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In your RPGing, who chooses the antagonists/opposition - players or GM?

Einlanzer0

Explorer
Perhaps as much as you considered your audience when you decided to (a) put this confrontational element that is pretty much a thinly veiled attack on either my integrity or my self-awareness in a thread that doesn't have anything to do with Manbearcats/integrity/self-awareness instead of (b) (oh I don't know) PMing me directly...which would be the kind, considerate thing to do and the "most likely to reach your audience" thing to do (which was your preoccupation in your Public Service Announcement to me in this thread).

Its not a great look for a general participant to do this period. Its a worse look for a mod. You can do with that what you will.

But to answer your question directly:

Yes, I have. I consider the way I write and the way I think to be a flaw (not a character flaw...but an operational flaw). I've tried to repair it many times, but I can't make the repair stick. I've also had this conversation on here with other people who do exactly what you did above. I didn't take offense for challenging my integrity or self-awareness and not also not being kind/considerate enough to PM me directly about it then! And I won't do so with you now! And I'm sure I'll have to do this again with another poster down the road!

Shocking. He's at it again here.
 

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So my group had a recent pair of campaigns that were related, and which touch on this topic in an interesting way.

First, we played a Blades in the Dark campaign where the players were a crew of Hawkers selling a high quality supernatural drug dubbed “Third Eye”. Over the course of the campaign, they rose up in the underworld to become quite a force to be reckoned with.

We had taken a break from that campaign to try something else when the pandemic struck and the lockdown forced us to play remotely. The game we had been playing didn’t work as well as the GM wanted, so we decided to do another Blades campaign.

This time though we decided to use the “Flame Without Shadow” playtest material, which is for playing inspectors and bluecoats (cops) in the setting. The idea is that a unit is assembled to deal with a specific mandate. I expected that we’d tie in some of our previous campaign where possible to add some flavor...but in discussing what we wanted the mandate for our cops to be, the players all wanted to investigate the crew from the previous campaign.

This meant that their primary targets were all former PCs of the players in the new game. So they very much had a sense of ownership over these characters.

I was kind of worried how it would go, but it worked out well, and we even learned a lot about the criminal PCs that we previously didn’t know. For example, ad the unit was investigating the scoundrel crew’s hitman, a Lurk named Cross, they learned he had been an orphan as a kid, and grew up in a series of group homes and orphanages and out on the streets. This wasn’t something I came up with; I deferred to the original player regarding these kinds of details. I added some details here or there and made some suggestions (and so did other players), but ultimately what became “canon” was up to the NPCs original player.

This approach honestly worked much better than I was expecting. In the original campaign, the criminal PCs all had a kind of loose background, with varying amount of detail as it came up in play. In the new campaign, with those PCs serving as NOCs being investigated, we were able to flesh them out from an entirely different angle, and the players were heavily invested given that they had made these characters.

It was a pretty unique situation, and one I don’t know if we’ll ever really get to repeat, but it really drove home how possible it is to give players a lot of ownership over NPCs and how it can enhance a game.
 

darkbard

Hero
This wasn’t something I came up with; I deferred to the original player regarding these kinds of details. I added some details here or there and made some suggestions (and so did other players), but ultimately what became “canon” was up to the NPCs original player.

This approach honestly worked much better than I was expecting. In the original campaign, the criminal PCs all had a kind of loose background, with varying amount of detail as it came up in play. In the new campaign, with those PCs serving as NOCs being investigated, we were able to flesh them out from an entirely different angle, and the players were heavily invested given that they had made these characters.

It was a pretty unique situation, and one I don’t know if we’ll ever really get to repeat, but it really drove home how possible it is to give players a lot of ownership over NPCs and how it can enhance a game.

This is interesting and shares some similarities with the solo DW game I'm running for my wife that I discussed a little above, though in reverse.

We're constantly discussing various character ideas, and she was mulling several possibilities for our new game. One was the Svirfneblin Ranger-Psion she is playing; another the Tiefling Immolator that is now an NPC in that game. She wondered rhetorically what the relationship might be between these two very different characters should they ever cross paths, the former a meek slave whose impulse is often to blend into the background (via a psionic ability to cloud her foes' ability to perceive her a la invisibility bur for all the senses) and the latter a commanding, confident presence burning with the inner fires of the Hells themselves.

As we sketched out the setting together in the first session, taking turns on adding details and locations, I introduced a Tiefling kingdom, offering the possibility that such introduced the possibility of my wife's Tiefling PC character concept appearing in the fiction in some fashion. I introduced an unnamed female Tiefling in framing the initial play scene, but even as that scene played out we weren't sure if this Tiefling was my wife's imagined Tiefling.

In subsequent sessions, as the Svirfneblin PC has been dispatched on a fetch mission by her new owner, a powerful Tiefling ambassador and military officer, we decided it made sense for the hitherto unresolved character of one of his bodyguards to crystallize into this Immolator character, and we sketched her out as a Hireling mechanically, even though she is technically the PC's overseer in the fiction. The next several sessions should allow us to develop this NPC's character collaboratively, and there's always the possibility she becomes a full-fledged PC down the road, either in a later game or as a kind of secondary PC similar to what @pemerton has described for his Traveller game.

EDIT ADDENDUM: As a specific illustration of how the NPC's character is taking shape and how this adds to the overall shared fiction:

When the Ranger-Psion PC's animal companion, a cave dog with the vicious tag and Instinct to savage its prey, killed a cave rat, I asked my wife to illustrate this, keeping the tags in mind. She described the hound tearing the large rat apart and devouring its heart. I took my opportunity and had the Immolator NPC comment, "Huh. I thought only Tieflings consume the hearts of their foes." So that's a thing now.
 
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In your RPGing, who does all this? And how is it done?
Mostly the GM. Sure a PC could try and create one, but why. Most GMs I play with are good enough to understand the PCs at their table. For example, they know when the antagonist burns down the temple, they will anger the cleric of said temple. Or when they experiment and blight small harmless forest creatures, the druid might get upset.

If you have more of an open concept, and the PC doesn't take the bait. That's cool too. But as far as creation, the GM reigns supreme because the fiction of the antagonist can be as long or short, evil or good, complex or simple as needed.
 

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