I played someone more stupid than me in a game before he died. It took hard work and I enjoyed it.
Damodar worked on a silk farm and escaped to become an adventurer. He had intelligence of seven and wisdom of six. I like to think of my intelligence as twelve or thirteen, but apparently everyone does this so it’s more likely I have an INT of ten, or, possibly eleven.
Every time Damodar had a problem I had to think about how to solve it. I could never solve his problems like I solve my own. If I did things he couldn’t do then the character wouldn’t work.
We have lots of ways to think about someone less capable than ourselves. People like to talk and argue about this a lot. Very few of those ways involve you creating those people from random numbers and parts of yourself and then taking responsibility for both their survival and the integrity of their personality. Except possibly becoming a parent.
I knew when bad things happened and Damodar didn’t. I knew when people lied to him and he did not. I did not find it frustrating, but powerful and energising, my mind worked constantly. I had to protect him with the only tools I had. The ones inside his character.
He asked a LOT of direct questions, because he didn’t know much. (I never do this in real life, I remain silent.) People usually answered because he seemed obviously stupid and innocent. He happily accepted the social superiority of his co-adventurers. (You won’t see me do this.) That made them happy and made him popular. I interpreted his low WIS as courage so he became impetuous.
I found him nicer than me. And a better human than most of my characters. And probably a better person than me. Perhaps that only happened because of the action, inside my mind, of protecting him.
Damodar died defending his friends.
In Dogs In The Vinyard I play a highly intelligent, fundamentalist teenage girl. With Basemeth most of the creative tension comes from her 19th century pseudo-christian morality and my 21st century vague liberalism. Again we must solve problems together. She thinks faster and deeper than I can. I have more time to think of her responses so she acts in the upper range of my own capabilities. But we have different perspectives on the world.
Like the same scene viewed from different points, we share only certain ground. When events moves out of this ground one of us will become upset. Since we live in the same person, this ruins things for both of us. But if I let her collapse into a sock-puppet for my own values then she dies. So we must work together on remaining creatively different.
Every character I play feels like a powerful living exchange between me and this created thing. A waterfall looping like a lemniscate through dual poles. I never know which parts of me will surface and crystallize. Like meeting a new person every time.
From Patrick Stuart’s remarkable A False Machine