A couple of days ago I wrote about and got some very interesting comments about how this is relevant to games.
On the Story Games forum they talk about Improv Theatre and how drama and story is made up of those things which are unusual or out of character as long as there is context and justification.
Meserach writes: “The story in which the otherwise devoted nun kills a baby for no reason at all other than the shock value? Sucks. The story in which the otherwise devoted nun kills a baby, but surrouding material gives us some insight into why? That could be a good story.”
Mark W writes: “In my experience, some people have this notion of character that really doesn’t extend much beyond the “pick two keywords and play them out no matter what” style.”
Like, say, “Lawful Evil” or “CareGiver/Curmudgeon” (because I might as well piss off the D&D folk as well as the White Wolf folk in order to get the most hate mail).
In the WatchTower game there are things happening in the background that I want the players to start moving forward. We’ve just started the creation of the B-Team, named so because they’re the second wave of heroes for WT-NY. After this, the players will make more characters (in a few weeks time), but this time playing the part of the conspirators behind the scenes. It’ll be an interesting roleplaying challenge for some and also an opportunity to add justfication to the actions which have gone before. That will mean giving away some of the plot, but the plot has to be player driven.
I remember back more than a decade to an Ars Magica game I ran in Dragonslayers. At one point we had 11 players and half of them had two characters. And one in particular, played by John D, was given an artifact that when activated would give him the power of a Tenth of Hell. The activation was an old curse which, in order to enact, he had to gather the right hands of thirteen friends. The character did this, betraying thirteen comrades and escaping suspicion due to John’s silver tongue and then decided not to enact the curse after all. Too risky apparently. These were the actions of an ostensibly good but perhaps selfish or power hungry character. His character’s arrogance was that his comrades (grogs, companions, other wizards) were beneath his contempt and he used them. When it came to the ultimate justification of the character, his courage failed. This was a bigger, badder thing than he. And he feared to raise up what he could not put down. It made his evil actions which were out of character all the more tragic when it was made apparent that his primary trait was cowardice. I loved it. It actually made the story. I do feel a bit sorry for the one armed bowman previously known as “the best archer in all of Christendom”. Them’s the breaks.