thread: 2011-09-08 : Trad vs Indie: FIGHT! pt2

On 2011-10-10, cc wrote:

@David, I read those threads, they looked very good to me and I recognised a lot of what was being discussed.  I do read the Story Games forum from time to time, but I have not joined because its "tell us how cool you are" thing in the registration process irks me.

@Josh.  Obviously deception is the trickiest possible circumstance. It's not something I do a lot, and it skates pretty close to the edge.  The way I came to the decision for the cyberpunk game was this: it was part of the genre expectations which until then, had never been realised in play.  Shadowrun made the idea of the PC's being back-stabbed so routine that it became a joke.  So every game would play out the same way, the players would be all cynical, they would anticipate the betrayal, and they would blow it off.  All very world-weary, but not much fun, not much engagement.

So I set out to deliver it properly, to make them feel betrayed, to make them take it personally.  That was why it had to be done twice, and why other stuff had to happen between these two episodes.  The first time they were expecting it, it was stock content, no biggie.  But the second time it stung; the anguished cry went up "I don't believe it, he's done it to us AGAIN!".  They shook their fists at the heavens.  And they really, really hated him, hated him more than they ever hated any Mr Johnson that had gone before.

I felt licensed to do this because of the genre, because it was there in the expectations but not actually there in play whether I was GMing or someone else was.  I was reading between the lines.

I could make a general case of the argument that if the players are up against a cunning villain or conspiracy or something of that ilk, it's an implicit part of feeling villainy of the enemy.  If you were playing L5R, it would be pretty wussy to go up against the Scorpion and not get tricked.  Same for superhuman AI's, ancient elder vampires, etc etc.

In these conversation, I really do ask them "what sort of thing do you want to do".  I don't make any promises, and don't make it happen right away, and I don't get too specific.  So by the time it happens they may well have actually forgotten that we ever discussed it.  And even if they do remember, I will try to approach it in a roundabout way so its not overbearingly obvious.  And so, hopefully, it won't be spoiled because they will suddenly find themselves in it.

It's like one of those heart-warming family movies where the kid always asks for a bike for christmas, but there is no bike among the presents on xmas eve.  But when they go out to play in the snow on xmas day, there's a bike with a bow on it standing in the drive.


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