22 March 2009

Surrogate Characters

Welcome to another week of the Game Dork's Gaming Corner! Today, I want to talk about an idea I had some years ago.

Some of you may remember that, when I described the different gamer types, I said that I was about 60% Storyteller and 40% Method Actor. This makes it hard for me when I'm in a gaming group that is mostly Butt-Kickers/Power Gamers/Tacticians. There was one occasion specifically when we were preparing to play a game of Werewolf. At that time, we were not using the pack rules (summary for those who need it: a gaming group in Werewolf: The Apocalypse is supposed to work together to create a pack of characters with a specific purpose, either long-term or short term, and each character should set aside some of their points to pool with the other players for the purpose of purchasing a "pack totem," a spirit that grants each pack member certain powers in exchange for following a particular code of behaviour). We would each just write up our individual characters, who would meet as normal and find themselves engaged in some adventure together.

I was excited by this, and was quite looking forward to the first session, where we were supposed to discuss the issue of pack totem and come to a consensus as to which spirit we would adopt as our patron. However, when I got home from work that evening, I was dismayed to hear that the other players had chosen a totem without my input. I was mostly upset that they had not bothered to include me in the discussions, but I was also upset that they had chosen Fenris, the most savage and warlike of the totems.
This led to the creation of Jurgi Deathbringer, whom I'll detail in another post. But it highlighted to me that my fellow gamers were not as story-driven as I was. At the time, since I was not the mature gamer that I am now, it didn't occur to me that some players like gaming just because they want to KILL (I'm avoiding quoting the Arlo Guthrie song "Alice's Restaurant Massacree"). So I started thinking about how I could try to get the other games to appreciate a more story- and character-driven game. And I came up with this idea.

Get a group of gamers. Have each player create a character as normal. Then have each player pass their character to the player on their right. Have each player play the character they are now holding in their hands.

For some players (notably, the Power Gamers and Butt-Kickers), this won't make much difference. If they are unfortunate enough to be sitting next to a player who doesn't normally combat-optimise his characters, they may be frustrated by their inability to kill monsters. Otherwise, they will happily commit the same sort of violent mayhem they normally do, just using a different set of stats. Storytellers will likely enjoy the challenge, and Method Actors probably will as well, unless they get a standard two-dimensional character from a player who doesn't care for characterisation or plot. Tacticians and Specialists could go either way. Casual Gamers will probably not care.

But, if you have a willing group, this could be a potentially exciting exercise. I haven't yet had a chance to try this technique myself, but I would still like to at some point.

So, I encourage you to try it for yourself, and let me know how it works for you, and I'll see you here again next week! Until then,

Game on!

1 comment:

  1. I think I would want to warn players that they would be playing different characters than they created--I do play with a fair number of Method Actors these days (and I think a lot of them would be upset not to play the character they put so much thought into creating).

    It might also be something that would be more fun to do on a one-shot rather than long-term basis.


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