My good friend Bricu, who writes One Pretentious Bastard, breaks one of those “beginner RP” rules about not playing a socially difficult character. Bricu Bittertongue is, in fact, a right bastard. However, he’s also a well loved and respected member of the Riders (most of the time), and most people know that even though he *is* a right bastard, he’ll stick up for them most of the time too. Since I’m off laying plaster texturing and painting walls and ripping out 30 year old shelf liner paper, he’s offered a guest post on the subject! Hooray!
So you want to be a bastard. You want to RP the mean, acerbic character who may (or may not) have a heart-of-gold. This is the character that never has a kind word for anyone. The “Hero” who only wants money, fame, booze, sex or a combination therein. Here’s the problem: Who wants to associate with self centered, loud mouthed obnoxious individual? Having played a bastard on Feathermoon since launch, I have six pointers on how you can RP a bastard and not isolate yourself from your friends and guild mates.
Every good character has a back story. The same holds true for bastards because bastards have reasons for their bastardry. Develop those reasons. Maybe your dwarf isn’t really a bastard in the truest sense of the word. She may really care about others but she comes off gruff and coarse due to cultural translation. Maybe your bastard comes from the elitist prick school of behavior–that only the high and mighty of Azeroth are his equals–so he condescends to everyone. To be a bastard, one needs to clearly know how they became a bastard. A good back story, one that incorporates your fellow RPers, guildies or friends, allows for that character’s easy introduction to the server.
Your bastard can provide a foil for more traditional characters. Your bastard may be able to provide contrast for other toons. By developing your backstory, and incorporating other RPers, you have built in a way to introduce and keep your bastard around.
When one plays a bastard, one has a tendency to do (and say) things that may isolate oneself from the rest of the server. Cursing, insults, snarky comments and nasty retorts can push other players away from you. It is your responsibility,as the player of a bastard, to work with other players to establish that the character, and not the player, is the Jerk. If you run with an established group of RPers, this should be a fairly easy task. Talk to you players and say, “this next toon is a jerk. How can I work with the established toons?” If you don’t have a group of RPers you frequent, playing a bastard may not be the best idea. I strongly suggest talking to people OOC and be very clear: The player appreciates and respects the interactions. The character is a jerk.
When running an instance, be polite OOC. When RPing, keep an open line of communication with the people you are RPing with. Fail that and your bastard may become a cranky hermit.
There is a difference between a bastard and an asshole. Bastards know about people’s comfort zones and boundaries. Typically, they push, pull and test the boundaries. Assholes do this too; however, people like being around bastards. No one likes to be around an asshole. The difference between the Bastard and the Asshole is one part style, one part purpose. The Bastard has flare and a reason for their bastardry. The asshole lacks one, or both, of these key factors.
For instance: Take John Constantine. He’s a brilliant, spot on bastard. He’ll use people, disappear for weeks at a time, fake his death, get his friends and lovers killed …and yet people still flock to him. Constantine has style. Furthermore, he typically has a purpose–saving himself, London or the world–and this is why he pushes the established boundaries. He’s witty and charming, even when he is working his con.
Now that guy in your guild who ninja’d the epix last week and complains that he wasn’t invited to this week’s run? He’s an asshole. He ignored the social constraints, thought only about himself then whined about the consequences. He has no purpose other than to be self-serving. He also lacks style. This makes him a flat out asshole.
In short, both the bastard and the asshole would steal a protagonist’s significant other. The bastard will do it with panache. The asshole will just do it.
Develop your bastard’s sense of style, otherwise you’re just RPing an asshole.
Every bastard has a limit, a line they will not cross. Your bastard needs those limits to provide definition to their bastardry. Maybe your bastard doesn’t mock other races. Maybe your bastard is a devout Elunite. Maybe your bastard gave up drinking. With your backstory, develop what ever line you have. Flirt with it, push it or break it but always know those limitations.
Communicate these boundaries with your RP peers. They can help you develop and challenge you, and your bastard, as you RP.
5) Never Apologize in Public
If your bastard needs to apologize–and I promise they will–never be sincere in front of a crowd. Half assed apologies are part of the bastard’s MO: you spin the blame to someone else. If your bastard has to apologize for something, do it in private. This way, you salvage your reputation and can deny doing it later.
6) A Change is Going to Come
All good characters grow and change. Be prepared for your bastard to mellow, even if it is just for a brief period of time. The down time lays the ground work for additional quirks down the road. Allowing for your bastard to develop as a character helps to establish how your character impacts the world around him or her.
There is a common theme through these pointers: Open communication and collaboration. Your character is the bastard: You are the conscientious and courteous RPer who is playing a bastard. Communicate your ideas and work with your fellow RPers while you work on this particular character. Be willing to work with others, but keep in mind the boundaries and limitations you have set for your bastard. Given these simple suggestions, you have the potential to create even more dynamic stories to tell.