The “while Female” Part

So, today it was pointed out that so far none of my posts deal directly with the female part of the title. There’s so much to talk about there, and I certainly won’t cover it in one post, but I will talk about my experience overall. I hope that everyone who reads this can agree that women are individuals, and as such my experiences don’t reflect the whole of women’s interactions with table top role playing. In other words, what I have to say in no way reflects women as a whole, but they are my stories.

My experiences overall have been positive with both men and women at the table. There have been very few times I’ve been the only female at the table. I’ll probably write up one of those experiences in a separate blog post.

Thankfully, I’ve never had the experience that I hear about quite often from female players which is men turning their female character into a sex object. Even when playing with groups where the language and discussion could get a little R-rated, I’ve never felt that my character was being in danger in that way from the other players. I was comfortable that my boundaries would be respect as a person when it came to my character. If this is ever not the case, it probably isn’t a good group to stay in, no matter what the gender makeup.

One thing I have experienced was dealing with “realism.” As a player, I’ve encountered a few games where the GM or players have a very rigid idea of what the gender roles should be for the characters. One such game, I wanted my female character to be a tinkerer, only to be told that women didn’t have jobs in this game. They were aristocrats to be saved by the male characters, and I should either make a male character or redesign my female character. I decided very quickly, it wasn’t the game for me, and left. You can argue a game set in a real world time and place that I should fall into line, but I found that at least for me, role playing was all about thinking outside the box.

As a GM, I  sometimes find myself defaulting to authority figures as male, and sometimes have to reexamine my lists of NPCs before I start a game. Depending on the situation, I don’t always have 50/50, but I am loathe to not include a female because it isn’t common for a female in that occupation. After all, no matter what type of game I’m playing, in the end, it’s about making a world I want to believe in for better or worse.

Role playing for me, is exploring different aspects of humanity. I like to explore characters that aren’t me for one reason or another. Trisha is mostly lawful and thoughtful, so sometimes it’s fun to play the character that blows up the bright purple mushroom just to see what it does (Note: It poisons you), or play the character that does sell out the party for something else she might believe in. It’s fun to explore a character who isn’t straight, or a character that is far more noble than I could ever hope to be. In general, I find role playing is exploring the “human” part of me, and I find that is what brings me back again and again to role playing.

As a GM, I get to put characters into my world, and see what they do. I get to react to that, and build characters both allies and nemeses that bring out the parts of the characters that are most interesting. In the end, it’s all about relationships for good and bad of the characters to each other and to the world. That’s very female, and very human.

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Character Backgrounds

One of my favorite aspects of role playing is writing character backgrounds. I tend to write them both when I’m a player for my Player Character (PC), and when I’m a GM I’ll usually write them for important Non-Player Characters (NPCs).

Character Backgrounds not only give details about the characters past, but they also give reasons for the future actions of characters. Generally, I can use a background to tell me how a character will react to a situation, or behave.

Below I’m including a profile you are free to use for your character.

Writer Name:
Char. Name:
Species: (If non-human)
Gender:
Race: (This is used like Species in D&D)
Age:
Height:
Weight:
Eye color:
Hair stats:

Relatives:
Mother:
Father:

BRIEF PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:
(What does your character look like to those around them? Do they have strange movement or a birthmark? Are they always dressing to impress or are there clothes never washed?)

PERSONALITY:
(Is your character grumpy in the morning? How do they treat their fellow man? Do they have any personality quirks? How do they deal with their day to day life?)

BRIEF HISTORY:
(I usually write about a page or two here. What in their past made them what they are today? It’s a great place to give a GM hooks to use in the story.)

STRENGTHS, POWERS, ABILITIES:
(These are not powers or ability in mechanical terms, but things that your character tends to be good at. This is mostly for understanding the character rather than writing down all the character’s spells.)

WEAKNESSES, PHOBIAS, FEARS:
(This section is often overlooked. It’s an important part of making your character come to life is to have real weaknesses. It’s best if you can pull these from the history. Maybe the character comes from a very protected background, and doesn’t understand how to interact with the masses, or has a fear of heights after a bad fall. Many great ways to develop a character here.)

OTHER:
(This is a catch all for anything that doesn’t fit into the other categories).

GMing Resources

I will probably edit this post quite a bit, but I thought this was a good place to put resources I use for various parts of role playing.

My Journey to GMing

I’ve been writing stories as long as I can remember. If I wasn’t writing them down, I was acting them out with legos. Most involved escaping from enemies, adventure in far off lands, or friendships tested to the breaking points. One of my favorite characters was Robin … the daughter of Robin Hood, (I was name challenged back then), who stood up for the poor while she hid in her treehouse hideaway. You see, she saved the boys, not the other way around.

When I was 17, I started role playing in online groups. Many of which were based on shows. It was here, I learned about voicing characters that were not my own. I began to understand about consistency in character, and staying true to the character no matter how much you wanted them to do something that didn’t quite fit. Role playing kept me sane through college as an outlet of creativity while I tried to stay afloat of homework.

After college, I got my first taste of pen and paper role playing. My first character was a Gnome Druid, who was unceremoniously eaten by a blind, albino cavasourous that she tried to calm. For most of my characters, I wrote long backstories while relying on the help of my fellow players to help me design the stats of character. I’ve become more competent at designing stats for characters, but still don’t find it the most interesting part of playing.

Once I moved to the Bay Area, I didn’t role play much until I was invited to a group of friend’s of my now husband. It went well, overall, and I enjoyed the epic stories of a kingdom far away.

When it was my turn to GM it was another story. My first time out as a GM was a disaster, which left me crying and leaving a session. I had done research for hours, trying to incorporate character backgrounds, and pieces from real history as well as my own spin on things. Only to find two players completely not interested, and the other saying I didn’t have enough fighting. I did get in a few more sessions with added car chases and more combat, but I found it unfulfilling. My career as a GM was short and full of failure, or so I thought.

That was over 4 years ago now, and I’ve been Gming the same group for 3 of those years. Our first game was a Star Wars game that lasted 18 months, before I decided it was time to end the story and move on. My second game is wrapping up now close to the same amount of time. I find finishing a game a reward in and of itself.

Along the way, I’ve learned many things about being a good GM, and about being a good player. I still have much to learn, but I enjoy the process. Each time I come up with a new story, or a new way of doing things I get excited. I experiment on my players, and thankfully they’re always good sports about it.

As I continue this blog, I hope to share stories about what I’ve learned, and about Role Playing and things around it in general. If there is anything you want me to discuss, please put it in the comments.