Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guest Lecturer - Colin's Choice From The GM's Perspective

Monday and Tuesday were about a choice my character in a Dresden Files game has to do. I liked it because it is one of the times where I get to be the subject of a post on the approach to GMing concepts. Based on that post though, the GM for the game wrote the following piece. I am sharing it with you guys today because, among other things, it shows an interesting - and strong - approach to dealing with characters in the FATE system. Particularly when it comes to looking at Aspects, what they may mean, and how to present the meaningful choices to the player of that character. I hope you enjoy it.

When we started the game I of course took some time looking through the characters and seeing what the players wanted based on what they gave me. Colin has a few aspects that are fun to work with like "With friends like these." In the end he comes out as a Winter court changeling thief who does good almost against his own will and likes to help people. Think Leverage in a single character. He also tends to be a bit daring and defined as one of his primary hang out an Irish pub where cops and the underground types hang out over a beer and no one brings the law up.

The main things I take from his character that the player wants is as follows.

Winter court changeling: The winter court will be involved, as will the conflict between humanity and fae.
Working class art thief: Heists please. Also, the rule of law isn't the primary driving factor for morality for this character.
Does good almost compulsively: Put him in situations where helping people will make his life harder to make him work for being a good character.

Through the game I've been introducing things to try to poke at the main facets of what I saw him wanting in terms of choices and challenges as a character, preferably more than one at a time to pull and push him, and see what comes out. As this choice comes up, I took a few moments to look back and make sure I haven't unbalanced in how I'm handling the character and challenges I've put in the way of his growth.

So let's start with the dualistic aspect first.
Humanity: The party is partially a hook for the human side, as is a character that got introduced early on. Amelia, a jewelry store manager who got put in a bad situation by her ex fiancee. Colin began a long term plan of helping her out and destroying her ex fiancee. They developed a quiet sort of friendship where he spent time with her hanging out, and she showed him the more cultured side of the world since he was very much a working class guy who got in to art theft. Symphony concerts, museum visits, quiet times at her apartment watching movies. Not quite romantic due to her recent bad experience, but not quite non romantic. Recently she has become aware of his nature and after freaking out for a bit she calmed down and accepted him as he was, though she wasn't thrilled that he was in as much danger as he seemed to be given that she found out about his supernatural nature when he was fighting a Loup Garou, and trying to keep it busy.

Fae: Lianansidhe is his primary contact into the Winter Court fae world. She has power, grace, beauty, and ruthless efficiency. She has pushed her way through to a boy that Colin tried to rescue and intimidated him into coming with her instead of keeping running though Colin offered to stand against her and protect the boy. She has also been a willing trading partner for stolen goods, favors, and promises. He clearly respects her and has gone to her as a default for needing to get deals sealed. The other part of his interaction with the fae is with the summer court fae that cluster around one of the party members who is "Titania's favorite" as his trouble aspect.

I was fairly happy with the balance in that particular aspect of his life which is obviously the focus of this fateful decision, but the other two primary aspects of the character are important to having a balanced focus so he isn't inexorably drawn one way or the other.

Art theft has been something that has come up but isn't a huge part of the character's life. He's stolen a few art pieces, some jewelry, and on a dare a Stradivarius violin from on stage during intermission at a symphony concert (Amelia was at that concert incidentally). Most of his theft has actually tied more in to his fae nature and fulfilling promises. It was an odd situation where he was fulfilling the promise due to his nature in a very heavily focused way. He incurred a debt to another PC, interestingly the only fully human one within the first two sessions. He overheard the other PC stating that he wanted to meet a person, specifically an FBI agent. Colin went on a crime spree that would fall within her job of art and jewelry serial theft as well as catch her interest as potentially supernatural. My first indications of a slide towards the fae side as I look back is there in this interaction, he didn't do it as a favor to a friend or because he wanted to help, he did it because he owed the other person.

Doing good compulsively is something I didn't really feel the need to focus on him with as part of the nature of this game was introducing situations where trouble comes up, and thus helping is a natural part of it. In every case he has jumped to help out when ever possible. Colin is particularly prone to jumping in to help. He did so with Amelia, and has done so with every PC problem he has found. His ways of helping are always a little bit interesting, but once he sees something wrong he can't just leave it alone even when it would be to his advantage not to. In game I actually was feeling that was heavily weighted on his human side.

From a game craft perspective I feel like I've put a good balance of stimuli geared towards Colin that would put his nature under stress and pull him in both directions. I don't feel that I forced it which is the important part for me. Every time PCs head towards big decisions like this I sit down and think about the main aspects of their life and if I put them, whether intentionally or unintentionally into a one choice situation.

I am curious to see where this leads, and as a GM the choice is out of my hands, and I will be interested to see where things go. Right now my biggest input remaining is whether or not I push the human side to bring the choice into greater relief or not, and that is a decision I haven't made yet. I'd be curious what other GMs and players think about whether they'd stand back or try to bring the choice into greater relief.

1 comment:

  1. As a note, I neglected to include in the post a very important point. I chose not to introduce any antagonists that are focused on Colin, because after all, "with friends like these . . ." I realized I'd forgotten that when I did my re reading this morning.