Appropriately enough, the last time we talked about character development it was Thief and Wizard sharing the spotlight. Today they’re still the focus of our attention, upstaging Fighter in a pretty literal sense. In effect, what we’ve got is an alternate take on the diva trope. Or rather, the opposite of a diva. An anti-diva if you will. Just look at that blissfully smirking paint can of a head. Fighter is nobody’s idea of a literary hero protagonist, but he’s perfectly happy with the arrangement. The problem is that, if you’re a GM like me, you might not be so happy.

You see, I subscribe to the philosophy of the ensemble cast. Everybody gets an arc. Everybody gets a moment. I’ll actually write in character-specific bullet points on all my session notes just to make sure that everybody gets a time to shine every single night we play. These might be short and silly (the bard gets his first fan letter), a simple moral quandary (the paladin catches a starving pickpocket), or a major story hook (the warlock’s patron is revealed as the BBEG). Whatever it happens to be that week, I want everyone to walk away from the table feeling like they did something cool. But here’s the rub. What if that person happens to be like Fighter? What if they don’t really want a moment to express themselves, grow as a character, and go for the Oscar?

This is tough for me to admit as a professed thespian type, but it’s OK if you don’t want to take center stage. There’s nothing wrong with playing the bit part, watching from the sidelines as other PCs strut their stuff on the 1″ x 1″ stage. If Fighter gets his jollies by kicking down doors and rolling to-hit against monsters, that’s not bad-wrong-fun. That’s just another way to game.

All that said, there are two important corollaries.

  1. Some folks might not want to game with a Fighter-type. If the sum total of your contribution to game night is, “Does an 18 hit?” then the Wizard-types of the multiverse might get impatient. They’re not jerks. You’re not a bad gamer. You’re just looking for different things from the hobby, and might want to consider seeking different groups.
  2. As a GM, you should continue to give that bit-part player opportunities anyway. They might not pick ’em up every time, but that’s no reason to let a character languish in the background. I know it’s not easy to watch your precious tackle box full of character hooks go to waste, but you’ve got to continue casting them out there anyway. Because if you aren’t going to go your separate ways and seek different groups, then you owe it to the player to keep trying. After all, you never know what’s going to hit.

So what do the rest of you guys think? Have you ever had an anti-diva show up at the table? How did you manage to keep them entertained? Should you try and keep them entertained, or is it better to let them recede from the limelight? Tell us your tales of shy players, anti-divas, and plot hooks rejected down in the comments!


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