Bringing Back the Sense of Consequence...

I've watched another Buffy episode today, also from the 3rd season. One concept slipped to my mind from it. It's nothing new, or surprising, but it's the single best way to stop our murder hobos from doing something that they're gonna regret about forever. The concept is consequences. If there will be consequences for what the PCs do, the PCs will stop with doing evil bad things for no apparent reason.
Anyway, here are 4 quick ways to bring back the sense of consequences to the game:

  1. The police and other law enforcement groups are the single most common way to deal with it. Sure, players will sometimes pooh-pooh the police, but the sheer numbers of the policemen should be enough for that. If a party member commits a huge crime, have a chaotic scene in which the police takes the characters to an investigation, and the rest will be history...
  2. Dreams. When that particular PC sleeps, dreams about the infamous action will come to the character's head. If the character has problems with sleeping, that little extra edge has been achieved. 
  3. Vengeance. No real need to expand it, I think...
  4. Alienation from the world. The stink of the evil doers has been glued to the character. People are whispering around him/her, every shadow is like a killing machine ready to destroy him/her...
And that's it for today. How about you? How do you bring this sense back?


Eleanor Sells Her Next Adventure

The first adventure went smoothly. Really smoothly, actually. Eleanor was about to start thinking about how she shall sell the next one. She went through her notes, going over the PCs' backgrounds, and created the next adventure. It was supposed to be an adventure based around a magic item that the group was supposed to reach before a creature. She thought about this magic item, about how it was created and about how the creature was unleashed from it.
She then thought about what she finds the coolest aspect of the game, about the aspect that makes this adventure her adventure. She understood that if she'll focus on this aspect, she'll sell it better. The enthusiasm started to fill her, and a smile went through her face.
The next part was easier. She went through the NPCs that she has defined, and picked the one that was the most appropriate. Lady Mellisa was picked for the task, as she was the group's patron.
She then went to decide about when she'll suggest it. She was torn between suggesting it mid-adventure and at the end of it. She picked the end, as Lady Mellisa was on a quest of her own, and she weren't supposed to return 'till the end of the PCs' adventure.
Then, after she had all of this, she thought about the little details: About the legend of Geldofious, the amazing wizard who locked this vile creature in his sword. She thought about how the creature ended in the other side of the world, when it went out. More importantly to her, she thought about how it was supposed to affect the inhabitants of the little village. "Starvation and suffering", she thought, "and little thin children, with big eyes and way too thin bodies like..." The thoughts rolled in her mind, and...

When the time came, she used this way to sell the adventure. The suggestion went perfectly great, and the group was on its way, ready to face the creature...

So, this is how both I and Eleanor sell our adventures. How about you? What ways do you use for it? How does it turn out?


The Player Is Responsible Also

Yeah, I took the other day off. But today we're back in business. Anyway, today I wanted to talk about something that bugs my mind. You probably read this also, these many posts that talk about the role of the GM as the lead entertainer, and I agree with them, but I don't think that it's an excuse for the player to only go for his (or her) fun.
You see, The GM is responsible for about 40-50% of the fun (and according to Robin Laws, the rule set for another 30%). It still leaves about 20-30% of the fun to the players. I personally believe that just as like the way the GM sacrifices from his/her fun in order to make everyone to enjoy the game, so it is the player's responsibility. The little player, not the group. 
I truly believe that fun is just like laughter, the only disease that you wanna get. It spreads like one, and some people fight it just like it is one. This means that if everyone at the table has fun, I'll have also. And it will be a much more rewarding fun than the type where only that certain player is enjoying it. 
What I'm trying to say is that a great player is responsible for more than just his/her enjoyment, but to the enjoyment of everyone. I might, in the future, make a more elaborate look at the differences between great player and a good player, as I see them, but 'till then...
How about you? Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to tell me what you think.


Finally, I'm Starting Campaigns Again...

I'm starting 2 new campaigns, possibly, next week. One is the anticipated Call of Cthulhu campaign, which will start surely next week. I hope that it will be a great campaign, and I'm giving everything that I've got to it. It's gonna be a purist campaign, and I'm starting to think about what I'm going to do with it.
The second campaign that I'm going to open is a PbP campaign, of investigative horror. I still don't know anything about it, but they were asking for one, and I posted a teaser already. It's a murder mystery, with elements of Film Noir, and a lot of dog's perfume.


