log in or register to remove this ad

 

Beginning to Doubt That RPG Play Can Be Substantively "Character-Driven"

innerdude

Adventurer
I wonder who said anything about Shakespeare and faux-British accents, other than you?

Look, just to be perfectly clear:
  • I've done semi-professional theater (i.e., I've actually been paid to act on stage). Granted, it was hardly a sum worth talking about, but nonetheless . . . .
  • I've performed Shakespeare any number of times. Doing a convincing British accent is hard.
    • (For example: I love the V for Vendetta film. And the one thing that still pulls me out every time is that Natalie Portman's British accent is still just a tiny bit . . . off. It's just touch too pure, too affected to be totally convincing).
  • I'm not casting aspersions on anyone who actually tries to act in character during roleplaying, or uses any or all voice characterization techniques to help them feel more immersed. I've done it myself any number of times.
The point that I agreed with from @chaochou is that characterization---no matter how well done or voice acted---does not inherently lead to a character-driven arc.

I've watched some Critical Role, and while I found it entertaining, I'm thinking of the one actor whose primary character interest always seems to be grog, and he voice acts that character as a big, dumb, lovable meathead.

Fun character. Easily pictured in context of the game world. But if the point is simply to "act out" by having your character speak English with a British / Scottish / Irish / German / Russian / Italian / Israeli / Jersey / Boston / Spanish accent, that may be fun, but if it's not backed up by an intent to have a character-driven arc, it's all just window dressing.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Celebrim

Legend
That seems to be putting the Critical Role players up on a pretty high pedestal, when what they do is far closer to being in reach than you imply...They're just a bit better at it, but not in an unobtainable way if that's really the style of play you like to engage in.

Agreed.

Are they better at what they do than the best players I've worked with? Maybe. Is Matt better at what he does than I am? Maybe a little (it certainly helps that he can devote his full energy to it). Are they better entertainers? Certainly.

But they aren't so much better that what they do is out of reach of the average player. The real question is less can your table do what Critical Role does, than it is "Does your table even want to?" There is a big difference I think for most players between enjoying the game and treating the game like a craft to hone and improve in. Seeing the game as a craft to improve is may itself be a sort of aesthetic of play, and as such may not at all appeal to everyone.

But if you want to get there, or what to get to where the OP wants to get (which is a somewhat but not completely related goal), I don't think it's unobtainable.
 
Last edited:

Can someone provide a link to this (I guess) infamous scene where the Critical Role GM and the player had this heist scene with the cupcake?

I'd like to view and do a post-mortem as it relates to this conversation.
 

pemerton

Legend
We developed characters with skills and advantages off but left disadvantages and quirks blank for the first few sessions. Then, after experiencing the characters facing challenges (both internal and external), we added character elements that fit. It helped that the GM was completely willing to customize or invent new disads to fit the character concepts.
The systems that some others have mentioned in this thread as relevant to the OP - to reiterate, BW, Sorcerer, DitV, etc - might be seen as adopting but formalising and prioritising this sort of approach.

But they often also reverse some of the direction of fit - so instead of the players feeling things out for the first few sessions to get a feel for the GM's priorities, the players establish priorities via the build and play of their characters and the GM feels those out and respond to them.

  • While this type of interaction could happen in any system, there are definite constraints in the core conceits of stereotypical fantasy roleplaying that would make sustaining this kind of activity difficult.
    • The idea that you have to have a "party", and that the "party" is supposed to stick together will quickly become a sticking point.
    • <snip>
    • To really accomplish this kind of thing consistently, you have to be willing to accept as players that there's going to be a lot more "split screen" / non-focus time on your character.
  • For this kind of interplay to be more than just an incidental, one-off experience, the GM must be willing to let go of any notion of "where the game is supposed to go." It would require extreme flexibility and willingness on the part of the GM to truly go along with the player/character choices to their endpoint.
That last dot point is absolutely true. As I said, the idea of "the adventure" has to go. Though I don't think it requires as great an abnegation on the GM's part as you suggest.

