PLAY SORCERER 16: Our Feelings

Sorcerer_Cover

Let’s be clear about this: In Sorcerer play the Player is not the Character.

The Character ostensibly lives in the fictional world of the story with blood and bone impulses that are wired moment-to-moment that would come from being alive as that person—if that person existed. The Player, on the other hand, is a man or a woman sitting at a dining room table with friends.

That said:

This doesn’t mean the Player stands at huge distance from the Character. The Character exists, as much as it exists, in four place and only three: In whatever notes are written down about the Character; in whatever words the Player speaks about the Character; inside the imaginations of the players at the table who are not the Player Character; and inside the Player in whatever mysterious way the imagined fragments of a person are held to be real when we imagine, “What is he really like? What would he really do? What does he want more than this?” and so on.

The Player feels and channels the Character’s emotions the same way a writer or actors feels and channels emotions of Characters he or she is writing about or performing. It’s the same way all of us feel and channel the emotions of people who are not us all the time. It’s called empathy. I’d say in the case of acts of creative imagination it’s something a little different. I’ll call it “creative empathy.”

We have empathy for real people and fictional characters all the time. But in the special case of a Character we are playing and creating, we are playing people who we created. We built the Character’s Kickers, Telltale, Price, Cover, the characters the Character cares about and so on. If we did our job well, we let our own emotions guide us. Our feelings are the dowsing rods we need to follow to make great content!

Now, in the middle of play, when you’re Character is confronted with decisions that require word or deed, do you think, “Well, it would be really cool if my guy behave this way, so I’ll make him behave that way.” No, you do not. Do you think, “If I say this thing here, it’ll really piss off the Game Master’s character and that’ll lead to a big fight three scenes from now, so I’ll have my guy say that thing.” No, you do not.

Here’s how you decide: What feel right, from your emotions, responding intuitively in the moment. That’s it. No more complicated than that. What, in your emotions, engages you the most? Seems most true to you not from an intellectual standpoint, but from your emotions?

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