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Author Topic: A bodiless, persona less character?  (Read 43901 times)
Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2006, 10:46:25 AM »

"What do you think" = "What do you think about Capes players choosing to play an entity-free character"
[snip]
If instead I have the exact same set of stats, the exact same character sheet, but associate it with no particular entity in game, this would seem to give me an advantage in that since I am not strongly connecting to any *particular* character, I will become a ton harder to manipulate and force tokens out of. While *still* have the same amount of influence in game - even more potentially.
I think it is a bad idea, because I think your rationale for it is flawed.  You are correct, in that it is harder to come up with narration that will manipulate you, the player, into doing things with this character.  You have succeeded in creating an untouchable character.  Congratulations.

The problem is that, since your character is untouchable, it really cannot TOUCH, either.  There is really no point of engagement to this character for the other players.  All that can be done with this character is monkey with other people's action, not really generate any of its own.  Once the cleverness wears off, I believe that it will just be dull, a glorifed NPC that serves no real purpose in the story. 

You said, in an earlier post:
Quote
So, create a conflict that draws *me*, the player in.  A conflict that is part of a story of hope, or accomplishment, of growth and success, and ultimately not of loss, suffering, surrender, or conflicted moralities.  And I will reward you richly.
If you play this character with me, an equally likely course of events would be me saying "Ok, Sindyr.  The rest of us are going to have a game of Capes over here, pitch in whenever you see anything that interests you."  Then, I pretty much ignore you.  I can get rewards from other people at the table, and am liable to have more fun in the process.  This has nothing to do with kind of character you created, or the kind of story going on.  I would have the exactly the same response if your disembodied nothingness had abilities like "Despair", "Oh crap, not this again", "Oh my God, NOOOO!!!", "Just bad luck, I guess", etc. 

A big chunk of the fun in Capes is not just manipulating other people's characters, but having your own character manipulated.  (This is beginning to sound a bit risque).  That is, it is fun to lay down the goal that makes your opponent say "Oh HELL no!" in that excited way, but it is also just as much fun when another player plays a goal that makes YOU say "Oh HELL no".  Why?  Well, first, it means that your fellow players get IT, the thing you are trying to do with this character.  It means you have created something that is interesting enough for them to challenge.  Second, it makes YOUR character the center of attention: all action around that goal is going to be about whether or not this challenge to your character succeeds.

So, again, I think this character is a bad idea, at least as a main character.  As an NPC on the side, a way to gain an extra action or two, it could be fun, in the same way an NPC like "Martial Law Declared" or "Psychadelic Rock Show" can be fun.  And they CAN be fun, but not as a main character...I have tried them as main characters, and they suck, at least if used for more than one occasional scene.

Moreover, to give this "force of destiny" drives, to my mind, is to risk actually breaking the rules of the game.  On page 32 it states:
Quote
But when they Stake Debt, it must be on a Conflict that is morally charged for that particular character and Drive.
 
You have successfully created a non-entity; what could possibly be morally charged for this nothingness that has no real existence?  You said, in one post:
Quote
Quote
Goal: The mysterious entity becomes trapped in a human body
Event: The mysterious entity sacrifices itself for humanity
Goal: The mysterious entity falls in love.
What mysterious entity?
But here is an alternative bit of game business:
Quote
Sindyr: I stake two hope debt on this conflict.
Me: One moment please, to whom is this debt staking morally charged?
Sindyr: My character.
Me: What character, I don't see any character? 
It can accumulate debt, but I would argue it can never actually stake it without some semblence of a personality.  And a semblance of personality makes the character touchable.
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Andrew Cooper
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Posts: 724


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« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2006, 11:02:13 AM »

The phenomenon being proposed here isn't unique to the "bodiless, persona-less character".  Any player can employ the techniques described to deflect any consequences or actions away from the character they are playing.  Let's take an example.

Nameless Character with list of attributes played by Player A

Player B:  The nameless entity gets trapped in a human body...
Player A:  The thing trapped in the body is something else...

Here Player B tries to say something happens to Player A's nameless character.  Player A dodges by saying while what Player B said happened, it doesn't have anything to do with his character.  That's fine.  Player B could have dodged it by saying it was a dream, a TV show, or some other explanation.  It makes no nevermind how he dodged.  Just that he did so.

Zoit the Pinhead Barbarian played by Player A

Player B: Zoit gets trapped inside the body of a little girl...
Player A: It's somebody else that gets trapped, not Zoit...

There's nothing functionally different here from the example above.  Player B says something about Player A's character.  Player A dodges the issue with his narration.

However, Sindyr, I would say that your character isn't legal.  It doesn't have a name.  There is a spot on the Character Sheet for a name.  Every character in the rulebook has a name.  Even the characters that are objects or ideas or whatnot have a name.  They have a name specifically so that they can be referenced for Conflicts and such.  I'd say the strong implication is that characters have to have names of some sort or another.  Even if it is just "Something".  Once it has a name I can reference it for Conflicts.  You can veto the Conflicts as per the rules and you can still dodge any effects from the Conflict via narration just like before, if you like.

Essentially what I'm saying is that the nameless entity isn't functionally different from any other character.  It doesn't gain the player any extra protections from narration or Conflicts or anything.  It just makes it a little easier to dodge stuff you don't like without having to rack your brain for appropriate narration.

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Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2006, 11:32:49 AM »

Essentially what I'm saying is that the nameless entity isn't functionally different from any other character.  It doesn't gain the player any extra protections from narration or Conflicts or anything.  It just makes it a little easier to dodge stuff you don't like without having to rack your brain for appropriate narration.

