May. 17th, 2012

innocent_man: (aurum)
I am, generally speaking, a big fan of player agency in RPGs (by which, just for clarification, I mean real RPGs that you play around a table or [sigh] standing up wearing costumes, not the kind that require screens). I like it when players decide what their characters do, and if that fucks the plotline I've cooked up, that's cool with me. The plotline is mutable, but I want folks to have fun and, more to the point, feel like their character decisions matter.

That said, I have determined that fucking with group integrity is a slightly bigger deal. My Promethean game is off to a somewhat rocky start in that regard, not because people aren't having fun (because unless I'm misreading my group, they're really digging their characters and based on in-character discussion, they're also digging into the moral questions and issues I'm putting forward), but there are some pretty serious clashes of morality and regard for human life, here.

Basically, two of the characters are perfectly willing to kill people. One is hesitant, but ultimately is willing to let "kill the fuckers" be an option. One is not thrilled by the idea of killing, but it's really more about not being forced into killing. And the other two just aren't keen on the idea of taking human life. Which is all fine, I like these kinds of conflicts. The issue is that the characters need to be able to hang out together and go traveling, and for that to happen there needs to be some established trust.

My mistake, I think, we not making the group an established throng before introducing a plot that required a bunch of people to die. I was going for a surreal kind of "what happens in the dust storm doesn't really count" thing, but we didn't quite get there. And unfortunately, NWoD is a traditional RPG where you roll to hit your opponent this time and see how much damage you do, rather than a game where we set stakes and "winning" means "you keep narrative control."

It worked out, but at one point I told a player, "get your character back to the house. You figure out why." I normally don't do that shit, but it was late, I was tired, and more to the point, I've been gaming with said player for enough years that I trusted him with that. It wasn't so much that I was trying to dictate what his characters should do, it was more "I need help keeping this story on track, and I know you're good for it, so help me wrap this up." Like I said, I think it worked, and I think the throng has a tense, but workable, dynamic. They all have milestones relating to the throng as a whole, but in the last story, only one of those milestones was realized - Feather's to "leave the throng to help a person." That says something, I think.

Next story is going to be very different in tone. I won't say lighter, because y'know, NWoD isn't a light game, but more supernatural and less involving killing people. That said, I do want to examine the conflicts that the Created really deal with - Wasteland and Disquiet - because this story happened so fast that we kinda glossed over that part.

But anyway, I think that telling a player what the character does and having the player decide the character's thought process is an interesting thought exercise for the player, but it's not one I'd want to use much. And definitely a matter of trust between GM and player.

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January 2013

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