The first two (sub-)points, in my experience, are not as straightforward as you suggest. The X-Men are a team and yet have character arcs. It's not great literature, but it's certainly as good as I could ever aspire to at my table (none of us is a professional creator of fiction). A different model that might work for some tables is Doctor Who.

That's not to say that "the party" is mandatory. Plenty of RPGs eschew it. But it needn't be a total stumbling block.

The bit about screen-time is also less stark, I think. The real issue here is who is talking and interacting, at the table. There are ways of handling this so that it doesn't have to be much more brutal on the group activity than running around the table in a D&D-style combat round.
 

pemerton

Legend
Yes, but I don't believe he (we) should limit ourselves by thinking that the mechanics of the game should inhibit our ability and imagination. A game like D&D, which is hard coded for combat and tactics, might not be the best system for deep, immersive, character-driven story telling. But that doesn't stop us from playing that way if we so choose. Like them or not, Critical Role has proven that the system is not a barrier.
Critical Role, as far as I understand it, is a professional ensemble performance. I don't think it shows us much about how "ordinary" RPGers might go about achieving the sort of play @innerdude hs described.

I also don't think that D&D is especially relevant in this thread (which is in the General forum). For one thing the OP is not a D&D player, but rather prefers Savage Worlds and is curious about Burning Wheel. Secondly, D&D - at least in its 5e variant - has many mechanical limitations that get in the way of mechanically-driven character arc play; namely, it has no mechanics for player-imposed finality of resolution outside of combat.

I'm not 100% sure that I understand what the OP is talking about.
I don't know where exactly @innerdude is coming from
To me It seems fairly clear that innerdude is talking about the sort of play that results from systems like Apocalypse World, DitV, Sorcerer, Burning Wheel, etc. Other systems (contemporary and classic) can also generate that sort of play, but the ones that have been talked about in this thread are expressly designed for it.

I say this because these systems, and other systems used in similar ways, are all about (to borrow from the OP) the actual mechanical interplay of rules . . . promot[ing] the kind of self-reflexivity that is necessary for the kind of deep-rooted emotional resonance found in literature so that a character materially change in ways that are fundamental to their place in the fiction.

Not only will some systems work better for some players (occasinally in surprising combinations), some players will deeply engage with their characters in any system, using whatever handles they can find in whatever system they're playing.
The OP doesn't talk about engaging with the character - what I referred to upthread as authenticity of performance. The OP talks about "character hook" mechanics (which would include Beliefs in Burning Wheel, Aspects in Fate, Bonds in Dungeon World, and of course many other versions in other systems) being contributors to the generation of character arcs that are the result of the actual mechanical processes of play. It's not about handles used to engage with characters but mechanical elements that inform the framing, the processes and outcomes of action resolution.

As I've already posted a couple of times, I don't think that those particular sorts of bells-and-whistles are crucial for what the OP is looking for. But there are certain things that are crucial. The most important of these is dropping the conceit of "the adventure" or "the story" - and replacing it with character-centred framing on the GM's part and openness to action declarations and resolution outcomes on everyone's part.

I'm not sure if gameplay mechanics are what you need to get to a character-driven experience.

<snip>

I think it is up to the DM to come up with a plot and npc's that the players can get emotionally invested in. But it is also up to the players to make that connection, and interact with the fiction.
If the GM is establishing the plot, I don't see how it is driven by the character as played by the player. You seem to be referring here to authentic performances ("making that connection") on the part of the players. Not to the mechanical interplay of rules producing engaging, dramatic character arcs.
 

pemerton

Legend
The point that I agreed with from @chaochou is that characterization---no matter how well done or voice acted---does not inherently lead to a character-driven arc.
Have you ever read Christopher Kubasik's extended essay "Interactive Toolkit"?

