm certainly guilty of doing it on occasion with my gamer friends.

At the same time, I guess it depends on the context and, more importantly, the delivery. If it's a fun story that's told well I'm much less inclined to be annoyed. That it involves somebody's game character is secondary. But if it's just them going on and on about how awesome their fantasy self-insertion character was... then that's tedious.
 

Crothian

Registered User
Validated User
Most of the time people just don't have the skills to tell an interesting story about their character. Also, many people tend to go on and on about their character past anything interesting that they said. Some people just tell you their characters stats as if that is the only thing important.

There are exceptions to this as some people can be very interesting when they tell me about their character. It is rare and I'm not one of these people.
 

Richard R.

Gargoyle Head
Likewise, only about 10% of "Gaming stories" are really actually entertaining to someone who wasn't there. I'm not trying to be negative or mean, just honest.

In fairness to players, the game-master version of this boorishness is the GM who prattles on and on about his campaign, and his radical, novel, bold , brave new approaches to the game, such as there being no clerics in his world, dwarves having guns, or elves being replaced with cat-people.
 
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