Saturday, June 23, 2012

Intercutting Technique

With a particular solo campaign I tried my hand at intercutting between a player's three different characters. They were all vampires and they were in different situations during a praxis seizure. I treated the session like a television episode and when an important moment came up or a scene ended I'd switch to another one. If you'd like to read more on how it actually went down, take a look at this Shadows Campaign post.

It worked really well for me as every time I ran out of steam, or that character didn't have much to do, I could cut away to the next character. It also kept the player from getting bored or frustrated when one character hit a dead end and had to twiddle their thumbs for a short while. It also reinforced the sense that something big was happening as the player got to experience what was happening to each of the characters within the same time frame.

From a player perspective, the technique didn't work as well because my fiance had to re-calibrate his Point of View, his knowledge, and his motives with each swap. He enjoyed it for the first session but expressed an interest in returning to the usual style with further sessions which works for me. Of course, different players may vary with their interest in this depending on if they can switch between mind-sets easily or even if they're just a big fan of the technique.

I wouldn't suggest doing this with an entire party of players as they'll each take a different length of time in switching mind-sets and some may be entirely unsuccessful at it and get confused. A party also always takes more time to come to any decision or finish their actions than a single player anyway so you won't get as many inter-cuts even if you choose to do it.

Still, it all boils down to your skill and your players' attitude, so give it a go if you think it will work but give them plenty of fair warning and see if you can get them on board first. If it doesn't work, oh well. If it does, then you have yet another technique in your arsenal.

So, have any of you tried to inter-cut? Did it work?


  1. I didn't have a name for it:
    I love this idea. In a Champions super hero campaign (years ago) I actually had the players be the supervillains, and thugs, in an opening scene in the story. Rather than just say what the baddies did to start the scenario, I had them actually do it as the villains. The details as to the why, I left out, as that's where the heroes come in.

    The "fade in" was the heroes with the police at the scene. I started the dialogue out with the cop they were talking to saying, "...and that's what happened as far as we can tell." Even now, (ummm 15+ years later!), it something that those players remember.

    After a long time away from D+D, I am running a political Game of Thrones style AD&D game set in the Bandit Kingdoms of Greyhawk. The player have made between 2-3 characters that will tell different elements of the story. I have not done a lot of shifting (or better yet inter-cuts) yet, but when I have they have found it novel. In one scene I had the players play the npc bodyguards of the PC who was a noble. It gave a solo scene feel to it without excluding the other players.

    It will be interesting to develop the cuts technique as I see it potentially adding a cinematic scope to the game.

    1. That's really cool. I wonder if a Fahrenheit-style game could be run with one or two players, intercutting between scenes or sessions involving two sets of opponents? I think it would be exhausting for the players to do so many character switches over the long term but it could be interesting in the short-term.

    2. I think it would be a real challenge to have them running two different sides. Are you thinking of trying it? I am not sure how "spoilers" could be avoided.

      In my next adventure (AD&D 2nd ed) I am going to have them do an intercut of sorts. The players have given some tasks to their henchmen to complete. Rather than just give them a result, I have come up with a complication and going to have them run the adventure as the henchmen.