It's currently hosted on his "Play Sorcerer" blog but predates Sorcerer by several years - I think it's from the mid-90s.

Here is what he says about character-driven arcs and their relationship to characterisation:


Characters drive the narrative of all stories. However, many people mistake character for characterization.

Characterization is the look of a character, the description of his voice, the quirks of habit. Characterization creates the concrete detail of a character through the use of sensory detail and exposition. By “seeing” how a character looks, how he picks up his wine glass, by knowing he has a love of fine tobacco, the character becomes concrete to our imagination, even while remaining nothing more than black ink upon a white page.

But a person thus described is not a character. A character must do.

Character is action. That’s a rule of thumb for plays and movies, and is valid as well for roleplaying games and story entertainments. This means that the best way to reveal your character is not through on an esoteric monologue about pipe and tobacco delivered by your character, but through your character’s actions.​

You might find some stuff in there quite useful, or at least interesting.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Siblings are the best, especially if both retain their inclination to play make believe with all the enthusiasm of children. One of the most fun I've ever had as a DM was watching a brother and sister just run with intraparty RP, basically knocking ten years off their life experience and be kids again.
Reading @Sadras ' quote again, I think it was the characters who were siblings, not the players.

I often feel that attempts to put a system around this just get in the way, so that counter-intuitively, some of the best RP comes out of systems that don't mechanically support it at all.
Or in a system where it's possible to shove the mechanics out of the way when required; because yes, in these situations mechanics of any kind are more often a hindrance or intrusion than a help.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Critical Role ...

I also don't think that D&D is especially relevant in this thread (which is in the General forum). For one thing the OP is not a D&D player, but rather prefers Savage Worlds and is curious about Burning Wheel.

Given that the vast majority of people in the hobby are playing D&D (mostly 5e) and thus - if they're reading this - will be trying to fit what's said into that paradigm, then D&D is always relevant.

Secondly, D&D - at least in its 5e variant - has many mechanical limitations that get in the way of mechanically-driven character arc play; namely, it has no mechanics for player-imposed finality of resolution outside of combat.
Doesn't make sense - you say it has mechanical limitations and then your example is a situation where is has no mechanics?

'No mechanics' is never a limitation; and in this case 'finality of resolution' doesn't sound like a good idea. In combat, yes, there's usually a finality - one side or combatant dies, or surrenders, or is made captive, whatever; the combat's done and in most cases it only has to be done once.

But in a character-based or social situation, unless a combat-worthy finality is somehow applied (e.g. one character charms or captures another) the situation is never truly finalized, and thus applying a finality mechanic seems...odd somehow.

For example, take some of the various discussions we've had on here in the past. None of those threads have to my knowledge been shut down by the mods (analagous to the DM applying a finality mechanic) which means they're all open to rebooting and review in the future - they're not final (despite our best attempts!).

Same is true of a diplomacy attempt - unlike a combat which when it's over it's done, a diplomacy attempt or in-character discussion (or argument!) is never really over as long as all participants remain in control of their own thoughts. People can have second thoughts, or realize they erred, or come up with alternative arguments, whatever; and applying finality mechanics just doesn't make sense from a pure roleplay point of view.

D&D is guilty of this with its diplomacy family of mechanics over various editions (yes, even all the way back to henches' morale and loyalty rules) - the mechanics insert themselves to try and finalize what would otherwise be ongoing and perhaps repeating roleplay.

As I've already posted a couple of times, I don't think that those particular sorts of bells-and-whistles are crucial for what the OP is looking for. But there are certain things that are crucial. The most important of these is dropping the conceit of "the adventure" or "the story" - and replacing it with character-centred framing on the GM's part and openness to action declarations and resolution outcomes on everyone's part.
It's not an either-or.

A character-driven arc - be it for an individual character or several interacting - can quite happily weave its way through and around a background or setting-based story and-or a series of adventures provided the DM is willing to allow the table-time for the character arc(s) to play out when required.

