I’ll be honest. That is me much of the time. Do I like being that way? No, but it’s hard to change because, well, I am always right.
How many times have you tried to influence how your players play their characters?
- “You need to get into character more.”
- “Give him a background.”
- “Give him goals.”
- “Give him morals.”
- “Give him quirks.”
- “Make him different from your last ten characters.”
- “Just… roleplay more.”
A few months ago I had the opportunity to join a new group. It’s a great group, and I’m happy to be here. I was basically put in as a rotating GM, so I’ll be running one week and playing the next. It’s a great set-up, and I’m getting to know the players and their playing styles fairly well.
“I’ve never played a character with this much depth before.”
My game of choice for this group is the Serenity Roleplaying Game, using the fantastic Savage Worlds system. We’re all familiar with the Serenity ‘verse, and we all enjoy some Savage Worlds, so this seems like a good fit for me to run.
However, as I am wont to do, I tinkered with the rules – particularly with the Bennies (they’re like luck points or action points). If you know me at all, then you know that I really like the Aspect concept from the FATE system (we even have a nice series on it). Basically, the players added a few aspects to their characters, giving them automatic backgrounds, personalities, and traits. Their characters were instantly fleshed out and had tons of, well, character. The players could use their bennies normally, or use them as normal FATE points (gain a +2 bonus after a roll, or invoke for effect).
The curve ball, though, was that in order for them to gain new bennies they had to have their aspects compelled against them. This naturally brings into the story all of the characters’ backgrounds, personalities, and traits, making the story that much richer.
Well, after our second session, one of our players said to me, “I’ve never played a character with this much depth before.” I was immediately happy to hear these words, because (to me) that meant that he was changing how he role-played. He was moving on from the strong, silent type into a character that was a little more unique, one that had to make difficult decisions based on his convictions, morals, and beliefs. The player had been pushed out of his comfort zone, and in that endeavor, had found a little bit of role-playing reward and satisfaction because of it. In essence, he was evolving.
Yes! I’ve done it! I’ve improved a player’s approach as to how they are to play the game!
Annnnnnd then I realized that I am really just full of shit.
I’ve sat back these past couple of days reveling in smug. I was so happy about getting this player to conform to my way of gaming that I actually kind of felt a little stupid. Did I introduce the Aspects into the game because I thought it was going to be more fun, or because I wanted players to play more my style?
There I was, a brand new player and GM to this group, and I was thinking they have things to learn from me. I’d like to say that I introduced the Aspects to make the game more fun, but I think I did it to make the game more fun for me. Ergo, if it’s fun for me, it will be fun for them.
Who the hell am I to suppose that my way is better?
Sure, everyone seems to be having a good time, but I wonder, should I have just run Savage Worlds per the rules, should I get off my high horse, am I even on a high horse?
I don’t know, what do you think?