Say what you mean and mean what you say

An improvised world is the collection of world rules that players establish while performing a show. The rules result in an entertaining show when they are clear and followed. Some examples are,

The improvised world is weakened when the rules are not clear or not followed. The rules are often communicated via what characters say, so it is important we play characters that have consistent words, beliefs and actions. In other words, to entertain an audience we want to say what we mean and mean what we say. This is a list of character traits that lead to unclear rules that cannot be followed.

Nothing a liar says can be relied on. Fellow players and the audience try to understand the improvised world being created but their understanding is destroyed every time a fact is revealed to be a lie.

A player will dismiss a character as crazy when they cannot understand the character’s point of view, and they conclude the character is disconnected from the established reality. Calling a character crazy is akin to saying they should be ignored. The result is that the player labelling the crazy character ignores the “crazy” words, which stops their use in establishing the world rules.

An indecisive character does not know what they want, so their words and beliefs change frequently. Like a lie being revealed the audience struggles to understand an indecisive character because of the character’s changing rules.

Incompetence results in indecision; the character cannot decide to do something, or anything, because they don’t know how to do it. They become a bystander that is unable to demonstrate consistent behaviour because they can’t do anything.

A coy character can consistently say what they want but they say it indirectly. It leaves room for interpretation, which leads to inconsistency. Even when interpreted consistently there is always this unnecessary layer of interpretation to understand this character.

An improvised world is difficult to build when the world rules are unclear or not followed. Characters that weaken the rules are liars, crazy, indecisive, incompetent or coy. The rules will be clear and followable when we play characters that are truthful, sane, decisive, competent and direct. To make improvising easier, say what you mean and mean what you say.