Player’s Challenge: Playing Against Type

Matthew has pointed out that between the two of us, I’m the one who most enjoys experimenting with race and class in D&D. Even in other systems, I enjoy trying different things, though I admit, this means I haven’t really mastered any one race or class. Two things pique my interest the most as a player: beating the snot out of my opponents (Yes, I am a tad blood thirsty) and immersing myself into a character and her world, and always being true to that.

I forced myself int one of Matthew’s games Matthew invited me to join one of his games, and I excitedly began building my character. I’ve always favored strikers but I thought it was time I tried a leader class, as well as something from the PHB3. The Runepriest seemed like a great idea, though it wasn’t until I announced I wanted to be a Minotaur – an old guy Minotaur, at that – that Matthew was surprised.

Female race lineup from 3.5 Player's Handbook by Todd Lockwood

Playing pen and paper role-playing games means living out your fantasies and that means I like re-imagining myself as a completely different person. To date, I have been a Twi’lek soldier – steadfast to her mission in spite of galactic politics, a wild elf cleric who punishes the undead and plays cute and incestuous with her step-brother, an Asian-American speedster devoted to justice but whose powers inadvertently lead to grievous harm and a deadly 9-foot dominatrix troll archer-shaman who believes in pain and sex as the means to Nirvana.

There isn’t much in common between these characters, save for the fact that they’re all female. I push the boundaries of where a character can go and see where I can take her, and I’d boldly say that characterization has always been a natural strength of mine. Except I’ve never had the courage to take on a male character. To step up and play a male character makes me ask myself, “What is the inherent difference between a man and a woman?”

I believe that the sexes are more or less equal, but both genders (and indeed, sexual preference) comes with its own uniqueness that need not be homogenized in order for us to respect each other. Still, I’m very very scared about playing a guy.  What if I just end up being a woman who happens to have extra equipment in her pants?  Will I actually have the ability to think like a man?

Or is there even really a difference?  Should even my character in a fantasy world be subject to gender coding?  Why is this so ridiculously difficult in the first place?  I JUST WANT TO GAME. Hence why I decided to mutter to myself, “Ah, screw it.” and jumped right into creating a male character who was actually above the age of 30.  The joy of gaming tabletop style is that experimentation always pays off.  Truly trusting in its fantastical nature (and not taking it too seriously) means that I get what I came for: a good time.

Minotaur Runepriest, illustrated by Matias Tapia

The thrill of playing in a world of your own making, one that is bright and powerful in your imagination, means that I can leave gender stereotypes at the door and step into a new character.  I shouldn’t have to think about what it means “to be a man”.  I just have to think about what it means to be a Minotaur in Droaam.  And like everything about playing a character, the rest should come easily.

I look forward to the next few games under Matthew’s Eberron campaign.  We’ll see how things go for Asterion, a Minotaur Runepriest in the faithful service of a medusa from Droaam.  He’s a man of faith, his runes of power bequeath destruction or protection.  He travels through the inner labyrinth of the self, worshiping The Shadow and believing that without the darkness, there can be no light.

What waits for him at the heart of the labyrinth?  Only time will tell.

If you enjoyed this post about role-playing and other posts of its ilk, then might you support our blog by purchasing stuff from our Amazon store? You can get into the psychology of Warforged and Changelings through Races of Eberron or immerse yourself in the flavor of Player’s Handbook Races: Dragonborn or pre-order Player’s Handbook Races: Tieflings for the guide to everybody’s favorite fiery charmers.


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