The Voice in my Head

Wyrmrest Accord
As roleplayers, we all know that keeping IC and OOC separate is vitally important to avoiding a lot of needless drama. It seems, sometimes, that the better RP is going, the harder that becomes; a really well-realized character has a tendency to take on a life of his or her own and do things that may surprise their creator. Many roleplayers I've talked to have acknowledged this and in fact taken great satisfaction in it. In some ways it's the core of the RP experience: the escape, the immersion in someone else's reality. When the character really gets going, those of us behind the keyboard may have to really concentrate on keeping our OOC distinct.

During the Wrath of the Lich King years this was never much of an issue for me. My RP main, Avanda Everfrost (and later Shadewind), was a personality much like my own: a planner and politician rather than a fighter, someone who preferred diplomacy to battle. She could get plenty worked up over personal business but remained coldly dispassionate about politics and world events. I was mostly content to let her have the lead; we thought much alike and I never had a problem coordinating the OOC side of roleplay around her actions.

When Avanda grew stale and her story wrapped itself up, I decided to stretch my wings and not play it so safe, to try a character much more unlike myself. Casting around my stock of tried-and-discarded character concepts, I settled on Azhaar, an ironic counterpoint to the serene and contemplative draenei. Suffering a burden of rage, constantly driven to violence, attempting to solve every problem with her warhammer, a rogue templar disbarred from the Vindicators for sheer extravagant viciousness...she's a departure for me.

It took me some time to really get into Azhaar, but it was rewarding. Taking such risks is how we grow as writers and roleplayers, and I'm glad I did. Now, though, I'm almost beginning to regret it: I think she's making me a little crazy.

Azhaar's story was always meant to be one of wrestling with her inner demons and finding a source of peace, letting go of anger. During the Cataclysm era that made satisfying progress and provided some great RP. Then came the latest expansion, the story pushing players more and more into conflict between the factions with an undercurrent of the dangers of festering emotion embodied by the Sha. It's a story that could have been tailor-made for Azhaar, and suddenly RPing her has become a somewhat alarming experience.

Getting into the head of a character requires a measure of letting go of yourself. That is, as I noted above, a big part of the appeal. When that character's head is somewhat broken, you get into a very weird place. The blood elves have always been the Warcraft race for which I had the greatest interest and sympathy, hence making my previous main a sin'dorei. When Azhaar started loudly advocating dropping mana bombs on Silvermoon and the Sunwell and I caught myself thinking this was a pretty reasonable idea, it was a kick in the head.

I've been spending more time on alts lately, and even when on Azhaar have been doing OOC things like dailies and working on my Loremaster. Playing her in character is taking me to an increasingly dark place, one I'm not entirely sure I can control...but at the same time, I hate to wrench her onto another path; even if it is more comfortable to me, it would be untrue to the story, and I hate character derailment under any circumstances.

I'm interested in opinions and perspectives. What about you, Wyrmrest? Do you ever find your characters getting away from you, or getting too deeply in your mind? How do you address such things? Let's hear your point of view.
Race change, Faction change, Deletion, Is what I do whenever I find that a Character is effecting my mind too much.

Hence why my Sin'dorei race changed into a Forsaken, which faction changed to a Kaldorei, which became a gnome, which became a human, which became a Tauren, which became a Pandaren.

And it's not just on this character that I have had this happen to me.

As for those that I don't race/faction change, or delete? I just stop playing as them completely until I feel that my mind is guarded enough to be able to withstand the thoughts that come unbidden.

There is more to it than that for me. But my reasons, are not your reasons. Find the way that works best for you. The way that will keep you "sane"(sanity mostly being a matter of perspective(mostly)).

Recently, I have only been roleplaying on characters that I know I will be able to keep IC and OOC seperate, as such, most of these end up getting deleted because I find them to be too boring, or too similar to me for me to really have fun on.

10/13/2012 11:00 PMPosted by Azhaar
Do you ever find your characters getting away from you

Yes, and I love it when it happens.
For example;

When I played as Gomir, I found out through some random roleplay in the barrens that he hates Dwarves. He hates them so much, that he finds it extremely difficult to not attack one to try to kill it as soon as he sees it.

Which shocked me immensly.

Also, if you are hearing voices in your head, you will want to talk to a close friend, significant other, or a therapist type person ASAP.
TRUST ME. The alternative is why I have trouble sleeping. Even now that I have talked about it with people.

Heck, even talking to random strangers online can help with that.

Hope this spiel helps in some way.
The "voice in my head" wasn't meant to be literal. I don't generally give a second thought to anything my characters say or do except when I'm playing one. But still, thanks for your perspective.
Im a bit uncomfortable with this story, so let me get it out there. Please dont think too bad of me, I have issues that I work hard daily to overcome.

