WISH 60 asks:
How do you use different frames of reference or mindsets in your games? In what ways do your characters or NPCs in games you GM think differently from the people around you? What sorts of things make them different (societal, mental, physical, etc.)? Do you feel that you’re successful in incorporating and showing the differences?
I was actually kind of taken aback by this question for a moment. Shifting mindsets is a really basic, low-level component of my gaming. I am, to borrow the r.g.frp.advocacy jargon, an immersive player. I don’t forget who I am — that path is not deeply healthy for me — but I like the experience of mentally filtering reactions through a different mindset.
My ideal roleplaying experience is for me, Bryant, to take in the descriptions of the GM and other players; to then filter that through a sort of perceptual level and translate it into what my character sees; and then to express the reaction in the character’s voice. I’m the one who defines the perceptions, and I construct the mental map from the perceptions to the character, which allows me to figure out the character’s responses without “being” the character.
Maybe that’s not immersive after all. It is in that the effect is the same, but the process doesn’t match what I hear people who call themselves immersive talking about.
In a way, come to think of it, it’s the flip side of the classic GM technique of describing with the characters in mind. When describing a threatening situation to a cowardly PC, you quietly play up the menace: “there are, I don’t know, you can’t count how many orcs.” When you’re describing the same thing to a paladin, you downplay it: “there are perhaps seven orcs, poorly equipped.” Same situation, no dictating what the players are feeling — but what they pick up on depends on who they are.
I do that for my PCs. I filter the descriptions of the world to match what I think their perceptions would be. In Rob’s UA game, if an NPC is talking about occult weirdness, Reese hears the stuff about ley lines and patterns because it fits into his worldview; I mentally screen out discussions of entropomancy because Reese really doesn’t get how it works.
Or, put a third way: