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Author Topic: [Fading Suns] Player/Character motivations & a question  (Read 1861 times)
jeffd
Member

Posts: 58


« on: November 10, 2003, 12:38:15 PM »

I ran another Fading Suns session this past weekend where something really interesting happened.  First some background:  There were two relatively new players in the game who had both made fighter type characters; a Li-Halan knight engaged in fighting the rebellion on Rampart and her Brother-Battle confessor (Brother Battle is the militant arm of the church, she had a BB confessor assigned to her because her adventuring managed to get her previous two confessors killed).

Anyway, the game was pretty much a one-off action/adventure session that would give the new characters a chance to be in the limelight a bit.  The scenario involved terrorists siezing the bullet-train the characters were traveling on and planting a nuclear weapon on it that was timed to blow up when the train reached te planet's capital.  

Anyway I had given the players a few hooks.  They knew that while there were 30 or so bad guys, there were sixteen cars on the train.  They also had captured a few bad guys and had access to their communications.  But even then most of them were inclined to sit around and despair - when one of the characters made a big stirring rousing speech to get them off their ass.

Really what I saw happening here was the whole lazy player thing - the whole "well my character wouldn't get involved...." excuse.  What really impressed me was how the one player realized out of game that if the PC's did nothing it'd make for a boring evening, so she went ahead and "nudged" her character into a course of action.  In Forge terms, I'd say she hopped into Author stance for a bit.  It was really cool to see.

Now here's my question - I want to gift some karmic backlash down on two characters.  The first is a freemen who went ahead and murdered one of the terrorists - he came upon the BB after he had subdued two enemies and before the BB could stop him just casually picked up a rifle and shot one of them three times in the chest.  

The other character (stirring speech girl) was also kind of callous about the fate of the civilians on the train.  Several of them were killed as a result.  I'm trying to come up with some backlash for that - it's not like what they did was legally wrong or anything; I just need to come up with a way to make the point to the players in a dramatically appropriate manner.  Right now I'm thinking of possibly a sort of twisted dream sequence session (two of the characters are potent psychics, it's concievable that perhaps they could cause something like that).  Figured I'd kick it out to the Forge to see what people could come up with.

JD
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2003, 01:04:08 PM »

What's the "backlash" meant to accomplish? Is there some theme that you're trying to hammer home? Or are you trying to punish your players for what you saw as a poor participation? I'm trying to see what good this is supposed to do before giving any suggestions.

What system are you using, the FS system, presumably?

Mike
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jeffd
Member

Posts: 58


« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2003, 03:07:28 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
What's the "backlash" meant to accomplish? Is there some theme that you're trying to hammer home? Or are you trying to punish your players for what you saw as a poor participation? I'm trying to see what good this is supposed to do before giving any suggestions.

What system are you using, the FS system, presumably?

Mike


Hey Mike,

It's not punishment at all for being lazy - I try to be positive with that.  The one player will probably get an extra XP for her proactiveness.  

It's very much a matter of dramatic consequences.  The game we're in is very much a heroic drama - the PC's are meant to be the good guys, and good guys just don't do stuff like kill bad guys who have surrendered or ignore the hostages who are in danger.

JD
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jeffd
Member

Posts: 58


« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2003, 03:07:57 PM »

Oh - and yes, we're using the Fading Suns VPS system.  

JD
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jdagna
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Posts: 563


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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2003, 04:21:47 PM »

JD, are the players aware of your definition of heroic?  It sounds to me like they aren't, since a hero wouldn't need much persuasion to take on terrorists.  Additionally, they may have a slightly different definition of hero, since I can think of several who wouldn't be overly concerned with hostages or the survival of their enemies.

Basically, it sounds like you need to sit down and spell out how you're expecting the characters to act.

Until you're perfectly clear with the players on what you expect (and they agree), I wouldn't attempt any kind of backlash with any significance.  If you just want them to consider the possible consequences of their actions, consider having them meet some of the family of victims.  Perhaps one of the dead terrorists was a poor scared kid caught up in the wrong crowd.  

I would avoid anything more harsh unless the players specifically agree to a code of behavior (whether the characters agree to anything or not).  I know I ran one campaign where I kept smacking one player/character around for similar non-heroic actions until we finally had a discussion on it.    He said "Oooooohhhhh... I thought you just wanted someone basically good.  I was going for the conflicted anti-hero type who would have to work out these kinds of issues over time."  At which point I went "Oooooohhhhh... then don't change anything.  That sounds more interesting anyway."  Problem solved.  No backlash needed.
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Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
jeffd
Member

Posts: 58


« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2003, 07:13:04 PM »

Hrm just thinking about the replies I've gotten (all two of them) has gotten me more clear on what I want.  Thanks!

I think I misstated myself.  I don't want to punish the characters so much as have them dramatically have to face what they're doing.  I suspect what I'm going to do is in the future craft events where I can be reasonably sure they'll respond in the same way as before.  This time however there will be immediate repurcussions for that choice - thus causing the characters (and players) to face the consequences of their disregard for the life and safety of others.  Make sense?

Probably be a lot cooler than some contrived dream sequence too.

JD
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2003, 07:50:03 PM »

Hi Jeff,

I was going to reply to your initial post, until I read the bit about the dream sequence and was overcome by an audible physical reaction that cat owners will recognize. Glad to hear you've decided against it.

Please tell us everything about your system/mechanics experiences with Fading Suns.

