I have been playing World of Darkness for a few weeks now in my self-insert campaign. Specifically, the character I am playing is me, in real life, as a character in the game. Every action I take, every ability I am allowed to increase, and all the knowledge that I obtain has to directly…
It seems like the kind of campaign that would become very wearying after a while. I mean, we’re already living one life as ourselves. While it might be a fun thought experiment for a couple sessions, I can see why it would be very draining to be living two lives and taking them both seriously, despecially when one of those lives is infested with vampires and werewolves. Personally, I play RPGs to get a creative break from being in my head all the time. While it’s cool to do the what-would-you-do scenario, I think I tend towards the unenthusiastic for those sorts of campaigns.
Maybe it’s a bit of a gamer attitude to want to optimize when your meta-sense knows you’re in an imaginary world, but maybe it’s also worth discussing how it’s a new medium to reinvent yourself. Don’t we do the same thing to some extent every time we join a new group, make a new username, edit a new post?
Sorry for getting all thinky on this one, but it seemed to provoke thought. I already spend a lot of time doing inconsequential work on characters, and more time trying to improve the real me. I can’t imagine trying to spend it on an imaginary version of myself to boot.
Playing as yourself can get oddly-shaped very quickly.
I’ll try to comment on CP’s original questions, but things might get wonky because while Yes I have been playing in a self-insert campaign for several months now and expect to be doing so for at bare minimum months up to years longer, it’s a very different experience because our game selves are aware that they are in a D&D world.
I’ve mentioned this before, so short version: our DM ran 5 campaigns in Ohm, and at the start of Book 6 he went missing and we had to set out on a journey to Ohm to try and repair reality.
So are we meta-gaming? Man, we’ve got all the 4E PHBs and most of the splatbooks tucked away in my Bag of Holding, along with as many monster manuals we could get our hands on. You bet we’re meta-gaming. Hell, our in-game selves know what level they are and have been trying to plan accordingly.
There are still some interesting things that have been coming up. We, at times, display a level of paranoia and caution that I’m sure CP would cackle at. And Monty (name’s changed to avoid the gods using our real ones) has expressed, during a moment where everything was going wrong, a willingness to make a heroic sacrifice. Somewhat normal for our campaigns. What wasn’t normal was us yelling across the table “hell no we’re not leaving you (insertMonty’srealnamehere), if you go we all go”. While characters have certainly displayed loyalty to one another in the past it’s never been to that degree. The player with a fiance waiting for him back home is 100% determined to get home, some of us want to return to our loved ones but are willing to strand ourselves if we have to in order to protect them, and some are willing to go completely native as a default choice. That difference tends to be predictable, based on relationship status and lifestyle.
There’s also the fact that past player choices sometimes cause conflict. Shaco’s characters in the past have had a tendency to be cunning, evil, treasonous, or all three. Not all of them, but many. So Elwood tends to be very suspicious of Shaco at the drop of a hat. Which isn’t over par for dear Elwood, but still. And, yes, sometimes we need to talk a view solid steps back and drink a few beers before in-“character” arguments become too real.
Telling the difference between IC and OOC can be interesting. And sometimes amusing. And other times potentially deadly.
Moving on from the first question, I can’t say I’d like to have the game mechanics move at the same rate as myself. But perhaps I’m taking that to an extreme in my head. Certainly I’m not sure I’d like to get explosive cosmic power right off the bat, but there’s no way i’d learn to swing a sword fast enough to survive if it was a 1-to-1 affair.
As a GM I usually like it when my players are well-utilized co-pilots of the story, if not the actual pilots while I take the co-chair. So a game that moved at their pace seems about right. That being said, I’d make sure to have a metaphorical tackle box with all sorts of shiny or tasty-looking nubbins to not so much as push them as bait them in interesting directions. They generally seem to appreciate that, when their own crazy train runs out of steam.