RPGs and Wish Fulfillment

Over the years, I’ve been often accused of using roleplaying games as a form wish fulfillment. If this is true, I’m one sick fuck. I thought I’d say ‘one sick puppy’, but that just doesn’t convey the kind of behavior my characters have exhibited. After all, puppy is cute and playful. My characters are twisted and broken. Not necessarily (or usually) evil. Just – you know – different and eccentric.

Admittedly, there was a time when this was true. I did use RPGs as a form of wish fulfillment. I have played a billionaire, with a hot wife and a huge arsenal of guns. That was me when I was a teenager about twenty years ago. Since then I’ve played cowards, religious zealots, and brutish henchmen. I don’t think these are things people would assume I dream about.

But anything sexual is always different. When my female character is basically a serial rapist, often forcing men to the ground and then just punching them in the face until they comply, someone out there would think I’m living out some sort of fantasy with the GM (or the MC in this case) and the other players as more or less willing participants.

When my 14-year-old witch (quote from here)

[..] seduced a 17-year-old werewolf, broke several taboos as parts of spells (drank the semen of the werewolf from a condom, masturbated with a game console controller, forcibly sat on the face of the ghoul), lost control of herself and withered the faces of both the fae and the mortal, tried to kill the ghoul by undoing his stitches, and ate a huge amount of mushrooms (yes, the naughty kind).

I don’t think I was living out a fantasy.

Actually, even though I enjoy playing these very transgressive characters (not always, but often), I think quite the opposite. I’m not thinking ‘wow, I’d like to do that’. I’m thinking ‘how in hell did this person become this monster of a human’.

Maybe this is somewhat outdated, actually, because nowadays, my characters are more like victims of their circumstances than just sociopaths, who can’t fit into society. I always used to think my adventuring characters had to be broken somehow. Otherwise, why would they leave the comfort of home. I mean, it doesn’t pay that well, the conditions are generally horrible and risks are enormous. Sometimes it pays off, but mostly adventurers are basically just sad people, who go out and risk their lives to buy better armor, just to go out to get money for even better armor. Most never get to enjoy life in any meaningful way.

There must be something very wrong with a person like that and this is often what I think about when I play my characters.

For example, the aforementioned woman, who rapes men. She’s the toughest person around (her character sheet says so, so it must be true). It wasn’t always so. This is a world, where the norms of our world don’t often apply. Therefore, the way I see it, much of her childhood was about this twisted approach to sexuality. She was horribly abused as a child and never learned any other way to relate to men sexually.

The witch, on the other hand, was from a very rich family and could basically get anything she wanted, but was also largely neglected and left on her own. She coped with this by wrapping herself in her studies, becoming more and more insulated, but having more and more technical and theoretical knowledge about all sorts of things, often misguided, when there are no good resources available. Like for example, how to get protection from a guy.

I did recently try to break this mold in a PathFinder game. My character in that game is more oblivious about the dangers of the world, despite her (yes, a woman, again) genius-level intellect. She’s more about just taking in the world as it comes and enjoying her first big adventure after graduating from the wizard school, where she was cooped up for most of her youth. We’ll see how that goes.

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