Thursday, April 15, 2010

Some thoughts on a Glen Cook novel

I might sound like a broken record (imagine how some youngsters wont understand that expression!), but I have once again been thinking about campaign frames, story and player influence.

Recently I finished a novel by Glen Cook, A Shadow of All Night Falling. It had a sad ending, where the fates of nations and individuals were intertwined. Some people sacrificed a lot and it wasn't very clear if they really got what they wanted. Now, imagine that happening in a rpg campaign.

As a GM you can set up the potential for this high drama. You can show the powers that be to your players by exposing them to NPC's and hope they interact enough to show the motives and the personality flaws of everyone involved. What you can't do is making the players take a stance. They might do, or they might not. Sure, you can set it all up so that they player characters have some emotional or other investment in a faction, but it's still not sure. Looking at that potential and not knowing if it will fizzle of not, I can understand the lure of heavy handed story railroading.

As I read that book I thought it would have been great to have been the player in a campaign that ended thus. I wonder if it can be done, nicely, in a way that I'd enjoy? I'm not sure. The John Wick game, Houses of the Blooded, tries to do that  by making the players help build the narrative and the intrigue. I guess that should help create some enthusiasm. Hmm.
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