I don’t know how long I’ve actually done this, but I’ve noticed this recently.
These are some characters I’ve played recently.
Marlowe (mentioned before in this blog) is a very confident woman, actually overly confident, who knows she’s always in control of the situation. Playing her I find myself crossing my legs and sitting in poses that tell everyone I’m in charge.
Vicent (yes, without an ‘n’) is an ex-military test pilot. Playing him I tend to have a very rigid posture, but since he’s pretty restless, I also tend to get up and walk around (although I tend to this anyhow, but moreso when playing him). Vicent also tends seem quite emotionless, because much of the muscle structures in his face have been damaged in his previous line of work, so I tend to maintain quite a solemn expression.
Shockley is a material scientist (I guess chemist would be close enough), who is pretty laid-back and tends to be pretty unfocused on what’s going on, because he is not usually interested in what the rest of the party is focused on, but usually thinking about something else instead. Playing him I often just lay down, if there’s enough room around the table.
Cyrus is a merchant, who just happens to also be a very manipulative cultist. I’ve only played him once, but at that time I listened to pretty much everything (when Cyrus was present) very closely, as he would, in order to find weaknesses he could use later on. I sat in a somewhat hunched pose, looming over the gaming table.
Again, I’m not sure how long I’ve been doing this, and I don’t know if the people I play with have also noticed this, but what I’m interested in now is whether other people do this as well. Of course, this would require other people around me to play a similar variety of characters, which I doubt I’ll really see. I think it also requires certain amount of confidence in what you’re doing to inhabit your character in such a way, which I don’t necessarily see from everyone. (In fact there’s one player in my current group, who has a tendency to be unnecessarily apologetic about his character choices, which probably makes it harder for him to really get into those characters.)
I also tend to find it liberating putting myself in the position of someone who is that different from myself, such the previously mentioned characters. Sure, they all have some characteristics from me, because I can’t completely shed what I am, but in many ways they are quite different from me. Do other people feel the same?
I could recite examples from previous experiences that say that there are players who really can’t do this. They can’t play someone of the opposite sex or different sexuality or similar differences. It just makes them uncomfortable. In some other cases they can do this, but can’t really put themselves in the shoes of someone outside of their own limited experiences.
It might seem that I’m making myself out to be some sort of superroleplayer here, but that’s not exactly it. I do have the benefit of a three decades of experience and the unwillingness to be content with what I have now, forcing me to try to find new places to go. I’m definitely not alone in this, but at the same time it would serve the hobby better if there was more of us. Not necessarily people with similar amount of experience, since many of those people tend to be unable to move on from their nostalgia for their early days, but just people who like to use this hobby as a tool to learn more about the human (or sentient being, in larger context) condition.