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Role-Play Award: November 2006

Mr. Howe

How long have you been Roleplaying?
My first experience in the wonderful art of roleplay was in 1978 with the boxed D&D set. Tabletop Hack and Slash. Our game master was Curtis Scott, whom I met at Rocky Horror Picture Show. You know, back in the day when it was cool to go to midnight movies? Anyway, while attending CoastCon, ( a sci-fi/fantasy convention similar to DragonCon,) in its infancy, he talked me and some friends into trying it out. We had so much fun we set up weekly sessions. I’ve been role playing in one form or another ever since then.

I began online rping around 1993 on AOL. It took me a while to become interactive however; I was pretty intimidated when I first wandered into Rhy’Din and AOL cost a small fortune back then to boot. The thought of the bill put a real damper on my online time.

Tell us about your character.
Mr. Howe. What can I say? He’s the classic villain type; he wants everything right now and he wants it done his way. He’s arrogant, egotistical and power hungry. He’s not a nice guy, although he can act like one.

Howe is one of three senior partners for the inter-dimensional law firm, Dewey, Cheetham and Howe. They have divisions in many dimensions but have taken a keen personal interest in Rhy’Din of late.

DCH has a hate on for the Bloods and will do just about anything to see them ‘destroyed’.

Anything else you want to know you’ll have to dig up IC. (Heh. Didn’t think I’d make things that easy, did ya?)

What inspires you?
Wow, many things; movies, TV, books, real life, Joss Whedon, Dragons Mark, my awesome play group, anyone who will play *with* me, comic books, oh, and my Muse, (and fellow evil plotter; she knows who she is.) Without my Muse my stories would be dry and flat. She keeps the imaginative juices flowing and is always willing to talk things out with me when I feel lost or blocked.

I guess I should give some credit to AOL, for that was where I was first introduced to the art of Free Form Role Play, for which I am eternally grateful. (FFRP has made me a better writer, honest! It has helped me to develop much more realistic dialogues; just one of many improvements.)

Let me guess; it’s not my writing you are curious about but rather what inspired the creation and continuance of Howe? Yeah, him, right. Go figure out of all the characters I play, Howe is the one that got me nominated. The irony of it!

Fact is Howe was created from random interactions. He came to life as the “Big Bad”, (Buffy-ism) for a storyline way back in the late 90’s on AOL. He was merely a vehicle to be used to incite others against the Bloods. Everything he is he’s become through random interactions, unplanned scenes and a liberal dose of evil plotting.

Random interaction is the meat of what we all do when we go in-room to role play; it is what keeps our stories fresh and exciting even for those of us writing them. All of us are in the same boat so-to-speak; we never know what is going to happen next. And therein lays the fun of it all; it’s full of constant surprises for everyone involved.

Howe is merely one example of a character that literally created itself through random in-room play. Sure I had an idea about his background, what kind of guy he was, how he was likely to behave, and an In Character goal; all of which made him easier to play in the beginning. But it was through random interactions in-room that he took on a life all his own. Without it Howe would have been shelved long ago. Yet he, like many of our “Big Bads”, has earned a reoccurring appearance in our never-ending stories.

(An aside: In fact? Some of our “Big Bads” have ended up as main characters. Scary thought, huh? Yeah, we think so too.)

Here’s the thing: Howe’s a “Big Bad”, in the end he’s been created to die for the greater glory of our main characters. Let’s face it; makes it a hard character to commit to. He’s going to die and he is, after all, the bad guy, the villain. Doesn’t make me want to invest in the character, that is, unless there are some other perks out there?

It’s the players with their colorful and rich characters’ that have interacted with Howe.

Those of you who have played with me have given me the inspiration to keep Howe alive. It is through those random, unplanned, unforeseen interactions that Howe has become cohesive. What were once amorphous ideas of goals has ripened into full-fledge scheming. Through you, I have been incredibly inspired and I am sincerely grateful!

Thank you for letting me play the villain. Thank you for playing with me, but mostly, thank you for the surprises your play has gifted. It’s been one heck of an interesting, (if twisty,) ride let me tell you! And know that I am looking forward to more!

Any advice for newer players?
Hm, my advice is for *ALL* players, not just newer ones;

Be Interactive!

There is art in what it is we do and yes it does take time to master, like anything else. However there is a simple rule of thumb that, when followed, works like a charm every time: Be Interactive. If you put it out there, others will pick it up and play with it.

If you don’t know what I mean, ask. I don’t mean just ask me, I mean ask everyone you play with or want to play with. Communication is a lovely tool; employ it wisely.

One of the latest trends me and my fellow evil plotters have noticed is how tentative players are to jump into other’s stories. Everyone seems overly cautious as if there is some unbidden rule that says “stories are off limits for anyone not obviously involved in them”. It is as if the pendulum has swung the extreme from my early days on AOL when there were many who thought nothing of tramping all over another player’s storyline for the greater glory of their character.

Thing is, if you don’t let us know you want to play in our story, we aren’t going to force it on you. However that doesn’t mean you aren’t invited to play with us. (General “you”, folks.)

It really is pretty easy to be interactive; use what others give you. Play off of small details, allow others to persuade your character to think differently, or grant them ideas on how to overcome their latest obstacles. Use whatever’s happening to advance your character’s never-ending story or to create a new storyline.

We do it all the time in real life: assimilate experiences around us and how they influence what’s going on in our realities. Why not apply that same theory to role play? It allows you to advance your story and gives you twists and surprises along the way. It’s easy to keep things cohesive IC when you interpret random scenes from your character’s perception. Your character will perceive what is relevant for them, hence how you can continue spinning their tale.

Stay open to new potentials. Every random IC interaction can offer something up for us to use in furthering our stories. We just have to stay open to the possibilities to find them. Believe me when I say they are out there and they are everywhere! You might have to train yourself to see them, but they are out there; like lures waiting to reel you in.

A few words from Mr. Howe:
Howe sits at ease and seeming comfort as he takes a moment to contemplate his response. He gives the aura of a country lawyer; someone who believes in what he does; trusts in Truth and Justice. Yes, appearances are everything. Howe grants his most benevolent of smiles, hands clasping loosely, folding in his lap; all gestures, his body language, is schooled with intent to invite subconscious empathy. He knows how to play to an audience.

“What I wish to impart most sincerely is the intent our firm DCH has where Rhy’Din is concerned. We fear for the lawful citizens’ protection! It is our goal to establish a safer, more civilized environment for the many denizens of Rhy’Din. We, at DCH, care about you and we are reaching out to prove it.

“With the rash of recent bombings, the rise in crimes on the Dockside and the deterioration of authority in Rhy’Din overall, we at DCH realize that revitalization is necessary. We’re donating three billion in gold to fund the Rhy’Din Police Department. We understand that they are terribly shorthanded. Any willing bodies are heartily invited to apply at DCH’s upper Northside location. We’ll pay top wages to those qualified. We look forward to sharing a safer tomorrow with all of you and we’re doing something to ensure it today. Thank you.”

Howe nods congenially while standing. His demeanor shifting much like that of a chameleon as beady eyes move from the interviewer to the door before wandering back; the jovial Santa façade replaced by the scowling big shot attorney.

“That’s it. We’re done.” Hands waving towards the door as he impatiently shoos the interviewer out of his office. “Want more; come see me again next week.”

 

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