And this, I think, is where things fall apart at some tables: the DM (or some players) aren't willing to spend that time. They're not willing to allow @Sadras ' sibling PCs to spend an hour or so developing their arc, or my PC and a few others time to argue over how we intend to approach our post-adventuring political careers, or the Cavalier PCs time to participate in a jousting tournament (with all the attending social affairs) where results both social and field may affect their reputations.

In the three examples I give here the only place game mechanics need to appear at all would be for the Cavaliers, both to determine their jousting results (a variant on combat mechanics) and perhaps to determine any lasting effects on their reputations afterwards. Otherwise, it's all roleplay - so let it happen! :)
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
To have character arcs, the character must be at risk.

This doesn't mean that the character might die, or be hurt, or lose things, but instead that the fundamental nature of the character must be at risk. Something the character believes, or feels, or values as a core conceit must be at risk of being shown false, or different, or even validated through hardship. If you do not risk character, there's nothing that can change that isn't an arbitrary choice by the player or GM. And arbitrary change is fine, although it doesn't meet the desire of the OP to have games that involve character driven play.

I add my voice to those that say that acting is not necessary for character driven play. It's a method to feel connected to character, but isn't the only way nor always the best way. But, it doesn't improve the likelihood of character driven arcs, as you can act out a flat, unchanging character as well as a dynamic one -- the acting out doesn't change this.

I also disagree with @Celebrim that small groups are needed for character focus. Group size affects spotlight time, but doesn't really affect how well a character arc can be realized in play. As Colossus tells us, it's two or three moments, not sessions of attention.

Finally, on system, it matters but isn't definitive. D&D has no mechanics that puts character at risk, for instance, nor any means for a player to force resolution on an issue of character. That's not to say that D&D cannot do character, but that it moves into the realm of extra-ruleset agreement or fiat by player or GM. This makes character ad hoc, and thereby more unlikely to feature as an element of play outside of determined effort to just do it by the players. Other system put character at risk as a fundamental part of play, and provide mechanics that allow for resolution of such issues from both sides of the screen. This doesn't mean it works, but the system is at least attempting to make character a part of the process of play, and that helps.
 

Yes, but I don't believe he (we) should limit ourselves by thinking that the mechanics of the game should inhibit our ability and imagination. A game like D&D, which is hard coded for combat and tactics, might not be the best system for deep, immersive, character-driven story telling. But that doesn't stop us from playing that way if we so choose. Like them or not, Critical Role has proven that the system is not a barrier.
That is not a proof the system isn't a barrier. It is only proof that it can be done despite the barriers the system places.
 

pemerton

Legend
I think @Ovinomancer's comment about putting the character at risk is highly apposite.

There are varying degrees of risk - Ron Edwards says some helpful stuff about this, with reference to various RPG systems, in his original essay on character-driven play.

John Harper - the designer of BitD - has said somewhere (@Campbell will know where) that we should treat our characters like stolen cars. Which is to say, we take them out for a pretty exciting spin and don't worry if we crash them!

This can be hard for RPGers who are used to cherishing their PCs. And sometimes, at least in some groups, even if we put the instinct-to-protect aside, there may not be the appetite for deeply moving or confronting character-driven play.

In my own group, most of the time most of the character arcs are happening at a lighter level than (say, and to stick to superhero comic comparisons) Frank Miller's Born Again arc for Daredevil. We're playing matinee melodrama at best. (See eg the post upthread about the Nightcrawler arc. Or check some of my Prince Valiant actual play threads.) The systems we use are generally light in tone also - MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic and Prince Valiant. Burning Wheel is more hefty both in system and in degree of risk, but for those reasons some in my group prefer the lighter games.

