blog

Storytelling meets roleplaying: Presenting the Summer 2014 Character & Empathy ebook

The Character & Empathy class was a stroke of genius. Designed by Benjamin Marra, Lee Rosen and Nathan Fox, the class sets out to develop unique and resonant characters using roleplaying game mechanics.

There’s been a lot of buzz about this method recently, but we put our costumes where our mouths are and got our hands dirty!

Dungeon Master, costumes and your sense of exploration required.

Benjamin Marra
Benjamin Marra, Dungeon Master

We spoke to Anna Eveslage, a student in the class, to get her take on her experience. Anna stepped up with her Android character!

What did you think of the assignment when you first heard about it?
I thought it was unusual, but kind of cool. I’ve played a little D&D in the past. I never bothered to learn the actual rules of the game because my favorite thing about it was always creating the characters and coming up with scenarios for them to perform. In that way, I could see the application of this project to what we want to do as storytellers.

Anna the Android
Anna the Android

How did you choose and craft your character?
My group decided to use Science Fiction for our genre, which is typically not my favorite, but I was willing to give it a shot. I’ve never created anything Sci-fi before. Since I was doing something outside my comfort zone anyway, I decided to go all-in and be an android and completely remove the human element (my usual focus). I made the decision to be a completely rational character that can understand emotion on an intellectual level, but doesn’t actually feel any emotion. I figured that could lead my character to make very different choices and take the game in interesting directions.

Melissa, in character
Melissa, in character

What did you think when you first saw the cast of characters show up in class?
It was really fun… a nice reminder of how much I like my class-mates. No one half-asses anything in this group.

How’s the class going so far? What works and what doesn’t?
There has been a lot of experimentation in the class, which has been enjoyable and exciting. It’s a unique approach to looking at character, and I have gotten a lot to take away from that. However, in general, some more structure, theory and philosophical discussions about character and storytelling would have been a great asset to the class.

Is the roleplaying model a good model for telling a story?
I think the roleplaying model is a good model for exploring how a character functions in a story and how their actions affect the direction of the story. As far as actually crafting a story is concerned, I think there would have been some benefit to also participating in the role of the game master as well as a player.

Thanks Anna!

You can download the free pdf book, titled Character & Empathy: Characters here. [PDF] It’s packed with images from the class.