Interpretation: Psyche Unlimited
A character psyche simulates a character having its own mind. A mind that will react to story conflict and resolution. Players need run characters independent of player-borne motivations; as an actor would play a part using subtext. Reading through a script, an actor prepares for a part by sifting through available details to determine a general nature of the character. Doing so adds a dimension of sincere reaction and response during the execution of the production (stage, film, commercials, etc...).
In a role playing game, the total mass of scripted information is not available because it hasn’t happened yet. A player must rely on the conceptualized information to create the character’s ethos. In any given situation, conflict and resolution supports the progression of the game structure. The ”how” has been established with concept, mechanics, and construction. The unique feel of a character hinges on the “why”. Why a character reacts in a particular way in any possible story situation. Philosophy and purpose is the thrust of character motivation and gives the character the basis for a psyche.
Freud's Fictional Couch
Start interpreting the character during the concept phase. Try to ask developmental questions as if the character was a separate entity to help maintain objectivity. Doing this will contribute to a character more independent of the player. Link the various events and mechanical underpinnings of the character so as to stay in tune with your “character map”. Weave in biographical details and disadvantages to give the character a feel of dimensional reasoning; basic emotions and opinions creating the fundamentals of a character presence.
After the construction of the character or during if you have the experience, begin to work out philosophies and aspirations of the character. An external introspection objectively examining your own mental state transferred into the character’s awareness. Starting with motivation, interpretation pushes the character through a story, not by explaining its actions to others, but explaining the character internally to the player. A player can then justify the character’s reactions to other players out of general curiosity, and more importantly, to the GM. Part of a character’s accumulation of experience points will be judged by the game master weighed against a player's ability to interpret a character and maintain congruity in the campaign setting.
A very good way of learning how to interpret a character is a solo adventure. When a player goes one on one with the GM, the game is amplified with more interpersonal levels. The story is focused around one main character (or a group of characters run by a single player), all aspects being brought to the foreground. Each sphere of the character is explored and tested. Challenging both the GM and player, a solo campaign will strengthen the cohesiveness between the character and the setting brought on by the increased game interaction.
Details that are usually relegated to secondary priorities in larger groups can become of the utmost importance in a solo adventure. The character might have one specific skill or know a particular contact enabling the story’s progression or conclusion. Personal stories can also be explored. Many character details brought from shadow into light are the personal strengths and weaknesses of the character created by the player. Each of which will be tested in the fires of campaign and adventure. In a larger group, any of the characters may have the necessary resource, but in a solo adventure, solving an adventure challenge falls on the shoulders of the single player. The gamemaster directly challenging the player in acute situations bringing on cathartic and entertaining game sessions.
We The Characters...
...Declare our independence from the governing body of the players!
A player must learn, sooner or later, to separate the player’s knowledge from the “consciousness” of the character. Much of the anticipation and excitement due the player stems from this distinction. Watching a movie gives a theater patron a different perspective than being in the film; always knowing more about the plot than the characters. Knowing more than the main characters, a player can take in a great deal more story context than the character should have access to. This hard edge of key information will be monitored by the GM and should have the help of the player. Players should always solve the story challenge through the character’s perception, using it’s abilities as the tools to overcome the challenge. Sometimes the urge to solve an adventure will push a player to change perspective (consciously or unconsciously) to make it easier. Of course it’s easier, the reader of a story always knows more than the characters!
Using this invaluable and inappropriate wealth of story information will hasten the resolution of the plot and an unfair efficiency of progressive character development. The most deserving reward of this course of action is a boring experience: no challenge, no sense of accomplishment and no interest. Conversely, maintaining this balance of information will keep adventure stories tightly wrapped with suspense and expectation. Keeping the player on the edge of a seat, knowing what lurks around the corner while the character does not. Building suspense with uncertainty until the perspectives of both player and character juxtapose at the story’s climax. Movie producers have developed this balance of knowledge on an electrifying fulcrum. Tricks of the trade including switching camera angles, focused and diversional dialogue and cliffhangers. The result is a viewing audience that keeps coming back for far too many sequels. A game master may have their own methods of maintaining excitement, but a player’s metering of key knowledge and participation will keep game play on the cusp of unparalleled adventure!
Characters and Cigars
Sometimes a character is just a character. A character’s internal workings may mimic a players own personal patterns but the drive should be independent. Let the forum for interpretation be reflection. Interpret your character’s psyche by reflecting on the past experiences of adventures. Examine the directions of a character (bringing the fruits of your labor to bear) when your not playing the character. Start with yourself as a point of reference and compare it with the character. In between adventures is a good time to ask why you role played certain situations and how the character would react in coming adventures. Ask what you would do in the same situation. Levy the differences between you and your character for a better point of view from the character’s perspective. It’s always easier to be on the outside looking in and this does exactly that. Depersonalize yourself from the character to review the events of the story and then reattach to the character “in character”. Objectivity in this area will help prevent “writing” your character into situations that don’t quite fit what was intended. It’s a way of doing “artistic damage control” to prevent losing interest in the character. This exercise will contribute to more elaborate story contributions and player participation.
Interpretation allows a player to run game characters with a simulated sense of independence. A good character reacts to a story with the motivations instilled into it by the player with creeds, bios, and the like. A good player maintains the character by sticking to the self created guidelines and interpreting how the character could react in any given story situation. Interpretation started at the onset of character construction as the concept shifted from the player’s mind to the character sheet. The player interpreted his/her own feelings to determine what type of character was desired for play; internal ideas forming a character concept into game terms. Now that the idea is on paper and the character can be a functioning participant in the campaign setting, its time to energize the character with a psyche of its own.
and defend their character’s actions. More importantly, it adds a definitive internal point of view to the character. As game plots expand, interweaving the character’s presence into the campaign setting, internal conflicts not only flesh out the character but afford the GM more avenues to challenge the player. New mental fronts to press that will develop the character’s internal and external condition.
Character diaries can be pulled together from different perspectives. Players can keep their own accounting of adventures from the character’s point of view, or contain it to how the character feels about what happened in particularly vivid encounters. It can be from a different point of view as well. The “voice” of a conscience or familiar friend. There’s probably a point of view never explored before, waiting for you to discover. Just use your imagination to write the words that will make your character spring from the page and into the limelight.
Soul, intuition, imagination - - The elusive figments of humanity that inspire wonder and link the player to interesting character interpretation. Being a thing of pure thought, characters and their settings exist as statement and conjecture living in the moment of animated conversation. Interpreting a character’s behavior becomes a honed skill with each unpredictable story conclusion. Solving them with the character’s perceptions and abilities, experiencing the action as a character and enjoying it as a player. Along the way, as characters are created, each new aspect of a fabricated reality contributes new thoughts to the game and to the player.
“The whole interest of my reason, whether speculative or practical, is concentrated in the three following questions: What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope?"
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
A unique way to establish and track a character’s psyche is by using a journal. Just as people keep diaries to better understand their lives and directions, players can do the same with their characters. Characters from members of royalty stricken with puppy love to hard edged mercenaries logging their missions often rely on this medium for self guidance. This type of character introspection helps expand a more intricate understanding of a character’s fictional behaviors. Within the confines of game play, players can more accurately represent their characters by adding more to the plot. Having a written reference, players can better explain