Acolyte was my Dungeons and Dragons character for my buddies role-playing campaign. He was a seven foot tall automaton made of metal. Metal that resembled ribbons wrapped around the body of some humanoid. The metal was a deep, copper color. He had no discernible facial features, but you could still feel his gaze upon you. His voice was deep and reverberated within his metal frame.
Acolyte had awoken at the base of a very tall cliff. He was wearing robes that he innately recognized as belonging to a monk monastery. He wandered for a time, wondering where he was and how he had gotten here. On the peripheral: he also wondered what he was and what was he for?
He traveled for a handful of days before stumbling upon a caravan of dwarves. They were gracious enough to escort Acolyte to the nearby town of Antimor, a small village on their trade route. It was in Antimor that he was wrangled, along with some other adventurers, to go and kill some feral dogs. After tracking the dogs and purging a small village of goblins, the adventurers returned to town of Antimor to find it empty and filled with dead bodies. As if the town had been ransacked a century ago, everything was faded and covered in dust. The bodies had shriveled into skeletons. It was then that an apparition appeared, sending several adventurers sprawling into unconsciousness, and marking the rest with an omen from the Goddess of Destruction, Yarsk.
Acolyte traveled for a time with the adventurers, but after realizing that he had no place with this party and or even within this civilization- he decided to leave.
The important thing to remember was that Acolyte was approximately 6 weeks old. He could speak and have cognitive thought, but everything in this world was shiny and new. More importantly he did not understand how all of these humanoids interact and deal with one another. He had vague memories of monasteries so the only place that Acolyte really felt comfortable was at a monastery they stumbled upon.
What ultimately led to Acolytes departure was that the players and the GM had a different vision for what my character was supposed to be like.
For those who are DnD savvy, Acolyte had a 9 (-1 MOD) Charisma. He was brusque and intimidating, and when he did make a charisma roll it never went well. To me, I interpreted this as, “Acolyte does not understand the world and has a lot to learn.”
I tried to play Acolyte carefully. I tried to role-play him as a newcomer who observes and attempts to imitate what he sees and experiences. The bard in our party, Hugh Halfnir, a half human half orc half halfling, thought I was some sort of a game, so he was constantly putting money in me like a Plinko machine. The barbarian, Mustafa Covfefe, was always trying to intimidate people.
Acolyte saw these interactions consistently and deduced that the language of the land was gold, and failing that, you used your strength to get what you wanted. And this worked to great effect for other people! The combined effort of several party members managed to negotiate 30 GP into 100 GP as a reward once.
We made it to the next large city and Acolyte began his own investigation into various things. For Acolyte though, greasing palms, attempted bribes, and intimidation did nothing but fail outright.
There was a dwarf who recognized this weapon I was carrying. The weapon was used in an assassination, so Acolyte tried to press him. The dwarf clearly seemed to recognize the dagger, but he refused gold and told me to leave. So I made a very good threat: “Tell me what you know, or I will tell everyone that you sold me this weapon [that you fear].”
I didn’t get a dice roll. I got threatened right back with force and a summoning of the city guard. Another PC chastised me for my behavior. That was disheartening. The other PC’s don’t get chastised for intimidating people (even when it fails).
What the GM did was attempt to hand wave Acolytes misunderstandings by saying, “Over the walk back [another character] tells you everything about when its good or bad to bribe someone or give them gold.”
That was approximately the time I realized that I wouldn’t be playing Acolyte for very long. The GM had his own formulated idea and perception about my character and was attempting to use his GM powers to affect my behavior.
Acolyte did not consume food, but he did consume purified metals. I was almost always critically low on food, so eventually I had to find some blacksmiths. There are two big companies in town. One of the people I failed to intimidate the session prior was one of said blacksmiths. The two blacksmiths shops were across the street from one another. For obvious reasons, I enter the shop of the blacksmith I didn’t upset.
There was a counter with weapon shelves, and the blacksmith proper was behind huge leather curtains. I asked for ore, got the normal confusion that comes with any purchase, and then the man went to the back out of sight. So I followed him. There were men back there and anvils I guess? I was yelled at to leave immediately. I reiterated that I was here to purchase iron ore. They ended up shoving me (pushing me, I was quite heavy) back into the antechamber. They then demanded that I leave. Don’t come back.
I went to the dwarf I pissed off. He recognized me, and actually apologized for being so curt with me before. I ask for iron ore again. He said he might have some in the back. I insisted he get it for me. Again- he might have some in the back. The dwarf didn’t head back for it (he was helping someone else) so Acolyte decided he’d go to the back. But! He had learned his lesson!
He went around the back of the shop and found a backdoor, and knocked instead. Two of the PCs assumed I was going to break into the shop, followed me, and began to tell me to stop what I was doing. The dwarf came to the back door, I requested iron, and then he told me to fuck off for being rude.
Three interactions where I didn’t get to roll a single time to persuade, deceive, or intimidate.
So the GM’s NPC’s are reacting to Acolytes actions with confusion and anger. But as the player- I get it. I’m doing it on purpose because I want to have the opportunity to learn things from these interactions. All I encounter is a world telling me to stop. I have several other characters telling me to stop doing things like that as well.
I don’t blame them for what they have been doing. They can only play their characters and or run the world. They all perceive me as something other than what I’m playing. I think my character was too nuanced. But not in way that they couldn’t understand, too complex of an idea to successfully come across in a role-playing game. The other players and the GM don’t see my inner workings or see my notes, so all they get to interact with is what I present them with. They treated my character like an adult, when really, he is only 6 weeks old.
There was a solid disconnect between Acolyte and everyone else. So I figured the easiest thing to do was quietly retire the naive Acolyte for someone who was more suited to this party and the world. I’m not really mad at anyone, just stopped having fun trying to make my character fun.
People immediately shifted to attempting to talk me out of it by saying that they liked Acolyte. But that’s not the point. The Acolyte I want to role-play isn’t the Acolyte they want to see.
The GM especially was trying to convince me to role play him differently, citing that my 11 INT and 19 WIS meant that Acolyte wasn’t stupid. But those numbers on the page don’t mean shit! Acolyte is 6 weeks old. Intelligence and Wisdom are just fancy names that encompass a myriad of different mental faculties. Acolyte was logical and perceptive, but he wasn’t truly intelligent or understanding. I thought it was a wild party foul for the GM to tell me how to play my characters personality.
But in the face of a world that rejects Acolyte, Acolyte decided it made more sense that he just go attempt to solve the conflict on his own. He left the party at the tavern they were staying and set off into the night. It appears though, that he died mere minutes after walking away.
There was a bridge crossing a river near the tavern. In the morning, the players came outside and noticed a gathering at the bridge. They found Acolytes arm and some strange stains on the bridge. He had been killed or captured, within eyesight of the tavern.
So my new character is going to try on purpose to meet the needs of the world and the party. Its a much simpler character idea so I hope that it comes across well, and that he meshes nicely. Here’s to hoping I can enjoy the DnD campaign as it progresses.