Whether it’s at an Organized Play Event or the precious four hours at a friend’s house sometimes in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game we want to get into character fast. Rapid immersion helps get a game moving, improves verisimilitude, and helps character (and their players) get to know one another… But it can be really easy to do with a quick exercise. Today we present – Dear Mom….
Simple Immersion Exercise: Dear Mom!
Despite what a table of Zen Archer dwarves might say, a character doesn’t come from a vacuum. Even at level one, our characters have histories, homes and people that matter to them. Imagine a moment your character has begun a letter to someone from their past-a family member, friend or teacher. Maybe they are at the inn, or around the fading light of the campfire. Let another player “catch you” if they are interested in being part of the exercise:
- What are you writing on? Does the character have paper? Canvas? Is it on the back of the map from last adventure? What is the surface beneath the paper? A shield? A rock? The surface may even make the act of writing difficult which can lead to roleplaying the frustration with a rolling cart or wagon. Maybe your character has made a place for such things and has a fine writing desk and delicate quill?
- What are you writing with? Does the character have a pen? Use Charcoal? Or perhaps something plumed? Is there a special ink of rare water resistant chemics or perhaps rendered invisible until heated? When did the character pick up the materials?
- Who is the letter to? Pick someone that the letter is being written to, and the motive for sending it. Why pick now to send it? Does this adventure have the character particularly spooked? Was there something your character forgot to say before he left? Does she have enough money now to take care of the family now and wants the family to begin planning a new life? The motive can make for subplots, discussions or other moments of exploration into their background which may help further define the character.
- What is the Content of the Message? Is it a simple letter catching loved ones up? A confession of wrongs left behind? Feelings unspoken? The character has taken the time to write his loved ones or colleagues there is likely to be a good reason why. Knowing the message will help you visualize and understand motives for your character that you might not otherwise.
- How does the character sign it? Is the character traveling under an assumed name? Will there be a consequence to the actual name being revealed? Does the action of sending the letter put its recipients in the view of the character’s enemies? Or is this just another example of the simple honesty the character lives by?
- How will the message be delivered? Is the letter going to be given to a messenger? A safe house? Is your character only writing it to clear their mind or conscious? Is it in case of their death?
- Does your character have a means to seal it? Wax and seal? If so, what does the signet look like? Where did it come from? If not wax is there a magical way to seal the letter? Perhaps a series of complex folds that renders it difficult to read without damaging except by the loved one or mentor who taught the character.
- Is someone else in the party watching you write it? This is key to entering other players into the exercise. If they wish to be involved in the immersion, they only have to have their character notice the action of the letter’s drafting and take an interest. The rest usually works from there.
Whether composing heartsick poetry, sending tactical information or updating the family finances a letter can be a quick means to focus in on a character’s current mindset. Some GMs will even give you special incentives to pen a replica of the character’s missive or to let them draw elements from your letter to further develop and drive the plot.