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Role-Play Award: November 2007

Guthorm Othinsson

How long have you been Roleplaying?
After first stumbling into (totally by chance) and then lurking in AOL’s RDI for a time or two to figure out what everybody was doing, I think I quickly threw Guthorm into the action in May of 2000. I remember thinking when I found the RDI, “What? People play characters on the computer?!” I was ecstatic. I never played in the roleplaying games that so many other players started with, but I have been writing stories since I was very young.

Tell us about your character
Guthorm is one of five characters deeply written into my stories outside of roleplaying, but the only one I roleplay with. He is a Norwegian and a Viking from the 9th century. He is in his early twenties, although he is often mistaken for being older because of his characteristic Norsk aloofness and the sum of his struggles. When his friends get to know him they come to see his wilder, reckless and sometimes impish ways.

Before docking his ship in Rhy’din, he traveled extensively, sailing and battling in the British Isles, in Mikklegård (Old Nor. “the Big City;” also called Constantinople, and now, Istanbul), and in the Celtic realms under the hills. In a marsh where the Celtic realm meets Saxon England and at a low time in Guthorm’s life when the last distraction he wanted or needed was a woman, he met Aethelstan, a journeying Bard. Aethelstan saw opportunity to compose some substantial and original songs by following this young army leader. She won her right to a place in Guthorm’s army by first winning his men’s appreciation for her histories of their battles and her memorial songs to the slain. It took a long time, but eventually, Guthorm fell in love, guided there beyond battle, struggling and vengeance by music and his half-elven, half Welsh Bard.

In case you have not noticed, Guthorm is totally colourblind, seeing only blacks and whites and shades of grey. He remembers colours from his youth, and also seeing without the wobbliness of his eyes’ movement. Both were a result of a fall when he was 9. He is very crafty at disguising his lack of colours, but his shifty ice-blue eyes (due to a condition called Nystagmus) are very noticeable and often cause him to be misunderstood and get him into trouble. He has a number of characteristic ways of compensating for how he sees, even in battle, and he is quick in his evasions of discussing his shortcomings.

Other than his love of Aethelstan and her skillful (and gentle) hands, and of godt music, artfully worked silver and gold jewelry, debates, wrestling, drinking, godt friends, challenging enemies, carving, fighting and strong warriors, big horses, elven and the fairy folk, and intriguing women, he loves all the phases of building lapstrake ships. One of his greatest pleasures is to shape a pleasing ship from godt wood, all with his hands and a keen eye for detail, and then sailing it fast in the wind.

What inspires you?
• Pure, exciting, edge-of-your-seat Action.
• Deep, complex and subtle characters that change.
• Nuance and layers of meaning.
• Writing the details: movement, visual close-ups, touch, scent and taste. Especially language patterns, resonating word choice and the sound of stories read aloud.
• Researching elements of culture, history and geography, the lives, psyche, and accomplishments of historic people and the sights and sounds of specific places.
• Encouragement. Giving it and receiving it.
• Talking about writing with other players, writers, and readers. I love building worlds that hold together without a hitch. It’s hard work to do it, and its wild fun to do it, give and take, with someone else...their worlds or mine.
• Having other players allow Guthorm into their own stories. I love to join into other characters’ action. It is like sword-dancing…it is a wild challenge to stretch.
• Having other characters take interest in Guthorm’s life and players who would venture their characters a little deeper into his world. It gets a little lonely when you are the only one walking inside your own world, ja?
• Having time alone to think, plot, weave, dream and write without interruption, for as long as everyone else around me IRL can stand it.

Any advice for newer players?
Read all the rest of the advice here in this feature. It’s godt stuff.

My experience as a new player was touch-and-go…I almost did not stay because I could not find Guthorm’s place amidst the other characters, at first. If you have trouble fitting in, watch more and ease your character into what is happening already, slowly, without trying to take over what is going on and without trying to pull all the attention (or pity, or praise, or whatever else your character, or you, wants) to your character. That tactic rarely works when you are new.

And next, what kept me coming back to play…find another player(s) who will teach you the conventions, and will patiently answer your questions and, most of all, will help you step your character inside their character’s world. Easy does it…and then, when others know and trust that you can play with them well, then you can begin to make things happen with your character and your stories.

A few words from Guthorm:
Hva er you looking at, hmm? Eh. You really do not want to fight me. Go hjem til your mother.

Jeg har tørst! Jeg vil gjerne ha som øl, vær så godt…ja, jeg drikke som Black and Blue.

Marriage? Babies? By Othinn’s beard. ::he squinted and began to wander sidelong and away from them all:: Women…ehhhh.

 

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