WISH 78 :: socks ‘n’ puppets

WISH 78: Two Characters, One Game
Do you think allowing one player to play more than one character in a game is a good or bad idea? Does the style of the game make any difference? What about the format (FTF, PBeM, etc.)?

As Ginger points out, in the bad ol’ days of RPing, dungeon crawls were a bit less immersive on RPing style.
I started off Players in my games with three PCs. They were deliberately designed as Major PC, best friend PC, and Also PC. This meant you had allies to start, folks you could trust, and you went out into the world with “pals”. These sessions would then be a ‘gang’ of three or four players running nine to fifteen PCs.
Reason: death and continuity of play. The expectation that your PCs could be whacked was around every corner. And this did come to pass, getting that large gang down to a smaller refined crowd of folks. It sort of helped the RP to know that if you made a grievous error, or the dice did ya dirt, that you could “fall back” on your other characters. And there was the drama of having folks around who could talk about the “good old days when Tommy was still with us.”
Not too bad.

Fast-Forward to today.
Few of my Players in F2F could keep up with two PCs. Some have tried. It is really hard to pull off. Most of my Players are more immersive, or would favor that style. I create a complex world, and I do that through Perception.
Keeping two Perceptions in your head at the same time is not easy. Not even for a politician.
Now let’s talk about PBeM and such.
I think it works a bit better. First, there is the suspension of disbelief involved in taking another PC at word value without benefit of body language, physical presence, or other cues. You focus on the words and delivery and actions because of the other blinders forced on you in PBeM.
So you can actually believe in two PCs having separate lives and agendas—even if run by the same brain.
Secondly, I think when you are writing your turn, you have more time to think of the unique Perspective and Perception of the PC. When you are acting off the cuff, you don’t have some of that creative time to make a clear characterization.
In Strange Bedfellows, I’ve never thought of Bishop and Bhangbadea as the same people. I mean, they have so many differences that sometimes they argue. This is definitely a throwback to the bad ol’ days where your best friend is someone that you don’t always agree with. Bishop and BB have this sort of relationship.
There are times when it seems Bishop is the main PC. Other times, it must be Bhangbadea who is. The truth is that neither is the main one. They are both walk-on characters. If SB were a western, Astin is Clint Eastwood, Jayson is Randoph Scott, and William is James Garner.
(Do not attempt to keep up with this analogy, it is already out of control.)
Bishop is Walter Brennan. He is a Wise Commentor.
Bhangbadea is Eve Arden. She is the Woman Wit.
The spotlight in SB belongs to someone else.
And that is an important thing to think about when you are doing more than one PC at once.