I also think risk to the character and system are connected, but it doesn't have to be via character-oriented mechanics. This is where I think finality of player-initiated resolution is crucial. To go back to Nightcrawler - in that system NIghtcrawler's player initiated various actions which placed effects (from memory, infatuation-oriented complications) on the woman Nightcrawler was romancing. This was what enabled him (i) to successfully woo her, and then (ii) to ruthlessly abandon her. If those actions had failed, then the character arc would have gone differently - eg the character couldn't have emerged with the same externally-validated self-image as a wooer and user of others.

The point of the example is to suggest that good faith GM framing that follows the fiction combined with finality of player-initiated resolution and good faith GM narration of consequences can go a long way to establishing character-driven play independent of particular character-focused mechanics like Beliefs, Aspects etc. And conversely, without them - eg if all finality is just a matter of GM fiat, and/or consequences are established without good-faith regard to actual outcomes of player-initiated actions - then I don't think character-driven RPGing is possible. (Of course there could still be authentic player performance - "emoting" and "thespianism" I think are other terms that have been used upthread - within the confines of the GM-authored story.)
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
That is not a proof the system isn't a barrier. It is only proof that it can be done despite the barriers the system places.
I can accept that amended statement, though it makes no difference to me. If barriers can be overcome, then they are no longer barriers.

To anyone still reading: This thread has been a steady stream of assumptions and barriers. It confuses and saddens me because people are being told that they are beholden to their own self-imposed limitations while blaming everything else around them. You don't need to be a trained actor or a skilled thespian to roleplay. A system does not require rules and mechanics to sanctify your exposition or provide you with further motives or risks. And you certainly don't need a bunch of random people on the internet telling everyone what other people say, think, or imply without daring to make an opinion on their own.

Critical Role was just an example. One that is accessible and familiar to most here, even if only in name. You could do worse than observe what a group of "professionals" do and how you might do things differently to achieve your goals. I could point to my own games and characters, except I don't have any videos, or a long-time group of trained actor friends, or whatever excuse for a qualification that people seem to think they lack in order to elevate your games.

What you really need is a group of players and a GM you can trust. That is the secret to why Critical Role works, and why my games work. I can run a published adventure and still make every player feel like it was written for their characters. Why? Because I talk with them, figure out what they want from the game, and work with their creation to make sure they have the best possible chance to experience an outcome that will satisfy them.

In other words, I ask for their trust. Plain and simple. Anyone can do that for any game. If they really wanted it.

Or just keep making excuses instead of solutions. I'm off to find a more productive, or at least a more fun discussion now. :)
 

At first glance, this would be the type of thing I'm talking about---a conscious decision made by the players to have some kind of internalized character stakes, and to make those internalized stakes become a real part of the narrative/fiction.
[...]
  • Is it even possible for this type of thing to be GM-led, or GM-guided? Or is this something that the GM cannot and should not try to artificially build or constrain?
Some of each.
The GM can lead it, provided the players give a small number of elements about which they and their character care, and they and the GM agree to have that be a functional element in the ongoing story.

The thing is, the players also need to be on board, and no one should have a clear answer to "where is it going?" That answer needs to evolve.

  • While this type of interaction could happen in any system, there are definite constraints in the core conceits of stereotypical fantasy roleplaying that would make sustaining this kind of activity difficult.
    • The idea that you have to have a "party", and that the "party" is supposed to stick together will quickly become a sticking point. In real life, when we as people begin to have divergent worldviews, or changing allegiances due to new life perspectives, we tend to change who we spend our time with. Truly character-driven play is going to be nigh impossible if the primary goal of the game is for "the party to stick together, because without you we can't defeat the big baddie, and no, I don't really care if your character would actually be involved or not. Figure out a viable reason for your character to do what the party is doing!" For character driven play, you have to accept the reality that the party is going to have to focus on character-driven needs. Otherwise, just like real life, the most "realistic" thing for a character to do might be to leave the party.
    • This goes back to @Celebrim's assertion that this kind of play is exceedingly difficult with a large cast of PCs. I'm guessing the most PCs you could have in a party to come even close to doing this kind of thing long term would be 3.
    • To really accomplish this kind of thing consistently, you have to be willing to accept as players that there's going to be a lot more "split screen" / non-focus time on your character. You have to be willing to let other people's characters "go where their desires take them," and sometimes you're going to just be the tag-along.
Most genres can support a party mentality; a few absolutely demand it in ways even D&D doesn't. (EG: military and paramilitary settings, including Star Trek, Police, Leverage, Alien). This doesn't preclude immersive character drama, even tho' there is a GM mission...

