Saturday, January 28, 2012

For Players: Motivated Player Characters

A motivated character is a compelling character to watch. They know what they want and they have the drive to achieve it. This is especially important in sandbox games, whether LARP or table-top, where the Storyteller isn't going to spoon feed you plot. If you want to get involved and lay your stamp on the world you're going to have to figure out what your character wants. And yes, that does involve inventing conflicts for yourself that would make sense for your character. So, where do you go from here? What do you do?

Firstly, design your character. Figure out who they are and what their likes and dislikes are. Then you can brainstorm a list of optional goals that someone like that might want. A romantic Daeva might want to schmooze the harpy into a date, own a romantic hot spot like a nightclub, undermine a romantic rival, learn Majesty like there's no tomorrow, catch the attentions of a young kine woman who's the Next Big Thing, and learn the piano so that he can better serenade his targets.

These are all 'mights'. You don't have to accept all of them, or any of them, at this stage, but it does suggest other ideas. A romantic rival suggests an external conflict, which is good, as it gives you something to do. You could either generate this by talking to the Storyteller or, if they're not keen on taking suggestions from players, you could simply have your character fall for a potential romantic interest who already has an admirer. Internal conflicts could be raised if your Daeva is too prudent or principled to try to actively disrupt an existing courtship and therefore he just waits at the railing, hoping and dreaming. Perhaps another vampire, hoping to get in your good books, might assist you unawares. How would your Daeva react to that if she doesn't believe in undermining others in their romantic interests? Some nice internal conflict there.

The quest to own a nightclub could also be a nice external conflict, especially if you lack the Resource dots to simply purchase it, as you'd need to raise the income, find the right place, convince the owners to sell it to you, and then renovate it to fit. Then there's also the process of luring in the right clientele. Depending on the game world, this might all give you plenty to do in Downtimes, and a lot of opportunity to lure in other player characters to get involved. Internal conflicts here would likely revolve around how low your character would stoop to get the necessary funding.

Then there's the quest to learn Majesty. The main external conflicts here would involve 'time'. Are you spending too much time on other things? Do other training needs keep interrupting? But internal conflicts are where it gets juicy. What if he wonders whether it's rape to use Majesty to seduce women? What if he needs it so he can get easy feeding in a hard part of town? What if he doesn't care about the moral implications of seducing women with Majesty but does worry about what might happen if it becomes too easy but still needs it to eat well?

All good questions and plenty to create further conflict, further motivations, and inspire further stories. And that's the main reason why it's a good idea to pick apart the potential goals and look at their other motivations and the barriers in place. Because that can inspire further, smaller goals (raise money, for example) that require their own preparation that may take your character into all sorts of interesting places.

So the next time you're not sure what your character could do, or if you're generating a character and want some motivations, brainstorm a goal list and then see what works, discarding the rest.

No comments:

Post a Comment