Tuesday, August 18, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 18. Meet


Ok, meet, in respect to RPGs. Usually, "Meet" is all about how the party gets to know about each other. There are some classic tropes for meeting: 

"They all met at the tavern." 
"You're all locked in adjacent cells." 
"The lord has called upon you for secret mission." 
"The offer seems intriguing, so you make your way to the table." 

As good as all of those are, that isn't what actually happens. I'm my mind, we do not need to meet the characters. The characters need to meet themselves and show what part they have in the party.

When you meet someone in real life, by virtue of your senses and expectations, you go in with information about someone else. Whether you are right or wrong helps you formulate an opinion and hopefully, a relationship if only limited or transactional. In the theater of the mind, none of that exists (unless a player is an artist and has a picture of their character). 

At the RPG table the party isn't meeting each other so much as themselves. Wherever or how ever they meet, you, the DM need to be a good host and allow the players time to interact. I know it seems like a great time to throw them into the action, but just a few minutes of engaging each other helps the players get to know not only the other characters, but themselves. 

I've had players show up with five page thesis statements on their character. I don't care what you dreamed up over a period of weeks and many drinks. I want to know what you'll do now, with the resources given. "The Templar Knight of our Lady of Death" is not going play real well will singin' dwarves and a boozy cleric. 

As you can imagine from my prior posts, I can't resist hitting the big red reset button. Usually, right from the get go. My intent isn't to disrupt the player's idealization of their characters, it's to stop them from imposing their ideas on each other and whatever story I have dreamed up. 

I do have some stock buttons to push for the players if they start going to far into themselves, vs how they are going in be in the party. A fight from the get go is usually too murderous or too contrived, so I avoid it. 

The whole idea of their first day in a new town, at a bar they should have never seen is loaded with jolts and tricks to make the players describe how their character will function in the party. Nothing makes someone explain themselves more than a deviation from expectation. Think about the following scenarios and what they would do for your character development: 

  • The innkeeper brings you your key and states: "No one has been in your room, as you instructed." (When did I do that?)  
  • A messenger show up with a sword or holy symbol with your name on it, except you can't draw the weapon or touch the symbol. 
  • A cleric bursts in and says, "We didn't bury enough of you to resurrect. Why did you come back?" (Not, "how?", but "why?") 
  • If all of that seems like too much, a death threat from a seemingly overpowered team of competitors might do. 
When you meet, the point isn't to tell other people about your character, it's about showing how your character will act in the group. 

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