Thursday, April 3, 2014

Player Catalysts

Sometimes, as a PC, all it takes is a particular encounter, NPC, interaction, or even single moment to redefine and/or expand character development. As a PC, these "catalysts" can serve to greatly enrich the game world and unique character perspectives. With this in mind, I have two questions:

Choose a PC or two from among your characters-- preferably a favorite one. No need to name names nor specifics.

1) What has been a defining interaction that fundamentally changed how you play(ed) that character? Why was it so meaningful?

2) What would be a moment that would serve as the needed catalyst for a PC's narrative development?


  1. Defining moments, for me, are usually the first time the character takes over in her own right - when I stop worrying about how to play her, and just really get into her head and let her do her thing.

    For Prudence, that moment was standing at the end of a battle, knowing the Grey Ship had taken two of her teammates, remembering her game lore and calling into the darkness that she was a Skald and by god, she wanted to talk to them and get her people back. They'd trounced the town in battle, but dammit, they were going to come talk to her.

    She stood there in the dark, calling in the direction of where they'd all gone, hoping like hell to get a response (and knowing that in all ooc probability, she wouldn't).

    But they came. And they talked. And it completely solidified who she was and what she was about. Without that moment and response, her story arc would have been very different, I think.

    1. That gives me chills thinking about it. I think it can be really powerful when rudimentary parts of a player's character are encouraged and rewarded like that-- it was similar for us in Cottington when Death weas actually a person with whom we could interact.

  2. One of the interesting things about it was that there really was no reward. I failed. It didn't accomplish anything. My people were already sacrificed and on their way to the death mechanic. Other than the conversation, which a) happened, and b) turned those NPCs from monsters to tragic figures with honor, there was no benefit to my PC at all (and a big, big scoop of non-benefit from other PCs).

    But sometimes near-success is a greater motivator than success.

  3. I don't know if I've had any moment that fundamentally changed an entire character, but I've had a few smaller moments that have shown me certain elements of a character in a new light. When people were introducing one another at the first event, it occurred to me at that moment that my character did not have any sort of family the way most people do, which lead me to start roleplaying her as having strange ideas of what family meant. Similarly, the first time a wedding came up in game, it occurred to me that my character might be fascinated with them because she knows she'll never have one. Sometimes it takes seeing things in person to figure out how your character feels about them, instead of trying to decide in advance while creating a character history in the abstract.

  4. I play Zara at Numina, a character that grew up as a slave in a glass factory. Ever since being helped to escape, she's been focused on vengeance towards those who hurt her. At a recent event, she was able to help rescue another slave from the same factory. We took him inside the tavern and offered him food (he grabbed an apple and then sat in the corner with his chin on his knees). I realized, while watching him, that I could either gain revenge against those who had hurt us both, or I could help him recover and grow from this,just like people had helped me. For the first time, I realized in character that hurting someone for something in the past was a waste of energy that could instead be used to help someone find a future. It was one of those beautiful, completely solitary character moments that I couldn't have predicted, and it absolutely changed her perspective in a way that nothing else could have.