So you’ve described your character, you know how the character thinks, what the character looks like, and whether or not the character prefers pistachio over vanilla. But how do you really sink your teeth into the role you’ve created?
There are a number of cheap tricks you can use to help immerse yourself into your role. All of these, by nature of being cheap, must be used with caution. They can become annoying and silly if used in excess.
Great Caesar’s Ghost!
It’s Clobberin’ Time!
I’m the best at what I do. And what I do isn’t very pretty.
One of the easiest, and closest to the genre, is the use of specific, generic sayings. In the old days (silver age), heroes and villains weren’t allowed to swear on panel. So the writers developed all sorts of now classic swear replacements. You can do the same thing.
You can also develop some special mannerisms (tics). Maybe you have a tendency to pace the floor when speaking to the group. Or you always take off your glasses when you’re worried, and wipe them clean. Any number of psychological mannerisms can be stolen for use with your character.
Accents can be used to differentiate your character from yourself. It doesn’t even really matter if you don’t get your accent right, though it helps to try. Go watch a movie that takes place in the area your character’s from. If your character is a complete alien, devise a strange accent.
Clothes and other props can help get your character description across. If you’re a generic detective, wear the generic detective hat. Maybe even a trench coat. If you’re playing a scientist, bring a calculator, and fiddle with it during the adventure. If your character is a graduate of Cornell University, see if you can get your hands on a Cornell T-Shirt, and wear that.
Write your character’s résumé. A résumé will give you a concise description of your character’s history. It’s a great thing to spring on an unsuspecting Editor, as well.
As often as not, you can do this while waiting for whoever’s late to arrive. Unless, of course, you’re the one who’s late.
If you have time, try to think about what’s going to happen in the next game session. You should have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen, from what happened last time. Then, think about how your character will respond if any of those possible situations arise. What will you do, and what will you say? You won’t always be right about what’s going to happen, but you will gain practice getting into character.
After your first adventure, and every couple of months afterwards, describe your character from the viewpoint of a non-player character you’ve met during the adventure. Try to be honest--describe what this person saw in your character. Describe how this person probably reacted to your character. Put yourself in the place of this person, and see how you would have reacted to your character and your character’s actions.
When you start playing, find out about the campaign world. What other heroes and villains exist? Take special notice of the non-player character heroes and villains taken from comic books. They are likely to play a prominent role in the game world. Also, keep up-to-date on current events in the real world. Some of these may also occur in the game world, if your Editor is on the ball.
Also, find out about the differences between the real world and the game world. Are there lots of super-powered beings, or only a few? Is public opinion for super heroes favorable or unfavorable? Does the public even know that these beings exist? You will have much more fun and a greater chance of a surviving character, if you know what is going on around you.
Most important of all, when you are playing the game, play as if it is real. If something seems strange to you, assume it truly is strange. Do not assume it’s just an Editorial error or an artifact of the game rules. And never take events in the real world as reasons for events in the game world.
If you think the Editor misspoke or the game system broke down, point this out immediately. The Editor will tell you whether or not the event actually occurred.
The tendency to take real-world needs and actions as causes for game-world events can be much more subtle. One of the most obvious is the assumption that players need characters. This is, of course, true. But that’s still no reason for you to accept a complete stranger into your group, immediately, and with no questions asked. Accept the new hero with caution. You won’t want to divulge secret identities right away, for example.