Describe a tricky RPG experience that you enjoyed.
Now that’s a tricky question…
This is one of the questions in RPGaDAY that I had been dreading a bit as I was unsure how to answer it. “Tricky” implies intention. Something is challenging or difficult, and what that “something” is would be ensuring a desired outcome, (or avoiding an undesirable one). ~ There a lot to choose from.
We could interpret tricky to apply to in game events. It really doesn’t matter if you’re coming from the viewpoint of the character or the player, or some amalgam of both. ~ The tricky situation could be a challenge or encounter. It could be the logistical challenge of pulling off a heist or caper. It might be planning and executing an ambush, or an investigation, or a negotiation. It could be any number of puzzles to solve or goals to accomplish.
However, the tricky situation could be completely out of game. Whether we live in the same town, or across the globe, the logistics of getting 3 to 6 adults together for a game ca be quite daunting. As I’ve discussed recently, it can be just as tricky to manage that many people with differences in preference, bias, intentions, & expectations. Session Zero and a social contract can be harder than one would think. ~ Sometimes the in game challenges are a cakewalk compared to the real world ones.
As a Game Master it can certainly be challenging to provide a certain experience. Maybe you’re focusing on ensuring a specific outcome, or perhaps you’re working hard to make sure that you don’t force one. Maybe you’re focused on managing the story. Perhaps you’re focused on creating and maintaining a certain tone, or feel or genre. Or maybe you’re working on meeting the needs of a diverse group of people, each of whom want a different thing.
Just learning a new game and learning how to play it well can be tricky. Especially when you want to let it stand on it’s own without infecting or poisoning it with the desire to have it be like other games you have enjoyed in the past. Learning to implement this new system & role play in character at the same time can be daunting. ~ Likewise, when things need tweaking, it can be uncomfortable to have discussions where you are willing to give and to accept feedback.
Realistically, learning & mastering any technique can be tricky. In fact, I’m a member of a group that focuses on that. (Well, we talk about other stuff, but I digress) 😉
But what about my answer? ~ Glad you asked.
In my Lamentations of the Martian Princess game, I got thrown a curve ball. in the most recent episode, two elements converged that I had not anticipated. ~ The PCs were seeking relics from before “the great war” that they could sell for a quick profit. Led to an old ruin by a half insane NPC, the group happened upon a machine which opened gates to other places & times. Being astute players, they quickly realized that the vision of their city they could see on the other side was most likely from the past before the war that devastated the planet. In my mind it was just a dangling carrot. Would they be tempted to travel back in time to a world where technology was commonplace, but humans were mostly enslaved?
However, another element of the ruin was the random encounter table. One NPC they might encounter was a member of a former expedition who had been there about a month, even though all other members were dead. Why was he still alive? Without giving away too much, there was something different about this NPC, & it would have been interesting had they decided to hang out with him…
What I hadn’t considered was what would happen if this NPC was confronted with what looked like a way to go home to his city. It only seemed logical that he would try, & I made up a chance on the spot that he would try to “go home”. The roll dictated that’s what he would do, & no one tried to stop him.
The tricky part? ~ Realizing and expanding upon what would happen if that rather special NPC were to go back in time to before the war.
The long & short of it was that I had to drastically change the makeup and reality of the world to account for a rather large butterfly effect. (a Mothra Effect in this case). This has been both tricky & enjoyable. How well I pull it off remains to be seen, but essentially I had to scrap a large part of the scenario because the history that lead up to it didn’t happen. ~ The neat part is that we have an opportunity to make the world a little more “sword & planet”, which is cool as we realized it was a little too “fantasy”.
Time paradoxes ~ Tricky.
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