log in or register to remove this ad

 

Making 'em cry

Heathen72

Explorer
Movies and TV do it. Books do it. Theatre and musicals do it and even a good song can do it. They can bring you to tears.

So, if RPG's are akin to these other art forms it prompts the question: do they have the ability to really affect your emotions?

I am not talking about thrills, scares or laughs - gaming has those aplenty - and there is nothing wrong with games being just that, mind. Nor I am not suggesting that evoking tears is necessary for a good game. I just want to see if, in the experience of my fellow ENWorlders, RPG's evoke of sort of emotion that your average stoic male avoids.

Note, that I am not asking for reasons why they might, or how they could or should. I am looking for actual examples. To put it more directly:

GM's - have you ever made your players weep?
Players, ever moved your fellow players to tears?
Or been moved to tears yourself?
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

A

amerigoV

Guest
I've seen it once. We revisited some old (and cherished) characters in a one-shot (day long event). My character had passed to the other side years ago and was a Saint. He came back (secretly) as part of the adventure posing as a normal cleric.

At the end, someone needed to sacrifice themselves to close a rift in the Veil. My guy got to reveal who he really was ("I would sacrifice myself, but I have done so already and cannot do so again") - the look on the other players faces was awesome, both because they realized who my character really was AND one of their characters would have to step in. When one character stepped up to do so, it was a moving moment (I recall some tears from the volunteer and another player not happy about it). Probably the best gaming moment of my gaming career.

Sadly, years later that event was ruined when the unhappy player did a bit of fan fiction with the GM and got the sacrificed PC back. Note that it was not their PC - but I think the unhappy player was sweet on the player whose character sacrificed themselves and was expressing it though the characters. I told the GM at that point the campaign had "jumped the shark" for me and I would not be interested in revisiting that particular campaign anymore.
 

Ravellion

serves Gnome Master
Does it count if it is becasue I killed their character somehwat arbitrarily? ;)

I'd say no, it hardly is possible (basically), but then I think RPGS are more like books and less like film. I think music and facial expressions are integral to making people weep, and that requires not a DM but instead a DJ/Actor.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
After a particularly moving conversation I had as an NPC with a PC, the player left the room bewildered. He came back a moment later and said "That was the most intense, most moving moment I've ever experienced in a role-playing game."

We were both on the verge of tears but I had to move on and GM the next part.
 

nedjer

Adventurer
Characters, challenges, dilemmas, pacing, creep, grit and intensity can be layered to encourage everything from quiet desperation through to blind panic in-game. Full-blown blubbing is a huge no-go for Scottish guys; but choking them up or sending a genuine shiver up the spine is fair game.
 

CharlesRyan

Adventurer
I've had it happen once or twice, but it requires a couple of things.

First, a powerful emotional investment in what's happening in the game. That means the PCs and key NPCs need to be well developed and the players must really, really care about them and the events in the game world.

Second, the players need to really trust the GM. No, "trust" isn't the right word. The GM and players must have built a world that seems to have taken on a life of its own. When you watch a movie or read a book, it's easy to forget that someone created it. So when something powerful happens, you think in terms of it happening within the context of the story. But when something powerful happens in an RPG, some players tend to look at the GM and say "I can't believe you killed that NPC" or whatever. To get the emotional response you're talking about, the world has to be so vivid that the players' first reaction is to see the event as something that happened in the world, not something that the GM chose to have happen.
 

WHW4

First Post
Something interesting has been happening with our 2e Mutants and Masterminds game. Our group has a pretty heavy D&D background, with all the tropes that tend to come with it after so many years of play together, and we usually end up trying to carve a little piece of whatever campaign setting we are in and calling it our own; whether it be a mercenary company, or just a band of thieves, or heroes who rooted evil out of a local keep and stay there on guard - that type of thing. Generally "selfish" type things that in the end benefit the PCs a lot.

With our M&M campaign, it is almost a universal shift towards caring about the NPCs who we are trying to save, rather than subconscious meta-thought of "if we do X, they will help us Y." Villain threatens an innocent? The entire table springs into action; and while I haven't seen tears, I have seen actual inner turmoil on people's faces as they have to make choices like Save This Woman or Save this Bus of Kids. Then later the players will talk about how hard a choice it was. Stuff like that.

I believe it stems from the system, partially, and of course the attitude shift we seem to have encountered in switching games. I think since we are already powerful, that subconscious thirst for it has been removed, and it lets us focus on the story at hand.

At this rate, when one of the heroes actually dies, I think it will be the most moving scene up to that point.
 

Smoss

First Post
Oh yes. I've made several players bawl their eyes out.

Creating emotional ties to the characters (PCs and NPCs) is the key.

Best part is they come back for more. So it is all good. Though I had one gal accuse me of timing sad moments for when her cycle was giving her the most hormones. (As I somehow hit the timing right on every sad moment for her campaign)

Ah well. Back to being the evil DM. :)
--------------------------------------
Smoss
 



kitsune9

First Post
GM's - have you ever made your players weep?
Players, ever moved your fellow players to tears?
Or been moved to tears yourself?

