There is another side to my character and plot development, one where I have to be very much more ad hoc. Every Monday I run a tabletop game akin to Dungeon and Dragons; Shadow of Esteren- it’s a Gothic Dark Fantasy and plays heavily on the tropes outlined by Silent Hill. There is much more hiding in plain sight then anyone could ever imagine. Personally; I fell in love with the concept and feel of it and have run (according to my players) one of the better campaigns they have experienced due to how fluid it feels. I feel part of that is on them, the rest lies I suppose with me.
With this sort of communal storytelling, the many roles and hats that I have to play as the Gm (Game Master) is an ever-increasing number so to make it a bit more intuitive for me I simply jot a few note to myself for any characters that will appear. Added to this is an incentive for my players. They have blue tokens which they can use to let me know that they really enjoyed (or hated) a character and with a blue token its an indication that they want to see more and future development. To date, they have used these tokens on three separate occasions I will be discussing two here and the final at a later date.
I don’t think I am a good Gm. I aspire to be one. I don’t think I am there yet. I need more experience. However, there is one that I have struck a true resonance with when it comes to style. Matt Mercer. Matt is a voice actor whom not only has worked on video games and Anime dubs (Attack on Titan-Levi, and Law in One Piece) but he is the Gm for Geek and Sundries Critical Role which is a streamed roleplaying session. He has such energy and uniqueness to every Non-Player Character that I wanted to emulate that. Below is a sample of just one of his supporting characters. A fantastic performance that I can’t help but be inspired by.
The most recent and by far the most comically driven was a nameless blacksmith. It’s a recurring joke in my games that any Blacksmith is Scottish and I put on a fairly poor impression of a man from the area. However, in this case, I decided to commit 100% and bestow them with my take of a man from Glasgow. Now I mean no offence to the Scottish at all. But. Having spent time living in Scotland I to this day have always struggled to understand anyone from Glasgow. The speed, pitch and pronunciation have simply just failed to register without incredible effort on my part. That’s what I treated with my players with. Intentionally mispronouncing ‘Six’ to ‘Sax/Sex’ caused much hilarity. I consider myself fortunate that I spent too much time in a theatre when I was younger and proud of my ability at improvisation. Half an hour later and shameless Scottish flirting with the group’s axe woman executioner I had 4 blue tokens thrown at me. Their development was minimal. It was all execution. Sometimes it’s all in the voice. Now I just need to give him a name…
The other and for me much more amusing was a man called Ergor. His blue tokens, however, was a unanimous decision never to see him again. The place in the tale happened during an investigation into a town poisoning. The party had established it was a mineral in question, was in the water and was likely a contamination rather than attempted murder. So they trekked up the river to try and find the source. They eventually come onto a farmstead where everything is warped, mutated and sickly. Covered in the amber resin they had found by boiling down a sample of the water. That’s when they see Ergor. He’s coming from the likely contaminated river with a bucket and watering his food garden.
In my notes, I had a rather simple brief to myself. Old, frail, obviously sick yet when provoked somehow his strength is that of a man a quarter of his years and in his prime. Mentally unstable. My execution apparently was nothing short of chilling. I lowered my voice and made sure every breath in and out could be heard. His voice weedy and meandering. Every second sentence was about how hungry he was. I almost growled the word as if it channelling something truly frightening. He would cackle, would attempt to be the perfect host. Then instantly, the word again. Guttural, powerful, obsessive. He would casually bite into a clearly rotting vegetable and offer it around. A man truly insane. After 20 minutes and being coerced into Ergors home the party were desperately trying to find a way out, in fear they were about to be eaten. I took pity on them. I got a party throwing blue tokens begging me never to meet Ergor again. I have to honour that of course. Maybe if they have badly behaved they might see him again. Maybe.
In those moments unlike in the longer prose of writing, I don’t have the luxery of taking my time to hone and make a character perfect, I have to work purely on instinct and reading the mood and tempo of whats going on. I don’t get it right. But when I do. It shows. This spontaneity has served me well when it comes to my own writing, especially for the challenges I do with N. I can rattle off a supporting character with nothing but the execution, since exposition isn’t essential given the scope. All the little imperfections make them a much more whole character.