Exercise: As Someone Else

This one’s an idea I’ve toyed with on several occasions—once as a sort of RP team-building exercise, once as a theoretical experiment, once because I was bored. Like most of my exercises, it helps to know the available pool of characters. Unlike them, it also helps to know the pool of players; this one isn’t applicable to the writerly contingent without some serious improvisation (though I suppose there’s always using actors).

There are a lot of ways to play with this concept, but what they all boil down to is asking a question about the players playing characters who aren’t theirs, and then seeing how long you can play with the answer. It’s versatile; whether you learn something from it or not, you can eat up a lot of time this way.

Consider these questions to start with:

  • If you were running an out-of-continuity session in which each player was playing someone else’s PC, or each was playing a carefully chosen NPC, who would you assign to whom, and why? Or similarly, pick a character at a time, and ask yourself (or your exercise-partner(s) if applicable) which players could pull off that character, and whether you’d need to give them any extra background information in order to have them do so.
  • What combination of character and player not belonging to that character is likely to lead to the biggest trainwreck or most amusing mismatch? It’s pretty rare that a group is so well-matched that everyone sprouts fully formed from the same playstyle; there are almost guaranteed to be mismatches between one person and another person’s character. So who and what would go wrong?
  • Pick one character and one player. If the player had been playing that character during [insert incident here, either something minor if you're just looking for a little amusement, or something major if you want to be at this for a while], what might have gone differently, and how might it have changed events as you know it? Some people might keep the ability spread the same; others might reimagine the character not only portrayed by the player in question, but as built by the player in question.

Go hypothetical!

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