It just means the missions have to allow for a "B" plot. (Think how DS9 or Babylon 5, or even Xena always had elements of ongoing coupled with "problem of the week." And that B plot needs to be relevant overall.
  • For this kind of interplay to be more than just an incidental, one-off experience, the GM must be willing to let go of any notion of "where the game is supposed to go." It would require extreme flexibility and willingness on the part of the GM to truly go along with the player/character choices to their endpoint.
Not entirely. He just has to be willing to let characters have meaningful encounters with meaningful choices in them that help define/redefine the character and their beliefs. Part of this can be player established backstory characters, but it works best if they aren't overly detailed, so the GM has wiggle room to add backstory.

There can even be a campaign Macguffin (tvtropes link). Ideally, the Macguffin only gets found when the campaign has had a good run, and people are satisfied that their characters have reached some state... one last struggle/battle/social-confrontation, and then a narration of their retirement... or funerals... and bragging rights.

The thing the GM can't be doing is dictating how the character feels, nor boxing them into "one correct choice"...

It also helps if recurrent NPCs have more than one agenda item each - in one Traveller campaign, I kept foreshadowing the helpful SNCO's agenda — getting his family out of the Concordat — and when they finally did get to a habitable world, he stole the ship's boat and the missiles for the missile launcher.... I've never so surprised a group... but they also realized that it had been foreshadowed. It wasn't a "fixed element"; it was a "when this situation happens unless"... the unless being the PC's having realized he wanted out and willingly letting him and his family off... but they hadn't paid attention. That same campaign had an NPC-PC love affair... with a "not unhappy" ending, involving a couple of retirement salaries and a sailboat... It wasn't something I set out as a GM, but a response to a player deciding to engage with a (previously) minor NPC command grade officer.... the player played it for a romance story with lots of fade to black.

The reasons for this being pointed out is that there was a kind of "timer" on that campaign. The PC's were on a scientific expedition to test, refine, and rebuild a particular tech item (a J2 drive). I set some science breakpoints, and each tweak in the field was potential to each some; after enough, they had to return to build the new revision, and each revision was closer to reliable.. Other than that, there was no set plot. It was all player driven, and all the players selected character goals, and played them, and we all knew each other's main plot goals... but each player had a second goal, shared only with me. To allow those character driven elements, I merely needed to introduce suitable obstacles relevant to it. Such as how do you prepare for a 6 month deployment with the new GF? (Answer I expected was trading momentos... answer chosen by the player was to see if the GF would like to be transferred aboard. I made a suitable reaction roll, and she joined the crew...)

The most important element is creating encounters, not outcomes.
 

I think that meaningful character development is very possible in RPGs. I think there are many factors that will either increase or decrease the likelihood of it in any given game.

The participants. The GM and the players are all a big factor here. The players likely will have to come up with some kind of goal or challenge for their PC. Very likely more than one. The GM then has to recognize these goals and help bring it into play in a meaningful way. Having goals that are somehow in opposition is an easy way to challenge PCs; to gain one, another must be lost. These things need to be meaningful, though.

