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Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: Eric Provost on July 18, 2005, 06:38:56 AM

Title: Hard Questions and Demons
Post by: Eric Provost on July 18, 2005, 06:38:56 AM
I was reading Tony's Kettle Lake game  ( and really got to thinking about how More Hard Choices tends to lead to More Entertaining Sessions.  I was also thinking of how the supernatural elements of the game tend to point toward the Demons and Sorcerers of the story and how finding those elements tends to soften up the choices.  Meaning, once you find the possessed guy and clear the demon out of him or murder the angry sorceress, then it tends to be easy for a player to declare the town fixed and want to move on.

What I'd like to discuss here are methods for keeping the choices hard without having to turn the supernatural dials down to a whisper.  And I think it'll all come down to Relationships and using them more aggressively.

To illustrate my point I'm going to digress momentarily into some actual play from back in '97, I think it was.  We were playing Mage and were occationally stumbling onto occational narrativism.  Mostly by way of a little catchphrase I was using "There is no good or evil, just 'alternative moral adgendas.'"  The PCs were searching for a missing girl.  The missing girl was part of a group of runaways that called themselves The Rusties.  One of the PCs was also a runaway, but was also a powerful Mage who 'adopted' the rest of The Rusties as her wards.  Another PC was a werewolf with a strong smell for "good & evil".  She smells evil and she kills evil.  The third PC was the county coroner who could be describe as Mrs. Law.  If it was against the law it was wrong, end of story.  So, these three PCs are in search of missing Runaway.  A runaway they find has been spending a lot of time at a certain photo studio downtown.  A little classic gaming breaking and entering lets the players know that the owner of the little photo studio is a habitual child porn photographer.  The twist;  He's paying the kids what they're really worth, or at least close to it.  A little more background work shows that he's helped a lot of kids get off the street, and he has nothing to do with the dissapearances.

Then, I left it open to the players.  What to do with the photographer?  The Runaway Mage decided that he was doing good and was going to let him continue operating.  The coroner decided that he was wrong, but only because he was illegal.  She'd wait a bit before she got him quietly shut down.  The werewolf snuck into his house and burned him alive along with his collection of photos.

What's the point of all that?  None of my players found it to be an easy decision.  Each one had to give the situation a lot of thought.  And I think it all had to do with their relationships.  The Runaway Mage had a direct relationship with the missing girl, she was supposed to be under her protection.  The coroner had a relationship with the Law, she was supposed to uphold it.  And the werewolf... well, the werewolf player did seem to have the easiest time.  She had a relationship with evil (The Wyrm for you WW players) and decided that, despite his scent, was too close to evil and despite the good he was doing had to be destroyed before he could venture further down the path of evil.

The relationships made the hard choices.  Even though they were dealing with a child pornographer.

I think that the same thing can be applied to DitV using the Relationship rules a little more aggressively.  A fire-breathing sorceror might be a little more tough to kill when it's your character's nephew and your sister's screaming from the sidelines not to kill her baby, it's not his fault he's like that.

Anyone have any toughts on keeping the dial on High and keeping the hard questions?


Title: Re: Hard Questions and Demons
Post by: Lance D. Allen on July 18, 2005, 09:43:02 AM
I can't say as it's been entirely effective with my group (yet, anyhow..) but the sorcerer can be truly tragic as well.

For example, in the town I'm running (Split Tree Branch, posted here in the Lumpley forum) the sorceress is insane, driven that way by her grief over her dead child, and her belief that the steward hadn't done enough to save him. Her insanity gave the demon an in, and the demon has convinced her that the steward is evil, and that he (in the guise of her dead son) can lead her down the true path to the Kingdom of Life.

I say it's not really working with my group because I hadn't yet gotten around to revealing that part yet; right about the time I was going to, one of the players decided she was possessed (true) and attacked her. She's now dying (rolled 19 on the fallout dice) but the PCs managed to exorcise her. (I'll type up a full play report once we manage to finish the game.)

I think had I revealed more a bit earlier, the decision to try to kill her might have been notably more difficult.. at least to try to kill her before trying to save her, at any rate.

Title: Re: Hard Questions and Demons
Post by: Eric Provost on July 18, 2005, 09:53:10 AM
I'm looking forward to that Actual Play post.

But you remind me of another Easy Question.  Should we exorcise this person?  99 times out of 100 the players are gonna jump on the exorcism bandwagon.  'Cuz it's fun.  But how can the GM make the decision to do so more difficult?  How can the exorcism be bad for the people of the town?



Title: Re: Hard Questions and Demons
Post by: Lance D. Allen on July 18, 2005, 10:05:28 AM
Again I'll cite something from my current game, though not specifically dealing with exorcism..

There have been two conflicts with this one boy; In both cases, I stated the stakes, and waited for any player to naysay them, but no one did. The stakes in the first were whether or not the boy could keep his tarot cards. I pushed that one hard because I want it to be difficult for the Dogs to win any ground on this topic (mainly because they're all united against it, and I think that's just boring..) and I won it, because Sr. Becky(the Dog) wasn't willing to escalate to escalate to guns. The second was whether or not Br. Derrick (the boy) could convince Br. Chance (another Dog) that the tarot wasn't evil. I pushed it equally hard, but Zach had generally more traits, and better rolls, and I lost.

Where I'm going with this: In neither case was the boy convinced of anything. I waited for my players to modify the stakes, but they were content to let them stand. The majority of the raises in both cases were attempts to convince the boy that his beliefs were wrong, but he left both of them with a less that sterling opinion of the Dogs in question, and Dogs in general. It's quite possible that, unless he's dealt with in a different manner, his anti-Dog feelings will grow to cause other problems later.

That same idea can be applied to exorcism; In some ways, exorcism is a hammer, and sometimes a lighter touch is needed. Exorcism is fun, very tense and cool, but it's also very traumatic, both for the exorcised person, and their friends and family. If the Dogs jump to applying the hammer, then things, and people, can get broken.

Title: Re: Hard Questions and Demons
Post by: Eric Provost on July 18, 2005, 10:17:01 AM
If the Dogs jump to applying the hammer, then things, and people, can get broken.


This leads me to two thoughts;

The first being Good Follow Up Conflicts.  How does someone react after they've been exorcised?  Especially in the world of DitV!  It may not have been them that did all that evil, but what if they remember it being their fault?  Follow-Up Conflicts galore!

Also;  I'd always considered any Fallout from an exorcism to go directly to the troublesome demon.  (Is that standard in the rules?)  But... What if the Fallout was applied to the poor posessed?  Are you willing to blow a hole in someone to scare the demon out of them?

Good stuff.


Title: Re: Hard Questions and Demons
Post by: Warren on July 19, 2005, 05:23:12 AM
Are you willing to blow a hole in someone to scare the demon out of them?

Oooh, I love this. Makes exorcism a frightening thing to do now :)

Title: Re: Hard Questions and Demons
Post by: lumpley on July 19, 2005, 05:26:22 AM
I don't believe that demons can take fallout. Maybe under some circumstances, I suppose... But overwhelmingly, yes, fallout goes to the possessed person.