01 August, 2016

#RPGaDay 3: Character Moment You Are Proudest Of?


I've spent three quarters of my roleplaying experience as a GM, so the moments I recall most readily are those where I've established scenes for my players to interact with (often built on the events previously assembled collaboratively through the actions of player characters and the preloaded triggers built for the sandbox environment), then I throw in a twist by pulling a concept that had generally been forgotten from a previous session...

...then watch the chaos.

I haven't found many tabletop GMs over the years who run stories in similar ways. Mostly just the types of GM who get a pre-written module (either published, or pre-written by themselves) then lead the players through and don't have a lot of scope for changes to their plans. So there haven't been many opportunities for player characters to shine. My style of play follows my style of GMing, I plant the seeds, I spend a few sessions nurturing the plants, and by the time the fruit is ripening, the plans have been set in place for too long for anyone to do anything about them. But the spontaneous twists are fun too, especially when running with other people's ideas...playing the player not the game...pulling in ideas that other players have seeded into the story in a spontaneous way, making them think it was a part of your plan all along.

A specific case in point for me once again goes back to LARP. Maybe 15 years ago, Vampire the Masquerade, specifically Camarilla, I typically played a Follower of Set but had been rounded up into a Giovanni group. For those who are unfamiliar with the setting, the Giovanni are a family of vampiric necromancers, they deal with ghosts and the spirit world through ancient traditions that date back millennia (stolen from a lost clan of necromancers), they are secretive and present a fa├žade of business-like/corporate honour. But everyone knows out of character that they have secrets.

This was a time when the supplement treadmill was in effect. Every month a new book or two would be released, offering new powers, new twists to the setting, updates to old power sets. Only the most fanatical players were completely up to date on everything, everyone else would focus on their group/faction/clan, and quite a few didn't even bother with that (if they didn't pick something up in game, they wouldn't know it as a character or as a player). They was always a grey area between what was "known", and what was simply implied in the game.

The specific scene in question saw a group of new players, and a couple of veterans. The veterans were the kind of players who played to the story rather than the rules. As Giovanni, we were on the outer, but willing to engage in deals with our skills, abilities, and status as politically neutral. We were due to approach the local court of vampires with an offer to help with a problem, but were intercepted by some vampiric young punks and anarchs. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife), was stroking a prop skull. That's when the idea came to me. I made motions of whispering into the skull and asked her to put it on the ground. Then took a step back. She took my cue, and so did the other two characters with us...we each took a step back, and looked at the skull. Our opponents had no idea what we were doing. I started a countdown, 5, 4, 3, 2... They ran as quickly as they could from our location, and we picked up the skull bfore proceeding on our way into the court.

No in game magic was used, it was all out-of-character psychology. But it went down in game history for years to come.

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