14 September 2008

Multiple Characters

Something I enjoy doing on occasion is playing two characters at the same time. I haven't done it very often, but it's usually quite fun when I do get a chance.

The appeal of running multiple characters differs depending on player type. Butt kickers might like the chance to kill twice as many monsters as normal. Power gamers have two paths to glory that they can walk at the same time. Tacticians have all sorts of added strategic advantages from having more than one person working on a plan. Method actors, or course, are likely to relish the increased difficulty from handling two personas at the same time. And so on.

"But, Mister Game Dork Sir," I hear you say, "Doesn't that mean you're getting twice as much action as the other players?"

Well, maybe. Obviously, it does have to be handled with care. One way of dealing with this problem is running a group in which all the players have two characters. This can be pretty advanced, and not an exercise for inexperienced gamers. Another option is to play in a group that doesn't mind one player running two characters. You may have to find just the right mix of gamers for this one to work. You can always work with the player running two characters to ensure that he (or she) is sensitive to the needs and feelings of the other players, and doesn't overshadow them with his two characters.
But the rewards of playing two characters can be worth the extra work. And it does take extra work. You've got more than one position on the map to consider, you've got two personalities to act out, you've got separate experience point totals to keep track of... but the thrill of playing two characters can often be incentive enough on its own to make it worth while.

Of course, one important thing to keep in mind is that if your character interacts with another PC, then another player is involved in the action of the game. However, if you have two characters, and they're interacting with each other but not with the other PCs, then you're monopolising the game and shutting out the other players. This is especially easy to do when your two characters already have some sort of bond; for example, you might be playing spouses. This is a common trend for characters being run by a single player.

But since we're talking about a challenge anyway, why not take it up a step? Play two characters that have no bond to each other, but have a bond with one of the other PCs? Or, for even more difficulty, try playing characters that instead (or perhaps in addition) don't get along? Maybe they're mortal enemies who are forced by circumstance to work together for a common goal, perhaps temporarily but possibly on a long term basis?

Anyway, these are some things to think about, and maybe you'll try them one day. Even if it doesn't work out, you'll be able to say you've done something that most gamers haven't. In the meantime, remember to

Game on!

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