All Hail Prince Linchpin November 05, 2015 12:01

Linchpin:

noun

  1. a pin inserted through the end of an axletree to keep the wheel on.
  2. something that holds the various elements of a complicated structure together:

I’ve been dubbed with many nicknames, but perhaps my favorite is “Prince Linchpin.” Granted, it’s sort of a self assigned title but it has stuck. Let me explain. When creating a new fantasy based character, I wrote in that the elf was the prince of a forgotten house and roaming the land to blah, blah, blah. I then requested (half jokingly) that I be the focal point of the story. I wanted to be the linchpin. One of my fellow players did not take well to my request and began belly aching that he’s never the linchpin. Hence, “Prince Linchpin” was born.

Over the course of many stories my characters are generally the focal point of the main plot. That’s not to say that I’m any better than my fellow gamers, as smart, or as good of a role player. What it does signify is that I’m usually the player that the storyteller can predict the actions of or even trust enough to rest the weight of the story’s events on without it coming off of the rails. As I said, as a player, I’m no more important than the next guy but I’m reliable, predictable, and “trustworthy”. It makes the storyteller’s job that much more simple when he can unfold his story with little to no hiccups along the way. Basically, I’m a simpleton and will play directly into his/her hands and have fun doing it.

You’re probably asking, “why is being a predictable simpleton a good thing?” Well… I like to think of playing the linchpin in a more positive light. The linchpin is usually the player who is more involved in the story. They think of creative ways to develop their character, come up with rich character backgrounds, possibly create NPCs for the storyteller to utilize, and they are the most invested in the story and the most eager to participate. They are easy for the storyteller to work with. In addition to game time participation, this player (the linchpin) will often come up with, or even write short stories that enhance the character’s relationship with NPCs or what have you without intruding on the actual storyline. Therefore, the linchpin is a campaign enhancing role… so really, I am better than the other players.

On the other side of the coin is the lowly character actors; the extras in a scene starring the linchpin. The other players. I generally treat them with disdain and grumble when it’s their “turn” to participate. The storyteller is really just giving me a breather at these points. Allowing me time to eat, drink, come up my next brilliant character decision or roleplaying masterpiece theater moment. The other players are the color commentary to my hall-of-fame play by play calling. What, really, is their role in a campaign?

  1. Participate in the plots that weren’t good enough for the storyteller to have the linchpin (me) participate in.
  2. Talk to the NPCs that aren’t interesting enough to hold the linchpin’s (me) attention
  3. Give the enemies something to shoot or slash at other than the linchpin (me)
  4. Eat the slightly burnt pieces of pizza and drink the warm, flat soda so the linchpin (me) isn’t exposed to lesser quality of sustenance
  5. Pick up munchkins and coffee for the storyteller and linchpin (me) to enjoy

Being the linchpin is a demanding job. It requires a dull wit, the inability to play your character properly, and the intensity to be thoroughly involved without really knowing what’s going on. Get it?

Ok… I may have gone of the reservation there a bit, but the idea is that the storyteller will usually gravitate toward a particular character for a story or campaign on which to base his tale. It’s the linchpin’s job to be reliable and help move the story forward. It’s the supporting character’s role to enhance the subplots until it is their time to shine. The storyteller, if competent should strive toward writing an ensemble piece where all the characters have equal play and weight. One where the characters are working toward a common goal. If and when they achieve it, it will be that much more glorious. All hail Prince Linchpin. All hail me.

~JE