The mechanics of betrayal, selfishness, and heroic death

Started by Bill Burdick, March 30, 2010, 08:42:35 AM

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Bill Burdick

One of the things I find most intriguing is that the "GM" player is supposed to use story telling to actively improve his position as a player and nerf the other players.  I think that would be interesting in a BRS-style game where the PCs are all allies, trying to achieve a common goal in an FRP setting (like Lord of the Rings) where, in contrast to BRS, the PCs share most of the "screen time".

The interplay between the story and the metagame seems like it would naturally create the unexpected betrayals, alliances, selfish behavior, and foolishness that make good reading in a novel.  In the BRS play description here: Shard's ally Crystal refreshes early, ostensibly "helping" in the conflict, but the player is actually stealing a refresh from Shard.

This reminds me of when Pippin alerts all of Moria to their presence by fumbling around with some old armor on a well.  Maybe competing for a limited resource could result in this type of scene, especially if that resource could be used for several purposes, including victory points for "negative character development" which disadvantages the group.  Boromir trying to take the ring and Frodo using the ring on to escape could also be examples of this.  I like the idea of a limited resource because it helps prevent foolishness and selfishness from "getting old."  Especially if this is a very useful resource that you have to "waste" in order to do that -- which kind of mirrors the story activity.

Gandalf losing the fight with the Balrog could also be a calculated risk, exchanging several victory points for taking your PC out of one or more several scenes.  Maybe even death of a PC could be a positive thing in terms of victory points for the player.  The player would also still earn VPs playing NPCs.



One of the things I really like about intentionally allowing the meta level competition bleed into the in character role playing in BRS is that it provides instant depth of situation that would take many sessions of play to develop strictly in character.

I have a character and you have a character.  In the set up we are in a position to help each other acheive our goals and so fictionally are natural allies.  If we were playing strictly in character it would take a lot of roleplaying, alot of interaction, alot of water under the bridge before we find ourselfs in a situation where I've just had enough of you and am gonna stab your guy in the back.  But in the meta're in the lead.  You're winning.  If I don't do anything to stop you...I'll never catch you.  So it doesn't take any time at all for me the player to decide I've had enough of you and am gonna stab your guy in the back.  Alls that remains is to manufacture the fictional reason to justify it.  In the course of manufacturing that reason...instant depth of character.  And since you've seen the betrayal coming a mile away...cuz no way you as a player a dumb enough to think I'm actually going to help you get farther ahead, you are a willing participant in developing the excuse for our characters...who otherwise seem like natural be deadly enemies.

I really enjoy the challenge of reverse engineering the fiction in order to produce the plot events the meta game requires.  I suspect its much the same sort of process script writers go through when they want a certain scene in the movie and then need to figure out a way to make it happen that the audience will find reasonable.