I once made a character like me, but dead. He grew as a character as I grew as a person, while I was fighting drug addiction IRL, he fought his memories of his last day alive.

Slowly but surely he became a person unto himself, his personality split off from mine, and grew its own branch far diverged from the one I followed. He became the twisted side of me, the side that reveled in inflicting pain and being a generally evil thing.

Im not one to get into character irl, I have trouble larping to some extent, and I prefer my life to a fantasy one but...

One day I was walking to a friends house, and I saw someone fall off their bicycle (the chain caught and snapped). I am a pretty nice guy irl and usually I would have run to their aid.

I felt a rush of excitement and pleasure from watching them hit the concrete head first, and I caught myself smiling.

I felt like Him.

Afterwards I felt this sickening wrenching in my gut when I realized what just happened, and how I reacted.

That day I stopped RPing him and became disgusted with the very idea that a character I gave life to was giving a part of himself over to my conscience.

To this day when an old guildy calls me Vittorio I cringe, because in my head It feels like his character is still there, waiting.

I got shivers writing this, because my inner RPer could read the text bubble above his head.

Lesser minds often succumb to greater minds, worm.
If my IC thoughts had any correlation with my OOC thoughts, I think I'd be in jail.
I never play a char I like, would like to be, or would like to hang around with. It seems to work well.
I think there needs to be a psychological separation between yourself as a writer, and the character you are writing for. We write about what we know, and so naturally, some of ourselves is put into the characters we create. This is normal.

It can become dangerous if your immersion starts to affect you emotionally. For example, one girl I used to RP with would start crying if certain story events happened to her characters. She also was very possessive of other people's characters if they were involved in her relationships or stories.

Her level of immersion was so high, she basically lived a vicarious second life through her characters. Sometimes, extremely intelligent people like to have this kind of a writer's fantasy/escape, but there's such a thing as too much of a good thing. In the case of this person, I was left with the impression that she felt that her fictitious characters and stories were more important than the real human beings she was playing with.

So, in conclusion, I would say that when your RP gets to the point where it's detrimental towards other people, or possibly yourself, you should probably do some self-examination.
I think the point at which I'd worry about my mental health is where the game starts to affect my life outside the game. I've never even veered close to that point. Within the context of roleplay, though, I'm becoming aware of how much blending has to take place between the person and the character; you really can't write from someone's perspective without being in their shoes to an extent.

Azhaar doesn't whisper to me after I log out, but while I'm guiding her's sort of like steering one of those annoying shopping carts with a bent wheel. You take your attention off it for a second and suddenly you're crashing into the Diet Rite display.
10/14/2012 12:25 AMPosted by Azhaar
Azhaar doesn't whisper to me after I log out, but while I'm guiding her's sort of like steering one of those annoying shopping carts with a bent wheel. You take your attention off it for a second and suddenly you're crashing into the Diet Rite display.

Oh, yes. I get that experience a lot. I think for the most part it's a good thing and shouldn't be held back. It can signify that the character is growing.

Roleplaying darker, more psychological character impulses and themes can be extremely fascinating. In my experience, having a like-minded partner to write those type of stories with is very helpful.
Time for me to get all philosophical and dark up in here.

Every once in a while, and I hope I don't go too far by generalizing here, we all create a character that we relate to on such a level that we don't want to let OOC whims mess with the IC happenings and decision making process. These are the characters that make us laugh out loud, cry, or feel emotions from our safety behind the keyboard and the colored light that makes up our characters and their actions.

And when these characters are coming from a broken place themselves, (and, let's be honest here, most characters are somewhat damaged mentally, else they wouldn't be very interesting to play) it can bring some problems over into our safe real lives. Obviously, there are more factors than I just mentioned, but that's one of them. The others are more how stable we are IRL, and how much time and effort we put into being our characters mentally.

For me, personally, it's caused a few problems. Over time I gradually started to move to a female only cast of characters. And recently they're not all even fitting in that stereotype of fit curvy women. Aymai here is pudgy and fat, and physically weaker than most Pandaren. And IC, she's not even a mage.

Why it happens that way, I'm not sure, but it does affect me in subtle ways behind the keyboard. Things that I like and views on my own private side. Nothing big, nothing so huge I feel it's important enough to worry about. But it's my own special insanity that I tend to create characters wiser than myself that, when I stop to think about it, and ask them for advice, I can actually get that advice.

It's kinda neat when they're good people. And it's also why I try to avoid playing villians.
10/14/2012 12:25 AMPosted by Azhaar
you really can't write from someone's perspective without being in their shoes to an extent.

