This is my first “Today I Learned” on the new schedule, though it now spans multiple “today”s…
Since my last TIL, I’ve played in two RPGs: Shadow of the Demon Lord, and In Nomine. They are both excellent games: one, for it’s gruesome gritty gothic-ness; the other for it’s take on angels, demons, and the human world of Earth.
But it turns out I struggle with making decisions about and for my characters.
I’m really good at building a character–be it to a concept or for a particular combo, I know the rules and abilities so back-to-front, I can design highly-specialized characters. I’m also pretty good at coming up with character concepts that I would enjoy playing.
In game, I usually have a fair idea of my character. Or, I thought I did. I realized I’ve been playing my character more like a collection of traits (read: stereotypes) than like a real person–that is, more like an NPC than a PC. My characters would often have several traits that really stood out to define them, like how my dwarven paladin in Demon Lord didn’t trust non-dwarves, didn’t like meddling with human affairs, and was constantly cursing or praying.
This may come from GM’ing, but this style of character is almost exactly what NPCs do–they provided a (sometimes slapdash) collection of traits and a vehicle for story, information, plot, or worldbuilding.
Unfortunately, every now and then I’m confronted with an unexpected situation, one which I hadn’t already thought through a little for my character, and then I fall apart. It takes me several sputtering starts, much like an older car in need of a new battery, to get going and figure out what this person would do or say. Especially say. It’s kind of terrifying.
Practice makes perfect?
Ok, so yes, sometimes I just love a good heading and a witty aphorism. But this one has purpose.
Friday, I got to have lunch with other interns and co-ops and the Raleigh GM, who spoke to us about Nokia and how Nuage fits in. Today, we had lunch again with the Nuage COO, who calls himself the Chief Gopher (as in “go-fer-things”). He gave an in-depth look at Nuage’s technology, platform, and the problems it’s solved since conception. He also examined the problems it will be solving in the future, and a couple of takeaway lessons.
My point, without dwelling for too long on the every single detail, is that these luncheons were both highly informative from a business persepctive, but also personally. I got to know people, and I learned a few things about emotional intelligence, project management, product design, and excellence.
So, as if you needed another reason, don’t turn down free food.
While I still haven’t obsessively watched Friends end-to-end, I will reference the theme for my purposes.
Yesterday I met up with an old friend, and what started as a short walk-and-chat turned into a 5 hour conversation. We weren’t talking the entire time, but when we were, it was about any and everything, from relationships to family drama to random things from random parts of our lives. Tangents sprung up out of nowhere and then folded back into the story being told. Jokes were made, laughs and glares given and received, insights were shared.
Granted, we’ve developed our unique brand of friendship over many years, but there was something about the complete frankness of it all that had me smiling almost non-stop, even when I was ranting or exasperatedly huffing and puffing.
And the best part is that we can share that–that, friend to friend, we can comment on patterns and behaviors we’ve noticed and say, “Hey, friend, this is what I’ve noticed, and I think it’s what’s hurting or helping you.”
That takes courage, to say and hear those things. But we can do that. And it makes a world of difference.