Fun With OOC [Character]

Luath and Rilik are snickering at their own misfortunes over something delicious. Alabaster’s leading the group in a snarkfest over the current situation. Tuyet’s just wandered up and is asking if she can please fight someone amusing whom she doesn’t feel obligated to kill to keep them from leaving a trail of collateral damage a mile long. A couple of them were chatting cross-universe last week, and that’s not even getting into what happened with that last casting call. (Heaven forbid all of these occur at the same time.) And none of it is affecting their continuities in the slightest. The OOC Characters are out for a walk and talk, and life is amusing.

I first got used to the idea of OOC [Character] as an active element through one of my players. He was an odd one to begin with, very fond of RPing some sort of insanity and of messing with his own characters’ heads; needless to say, we got along pretty well. But every now and then we’d be discussing the plot I’d just pulled out, and he’d talk about his character’s reaction to a situation—if that character had all the OOC knowledge the players had and was standing around watching himself get into situations he couldn’t get out of. Usually this would involve a lot of laughing at himself and/or facepalming.

This was interesting.

OOC [Character] is an interesting sort of viewpoint to share. It only works, of course, if the character’s well enough developed that one actually can figure out how they’d respond if they had the players’ knowledge and were watching the game, but when it does, it has a mess of interesting uses.

The first, of course, is allowing for wit that bypasses the limitations on the character. This is one of my group’s favorite uses for it; they’ll pop into the OOC and give a version of the character’s opinion predicated by “[So-and-so] sez”, regardless of little things like tact, the IC/OOC knowledge divide, the mood in-character, or much of anything else—but it’s in voice, and it’s something the character might say if they were removed from their social consequences, detached from the game but in some other way aware of it, and/or privy to player knowledge.

One of the other most common reasons to let OOC [Character] come out and play is going meta, a use I like to encourage. (What can I say? I love meta-analysis.) Being in OOC mode lets us stay in voice, but is pretty much carte blanche to let the characters hang lampshades wherever and whenever they want without having to worry about spoiling the mood too much.

And having them allows for some fun character exercises. One of my personal favorites, the addendum to my casting to find character kernels riff, practically depends on them; not only does it involve casting characters in one continuity as characters in another, but then the characters being so cast delivering their opinions of it. (I’ve found that when I do casting exercises, this phase lasts at least twice as long as the actual casting phase and leads to better jokes.)

Do you let the OOC versions of your characters come out and play?

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