Whilst I can see where you might be coming from on most of this stuff, I'm not sure I agree with this bit in particular. I don't need to be a serial killer or a sociopath to write one convincingly, for instance. But I do need to do my research.
A few of my characters share traits or slight similarities with me and who I least here in WoW. I don't think I've ever played a character exactly like me, except a few times while I was still refining concepts. And alot of times I have to use specific music genres or soundtracks to put myself in the mindset of my character. It's probably why I've gotten good at divorcing OOC emotions from IC ones for the most part.

In CoH however I've played characters vastly different from how I am, and I have found it fun, sometimes relaxing, or even cathartic and releasing. Don't know if I'm getting what I mean across...for example one of my favorites was a Villainess who revealed in causing pain, in punching people in the face, she was extremely confident and Arrogant and people who were "In power" or could be seen as authority figures in her mind were suitable only to laugh at or even better to try and take down a notch.

I know I've had plenty of myself bleed over into my characters from times...and even characters bleed over into other characters. But I've never had those that were different from me bleed over into me.

That said....

10/13/2012 11:00 PMPosted by Azhaar
My RP main, Avanda Everfrost (and later Shadewind)

Hai Avanda!! *waves* If you even remember me....probably...not...

10/13/2012 11:48 PMPosted by Motionless

That name....sounds so familiar....
I honestly don't reply on the forums very often, but I feel that I should throw in my few cents on this.

I've been RPing for around about 10 years now. Tabletop, forum, MMO, the whole kit and kaboodle, and I still feel like I don't know everything about roleplaying. Maybe it's because I'm a really poor actor, or because humans just generally learn from everything. Either or. :p

I generally play characters that I can at least partially relate to. For example, I wouldn't want to be bffs with Kel, but I certainly can relate to how "college" students act. I started her off a few years ago (when she was only 18), and she was only a Stormwind human, who was a studious bookworm. After the years tolled by, the roleplay 'deformed' her character in becoming something totally different. Her curiosity for knowledge made her lose her allegiance with the Stormwind humans, and she began to become more dark and sinister.
Honestly, it was actually very shocking seeing her turn into this. I think its one of the things that I value as a roleplayer, seeing a character completely change into another thing just because of experience.

But anyways, because of her 'dark and sinister' path, it was really hard for me to separate IC from OOC. It was just so interesting of a perspective to see something that I 'gave birth to' turn into something like this. When I began thinking that dissecting kittens was a good thing, I started to go 'ohwait that's not me!'
Normally when things start going like that (with any of my characters), I take a break from the game. Not a long one, but just a tinsy tiny one. I'll cut back my game hours and just lose myself in something else to try to relax my brain. A book, an amazing season of Doctor Who, etc. It tends to help me keep sane.
10/14/2012 02:21 AMPosted by Lann
Hai Avanda!! *waves* If you even remember me....probably...not...

I do remember you, Lann! Dang, but it's been a while. Thanks for chiming in, I'm enjoying everyone's thoughts on this topic.
Characters get away from me all the time. Var has a mind of his own and does what needs be done in his own way without me planning it out too much. I can snap into his 'voice' at the drop of a hat, even if I've been away from him for a while. Same with Aima and Lorey. All very different personalities and motives, they speak differently, they think differently... Generally, it isn't too much of a problem and has made for some good RP. Sometimes, they do things and I go "D: NO WHY GOD WHY STOPIT" but to stay true to the character. They do it and I'm a little helpless. Still good RP and I don't like playing them any less.

Back in BC, I mained a forsaken warrior. When Wrath came out, I started RPing and decided, instead doing a server transfer for her, I'd bring her back as a death knight. At her very core, she was loyal and protective in odd maternal ways for a twice dead potato. I liked her and enjoyed her character very much at the start... But she started off broken. As she progressed, she didn't really get much better, only much worse. She spiraled into a true monstrosity, not only physically but psychologically. Some of my most morbid writings came from her brain.

It's a weird circumstance and even stranger to try to explain... Getting that dark really does.. something.

In the end, I had to kill her off. I could not send her away, off into the sunset or retire her to a book shop. She's the only character I've actively played that both me, her and Azeroth are all better off without. A burnt pile of ash, she won't be coming back. She collected a legacy before she went off into the dark, Jorinde and an undead mage I play on Emerald Dream. They started out broken, react very differently to their undeath, but have much greater potential for growth than the twice dead potato ever did.


That name....sounds so familiar....

Vittorio Di Benedici was his name, a Forsaken Rogue turned Lich.
Do you ever find your characters getting away from you, or getting too deeply in your mind? How do you address such things? Let's hear your point of view.

These are really distinctly different, to me; characters get away from me all the time, but it's never due to being too deeply in my head. They get away from me usually because roleplay evolves very organically, and they're often in situations that I don't plan or expect at all, which drives them in directions that I go, "...crap." about. (It's part of why I won't do any conflict roleplay or start any new stories with Ziichi, as she's volatile and I don't want her to get away on me again.)

