Sunday, July 14, 2013

How My Sexual Orientation Affects My Characters

When people I roleplay with find out I'm gay, one of the first questions they ask is if my characters are as well.  The answer to that is usually no.  In fact, I have never officially played a strictly gay male character in a pen and paper game and have only played a gay female once.  Incidentally, I've played a transsexual character and quite a few bisexual (and a omnisexual) characters, but the queer end of the spectrum is definitely underrepresented in my stack of old character sheets.  Online, however, is a different story, but I play differently online, and play by post roleplay is a far different format than pen and paper.   An overwhelming majority of my characters, though, are heterosexual.  Surprised?  I was too when that trend was pointed out by a friend.  See, when I make characters, two things go through my mind: what role the party needs filled, and what kind of experience I want to have in the world.

Hello, homoerotic imagery.  We could be here all day talking about how gay this picture is.

By role, I mean a few things.  In the classic Fighter/Cleric/Rogue/Wizard party makeup of classic sword and sorcery games like Dungeons and Dragons, I almost always take the Cleric role aka the healer.  If we go with a Five Man Band (my groups usually consist of six people including the GM), I play The Chick in some iteration or another, although not always female.  I like taking care of the party, making sure they survive, and being the band aid and buffer so they can be badasses and shine.  Also, like playing the mediator, voice of reason, moral center, and buffer between the giant egos that tend to rise up in RPGs.  Also, my dice hate me as a general rule, and if I sit back and spam healing spells and buff spells that don't require me to roll, there's less of a chance I will critically fail at an inopportune moment.   

This role is not, I believe, influenced by my sexuality.  It is my play style that is derived from bad luck, nobody wanting to play a cleric, and enjoying exerting subversive control over the party.  Seriously.  The Cleric owns you.  Have you ever seen someone's face when you refused healing?  They are under your thumb, and if you want to, you can make them squirm.  It's magical.  Want to dictate what quest you're picking?  Just let them know that there will be no fat healz if they walk down hallway B, because your god said that hallway A is the right one to go down.  Plus, there's the whole ego boost from being the divine channel of holy power direct from some cosmic force that chooses to work through you.  Basically, I love Clerics (and Oracles in Pathfinder, and Druids, and Paladins, etc...).  But I digress. 

Secondarly, by role, I refer to personality type in the group.  This is best expressed by referencing the classic Dungeons & Dragons alignment system.  I play extremes.  Extreme law, good, evil or chaos.  This means that I generally do not play evil characters (Vampire: the Masquerade is a blissful exception) because I tend to weird people out and make things uncomfortable.  I also tend to veer away from chaos, because I'm a team player, meaning I play usually very good or very lawful characters aka the backbone or heart of the group.  I enjoy the player skill aspect of roleplaying as well, meaning I'll usually play a talker, thinker or both.  I don't like playing completely stupid characters unless they're intuitive or unintuitive characters unless they're smart.  However, I hate playing alpha characters or party leaders.  Being the person who gets blamed for everything is not my bag.  

This is possibly a result of my sexual orientation, or, rather the socialization surrounding being a gay man.  I was bullied, so I dislike being in the spotlight, however, I crave power and control.  The tendency towards extremes and being the heart of the party might be a desperate cry for attention or approval or inclusion or something, and this is pretty much where my pseudo psychological self analysis breaks down, and I start having no clue.  I took more social anthropology than psychology in college anyways.

Pretty much, I'm not a macho, aggressive guy.  I'm not super feminine either, but I have a sassy streak a mile wide.  I'm laid back, collected, introspective, and tend to over think things.  Sassiness and introspection are not gay traits.  Maybe I'd have been more aggressive if I played football instead of D&D, but hey.  My characters carry a bit of my personality like all characters carry the personality of their players, but there's not a definitive answer about whether my personality is what caused me to be gay or if my personality is based around socializing and fear caused by a non-gay friendly society (and the million other issues surrounding how our personalities develop).

This leads me to my next topic of what I want out of my games.  This is generally influenced by my favorite books, which are influenced by what books I was read during my formative years (read: a lot of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis).  My favorite books tend to be influenced by a variety of things including dark fantasy elements, interesting characters, good dialogue, and attractive male characters, so I guess my orientation plays into this aspect of character creation in a way.  It's true that when I play a male character, he tends to have aspects that I find sexy.  Now, I don't usually like pretty, effeminate, hairless men attractive (aka elves, screw elves).  I like men with a little ruggedness, charm, panache, and bravado.  A little chest hair too.  Five o'clock shadow is a must.


Not Hot

Basically, I want a game where we can be heroes.  No rapiers, foppish haircuts, and florid quips for me.  I want a battleaxe, some grit, and a good one liner.  I'm fine with epic romance, but unless the kingdom is in peril, it's not worth it.  And I do want some romance.  Some sort of romance.  Any sort of romance.  A sexless world loses a lot of charm for me.  I don't even care if my character is not involved.  If I get to snark at the happy couple, I'm fine with it.  

Now, what I've wanted out of a game is often not pandered to for a variety of reasons, most of which I'm completely fine with.  This also ties in with the fact that I've made few gay characters.  The first reason is that I play with straight people who have differing views on sexuality than I do.  They are not comfortable nor do they want the same level of sexytime in their games as I do.  They are also not all comfortable with playing or GMing the second half of a homosexual couple.  I am fine with this.  We all make sacrifices, and they make sacrifices to include more of that stuff than they otherwise would for my enjoyment.  We have a happy medium.  There have been a few interesting moments like the Star Wars game where I played an omnisexual male ex-dancer who was formerly a Hutt slave and another player was a race of hermaphroditic alien and...stuff happened.  NSFW stuff.  That weirded the other players out though, so it ended up very off camera after the weird first session where their passions were kindled.  

I'm also not pandered to because of the types of games my group likes to run.  We have a GM who likes very over the top high magic fantasy dungeon crazy monster games.  We have a GM who likes low magic, gritty, medieval wilderness games.  We have a GM who just likes to drive home how horrible the world around us is.  None of those are generally conducive to meaningful relationships with NPCs, and most of the other players aren't too keen on character relationships.  We have a blast, but I haven't explored many characters I still want to play due to the comfort level of my group.  When I GM, I pander the game to the players and enjoy the other aspects of the game world that I like such as sandsharks, clever traps, and labyrinthine social systems.
Heck yeah, Sandsharks!

Honestly, though, I don't mind.  Roleplaying is about telling a collaborative story with friends, and my friends are great at it.  Collaborative stories have elements of multiple storytellers' creative processes, and mine just so happens to be different and gets drown out by other voices.  My mark is made in different ways, and I enjoy playing characters who don't have their own honey back home.  Another of the reasons I seldom play gay characters is because it never matters whether my character's sexuality is defined or not.  It doesn't matter the character's orientation when they have to hack through a goblin horde to save the world.  

No comments:

Post a Comment