A smoky meeting room. Austere nobility on one side, shifty spacers on the other. Business is discussed. Subtext lurks and shifts below, with daggers. Moves and counter-moves. There are whispers, glances, and notes are scribbled by scribes. In the background, a bodyguard is standing. She says nothing. There’s a whispered joke at her expense. She notices, but she keeps her mouth shut. It’s not her role to speak. What’s important is that she notices.
She might say nothing, but she’s hurt. She’s angry. She’s not just part of the furniture - she’s part of the scene. The roleplayer behind that bodyguard could just have a stoic statue who doesn’t react to anything - but not noticing doesn’t matter. It’s not interesting. What’s interesting is noticing, and making a choice: to act, or not.
We’ve all seen doormen and bodyguards. They crop up in RP routinely. They sidle into our favourite TV shows, and books, and films, and everything. Background characters are essential, but the background doesn’t have to be two dimensional. When the Ancillary Characters live and breathe and react and choose, the world comes alive. Main characters of any scene are inherently less interesting if they operate in a vacuum. If their choices only impact each other, the story becomes a soap-opera. When actions echo through every character in a scene, they matter.