Narrative Control – Episode 12 – What My Character Would Do

Hi and welcome back to Narrative Control, Episode 12. This week Justin and I talk about players characters taking actions that disrupt the group, either by upsetting another player or by removing their character from the scope of the game.Hosts: Sean Nittner and Justin Evans

Length: 22:36

Show Notes

[00:28] Intro to the show. Player characters taking actions that step on other players fun.
[00:49] Battle of Wits, the card system based on the Duel of Wits from Burning Wheel at
[01:35] promo.
[01:55] “That’s what my character would do”.  We borrowed this topic from Episode 55 of Sons of Kryos.
[02:51] Definition: Players taking actions that upset other players or take actions that remove their character from the story.
[04:05] Preventative Methods: Come to an agreement about what the game is going to be about ahead of time.
[04:26] One element to hash out: Situation. What is going on?
[04:42] Yeah, we found this one in Prime Time Adventures as well in the pitch session. This will define the theme of the game, the genre, and the characters or character archetypes.
[05:22] Example pitch session: Ch-osh-kys. Clerks meets Office Space.
[06:13] Concessions we made to include all the elements we wanted: Hardware plus food.
[06:45] Situation: The two stores have just been purchased and are merging together.
[06:54] Characters: The Lifer, the snotty kid and the kiss ass manager.
[07:20] Sets: Reinforces where conflicts will occur. Keeps things in the story.
[07:50] More traditional format. GM presents a situation but the players still make an agreement about how their characters will interact with the situation.
[08:57] Avoid throwing out ideas that will remove characters from the game unless that is presented as a conflict to overcome.
[09:45] Fear the Boot (Episode 2) talks about Group Templates for creating characters.
[10:00] Another example. A gladiator game that was about being gladiators slaves, not escaping.
[11:18] Justin’s Game set in Cadwallon: Outside the city the world is at war, the “game” however takes place within the city walls as the character act on the behalf of the duke.
[11:52] How to bring some of those “out of game” elements into the game for the players behalf and to make the story richer.
[13:25] Corrective measures: What happens if player characters breath the forth wall anyway?
[13:47] Possibly this is the time for the character to leave the game. Maybe this is a good time for their story to end?
[14:25] Escalate the conflict around that decision. Make it a hard choice to leave the game. Also, you could give the character and easy out if the player wants to keep the character in the game, but can’t figure out how.
[15:19] Alternatives to allow for characters to leave the story.
[15:28] Granting a solo session to a player. Justin and Sean disagree on this.
[16:33] Use the Living City technique and have the other players take the roles of NPCs in the character’s spotlight scene. This can also work well with simmering scenes.
[17:52] What about players stomping on each others fun?
[18:43] Create a cliff hanger moment. Pause the game and ask the offending player how they see this playing out? What direction do they think this will take their character in.
[19:40] Ask the potential “victim” how they feel about this.
[20:22] Set stakes for the conflict. Stakes have to be agreed on by both characters. This allows both players to know what worst case scenario and how the character relationship might change.
[21:29] Feedback. Let us know how if this is come up in your games. How has your group dealt with it?


Burning Wheel
Sons of Kryos
Prime Time Adventures
Fear the Boot)

Direct download: NC_Episode_012.mp3

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