We had our first session switching places, me as the player and our alternate DM behind the screen. Hard to believe it was four years ago I last played this character. I spent plenty of time updating and refreshing my memory on my character sheet. I read old adventure logs. I reacquainted myself with my character back story and motivation. I even wrote a little color update on what my character was doing since the last adventure and what upcoming decisions troubled him. Interesting when you are determining how best to handle introspection when your character has a 6 intelligence.
All that preparation and I still felt my roll playing was sluggish. I guess it takes a little bit to get back in the swing of things. Probably has to do with my being heavily invested in this character, and wanting to do it just right. The group has big expectations of him too. I am definitely over thinking it, and need to let is just flow more.
Session after session as a DM I handle NPCs with little or no problem, taking their shallow descriptions and making them seem plausible and differentiated from other NPCs. All this with little or no preparation. I also usually have no trouble role playing characters in a one shot scenario. Yes, I am definitely trying too hard to be in my character. Next session I will let it be more spontaneous.
The DM did a good job, and it was a good session overall my sluggish role playing not withstanding. We faced a number of seriously leveled up Owl Bears and were able to tactically pull together well and dispatch them even though we had not used these characters together in a long time. Funny, though, how we just take this D&D iconic monster weirdness in stride.
My character recently added the Keen ability to his hand-and-a-half sword (bastard sword by the book in D&D). Wouldn't you know that I didn't role a single critical threat all night, even though statistically I should have at least gotten one threat. Disappointing when you have a new toy and you don't get to see it in action. I did roll four consecutive 13s on a 20 sided though just to make things weird.
Although we really like playing 3.5 with our house rules, the characters are 9th level and we are seeing the beginning signs of unpleasant complication. Tracking spell durations, and all the attack/defense math with all the spells and special abilities. I'm still looking for ways to simplify the tracking/math without changing the feel too much. I have an attack matrix for my cleric that allows me to more quickly calculation his attack & damage bonuses depending on which spells have been cast. I still find that too slow. I have been thinking that some quick reference spell cards might be better - make a template with the stats in same place on each one, and then just add up the numbers of the cards in your hand when your turn comes. More thinking is in order.
There is also some conflict in the party - between the characters, not the players. One of the party members was duped into working for some bad guys, and my cleric of Torm is on the fence whether this party member is a traitor (in which case my cleric will give him a quick painful death), or a true friend that just needs to redeem himself. My player knows the truth, but my character does not. I'm trying to make the play interesting without making it unfun for the other player. It certainly makes the Elf fighter/rogue a little nervous with the half-orc cleric of Torm glaring at him on a regular basis. We'll see how it goes.
Anyway, it is fun to be back on the front side of the screen making the world to right again.
The dice never lie.