What To Do When You Feel Like You're Fading Into The Background of a Roleplay
If you feel like your character is fading into the background of a roleplay, or if you feel like this is something that seems to happen a lot, here are some things you might do.
Do a quick check under the hood.
Often, characters who end up fading into the background are severely lacking in verve somehow. Sometimes they're not proactive or motivated enough to get up and go interact with others. Sometimes they don't really have anything to talk about, or they start conversations only to give up on them in a few posts.
If you have a problem like this, your character most likely needs adjustment somewhere. Although the idea of changing your character or might seem unpleasant at first, carrying on as-is is likely going to be an exercise in frustration and futility.
Here are some pages that might help you:
- Alexis Feynman's Guide To Writing Proactive Characters
- Reasons Your Character Might Be Boring
- So You Want To Have An Attractive Character?
- Tips To Avoid Killing Your RP Character's Conversations
- The RP Character Playability Test
- Pixar films. Most of their characters are lively, brash, and opinionated, even when they're feeling insecure or scared.
- Studio Ghibli films. Studio Ghibli protagonists tend to be more laid-back than Pixar's, but they're usually proactive and talkative enough.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, particularly the main cast. Even when they feel awkward or don't know what to do, they keep going.
- Why People Might Not Want To Roleplay With You
- Reasons Your RP Characters Might Be Bad Friends Or Love Interests
- Reasons Your RP Characters Might Be Creepy (In A Bad Way)
- Reasons Your RP Characters Might Look Arrogant & Egotistical
- Reasons Your RP Characters Might Look Insecure
- Reasons Your RP Characters Might Look Like Edgy Tryhards
- Announce that you've got a sudden craving for deli sandwiches and that you're going to get some, and anybody who wants a deli sandwich is invited to go with.
- Ask if anyone has heard the weird noises in the hall at night. Now, with luck, you'll end up with someone who will improvise on the hook you just gave ("Yeah, I heard it; I thought it was Jack and Mary doing their thing..."), but if not, you have to be ready to elaborate and improvise yourself ("I thought it was one of you guys until it started making sounds that I'm pretty sure no human being can produce...").
- You could also try more of a "visual" hook, like having your character stumble into the room wearing utterly bizarre clothing, or covered in blood and bruises. (But a caveat - it rarely works well to just have your character come in like this and do nothing but stand around.)
- How To Make A Playable RP Character Fast
- Simple Ways To Fill Out & Humanize Your Character
- Character Development Questions
If you need examples of what characters with verve look like, here are some works to check out:
Another reason characters can end up on the sidelines is because there's something about them or their players that put others off. Some articles to read are:
"But what if it's not me or my character? What if I'm just in a really bad group?" you might ask. In that case, ask yourself: does this problem seem to happen in almost every group you're in? If yes, then the problem is most likely on your end, and you need to adjust yourself. Again, this can be a hard thing to do, but if you don't, you'll likely end up facing the same failures and disappointments no matter where you go.
Once you've got that out of the way, let's move on!
Start thinking of chairs, couches, beds, corners, etc. as lava.
And that means that if your character is already sitting or lying down, or lurking off in a corner, move like your ass is on fire! Far too many players make the mistake of having their characters basically sit in the corner and do nothing in the hopes that some other player will take mercy on them and pull them into some adventure. While this might happen, it's best not to count on it. The best thing to do is to take matters into your own hands! Get up off that couch! Come out of that dark corner! Go introduce yourself! Make smalltalk!
Do something that starts something.
Starting a conversation is great, but it can only go so far - eventually, people are going to run out of things to say. When that happens, it might be time to get some plot rolling.
If you're in a game where the GM is managing a plot, you might have your character say or do something that gets it on track. Your character might suggest getting on with the investigation, or suggest wanting to explore some suspicious place. Your character might even ask if anyone wants to help.
If the plot is controlled by players, then you might do something that kicks off some action. Here are a few examples:
Also, in any scenario that provides a mystery of some kind, make sure you've got at least a rough idea in your head of what's going on. For example, if you go the route of having your character show up all beaten up, you should have an idea of who did it and why.
You can also check out 7 Very Versatile RP Prompt Ideas for more ideas you might incorporate into the RP.
And of course, discuss matters with the admin and/or other players as necessary - EG, if your idea might involve sensitive elements, or if you're concerned that you might be interrupting or derailing anything already going on.
Be ready to try a different plan.
Your attempts to get people interested might not work, so be prepared to move on to something else if it doesn't take. Depending on how major your last attempt was, you might wish to go through a cooldown period of sorts so you don't look too desperate - EG, if your character came home all beaten up, go have your character get cleaned up and bandaged before, say, making an odd statement. ("Hey, today I learned that water bears can survive the vacuum of space...")
Keep a list of what your character does during slack times.
This one won't get your character back into attention as such, but it can be good for getting through times when there's not much you can do or when you're not feeling very inspired.
Keep a list - whether written down or in your head - of the things your character does when nothing major is going on. Then when necessary, send your character off to do it. Do try to make sure your character remains reasonably available, though - otherwise, you might end up missing out on something interesting when there's no reason or way for your character to get back where the action is.
If you're having a hard time figuring out what your character ought to be into, you might try the Character Interests Generator.
Just sit back and watch what the characters are doing and take mental notes. Not only can you get a better sense of the types of personalities you're dealing with, but you can build up material for callbacks and brick jokes later on.
Build up your character.
Any time your character isn't doing much is a good time to get some development in. Take a look at these pages to get some ideas for what to fill your character out with:
If you're still having trouble, or the tips above don't apply to your situation, speak up and say something to the GM/admin and/or the other players. If you're afraid of looking like a jerk, How To (Nicely) Speak Up, Assert Yourself, & Ask For Things In Your RPs (And Why You Need To) can help you out. Remember, any roleplay group that doesn't tolerate members speaking up when they're having trouble is a toxic roleplay group.
More Resources/See AlsoBeginner Tips For Entering A Roleplaying Community
Right & Wrong Questions To Ask A Roleplaying Community
Tips To Be A More Thoughtful & Considerate Roleplayer
Ways You Might Be Sending Your Roleplayers & RP Partners Mixed Messages