Monday, November 26, 2007

The Stakes

A few night ago. I had most of my old gaming group around the dinner table. Sadly i was not involved in the game itself as i am doing a show right now. They are playing Exalted using Spirit of the Century as the primary engine and as near as i can tell they seem to be having fun, but also some issues.

Since there were some issues the talk around that table turned to strategies for fixing it. (They're a proactive bunch) and since i had them around the table, having just come in from practice, i asked them a question

"We've all had epic combats in the course of our various gaming careers. Which are the ones that stood out in your mind and why?"

And the response was overwhelmingly... simple.

They pointed out various struggles and combat from games past and they all shared one serious thing in common.
They cared. The stakes in the game had become important to them.

Getting to that basic state takes work and time, but once you do...You have no choice but to create conflicts for them that large stakes are riding on.

I'll never run a random encounter again. There's no point.

In other news, The World Famous Crank Report Book has gained a new editor. and the process is once again moving forward.
and there was much rejoicing.

Also, This:


Courtesy of Icanhascheesburger LJ community

1 Comments:

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Everett said...

As high-school lit tells us, the first element of a good story is a protagonist we care about. In a RPG this translates to generating characters that are not cardboard cutouts. This is why I will no longer allow characters who have dots on a sheet but can't tell me what town their character grew up in (amnesia notwithstanding; it may be cliche, but it means the character does have a background, just he can't remember it).

I'll have to disagree with you about "random" encounters. I think they can work well as a way to let the players come to know (and thus care about) their characters better, especially in the early stages of a story. IRL, shared combat experiences make soldiers friends for life, and something like it works for a RPG group.

Of course, having said that, I must agree for the later stages. The best storylines involve the active pursuit of desire by the protagonist and resistance by the force of antagonism; repeat to build drama and suspense. Each step of the conflict between the two opposing forces need to be for higher stakes, and you can not increase the stakes with a series of random encounters.

To answer your original question personally, I find that my most memorable 'epic' combats are best compared to a perpetually frustrated orgasim that you finally get off. I chase after the objective (kill the prince, or whatever) and are perpetually stopped by niggling details that frustrate me again and again. My (not my character's) hatred for the ultimate antagonist increases each time I'm blocked until I'm about ready to suicide bomb just so I can get him too. Then everything finally comes together, I get to "shoot my wad" and the feeling of finally completing the task is awesome.

 

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