[RPG] How to play dumb


I have a half-ogre character at my local larp group, and one of the roleplay-enforced restrictions for half-ogres is that they have low intelligence. I often find myself biting my tongue not to say 'smart' witty things, or reason with others to work out the plot. Most of the time I just come across as quiet.

How can I play dumb and still enjoy myself?

How can I play dumb and enhance others' enjoyment of the game?

Best Answer

The successful dumb characters I've seen aren't just dumb. Develop the character as much as you would a character that's not supposed to be dumb.

I find that characters who use one syllable words or weirdly bad grammar but seem otherwise unimpaired get boring pretty fast. Your character can often follow his friend's lead most of the time, but when he is left on his own, he makes mistakes, or does the obvious in combat. If his friends told him to do something and the situation changed, have him continue to do what they told him to do because he doesn't understand why he's doing it in the first place.

Also, don't overdo it. You probably rely on others for figuring certain things out, but you can remember how people have treated you. If people are condescending to you, you can tell unless they are subtle about it. When it becomes obvious you've done something stupid, you get ashamed, or angry, or are embarrassed and don't want anyone to mention it. You don't use complex sentence structure, but you usually speak normally enough that it isn't immediately obvious that you are dumb.

This can be fun for the table because it's kind of a problem solving exercise to give your character instructions that cover enough possibilities but aren't too complicated to understand. Some problem solving and strategy things are kind of out for you, but you can spend that time figuring out what your character's understanding of the situation is. To a point - you might want to ask everyone's help in not having the plot be a series of riddles or puzzles, unless they specifically give you something to do (e.g. your character is in a riddling contest matched up against a talking chicken "What am I sitting on?" "An egg". "What do I like for breakfast?" "An egg." "Where do chickens come from?" "An egg". "What came first before a chicken?"...).

For a really dumb character role playing them realistically would probably not be fun, since they mostly have no idea what is going on - it would be like trying to role play a dog. If it's a comic campaign where you are as dumb as would be funniest at that moment it might work OK, but it probably gets old within a few sessions at most. Or not. If you are having fun don't let me stop you - I'm just thinking about other people's characters that have worked out for my taste.