Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Tempting PCs

One of the less played upon tropes in a lot of campaigns I've seen is the seductive nature of evil. I mean, it may be there to some degree, but frequently it is only a token gesture, or there for the NPCs. Tempting PCs is often a much harder thing to do if only for the simple fact that a PC, by definition, has a player and said player often has an agenda for their character that doesn't involve becoming tempted to the darkside on a path they didn't choose. Still, there are ways to do it. Today I want to talk about that.

Good Intentions
The classic path to evil is paved with good intentions, and you can do this in your own games but it involves a lot of setup. The trick here is to make a path of small steps, where on each step the PCs think they are doing the right thing but in fact are walking further and further from the path.

The classic example of this, is what Fable 3 tried to pull off. In order to protect people, the PCs have to sacrifice something. Maybe not them, personally, but say having workers pull extra shifts to get more rifles ready for the army. Because the evil coming, the PCs need well disciplined troops that are resistant to fear so they train that. Because of X, the PCs do Y. And each choice makes sense and is justifiable as it's going, but when you add them all together and look back closely you suddenly see that in order to defeat this evil thing, the PCs have become dictators of a slave regime empire that grinds its people to dust.

From A Certain Point Of View
Perspective can mean a lot. How the PCs enter a story can determine how the story is viewed. This is particularly true for games without clearcut lines of good and evil.

Consider if your PCs came upon a group of farmers being attacked. Odds are the PCs get involved and save the farmers. From there, the farmers tell the PCs their village is being controlled by a madman. The PCs help liberate the village. Now the PCs have helped the villagers twice, have fought these armored soldiers twice, and have come out victorious. They're likely going to be sympathetic to the sob story of being oppressed the villagers have, and continue from there.

However, at the same time from the other perspective you could have a village rising up in rebellion and helping enemy agents through. They are 'occupied' because the King's army is looking to find who the traitors are. Perhaps there have been a couple of things going bad, but perhaps at the same time those things have been instigated by the villagers in an attempt to convince the traveling sell-swords to help them.

In the end you have PCs helping this village in what turns out to be a rebellion against a just King and Kingdom that was just trying to maintain order and prevent a war with some other place. All because of the perspective.

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