For me, no I haven't been moved to tears. I've never vested myself into rpgs so much that I'm truly emotionally engaged in the game because that area requires a certain "connectivity" into the game that when the loss occurs, I'm likely to be more annoyed or upset than driven to tears.

Have I made players cry? Not intentionally. Two of my players were very nice ladies back in the days of 2e. One of them was a big time gamer and the other joined because her husband played, but she got into it a lot herself. Well, the gamer girl played a paladin who had a pseudo dragon companion who loved to "steal" gems from the group.

Well, one session was that the paladin sacrificed herself against some kind of big vile monster and she got crunched. Everyone gathered around their fallen comrade unsure of what to do next, so I roleplayed the that the psuedo dragon was giving back the gems and placing them on the fallen paladin's chest. That made the girls cry.

I personally don't go for the tear-jerking moments. If it just happen to happens, it does, but it's not something that I will plan.
 

anest1s

First Post
For me, no I haven't been moved to tears. I've never vested myself into rpgs so much that I'm truly emotionally engaged in the game because that area requires a certain "connectivity" into the game that when the loss occurs, I'm likely to be more annoyed or upset than driven to tears.

Have I made players cry? Not intentionally. Two of my players were very nice ladies back in the days of 2e. One of them was a big time gamer and the other joined because her husband played, but she got into it a lot herself. Well, the gamer girl played a paladin who had a pseudo dragon companion who loved to "steal" gems from the group.

Well, one session was that the paladin sacrificed herself against some kind of big vile monster and she got crunched. Everyone gathered around their fallen comrade unsure of what to do next, so I roleplayed the that the psuedo dragon was giving back the gems and placing them on the fallen paladin's chest. That made the girls cry.

I personally don't go for the tear-jerking moments. If it just happen to happens, it does, but it's not something that I will plan.
When did I give you exp? It says I cant give again lol :p
 

The Monster

Explorer
Problem is, it's not easy to get moved to actual tears in the middle of a bunch of friends in a brightly lit room with all the noise of a game session going on. Alone with a book, or in a dark theater, one feels a lot less exposed. Especially when GMing, you just don't usually have time to allow the emotion to express itself before dealing with the next question or event.

So, with that caveat, there's been one time as GM I came close; it was a Shadowrun adventure, of all things, and it was all about a relationship between two NPCs that served as a minor plot twist. I barely remember what it was, but it touched some individual personal nerve for me; it was little more than a minor mention in the actual play, but I still had to take a few seconds' pause when they were reunited - fortunately, that campaign was co-GMed, so I could let the other guy take over in the heat of action.

For characters, I played a female Watcher in our Buffy campaign, and she made tears well up in me repeatedly; as a true BtVS character, she had rather intense personal issues, and some of them actually affected the course of play (the scene where her dying evil-witch mother swapped minds was a hoot, but I was constantly thinking about how this hit poor Sam in her most sore parts); she suffered more than one nervous breakdown during the campaign. Some of the emotion came out at the table, but, again, the necessity of action flow and sensitivity kept a lid on it. I'm not sure anyone else was affected the way I was - since they didn't know all the background of the character - but there were a couple times when I noticed a catch in other players' voices when things hit their own characters personally. Gayle Samantha Storm remains the one character I've ever been most invested in, and I look back on her fondly.
(She did finally find true love with the vampire, played by my wife. ;) )


The only time I can recall another player triggering tear-worthy sentimient was also in the Shadowrun campaign. One of the players was running an ork detective, a tough, tough-talking gumshoe of the old school -personality somewhere between Sam Spade and The Thing, but with brains- although he was of all things, the 'face' of the group, since he actually had the charisma and skills to pull it off. In combat, he was outclassed by street sams, mages, and adepts, but he always pulled through and served up his share of whupass (not infrequently involving explosives).
At the end of the Harlequins's Back module, one of the characters is needed to stand guard at the bridge where the horrors are trying to cross over into our universe. Without hesitation, the orc steps up out of the crowd of shiny, enhanced elves and humans and offers his services; 'can't think of a better way to go out.' It was indeed a fitting end to the no-nonsense, gruff 'tec. It still warms my heart to think of the scarred, gold-tusked (yes, he'd had one of his tusks gold-plated, just 'cuz it's cool) orc, with fedora and trenchcoat, battling hordes of alien bugs beside the witty, handsome and lithe Harlequin, saving the world for yet another day.
 
Last edited:

Shemeska

Adventurer
GM's - have you ever made your players weep?

Yes. I provided a situation where the PCs were forced into a favor for a favor situation by a fiend. One of the takeaway messages from my campaigns is that dealing with such creatures -even if by necessity, even if for the most noble of reasons - never leaves you unsullied in some way. In this particular situation some players cried, I had a wierd feeling of accomplishment and one of regret for what happened in-game.

After I wrote up what happened in story form, I wasn't really sure that I wanted to revisit that territory for a while. It was pretty dark and the character in question was one of, perhaps -the- most wretched thing in that campaign. It wasn't pleasant to write about, much less act out as an NPC in-game. But it made for a very effective campaign, and provided some motivation for the PCs that in the campaign's ending session really came back for some rightious justice on their part.

