LESSON Writing the Loner Type

Discussion in 'DEVELOPING CHARACTERS & CULTURES' started by Minibit, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. The loner type is often written, but rarely written well. It's much more of a challenge than you would think! Many who try to play the loner end with their character kicking cans away from the rest of the group, not talking to any other characters until the writer gets bored and leaves the roleplay. Sometimes the loner makes a friend, but only one, and they're either so withdrawn that it never really goes anywhere, or they unlock their deepest feelings so quickly and readily you wonder if they were ever really a loner to start with!

    The loner type can be played right without killing the roleplay's interaction or boring everyone around the character to death, but you have to keep a few things in mind.

    1. Do you REALLY want to play a loner?
      Many people choose the loner for the cool attitude they exude, but fail to consider the following:

      - A loner WANTS TO BE ALONE. Accurately played, the loner will not actively pursue friendships, romances, or conversations with strangers. They will not join groups unless forced to, etcetera. Loners may change over time, but the core of the Loner is that they'd rather not be around other characters; you won't be able to take a very proactive role in the roleplay if you play a loner.

      - A loner usually has some psychological issues that cause their aversion to social interaction. Whether it's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a fear of rejection, fear of bullying, Asperger's, or any other social anxiety or disorder, they have an issue that won't be fixed by one person being nice; you're going to have to put time and effort into dealing with their problems.

    2. Loners tend to leave themselves out
      For the loner not to end up a bored third wheel to everything, he/she must be one of two kinds: The DYNAMIC LONER or the PUPPETMASTER.
      The DYNAMIC LONER is, well, dynamic. A Dynamic Character is a character who changes over time; the DYNAMIC LONER may be a character who wants to overcome their social anxiety to reach a goal, which could be anything from finding love to overcoming their PTSD.
      If you play a loner who is working on NOT being a loner, his/her story becomes the story of a person who tries hard to conquer his/her own inner demons and finds success by the end.

      Of course, you could also play the PUPPETMASTER.

      The puppetmaster is always there, but almost never part of the conversation or the actions. They're the one who locked the library early so those two lovebirds would HAVE to walk home together; they're the one who convinced the drama lead to follow their real dream, so that the stand-in would get her first big role. The puppetmaster is almost like a Mini GM, so if you're in an organized group you'll have to stay in contact with the GM to make sure you're on the same page with how things are being manipulated. Playing the puppetmaster allows you to play a character who prefers to be by themselves, while still being an important part of the group story.
    3. Ask yourself: "Would I like hanging out with this person?"Rude behaviour does not become OK just because it happens in a roleplay, yet many loner characters consistently put down and push away those who try to befriend them. They may say that someone is 'just like everybody else', or imply that they aren't cool enough to hang out with them. In real life, we wouldn't stand and take that kind of negativity, so why should a roleplay character?

      Here are some Loner traits that are just as accurate, but are hardly ever seen because they aren't as 'badass' as driving people away: stammering, stuttering, and other speech impediments caused by nerves; brief, stiff conversations (one word answers, etc); lack of eye contact, shrugging, and other nervous gestures; pathological lying to avoid getting personal, backstabbing a character to end a friendship because they fear getting rejected, themselves.
      If a character is genuinely interested in making friends with someone, they probably realise that being mean to someone will NOT make them want to stick around.

    In summation

    - Consider why they're a loner, and address it properly

    - Play a Loner, not a rude jerk

    - Remember that a Loner can keep their personality while still contributing to the action and plot of a roleplay.

    A loner can be a teenager who just switched schools because they were heavily bullied at their previous one; they have trouble making connections because of the associated trust issues, and have a habit of lying to protect themselves from getting made fun of

    A loner can be someone who doesn't hang out with most people because they think they're better/cooler/more talented, but is forced to associate with the peasants anyway and slowly learns that everybody is awesome in their own way, and that everybody sucks at some stuff

    A loner can be that quiet, rumoured-mute person who doesn't seem to really be a part of anything that's going on, but hears and sees everything in crystal clear detail, and works without thanks for other's benefit without speaking to them.
     
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  2. Let's not forget the loner at the top of the food chain; too strong and too good for anyone.

    Like Gilgamesh.

    In a fantasy context, like Gilgamesh, yes; too strong and much better than those around him, thus he sees himself above them but no one as his equal. But perhaps in modern times, such a loner-role can be a leader, a CEO of a very successful company. Or someone very smart and intelligent in his own organisation.
     
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