When I look at movies or books that make it into my “really amazing” category, it has to meet certain criteria:
• A storyline I enjoy.
• Great characters.
• Action or conflict.
• Memorable moments.
• Acts as inspiration to me.
What I mean is this- I enjoy books and movies that have characters engaged in seemingly unimportant conversations that subtly help propel the story along, give insight into the character, or actually have no point whatsoever.
That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy books or movies that don’t have this, but it is something rather important to me.
How does this relate to role-playing?
I think it is important for players and DM’s to engage in pointless banter in-game. This type of conversation fleshes out the world, the characters, and gets the creative juices flowing.
But… it’s awkward….
The major thing that hinders people from engaging in banter is that it sometimes feels silly, weird, or even makes players uncomfortable (boom spotlight is on them for something that may not propel the story along). Obviously if the player is uncomfortable you don’t want to alienate them by putting pressure on them.. but what if the only reason they are uncomfortable is because bantering is new, or because they don’t know what to say?
Engage in group story-telling! Let the player take control here so they are comfortable and make the banter important to them, and fleshed out!
Make it an exercise every session to have an NPC engage in banter with a player character. Lead by example and soon the players will also be excited to exchange banter with seemingly unimportant NPC’s.
It could be simple things such as an old woman NPC asking a PC, “How’s your sister (if this were applicable)?” This gets the character thinking, hey how is my sister? BOOM! Role-playing for no other purpose than to role-play AND it may give you or the players ideas for future sessions!
A Perfect Example
Star Wars. That should be enough said, but I shall elaborate quickly to wrap up this post. Everything that I mentioned about what makes a great movie to me is in Star Wars (admittedly I am referring to the Holy Trilogy and not the bastardizations of the prequels).
Star Wars is such a character driven story with tons of dialogue that doesn’t necessarily further the story but does develop the character either overtly or subtly or just add flavor to the world!
I would point out examples, but if you love or even just like Star Wars, you know the dialogue. Watch them again, yes I am giving you an excuse to watch them again, and listen to the dialogue and picture how that kind of conversation could be worked into your or your DM’s campaign.
Another example, book wise, would be the Harry Potter series (especially when you get into book 4-7). There are whole scenes where the main trio is just having a regular conversation! Great moments!