It occurred to me the other day that since we now have the technical ability to (more or less) teleport into each others homes via Skype, Google+, iChat, etc. we also have a greater ability to host or play in pick-up games. I’ve seen proposals for this on Google+ and probably on forums elsewhere in the past. What I haven’t seen suggested is the possibility that someone join a regular game as the only video chat participant, just to play the part of an NPC.
As a DM, playing the part of every NPC encountered in the game can be challenging, and once your players have heard your full repertoire of accents, your voices can begin to sound alike. Imagine their surprise when you turn your laptop around to reveal a video chat session with a member of the blogging community, standing in briefly as a NPC. Picture ___ (fill in a blogger’s name you follow) playing the part of a high pitched goblin, or of a noble or clergyman sending you on some quest. Here’s an idea: since your guest star is basically just a talking head on the table, maybe they’d be great as a re-animated head that your players find in a treasure chest?
There would be the usual concerns and considerations to make. Obviously, engaging with someone who’s a relative stranger always carries its inherent dangers. As a video guest, it might be best to get assurances in writing and ahead of time that no recordings will be made. Personally, I’d be horrified to find my rendition of a lich up on YouTube. Recordings might be a pretty hard thing to guarantee against. Still, with the right trusted folks, it could be a lot of fun. I know there’s at least a few of you I’d consider approaching if I knew you were open to it.
There would be two approaches with such guest stars which could obviously overlap. One would be to describe to the guest star the history of the current game to some extent and to direct them how to respond to the players in various ways. The other approach would be free-form - just let the guest star do whatever they want with the role you give them. “Play it your way Sam.”
In time, there might be guest star specialists - those who really only want to play such roles, or become well-known for being very good (or bad) at it. There might even be specialists among those specialists: those that only play the role of monsters, those that only play a certain demi-human race… Then there might be those that only play the role of a specific monster or character - one that escapes death and can appear in game after game. Maybe we’d see blog posts like: “Wanted: Person to play a 15-30 minute role of the wizard in Raggi’s “Tower of the Star Gazer.” Eventually there might emerge well-known prima donnas, demanding they play their part their way, or that their prospective DMs tolerate their obvious and complete lack of sobriety.
And the masks - think of the masks! I sure as hell would want to wear one. Or at least a wig.