In my continuing effort to run games which cultivate a sense of character development rather than the mission style gaming this group tends to orbit around, I’ve decided to run a rocker campaign and suggested that the PCs be combat inept forcing them to find other solutions to problems. Since I’ve read some tour diaries, magazine articles, and biographies I have a fair bit of humorous and ludicrous events to pull from.
I wanted to go through all of the stages of band development and trials, but to avoid tedium and because I like to mix things up, I decided to start at the top by having the characters be part of an American Idol style televised contest and thrust into fame as a forced creation, then throw hardships at their band and hopefully have them come into their own after the intense limelight fades. I plan to start slow and then pick up the pace. Introduce the NPCs, flesh them out, then have them act out.
Since shooting their way through obstacles or running away isn’t an option, I hope to create a crucible where in-character persuasion and interaction will finally become the tool of choice while still providing for some truly fantastic successes or public failures for the group as well as individual reputation issues. With any luck the players will develop their own motivations and realize personal goals during the campaign this time around. I’ve always tried to create a background for the characters to move through rather than a step by step mission plan, but this has failed repeatedly in my past attempts with this group, most notably in my last Firefly game where no leader emerged and it seemed difficult to prod the players into action aside from one suicidal rage. Here I will have a set itinerary and I intend to run the campaign pretty rigidly at first, then see if the PCs take control of their destiny when it starts to derail.
In this campaign it seems most players have made an over the top caricature, but at least that’s something to work with. At the very least it’s more slapstick goofy funny which is at least fun to run through. Even if nobody ends up appreciating my plot points, the group usually seems to like the clown aspect of cyberpunk rocker campaigns so I plan on rolling with it and adding some goofier, zanier things than I had intended.
When I run, I come up with events and plots that I feel are nuanced and clever that never seem to survive contact with the players. The things I think will be obvious, dramatic, hidden, or difficult often seem to be diffused by an opposite reaction from the players. I hope to get a better feel on how to get the players invested this time. I feel like that never seems to happen with my games. There always seems to be an urgency with this group to solve the mystery, assault the castle, or otherwise succeed at the mission rather than enjoy the process and having PC interaction. I think this has been gradually changing. Maybe I was spoiled by the campaigns I’ve had in the past which broke up or maybe I have a different reason for playing than the Sunday group. There really are several different types of gamers. I’ve often wrapped up a campaign thinking it would have been more satisfying to simply bang out a short story, but I want to get better at GMing because when it works, RPGs are the funnest thing I do. It just doesn’t fire on all cylinders like it used to.
I’ve made a special effort of playing mostly ineffective characters lately and yet still developing rich back stories and personal subplots while accomplishing things hoping it would catch on when I ran and I’d see some player driven subplots. A barbarian sorcerer restricted from using her powers due to her own superstitions, a teen who knows little beyond gamer life but is thrust into a secret conflict, a cowardly Jedi trying to assert himself in the galaxy, a sky sailor who has little true skill in anything particular but a grand sense of adventure. None of them dominate a party in any way, yet I have enjoyed playing them all despite their restraints because I feel I created a well rounded character with some personality and inner thoughts. Through each of them I’ve tried to give the GM a way to weave my subplots into their world to create a more interesting tale and kept things from the players requiring them to interact with me within the game to find out the back story. That’s where I feel the magic in storytelling games come from, when all the players work together to live out an adventure from their own point of view which is why I’ve never been concerned about the minis or loot or Min/Maxing flawless characters. I used to always play The Pro From Dover With A Defect type but seem to have graduated to The Flawed Underdog.
Now that I’ve completely gotten off topic, I’m going to wrap this up but leave it on here. Maybe it’ll start a discussion about why we game and some feedback, but after the campaign is over please.
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