I have been asked a few questions about other aspects of my blog. For example who is Goober? Why Vulcan Stev? I was writing a reply to these questions and getting ready to tag it as non-rpg blog post when I realized that answers to both of these questions involve RP after a manner of speaking. It was after this realization that I came to the conclusion that Role Playing is where my various hobbies meet. The skills I use in my puppeteering and creative writing serve me as player and GM as well and vice-versa. Thus the rewrite of a simple behind-the-scenes Q&A into a full blown article about RPG skills.
Goober is the lead character for my puppet team. He is at his core, a Dennis the Menace/Calvin type character. We don’t use scripts when Goober is on stage as dealing with Goober is a form of free associating role play. Most of the “skits” involving Goober are based on a one-line riff, with Goober and his straightman verbally sparring with each other building on the last line spoken. How is puppeteering role playing? I cannot “do” Goober unless I am physically talking in his voice. Once I’m doing the voice, Goober comes naturally.
Stev is a character that I write for the Starships of the Third Fleet writing club. The “Captain” writes a prologue and it is then up to the members to write their mission report. I’ve been writing Stev off and on for the better part of two decades. I’ll stare at the prologue and be unable to write unless I’m “in” Stev’s mind so-to-speak.
How do these two completely different pursuits tie-in to becoming a better player and/or GM? In both instances I am not the one providing the starting spot. With Goober, I’m usually riffing off of the Pastor’s sermon that morning, or along whatever “theme” we have for that night’s puppet show. In Stev’s case, the Captain provides the problem and I have to come up with the solution. Step outside the box for the moment. What difference other than tropes and semantics, is there between Goober talking about Pastor Gary’s sermon, my writing Stev’s solution, or trying to figure Nevets’ way out of the trap that the DM just described? Really? there is no difference. It’s all Improv, different disciplines to be sure. But in each I need to be quick on my feet.
Now flip the whole thing on it’s head. When Sergeant Steelflex of SG-21 suddenly wants to question the conductor of the train the team is riding, I need to be able to step into character quickly even if the character wasn’t supposed to do anything beyond collecting the tickets. I need to quickly find the Conductor’s voice and let my improv skills come to the surface. I have discovered over the years that I have a very strong talent in building off of another’s foundation. Every time I exercise my improvisational skills it only improves that talent for use. The three hobbies build on each other.
My advice for honing your RPG skills is to find something else that stretches your creative thinking. Creativity is creativity whether its puppets, RPG, writing, drawing, whatever causes you stretch your thinking. Stretch and excercies your thinking and your RPG skills will improve as well.