Best,
Ron
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jeffd
Member

Posts: 58


« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2003, 09:51:00 PM »

Ron:  I run this game bi-weekly.  One of the reasons that's nice is because it gives me two weeks to talk myself out of my horrible ideas.  :)

JD
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stingray20166
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2003, 09:08:44 AM »

I like the fact that you are trying to make sure that the character's actions have consequences, both positive and negative.  Some thoughts, with the caveat that I'm not an FS expert:

1) The freemen who. . .murdered one of the terrorists
a) Presumably this was witnessed -- it is possible that the police would bring charges.  Murder is murder.
b) This terrorist happened to also be the only link to another terrorist cell who even now is preparing to strike.  The players gain clues, but they would have been able to get the information faster by interrogating this one guy.  They show up minutes too late and see the explosion or whatever.  (Kind of like the character's failure is being added into the terrorist's' success roll for their next action.)  

2)stirring speech girl was also kind of callous about the fate of the civilians on the train. Several of them were killed as a result
a) Yellow journalism from the pro-terrorist local paper: "Rampaging vigilantes slay dozens on train!  Insane claims that there was a nuclear device on board provide excuse for imperial lackeys to murder for fun!"
b) Even with objective journalism you get "Amidst the celebrations, families mourn.  The relief that the AcmeTerrorist plot was foiled does nothing to alleviate the grief felt by little Joshua Forge, who misses his father.  'Now I don't have anyone to play catch with.  But I know the heroes did all they could to save him'"
c) Maybe they wander by a church just as the funeral is over.  One of the mourners recognizes the heroes from the tri-vid and is
  c1) embarassingly thankful (if the player feels ANY remorse)
  c2) hysterical with grief and blames the hero

Nick
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2003, 09:21:37 AM »

Hello,

Justin's (jdagna's) question is central here. Jeff, I can't tell whether your desire is ...

- to demonstrate to the players that you'd like them to play differently to whatever extent

- to deepen and strengthen the sense of in-game causes throughout all aspects of the game, making "character" and "setting" more tightly integrated

- to pose specific kinds of adversity for the players to cope with, in the sense that whatever they do, you'll find a way for them to do something else later too

- anything else

Can you help me out about this issue? Please don't say "all of the above," which is entirely unhelpful. Which one of these (including the "anything else" if appropriate) is what you really want?

Best,
Ron
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jeffd
Member

Posts: 58


« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2003, 10:52:53 AM »

Quote
- to deepen and strengthen the sense of in-game causes throughout all aspects of the game, making "character" and "setting" more tightly integrated


That about sums it up.

JD
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2003, 11:16:48 AM »

Hi Jeff,

Great! Now I can help, I hope.

The consequences of your answer, as I see them, are these.

You don't particularly mind if the players continue to play the characters in the same manner - just as callous or callous + heroic as before. But do you see that your phrasing ...

Quote
I'm trying to come up with some backlash for that - it's not like what they did was legally wrong or anything; I just need to come up with a way to make the point to the players in a dramatically appropriate manner.


... could lead the gullible reader to infer that you do, in fact, want the players to change their ways? "The point" you want to make to the players is ... what, exactly?

Going by what you say in your recent post, changing the players' outlook in any way is not the point. The point is simply to have the game-world (characters, setting, situations) all be functioning in a satisfying way, as such.

In that case, isn't it simply a matter of prepping to satisfy your own sense of cause-and-effect in the game world? In other words, the "point" is not to be made to the players at all, but actually to your own self, in terms of how you come up with "new stuff" for them?

If that's so, then you seem all golden. Prep and enjoy. My only suggestion is not to recapitulate the previous situations in any way, as they didn't "do it wrong" or anything of the sort. Just come up with entirely new situations using NPCs and physical/logistic elements that arose from the events that were played.

Best,
Ron
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jdagna
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Posts: 563


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« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2003, 12:31:39 PM »

I also think that it's extremely important that you tell the players about how cause and effect works in your universe.  After all, it isn't obvious that killing a terrorist (even one who's surrendered) is wrong, especially when most GMs see leaving an enemy alive as a prime opportunity to have that enemy return in a stronger form later.

If you don't tell the players, you really run lots of risk with misunderstandings.  Players may very well wonder why bad things keep happening.  Is it just your sense of an interesting story? Will things go wrong no matter what they do?  Would things be going even worse if they had been nicer?

Perhaps more importantly, you may uncover differences of expectation (as I did in my earlier post).  These differences in expectation will never be resolved if everyone keeps everything "in-game" because game events don't provide a clear means of communication on these issues.  

Finally, if you're trying to represent game-world causality, you should know about how these consequences will show up even before the players do something "wrong."  For example, killing a surrendering terrorist should only have consequences if there are witnesses who can report it, laws or journalists who will enforce the penalty, or friends of the terrorist who will seek revenge.  Deciding "That was not heroic" and then figuring out how to impose consequences is absolutely the wrong way to go about it (in my opinion).  Determine situation first, and let consequences flow naturally from whatever the characters do within the situation.
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Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
DP
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Posts: 86


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« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2003, 02:30:39 PM »

Aside from social contract stuff...

The dream sequence is along the right track. But it can be more overt, more Mysterious.

Think "passion play." "Passion play." Use "passion play" as your mantra.

And if you haven't read any passion plays, do a little background reading at least on the York cycle of passion plays performed during the Feast of Corpus Christi.
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Dave Panchyk
Mandrake Games
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