Hi there, Jimbles here again with a few more tales, but with a preamble first.
I’ve noticed that I’ve been writing posts that are just fluff entertainment, leaving all of the crunch to Keegan. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I think I can do a bit better. Due to my documented inability to keep characters alive (See Does anyone else die a lot?, Part two on those horrible deaths incoming.) I’ve gotten pretty good at creating new characters. I’m going to codify it and make it interesting; then show you my 5 step process for streamlining a backstory. It’s by no means perfect, but it works.
But today, I’ve got a particular subject on my mind. A bunch of my friends and fellow players are known for coming up with twisted situations and bending the established lore in such a nefarious way that the players are left flat-footed. Once, I asked one of them how on earth they come up with their ideas. It may have been an outburst along the lines of “WHERE DO YOU COME UP WITH THIS STUFF!?”
The answer was interesting. She said “Well, for this game I thought “How can I make a player make a bad choice for the right reasons?”
That’s a dangerous line of reasoning. I can imagine a number of you just had PTSD flashbacks to playing a Paladin with a jerk of a DM. Luckily, we were playing World of Darkness’ Mage line, starting as regular mortals. While we could drop Wisdom by performing some nasty actions, it’s not going to make us completely useless in a single move.
[Editor’s Note: Hmmmm. Jimbles is giving me some ideas here. Time to make some alterations to the Shattered Star game… not Paladin-Fall inducing alterations of course. That’d be mean. Should be able to do something to mess with them though…]
In that game, we spent several sessions in our “regular” lives, meeting up with other characters for coffee, going to training sessions and gradually growing to like and trust each other as people. There was hours of roleplay with no real goal in mind. Our Storyteller had instructed us to look far beyond the character sheet, as our characters weren’t just going to investigate a haunted mansion but be living as real people for a while before anything truly dramatic happened.
We spent some time learning each other’s motivations and goals… at least, we thought we did. Unknown to most of us, this was a trap. One of the players had arranged separately with the Storyteller to have their character end up in a downward spiral. We watched as our friend slowly become involved with a fictional drug. It later turned out to be a Supernatural drug (Hey, World of Darkness lacks for no supernatural influence. There’s one in every corner. Beethoven was an alien spy!)
Eventually it became clear that they were doing harm to others, and us trying to purge the drug from their system was not working. As players we became more and more fractured, some of us just wanted to go back to when we were pretending to get coffee and play pool; let them harm others if it would let them pretend to be our friend again. Another player was revolted with some of the things they had to do, and even wanted to kill our friend if it would absolve them of their guilt. We took more and more time outs to have a breather out of character.
Our Storyteller kept dangling possible cures and encouraged us to try and hunt for cures or fixes. By this stage, she was only a facilitator for us to continue this story. Eventually we thought of a ritual. One that was a severe breach of personal agency for our friend. We would bind him with the Forces Arcana, so he couldn’t move at all. We would purge the toxin from his body with Life Arcana. We would attack the pattern of the Supernatural element with Prime Arcana to burn it away (This would cause terrible agony. Using for such a long time had imprinted it into them.) And finally, we would rewrite the addiction paths in their brain with Mind Arcana. There was so much at stake. Any one of these steps could fail and kill them, or turn them into a drooling fool.
Eventually, we did it. It was difficult, and there were many anime-esque friendships speeches about why. We rolled. We succeeded, and after a short epilogue the game ended. We watched Disney movies to cheer up together.
[Editor’s note: No mention of Weean’s World of Darkness game? Disappointing… there better be another installment for it!]
On the other hand, there is always a time for ridiculous humour. A good friend and Keegan’s old roommate once ran a game in the dystopian universe of Paranoia; where I once shot a cake-pie gun directly into my awaiting mouth after dodging a shot from my colleague’s “Worst Fear Cannon” that only shot bees. He rationalized that I guess the gun was terrified of bees. This ill-advised act of intended deliciousness ended up being mostly self-destructive…but hilarious! It launched me off the garbage barge filled with pathetic abominations (All they did was scream“Kiiiiiiiiiiillllll meeeeeeeeee.”, I’m not being pejorative.) to fall the thousand meters to the planet surface.
I respawned as a clone of myself in eight seconds. Paranoia is that sort of game.
Signing off. Have a good day!