What Is Good Roleplaying? Part 3

Its definitely not necessary to read the previous installments, but here they are anyway:

Part 1 (before I knew I was going to write more of these)
Part 2

And once again, I’m talking about psychopaths.

I’m not sure how true this story is, but lets recount it anyway:

In the UK or the US (I’m not sure, I don’t remember), there was a triple murder. A woman and her two children were killed in a horrible fashion. Usually, the investigators wouldn’t do this, but due to the nature of the crime and the situation, they decided to warn the public of the suspect and gave out his name.

The suspect had a history with organized crime. His actual job had been to destroy evidence, so everyone knew proving his guilt would be difficult.

So, what happened? The suspect came forth immediately. He was arrested. Why did he do it? Because he knew the police had a limited amount of time to find the evidence needed to make a case (which probably means this was UK). They had only four days from the moment of arrest before they had to let the suspect go. So, the suspect rolled the dice. If the police were after him, and he could gimp their efforts by putting this time limit on them, he used his opportunity.

In the end, the police were able to get the proof they needed and the suspect was convicted, but put yourself in the same situation. Would you do it? It is the rational thing to do.

Now, I’m not saying your characters should act like this, but there’s something in there.

Here’s a lighter version of the same:

There’s a psychological test. Its fairly simple. You are shown numbers and based on some rule, you need to push a button labeled either X or Y after seeing the number. Lets say the rule is X for even and Y for odd numbers. When you make a mistake, you get a small punishment, such as a light electric shock.

Most people will only make occasional mistakes, but people with psychopathic personalities don’t really care, and they will make many more mistakes than the control group. On the other hand, if you include a reward for the simple task, the psychopaths will immediately pick up on that and will do better than the controls.

The difference here: Normal people are really risk-averse, whereas psychopaths will not care. So, okay, you’ll get a slight shock, or you’ll be laughed at, or you’ll lose some money. That’s all fine. The psychopaths won’t often even care about the risk of death.

The psychopathic mindset can actually be artificially supplanted into the human brain. The effect doesn’t last long, but those who have gone through it have found it immensely enjoyable. For a little while, they can forget all their insecurities and just confidently do whatever they feel like doing.

Although I’ve previously argued against seeing all roleplaying wish fulfillment, if we find psychopathic behavior fun, perhaps most roleplaying actually is, but in a different sense. We are not looking for being a woman or a wizard for a while. Its more generic than that. Its just being confident.

After all, most PCs will take immense risks for little reward. They are willing to get shot or risk getting caught smuggling something (although many players I know are much more careful with their in-game money and gear than in real life).

I guess I’m trying to convey pretty much the same idea as I was conveying previously, but these examples should help get my point across.

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