My Whole Life Depends on a Barber's Whim

A quick thought for today: I was at the barber shop today. While he cut my hair off, I couldn't stop thinking about one thing: "My whole life depends right now on the barber's whim." As anyone of you who has watched Sweeney Todd (or read about him) knows, a barber can decide to finish the life of his customers without the customers' ability to stop him (or her). 
This led me think about roles in our RPG stories that are also like that, making the customer depend on their whim. What follows is a list of such roles, and an idea about how they can be used to encompass this idea. The why, you see, is pretty simple: a) Because we can do it, as GMs. b) It can be interesting and dramatic. c) It will make the PCs mortal, and as such will make the game richer and more challenging. So, anyway, on to the list:

  • Barber: Nothing much to say, except for, you know, going for a Todd's style.
  • Chef: Have you thought once about the possibility that when coming to a restaurant, they may be poisoning the food? It won't be hard to do it. The kitchen is normally far, most of the ingredients aren't recognisable anyway, and most of all, because the kitchen is open to see, no one will suspect what's happening there.
  • Potion seller/brewer: Nothing too fancy or surprising. Who wouldn't buy an anti-poison potion? Make this anti-poison a real potent poison and you've got a hit. After all, it only gives a bonus...
  • Judge: What if one of our beloved murder hobos is gonna be hanged?
  • Ship Captain: Remember the scene from Pirates of the Caribbean, where Jack almost throws Will to the water? How about the lone island scene?
So, how about you? Do you have something similar in your games?

5 Quick Tips for Roleplaying Nobles Better

Every now and then, we wanna introduce to the game a noble or 2. Maybe we want this noble to be the PCs' patron or maybe even their political or military or whatever nemesis. Then, as we start to think about it, we begin to understand that roleplaying a noble is not that easy. Especially since we're probably not nobles ourselves. So, instead of throwing this idea to the garbage truck, here are a few tips to roleplay those nobles better:

  1. Imagine to yourself how this noble looks and smell. If you can bring a description, a colourful one, of how the noble looks and dresses, you can bring the noble look. Smell is important too, as it enables you to convey richness through perfumes or simplicity through wilder smell. Think about a noble after a good hunting trip or another after 2 days at bed. The smell is an easy way to differentiate between them.
  2. Think about the noble's gender. There are some expectations, especially from nobles, about what each one's gender role is. A lady will have to behave differently from a baron. Crossing these restrictions can bring the picture of the rebellious noble with a lot of ease...
  3. Talk with your head barely moving. It's a powerful technique to raise the speaker's statues. Don't think about it, just do it and many other characteristics of high statues will come with it.
  4. Be polite. The politer you are, the better it will be (but try not to cross into the comical realm of politeness). It doesn't have to get to the highest ranks, but adding please and thanks and shaking hands in a certain way will take you far.
  5. Take comfort in silence. Nobles made, over the years, the act of conveying things through silence into an art. Take comfort in silences, speak shortly and a little bit slowly, and take your time before you answer...
So, these are my 5 tips for playing noble characters. How about you? How do you roleplay them?


Lessons from Buffy's Homecoming

I'm watching Buffy, again. I still find new things there, quite a lot, actually, which is kinda nice. Anyway, in season 3, there's an episode that just screams: "GMs, learn from me!" This episode is on the right with this scream. It's a golden episode for GMs.
So, without any far ado, let's get to the nitty business. What can we learn from this episode?

  • Drama is prominent in the small details and not only in the big ones. Look at the conversation between Buffy and Angel at the beginning of the episode. You can feel the tension in the air. You can sense the drama that whispers in our ears when she tells him that she moved forward. It's a small scene, the only scene with Angel in this episode, and yet it's one of the most dramatic ones in the episode.
  • To create a sense of conspiracy, little hints are all you need. Look at the beginning of the episode, when Scott breaks with her. We suddenly move to a view from a camera. It's all we needed. There's a conspiracy there, and we know it. It was prominent earlier in the season, when Snyder talked about the mayor also. Little details and little hints, and suddenly the sense of conspiracy is there.
  • The protagonists have normal life also. Even slayers like Buffy have normal life, or at least the need for it. A contest for the Homecoming Queen, a basketball game, it doesn't really matter what it is exactly, but give a sense of normality. No one is a hero (or a heroine) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • When done good, party conflicts can bump the tension quite a lot. It can also give excuses for adventures. If there wasn't this conflict, it would have been Buffy and Faith, and as such much less interesting.
  • If the players come with a nonviolent way to solve a violent event, go for it. Cordelia lies to Lyle about being a slayer, and the better one, and it works. Being used after such a conflict between them, I wished to see the face of Buffy when she heard it...
  • Think about how you show your big bad of the campaign. The mayor is presented greatly, with a scene that both shows how he reacts with people, and both shows how evil he is. Having your villain focus on such things as how dirty one's hands are, we get an intriguing fella. Use it.
  • Using meanwhile scenes to present the dangers that are coming to the PCs can be a useful tool. It both shows the antagonists at their peaks, and also creates a sense of danger.
  • Contests are a sure way to get the engines rolling.
  • When organising a cool adventure, think about its name, and present it to the players (and to their characters) in an intriguing way. An exploding TV, a plane that falls on them, a dream sequence... If it will come in a cool way, it will be remembered better.
So, these are my 9 lessons from this episode. How about you? What lessons did you take from this episode?