PWW: The Closet Half-Orc takes another bite at roleplaying.

Death by d20 Here is PM’s 3rd post where he relates his experiencs as a new Role-Player. This week he talks about our McWod game, and while some of his impressions and comments sting a bit, they are very relevant and acts, at time, as a disturbingly accurate mirror of us, the other players.

This week, my inner Half-Orc has taken his second successful journey out of his closet. He went out a little more confident and came back with fur and fangs, howling gleefully at the moon.

In this new MCWoD game, I have selected to play a Werewolf for a simple reason: nobody will mind if the character is not too subtle. I fully expected to have one of the following exchanges:

“Hey! Why did you get in my line of fire!?”
“I’m a Werewolf..”

“Didn’t you think it might be a trap?”

“You killed the witness!”

“You killed my character!!!!”
WEREWOLF!!!! Hooooooooooooooowl!”

That last one would have signaled a very fun game (in retrospect, a year later… maybe) (Chatty DM: Somehow I seriously doubt that)

So this time, I was able to select a character I related better with and I think it showed in the way I played. I didn’t pull anything awesomely cool, but I was more active throughout the game. I believe I have overcome one of the first obstacles I identified earlier on. One down, a couple of new ones on the horizon…

Table etiquette

I had read or heard about players who failed to focus their attention on the table or carried on side conversations. I seem to recall how disruptive it could be for the DM and the game in general but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be a problem. Why not since 3 of the 5 participants play regularly together? Furthermore, one of the player is the usual DM and I know I have no attention span problem.

To my surprise, I think I caught a glimpse of bad table etiquette, if only in very minor ways. Phil had to split his attention between the game and his kids but we knew about it before the game started. To me, that’s totally excusable (Chatty DM: Does that mean you don’t offer to babysit Friday? Ahhhh schucks!).

At other times, during DM descriptions or small debates over the best course of action, the Internet was browsed and reference books were consulted. As a new player, this was a little disrupting as I was trying to focus on the DM’s description while a rule was discussed the next seat over. In an empathic way, I was a little annoyed for Franky who does not have the same experience in DMing and who’s new to this settings as well.

The fact that the players who were active “out of the game” were the experienced one did not surprise me outrageously. They know the game, they already have their group chemistry and probably have a little spare time since the game’s rhythm is slowed by the new players and DM. For all I know, the whole thing might not have disturbed the DM at all, but I think it remains a very light form of bad table manners. (Chatty DM: Guilty as chargedit’s less easy than I thought to stay put and focused on things I already know about)

Group Dynamics

It’s no surprise to anybody that you can’t just put anyone in a group and rightfully expect your session to go smoothly. Our party consists of a “closet half-orc newbie”, a “back from a 15 years break” intermediate player and two very, very, very extroverted people.

I’m talking about Phil and Yan here, our two veterans. If you’re able to describe Phil as a mild mannered quiet guy without bursting out laughing, you probably have a seat reserved at any poker game in the world (Chatty DM: Hey I can be mild mannered… When I sleep!). Don’t even bother trying to make a similar description for Yan, he won’t shut up long enough for you to begin.

From my point of view, this is a potentially lethal group as the newbies might be trampled by the extroverts. Fortunately for us all, we have a stabilizing ingredient called unselfishness.

In order to prevent the maiming of the newbies, Phil created a character that would more or less force him to take a step back; his agent James Kevin Smith (3 links by the way) is so introverted that he can only speak through a third person, but when weapons are drawn he’s a trash talking Darth Vader.

Yan’s character (William Gunther) does not limit his action in this way, but he uses simple self-restreint and it works just as well. That Agent Smith uses him as his spokesperson makes it a little easier for him I’m sure. I can’t tell if it’s intentional or not but the contrast between Smith’s analytical and scientific personality and William’s one-man-action-army made for some good moments. When Agent Smith whispered his comments, Gunther often had a moment of pause, as if the statement to be delivered was just slightly above his pay-grade. But that may just be a personal perception.

In both cases, our experienced players have taken the necessary steps to make the game available to all of us. But by the end of the evening, I began to see little hints of frustration from both of them. It may only have been fatigue, but Phil became more volubile, and Yan seemed to reconsider his choice of character slightly. I guess it’s not easy being a quiet one man army (Chatty DM: I guess was getting really tired at that point and being Dinosaur Chow has it’s price).

Other Random First Hand Discoveries

  • Grapple makes everyone groan… It should be part of the games description (Chatty DM: It isjust not in so many words).
  • Something that’s quite clear to the DM is not always so for the players… like the characters jurisdiction during an investigation.
  • Critical hits in MCWoD hurt like a bitch (Chatty DM: The dice of damage, not the bonuses, are dealt directly to Constitution, like a poison effect, but without the saves)… I’d show you the scar but it’s all healed-up already. (I love Werewolves.)

So in the end my inner half-orc returned to his closet but left the door opened, ready to venture out again. In the meantime, he’s going to redesign the layout of his character sheet…


  1. I don’t recall being frustrated as such… The character reconsideration is more in light of the direction the “organization” seemed to be going. I was expecting more of SWAT like organization and had created a character with this in mind.

    A baddass that is action driven; a basic persona I knew I had no problem role playing and that would not come into conflict with Lillie in the other game… (running two character simultaneously in two active game can be confusing their personality is as far as possible)

    That being said I was not expecting to find myself in the FBI equivalent. It’s not exactly the same set’s of skill that are relevant…

    As for the interaction between both Phil’s character and mine it came pretty much instinctively. Phil had explain is concept of character beforehand and when he leaned toward me and start speaking softly (I would usually say whisper but given the fact that we are pretty loud in game it can be misleading 😉 ), I took the clue and went with it. Forging the character interaction as we went.

  2. I must say that I was happily surprised that Yan went with it so easily.. and it makes the interaction so much more cooler for me. He’s the up front guy and has the nerve to speak up his mind come rain or shine. With the diplomacy of a Brick… While “James” knows what to say and do but just can’t…. and Kevin… well, you don’t get to talk much with Kevin…