I think that mechanics can be huge in this area. Yes, such play can be achieved with a game that has no such mechanics (or even mechanics that run counter to this goal). But for games designed to promote this kind of play, looking at their mechanics can be enlightening. Most fundamentally, how does the game reward the player? Usually some kind of XP system. Is it about GP gained? Monsters killed? Promoting a cause or belief? These things absolutely influence the kind of play a system will deliver by default. How are characters generated? What constraints are placed on that process? What elements constitute a character? All of this meaningfully shapes play. If a game has no mechanic or even a spot on a character sheet to write down “what is most important to this character?” then it doesn’t seem all that important to the game. And yet that kind of thing is far more essential to character driven play than any stat or skill or class.

Finally, I think the idea of surrender is important. This relates to Ovinomancer’s discussion of risk above. I think that we as players have to be willing to give up some amount of authority on our characters in play in order for their to be meaningful growth. We have to actively move away from the idea of “my character is mine, and all of it is up to me”. We have to leave major decision points up to chance and find them through play. This is where the other elements tie together.

If I intro an ideal for my PC, and then the GM beings it up in play, and there are mechanics that put that ideal to the test in some way, I don’t necessarily get to decide the outcome. We need to give up that ownership a bit in order to be able to risk anything that we’ve established about our characters.

Otherwise, there’s no loss or gain for the player, there’s just a decision they make between A or B. I think it has to work that I as a player say my character is A, and then that is challenged through play by the GM (and/or other players), so now it is a question of can my character remain A, and we resolve that with the actual chance that my character could become B.

Players and GMs can do this kind of stuff in any game, but it’s far more common and formalized in some games.
 

I can accept that amended statement, though it makes no difference to me. If barriers can be overcome, then they are no longer barriers.
That's probably the most disingenuous thing I've seen this year.

Just because a fence can be climbed doesn't mean it's not a barrier. It makes crossing from one side to the other harder whether or not one knows how to climb it or vault it. If it weren't there, no climbing nor vaulting is needed. If it is there, it can be climbed, it can be cut through, but it's still a barrier.
 

Always make sure you have key plot beats down at certain moments.

And make sure you have the cutscenes happen at the key points.

Oh snap, that was a lucky headshot on the BBEG, guess that's the end of that Campai-camera angle sharply goes to the close up of the BBEG who was able to dodge at the last second as the bullet grazes his cheek, then spins around with the momentum to recover. Then he uses magic to make the air dense, causing all physical projectile range attacks to suffer auto disadvantage
 

I try to not have cut scenes at all. If any cinematic event needs to occur, it will do so naturally. My campaigns aren't a movie, nor are they a book. I can put all the pieces in place for something memorable, but ultimately it is the players that make those moments happen... or they don't make them happen at all.

For conveying important plot points, I simply have npc's show up and relay that information to the players. The moments where I do need to describe a big scene, I try to not sideline the players. They can interrupt me at any time, and react to what I'm describing to them.

If I want a final confrontation with a big bad to take place, I don't put him on the stage until I feel the moment is right, and then let it play out. I make no assumptions regarding how the players will solve a particular obstacle, but I try to prepare for the most likely options. And I try to make sure that the plot does not hinge entirely on any one villain.

But when I set up an important moment in the plot, I try to make sure there are some unexpected twists along the way, as well as some red herrings, and a proper set up befor the big reveal. The more the players get used to your style of storytelling however, the harder it can become to still surprise them. They will eventually start second guessing your twists.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
That's probably the most disingenuous thing I've seen this year.

Just because a fence can be climbed doesn't mean it's not a barrier. It makes crossing from one side to the other harder whether or not one knows how to climb it or vault it. If it weren't there, no climbing nor vaulting is needed. If it is there, it can be climbed, it can be cut through, but it's still a barrier.
My definition of a barrier is something that prevents your passage. A fence you cannot climb, tear down, or get around is a barrier. Maybe you don't see a way to climb over it or feel you are capable enough to try. But then you see someone else like you climb it. Do you think you can try it then, or is it still an impassable barrier for you? More importantly, does it still look like a barrier once you get over to the other side?

Also, it's only February. Plenty of year left to get offended by people trying to get you over a fence. :)
 


Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top