Friday 26 August 2016

#RPGaDay2016 - Day 26: What hobbies go well with roleplay?

This is it! This is the question I've been looking forward to most this year! It's a topic I'd been mentally preparing a post for before I saw the list of questions, and when I saw it decided to hold off until today.

Ok, it's not exactly the theme I was preparing to explore. I've been having some stupid body issues, and that was the angle I was going to come from: addressing my body issues by dressing them up as looking at exercise supporting roleplay. To be honest, I still want to, because having body issues is ridiculous and I don't want them and I think it will help me deal with them to be honest about them (opening up to Husbit has already helped hugely, especially as he didn't dismiss them and tell me I was being silly for having them but accepted this new part of my neurotic side because he's shiny and understands me better than I realise most of the time). But RPGaDay isn't the time to talk about body issues so that'll wait for another day and instead I'll share some of the compatible hobby thoughts I've been percolating.

I'd love to tell you aerial circus complements roleplay, but it isn't the best fit. Oh, I adore it and it's amazing and I genuinely believe everyone who's physically capable (even if they don't necessarily realise it) should give it a go (even though I know it isn't for everyone and it breaks my heart a tiny bit whenever I convince someone to try and they fall into that category), but it doesn't exactly complement roleplay.

I thought it would. Acrobatics is a skill common to many systems, and characters are always tumbling around and doing crazy stuff, but all it's really taught me is how much harder a lot of things our characters make look easy is - most of the exact skills I'm learning aren't things I'm going to use in a game. Although it was my geeky friend Mazz who first dragged me along, and he plays in Matt's ShadowRun game. He told me about one game where they were dangling in a liftshaft and needed to pick some electrics to save themselves, and Matt said how?, seeing as they needed their hands to hold onto the cable. So Mazz described how he'd wrap his foot in the cable to lock it in place, then cross the free leg over the locked leg, bend his knees and lean back (I don't think I have footage of me doing this move - cross-legged release - because my knees have a tendency to bend sideways if I'm not very careful so it's not a move I do often). Matt, surprised, looked at him and asked him if his character would know how to do it. No, Mazz conceded; but the former acrobat party-member would! So circus has some use...

I read a lot - most roleplayers I know read a lot, and those who don't tend to watch films or tv dramas or play computer games with storyline. A lot of us write, too, either as GM's preparing for games or as players writing up games, or for the sheer joy of writing - or for the sheer need of it. A lot of GM's, particularly, seem fond of people watching, which is a similar story-forming habit. Surprisingly few drama students, though. Think I was the only one in my year...

I think a lot of us can't help it: we are addicted to story, and roleplay is just another way of getting our fix. Not true of all (maybe even most) roleplayers, but enough that it's significant.

I feel like the benefit of books/film to roleplay is so obvious it'd patronising to point out, but just in case it's not so obvious: we can learn about character, about comic timing, about suspense, about drama by absorbing story in many places, both from the good and the bad.

Travel Skills
Image used without permission from here.
I don't enjoy climbing. I've tried - a lot of my circus friends climb and my younger siblings enjoy it - but I can't get into it. Still, the little bit I've done has given me an appreciation of what it feels like to climb - of how to spot suitable holds, or navigate and overhang or traverse - and that comes in handy in a game.

There is a pretty amazing facility not far from me, that offers more than just climbing - yoga, cafe, cheerleading, circus... and Parkour. I've only been once, but I really enjoyed it. Reckon I could really get into it, but that was last autumn, about when my latest bout of fatigue kicked in and ripped my mornings away from me. 

Parkour is great though - running up a wall makes you feel invincible. And that type of running around a city or town, well, it's something I've done in most settings at some time.

And horse riding is a very common method of travel, particularly in fantasy and Western settings, but how many of us actually understand the skill and stamina it takes to ride?

Hobby Skills

Taji is an artist - there's a beautiful in-game reason why she took up art. One of the side effects is that I'm adding doodles to the notes I'm making for that game (Exalted). I've never been any good at art - my Dad and a lot of my Mum's family are fantastic at it, so I guess I assumed it would come naturally to me. I never realised how much work they'd put in! When I wasn't immediately good, I lost interest, but every few years the bug rises in me again, and I dig out my sketchbooks and add to what's there. Sometimes I'm even halfway happy with what I draw.

I'm have friends who make drawing and art look easy - the image on the left was sketched by Antipixi (Chris Drake) for me at the NAF Championship Blood Bowl tournament a few years ago, and he's done similar sketches for other people and as certificate prizes at other tournaments - he's so quick and precise it's exciting to watch. Paul and Rich can both draw, and both have created exciting props for Pathfinder - Paul sculpted an entire town, while Rich has made us runes and many beautiful maps, letters and newspapers. It really adds something to the game.

Mostly I'd like to be able to create my own character portraits; I love the ones Abbie does for me, but I'd like to be able to do something on my own better than that outline of Ursella and Tempest above (3rd ed D&D halfling druid and her panther companion. With a name like Ursella, Tempest should probably have been a bear, but cats are cool).

Scuba diving doesn't come up often, but I suspect if I dived more than that one exciting holiday in Egypt I'd find ways to bring it into games - and it has the advantage of its own sign language. I suspect parachuting is similar, but I ain't jumping out of no plane, fool!

And music! Like art, it's something my Mum's family make look easy so, again, I'd assumed I wouldn't have to work at it... Also, I wanted to learn the flute because she played the flute, but I should have quit and switched to violin after that afternoon I borrowed my brother's and discovered a more natural relationship with the instrument. (My Granny's 90 this month and we're having a get-together that includes instructions to bring whatever instruments you have, so I may talk nicely to my violin-playing cousin - if he's there - about him showing me the ropes properly...) I really want to play Ylva one day, but it'd be nice to understand music better first.

Rich plays guitar and piano and has a good understanding of music theory, which helps him pick good background/theme music for games; Husbit used to DJ and watches a lot of films so has similar abilities.

Martial arts
I don't have a picture for this, and I'm too lazy to create one.

Combat is a large part of a lot of games, so having some experience in what it actually feels like to fight is useful and can add flavour to the fight. I think it's even more true if your experience is in some form of trained fighting. I did ju-jitsu for a bit (and aikido for an even briefer while before that), which helps me describe locks, grapples and throws when I fight. I've attended archery sessions, which is coming in useful with Taji (most of my characters who shoot end up with crossbows, which I've only used once or twice so don't really understand. I've never fired a gun that wasn't loaded with nerf or paint). I've only fought with swords in LARP (or wooden blades against siblings...), so I'd love to try fencing and/or some form of reenactment (I know there's active Vikings around me), but it's that old triangle of time, money and energy. But I think for something we spend so much time simulating, it certainly makes sense to spend some time experiencing!

In summary...
Anything your character does often is worth trying out! 



  1. I like that closing. Anything my character does often is worth trying out. Definitely a way to expand my horizons. :)