Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crime 101 - Revenge

Hot on the heels of Valentine's Day, how could I talk about anything other than revenge for this Crime 101. Now, I know that it isn't a crime in and of itself, but revenge is at the heart of some of the bigger and nastier crimes that we see on the news. More to the point, it is also one of the primary motivators for crimes that take place in movies and stories. In the remake of Ocean's 11, how does Danny get Reuben on board to finance the heist? Why, Revenge of course. So, let's talk about revenge...

The Great Motivator
As I said in my introduction, revenge is the great motivator for many a crime. Most crimes of passion come about from the person looking for revenge. They've been hurt, or wounded in some way, and they want the other person to feel that too. So, they do something incredibly stupid, and often illegal, to make it happen. Revenge can be the impetus behind short term crimes - someone goes out and murders their husband's best friend for revenge for being cheated on - or much longer term crimes - a highly planned heist that involves ruining the person's life, as well as getting your spurs into them for years of blackmail.

Revenge can even be the motivation behind the good guy crimes. How many action movies have started because the bad guy just had to mess with the hero's family or loved ones? Where would Bruce Wayne be if he wasn't out looking for revenge against the aspects of society that he held responsible for the death of his parents?

A Dish Best Served Cold
This is a classic saying, and while I don't know where it is from, but I'd be willing to wager money that at least 90% of you have heard it before. For those that don't know, the saying basically states that when you are going for revenge, you want to wait a long time before you actually go for it. Give your victim time to forget what has happened, time to believe that they have heard the last about whatever the issue is.

This makes Revenge a wonderful plot device for the GM who is looking to introduce some consequences into their game. Generally, players will have done something horrible at some point in the game. Sure, they may not think they have done so, but all the people they've killed do probably have families that don't think too highly of the PCs right now. So wait a while, do a few more tales, and then have someone come gunning for them. It'll probably take a while for them to figure out what is going on, which is when you can smack them with the motive. It is always fun to watch the reaction of someone who hadn't considered that their actions may have consequences.

For PCs, this is a good rulebook for how to go about getting their own revenge. Bide your time, plan slowly, and go back after the person, or people, who hurt you long after they've had a chance of forgetting about you.

Wrap Up
Whether you are the GM or the Player, Revenge is a very personal motivator and act. So make sure you try to keep it under control. Keep it in character basically. Now, I haven't spoken much about specific crimes, but that is because almost any crime can be fueled by revenge. Revenge is a motivation, not an act itself, but much like money it is a universal motivator. The point here is you are doing something to even the scales, or to put you back on top.

You don't need me to tell you how to apply it either, which is a good thing when you consider how varied revenge can be in and of itself. So just take some time, think about it, and come at the problem - or character - like someone who just wants to burn everything that person loves to the ground. Why? Because, that is what you want to do when playing with revenge.

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