Here you go: [Fiction] The Blind Clockmaker, Harishek Apt Thul'kesh
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I don't recall ever being moved to tears as a player in tabletop. I think there have been tears at my table while I was GM, but I think that was more due to interaction between players than because of what I did.

Mind you, I think the tears that come during a gaming session are rather different than what you might get from a book or movie. When you are the audience of a fiction, you weep in sympathy for the characters. When you do so as a RPG player, I think it is more likely to happen in empathy - you're more likely to weep because your character would weep, not because you feel sorrow for what happens to the character as a third party.

I find live action games far more emotionally immersive, and I've had much stronger emotional reactions in live action play than tabletop.
 

Wild Gazebo

Explorer
Only twice that I recall.

The first was when I had a beloved NPC die quietly in his chair while the players were celebrating a victory in his home with his wife and adopted son (the son was a PC). The NPC was a cantankerous old man with a heart of gold that funded the PCs from a very early level...it was later revealed he was a powerful wizard. We proceeded to a funeral scene that didn't draw tears as the death scene did.

The second was in the same campaign...much later (5-6 levels later). (In this world the wizards aging table was increased based on the level they achieved so that a high level wizard could live hundreds of years) The PC who was the son of the wizard (who was also a wizard) received a letter and gift from the wizard's wife. The gift was an amulet and the letter was a note about how much she loved the PCs and how she was tired and missed her husband so she was giving this amulet to him. The amulet was intended as a gift to the person you love so they may live the same length of time as an experienced wizard.

The letter took a minute to sink in as the PCs realized that she had committed suicide to send the amulet to her adopted son. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. It was also at this time that they realized how old and powerful their old friend was as the leader of the wizard's guild told them that he was the apprentice of their beloved old wizard.
 
Last edited:

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
It happens, but it's rare, and it's gotta be the right mix (the group, the DM, the timing).

Which is fine. It should be rarer in D&D. It's harder to pull off this sort of thing in a game, since you are not the only one with control over the narrative, and tragedy requires a high level of control. If a beloved NPC dies, what's to stop the party from trying to resurrect her, or contacting her ghost, or journeying to her resting place and striking up a conversation with her at-peace spirit? Even knowing such things are theoretically possible robs some of the emotional punch from the scenario.

And then, if you forbid that kind of stuff, it can lead to a "Trying to Bring Back Aeris" scenario, where the players get irked because they can't reverse your plot point.

It really requires a careful alignment of DM and player goals and trust and receptivity that is very difficult to achieve. And it's not always good -- people can get annoyed that you made them cry (or tried to make them cry) in a fantasy game about gumdrop elves in the forest of magic unicorns. Why would anyone want to do that, in a game that is, for them, partially about escapism, or just hanging out with friends?

IMO, if you've done it, and it worked for you, that's great, but it's not something D&D (or any interactive medium) is well-suited to. The narrative flow of a game is inherently an optimistic one (or comedic, in the old-school definition of the term): you have a goal, you're prevented by a conflict, and then you overcome the conflict to achieve the goal.

Unless you're absolutely sure that your whole group is on board to absorb a story and is OK with sad stories and tragic tales as part of that (a subset of a subset of a subset if there ever was one), I wouldn't try it. And if you've got such a subset, I imagine a DM that tries their hand at telling a sad story will probably succeed.

(I've done it before -- once, a PC's beloved brother became a sacrificial victim for her corrupted uncle -- but it is honestly not something I take any joy in inflicting in a game, so I tend to shy away from it...though my stories aren't so light. ;))
 


Only once.

I was DMing a husband and wife in a campaign that lasted several years with very regular play (up to several times a week). The senior mentor of the husband died tragically (and in a way so that their characters would soon be framed with his murder). I think the shock of realising that this character was gone (no resurrection in this campaign), combined with the years of continuous regular play with him in such an important role combined with the funeral pyre music from Return of the Jedi did it. We all weeped for the death of most likely the best character I have ever role-played. One of the hardest things I've done as a DM, and certainly the harshest thing I have ever played upon the players involved. It really stung.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise
 

Wild Gazebo

Explorer
Unless you're absolutely sure that your whole group is on board to absorb a story and is OK with sad stories and tragic tales as part of that (a subset of a subset of a subset if there ever was one), I wouldn't try it. And if you've got such a subset, I imagine a DM that tries their hand at telling a sad story will probably succeed.

I must admit, both of the times I mentioned earlier happened organically. I didn't intend to tell a sad story...I had plot points mapped out with triggers for motivation.

The first example was really just a plot device for them to discover a secret room and introduce a new bad guy...I was amazed at the affection that had grown for this NPC. I mean--I wasn't really attached to him--I killed him.

The second was just a means for them to get a key for a room (the amulet doubled as a key) while they were half a continent away...I must admit by that time I realized I might be tugging on heart stings; but, what I didn't realize is how I would feel as it happened.

Not a dry eye.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top