For example, I had a friend bring in a character she'd crafted in personality just to suit Ziichi. We didn't talk about it beforehand at all. I was very happy where Ziichi was and didn't really want it to change, but as the two began to interact, I pretty much was a string of expletives in real life; there was no way that Ziichi wouldn't react to him in the certain way that she did based on her history and her issues. So, she ended up leaving her fiancee and getting involved in murder and all kinds of crazy crap that I was just floored by and hadn't intended on, but that I knew that the character would be involved in.

Towards the end, I got very pissed off and yanked her reins so hard I'm pretty sure I pulled out a number of her metaphorical teeth in the process. She's now back with Larrk (whose player is my best friend, and who I want to roleplay with, no matter Ziichi's interest in LOLDRAGONS), has her family and her life, and is stable; I won't be allowing that to change, because I know if I give her an inch, that she'll take a mile if someone's roleplay smacks into her circumstances hard enough. So, I leave roleplay situations that would do that to her and get on an alt. Because Ziichi can kiss my !@#, that's why. >:|

...and really, that's generally how it works:

10/14/2012 12:14 AMPosted by Philomene
I never play a char I like, would like to be, or would like to hang around with. It seems to work well.

^ Just like this. I pretty much roll my eyes and think all of my characters are kind of scummy people I'd not want to be around. Ziichi may seem all derpaderp LOLOLOL and it might be easy to assume that her player is the same, but really, I pretty much vacillate between thinking she's an idiot and thinking that she's a jerk; a lot of my emotes are even 'self-defeating' in that way, as well. "Ziichi does blah blah blah. Says says blah blah blah. Hypocrisy, what is that?" "Ziichi isn't very bright."

They're played off as laughs, but I don't like her much as a person. She has plenty of good sides - she's a good mother, surprisingly, and an excellent wife - but I don't allow myself to feel any sort of connection like that.

The same can be said for most of my characters. I think Thil'ithien's kind of a dork and I'm just embarrassed for him every time he talks; Sel'darea can never do anything right and is an overbearing jerk with serious issues with her family; Lucius is the kind of person I hope gets run over by a truck repeatedly, etc.

I don't enjoy heroic characters, but that doesn't mean that I think that the morally grey ones are good people, either. Really, half of my enjoyment in roleplay is throwing my hands in the air and going, "GOD I HATE YOU ZIICHI."
10/14/2012 10:08 AMPosted by Jorinde
Back in BC, I mained a forsaken warrior.

Wow, this story (of what happened as you played the character and eventually just had to end her) I thought was sad. Forsaken have a lot of potential hooks for tragic stories, by virtue of what they are.
As much as I joke about my characters running amok, I know better than that. The characters are part of me, but they are not me, and they do not have sentience. I don't guide their actions, I give them actions to do and puppeteer them into position. They are tools to be used for the story, and a tool doesn't disobey its wielder.Sure, I can get into their head when I know a character particularly well, but I always know that it's like piloting them. Without me they would be lifeless and inert, they only become animate when I get involved.

Being a writer isn't like being a god. Gods can wander off and their creations will still keep going. Writers play with dolls and action figures. We set up the scene, place the characters, and dictate what they all do according to the mindset we gave them and our own imagination. When we stop writing they stop moving and are put back in the toybox until we take them out again.
10/14/2012 03:29 PMPosted by Bärnaby
Back in BC, I mained a forsaken warrior.

Wow, this story (of what happened as you played the character and eventually just had to end her) I thought was sad. Forsaken have a lot of potential hooks for tragic stories, by virtue of what they are.
I love the Forsaken - undead to the end, my friend. A lot of it has to do with that tragedy, their freedom and optimism.

They can be fun characters too. In addition to being particularly ghoulish, Scy was also infested with bugs. Staring someone down in-character as a cockroach skitters out of the side of her cheek, looks around and hides somewhere in her skull by way of eye socket just brightened so many days. Fedora (Pheodora Green in life, nicknamed Fedora for her love of hats) is a ball of undead optimism, having been saved from a wretched life of farm girl-ing was given a second chance to be all that she ever wanted to be - a mage. Didn't care for kids or cleaning much anyways.

The error with Scy was making her a death knight. If she hadn't died the second time, I might still be playing her today. So much doubt over having been a servant to the Lich King, not once, but twice, the crushing news that he'd been defeated and she wasn't one of the soldiers directly involved. That news was her breaking point and she just became so vengeful, so rage filled, so... depressing. There was no real hope, no real chance of peace.

I still miss her rotty face. RIP dead homie. ;c <3

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