Trollsmyth has a really excellent piece up today about personality inventories, or "stress-testing the character concept." This is something that I've seen a lot of in his games; the solo game in particular almost entirely revolves around exploring these kinds of changes and personal re-evaluations now, and they're becoming ever more important in the group sessions. I haven't seen so much of it outside of those campaigns, though. I had one player in high school who really got into this kind of thing, but for the most part our campaigns were too short for it to ever come up.
Thus, this kind of character change is intimately connected with another thing that sets Trollsmyth's campaigns apart from the ones I've played in before: I spend a lot of time outside the game thinking about my character. The exact amount varies from week to week and month to month, depending on what's going on in the game and what else is going on in my life, but it's a lot more than any game I've played in before. I'm used to having my mind a lot on the game I'm running, but as a player, that kind of outside-the-session involvement is a new experience.
It can take a lot of time to work through the problems that these kinds of transformations and pressures present to my characters. Particularly since I'm building the cultures that they come from at the same time, and often in response to what's going on in-game, so that her actions and experiences create interesting conflicts with her backstories. And while a lot of times these personality conflicts come up naturally in-game, often in ways that (delightfully!) I don't expect in my between-session musings, I also try -- sometimes without success -- to come up with ways to express the ideas while I've had away from the table (or the keyboard, as the case may be) while I'm at it.
I'm being vague here because this process of character examination and consideration is one of the big reasons I haven't been writing much here lately. When I'm thinking about a game as a DM, I'm thinking a lot about technique. Not only is a lot of it much easier to abstract away from the particulars of the game into the realm of process, it's -- well, it's a lot less personal. I get deeply involved with some of my NPCs on occasion, but even when I do, there's always more going on to a game than just the inner lives of the characters. And I can write about that.
When most of my mental game-time goes into one or two individuals over a long period of time, there's a lot less I can talk about. And a lot less that I want to talk about, particularly on the internet. There are a lot of reasons for that. Some of it, in fact, is actively secret--the character in the group game in particular is a bit of a schemer, and the rest of the group still doesn't know what she's up to, relationship and otherwise. I don't want to tip her hand to the other players early, before I've had the opportunity to set up the reveals. This isn't as big of an issue in the solo game, but there are at least a few things about that character that I don't plan to discuss with Trollsmyth outside of game until they come up within it.
Still. Blog posts or no, the way my characters have changed and the time that I spend considering and shaping that change is one of my favorite things about these games, and one major reason why I'm even more interested now than when the first one started a year and a half ago. Situations that encourage character change, and allow the opportunity to explore it, is now the bar for what I expect from a campaign. And it's one of the major things I'm going to have my eye on the next time I run my own game.