Role-Playing Taboos: Playing your Character Wrong.


Okay now before you get any ideas I know that I said before that no one can tell you how to play your character. At heart this is true… To an extent. You can role-play your character in a way that can be considered wrong. You might not know it, but the people around you will.

Getting into character

Let’s say that we are three players currently playing in a Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons game. I am a sorcerer, one guy is a cleric, and the last one is a fighter. The session starts and everything is nice and peachy. Each of the three characters has their own personality, quirks, flaws, and little things that make them unique. My sorcerer, for example, is constantly writing and sketching magic spells/runes in his notebook. He also is a bit absent-minded. So while walking I am oblivious to the log in front of me and I trip and fall. I am easily excited and extremely curious. These are the characteristics of my character. I am going to say character a lot so bear with me. While playing I try my best to be faithful to the character that I envisioned in my head. If I see something shiny I would want to find out what it is. If I am told that there is a cave that no one knows what is at the end of it, I would want to go and see what is at the end of it. I try to stick to the persona I created in order to have more fun and hopefully the other players could also have fun too. Seeing how one would act in certain situations can be very comical and fun. Especially since in a game like DnD, the sky is the limit. So we end up in a tavern talking with someone who would like to hire us, able-bodied adventurers, for a quest that will give us fame and fortune. Suddenly, the fighter punches the man and yells, “BAR FIGHT”. Chaos ensues, people get hurt, and the session just got a bit awkward.


“WWIDT?”. It stands for why would I do this. Okay, we are in the real world now, you are currently at the McDonalds drive through. You tell the guy your order, pay for your food, wait, and then take your meal and leave. Now would you throw your drink at the guy that just gave you your food? Well, I can think of certain specific situations where that would be the correct response. But let’s imagine that everything went normally. You are a sane, twenty-year-old person who went to McDonalds to get sustenance. You do not throw your drink at the guys face when you take your food. You do not because that is not the normal reaction to receiving your food. The same logic is always applied to your character while role-playing. Going back to the fighter, he hit the man we were talking to for no reason. Out of the blue he just sucker punched the poor man in the face. I, as the sorcerer, cast Detect Magic to see if our fighter friend is under a spell of sorts. The DM says that he is not under any spell. Surely there must be a justification for such actions? I mean, who would just hit someone out of the blue? The man was no threat, he was friendly, he wanted to PAY us. He promised us fame and fortune and got a black eye for his troubles. When you role-play always always always always ask yourself, WWIDT?. Try your hardest to justify your action so that any normal person could understand and go “yeah I totally get why he did that”. If you are unable to rationally justify your action then it’s probably not a good idea to go ahead with it. And when I say justify, please don’t say “Yeah well my character would do that”. If you use that as a justification then I am truly sorry… You suffer from My Guy Syndrome.

My guy syndrome

I will not talk that much about this terrible issue since someone else made a way better article about it. The link to that post will be at the end of this article if you want to read it, I highly recommend that you do though. A tl;dr is basically that when you role-play you should always consider not only your fun but the fun of every other person on the table. There is always a living, breathing, human being behind the character. Sometimes it is easy to forget that role-playing games like DnD are not video games. You can’t quicksave your game in DnD, go on a rampage, and then load the quicksave like in Skyrim. All actions have real consequences that affect everything in the story. Dungeons and Dragons is not a video game, so please don’t treat it like one.

I would like to conclude by saying that whenever you role-play with friends be mindful to how you role-play in order to keep the session light-hearted and fun. Because in the end if you are not having fun, then what’s the point?

Link to the My Guy syndrome article:  Credit where credit is due. I ain’t no plagiariser.

This is Whitegrave signing off.

About the author


A wise man once said, " He who does not know the falcon, grills it ". I live by those words every day. I also enjoy playing a little fifth edition now and then.

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