On Friday the Shadows of Esteren game I'm in took an interesting turn. Among other things, after a week of my character being unable to feed their addiction and going through withdrawl, ended the session in a jail cell. Why? Well, you tend to get arrested (or linched) when you kill someone in front of a bunch of witnesses, and that was exactly what my character did. It's a move that could ultimately cost me the character in the game, and yet, I'm pretty psyched for it. Why? I made the mess myself.
Making Your Own Bed
In this case, my character started the mess when they picked a fight with the House Patriarch for the family they're a part of. Politics is a strong part of our Esteren game (small town politics, so you can imagine how back stabby it gets :D ) The squabble went back and forth with my character upstaging the patriarch a few times, and when he counter struck it wasn't with a move in the open but by making it so my character couldn't feed their addiction.
This blow was kind of rough - and the GM debated not doing it for a while - but I loved it. I mean, no one balks about wounds - or how long the systems says it takes you to heal - when you get into a fight, right? Why should a social fight not be capable of having similar consequences? In this case, the consequence of entering a social/political fight was I got poisoned. Poison has rules. My actions had consequences.
Sleep In It Too!
So my character is poisoned. Big deal, right? Well, no. My character has massive penalties towards any action in a system where penalties also apply to your defense. This means my character is effectively helpless for a week, reliant on others for their protection. Meanwhile, the opponent is free to make whatever moves he wants - and he did make a few moves. You now have a looming threat over the character, but also the things the character loves - and some of those things were under serious threat.
By the end of the session, dealing with the penalty, and just thinking through how a character being forced to confront their addiction and own weakness would feel....well, they came out the other end very raw. Which is when the opponent made their move.
It wasn't an attack. It wasn't anything blatant. Just a simple toast to th e character. You know the kind. The smug kind. The "I just $*@* you up and there's nothing you can do kind." I realized in that moment that my character was actually afraid of this person. Why? Because it was someone that - to them - at least is a monster and needs to be killed, but actions have consequences and the consequences to killing this person could be to jeapordize everything the character would be trying to protect by killing them.
I gave it to a mental resistance roll. The roll came up bad. Before the GM could say whatever was going to happen next I interrupted them by throwing up my hands and saying I was killing this NPC. We rolled out the surprise attack, and mysteriously the combat monster PC could kill the old guy with a sucker punch.
So now I'm in jail.
Where it Goes, Nobody Knows
From here there are a few options for my character. They may end up executed (boo), exiled, fined, dueled, or a lot of things. That's fine. Those are consequences to the whole thing. Not every story ends well. Maybe this one goes forward, I'd love to keep the character, but maybe it doesn't.
Why This Applies To You
So how does this apply to you? Well, because this whole thing has been some of the most fun I've ever had around a gaming table in a long time. None of it would have happened if I didn't pick the fight with the NPC. None of it would have happened if I wasn't willing to engage and make moves. If I didn't make the mess, the game may have still have been good, but I wouldn't have this fun, amazing story and experience. I wouldn't have what is likely the most brutal thing to happen to one of my character's psyches ever. It is a great sequence. It's a great story. It's entertained the whole table, even while they handle their own things.
You just have to be unafraid to make your own messes, then roll around in them and make a bigger mess of it.
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