I will dissent here, Andrew.  I think what Sindyr has proposed is very different from a PLAYER character.  I think it does give you extra protections from narrations and conflicts, because, frankly, there simply aren't that many things that are interesting to narrate or make conflicts about.  Reading between the lines of Sindyr's other posts, I suspect that Sindyr is VERY concerned about people narrating things he doesn't like about his characters.  He has achieved just about the perfect defense against this possible danger; he has created a character about which very little interesting can be narrated, by anyone, including himself.

Think about it...other than trying to embody this character, what can you actually narrate about it?  Sure, Sindyr can narrate things happening, but they are never caused by anything, really.  The other players in the game can narrate things happening as well, but at least they can narrate the cause.
 
As I indicated above, this might be fun for a scene or two, but it would get old pretty fast.  It is functionally no different from playing any other abstract NPC as your main character with the only advantage being you can reuse the abilities on it at the cost of accumulating debt that can never be spent, as it can never be morally charged.  Actually, the NPC's described on pgs 108-109 of the rules (especially "Murphy's Law") are not much different from this, other than the addition of drives.   Mechanically, I think the free Conflict on a two-column NPC is more valuable than adding drives; certainly it is in terms of controlling the story (because conflicts are the story), as well as ensuring that you will often gain at least one story token.
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Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2006, 12:18:08 PM »

However, Sindyr, I would say that your character isn't legal.  It doesn't have a name.  There is a spot on the Character Sheet for a name.  Every character in the rulebook has a name.  Even the characters that are objects or ideas or whatnot have a name.  They have a name specifically so that they can be referenced for Conflicts and such.  I'd say the strong implication is that characters have to have names of some sort or another.  Even if it is just "Something".  Once it has a name I can reference it for Conflicts.  You can veto the Conflicts as per the rules and you can still dodge any effects from the Conflict via narration just like before, if you like.

No problem.  The "name" for this character is Kismet.

Quote
Essentially what I'm saying is that the nameless entity isn't functionally different from any other character.  It doesn't gain the player any extra protections from narration or Conflicts or anything.  It just makes it a little easier to dodge stuff you don't like without having to rack your brain for appropriate narration.

I disagree.  If I play the universal force of Kismet, that seems much more protected against persona-based threats and coercions than if I play Bob the Barbarian.

Narratively, I think it is completely different. There are simply things you can do to Bob the Barbbarian that are simply less defendable by Bob's very nature than what you can do to the ineffable force of Kismet.

However, I think it is quite possible for us to play Capes together, all the while we disagree over whether it is functionally different or not, but still having a good time.  So maybe the point is moot.  If you believe it's not functionally different and I believe it is perhaps we can both be happy with differing perspectives. whilst we play Capes toegther
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-Sindyr
Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2006, 12:24:04 PM »

Sindyr, come back after you've played Kismet in Capes, with someone who knows how Capes works.  I think you will have changed your mind.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2006, 12:26:05 PM »

In fact, if you want to set a date to play in IRC, I'd be willing to show you what I mean.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2006, 12:34:55 PM »

I think it is a bad idea, because I think your rationale for it is flawed.  You are correct, in that it is harder to come up with narration that will manipulate you, the player, into doing things with this character.  You have succeeded in creating an untouchable character.  Congratulations.

Thank you.

Quote
The problem is that, since your character is untouchable, it really cannot TOUCH, either.  There is really no point of engagement to this character for the other players.  All that can be done with this character is monkey with other people's action, not really generate any of its own.  Once the cleverness wears off, I believe that it will just be dull, a glorifed NPC that serves no real purpose in the story. 

I think this misses the fundamental point of this game.  The game is not really about specific characters.  It's about the *players* and what stories they want to encourage and what oucomes they want to pursue, regardless of whether or not they have some kind of embodied character in the game.  Some one else, I forget who, said it best - Capes is not a game where everyone has characters and no one is the GM.  It's a game where no one has (priveleged and owned) characters and *everyone* is the GM.

Quote
If you play this character with me, an equally likely course of events would be me saying "Ok, Sindyr.  The rest of us are going to have a game of Capes over here, pitch in whenever you see anything that interests you."  Then, I pretty much ignore you.  I can get rewards from other people at the table, and am liable to have more fun in the process.  This has nothing to do with kind of character you created, or the kind of story going on.  I would have the exactly the same response if your disembodied nothingness had abilities like "Despair", "Oh crap, not this again", "Oh my God, NOOOO!!!", "Just bad luck, I guess", etc. 

You have every right to be that way, but I think you would be in error.  You can also get just as many rewards from me as from anyone at the table.  The only difference is that you have to do a little more homework, you have to figure out what I want - which is pretty much what the Capes game says to do anyways.

If how you really want to play Capes is to repetitively use people's investment in their characters against them because it is quick and easy, then no, you probably would not have much fun with mine.  Nor would I want you to.

Quote
A big chunk of the fun in Capes is not just manipulating other people's characters, but having your own character manipulated.  (This is beginning to sound a bit risque).  That is, it is fun to lay down the goal that makes your opponent say "Oh HELL no!" in that excited way, but it is also just as much fun when another player plays a goal that makes YOU say "Oh HELL no".  Why?  Well, first, it means that your fellow players get IT, the thing you are trying to do with this character.  It means you have created something that is interesting enough for them to challenge.  Second, it makes YOUR character the center of attention: all action around that goal is going to be about whether or not this challenge to your character succeeds.

If you find having your character manipulated to be fun, I promise to do just that.  Why wouldn't I, since you are willing to pay me story tokens to do it?

However, I do not find having *my* character manipulated to be fun.  There are *other* things that I find fun, and I would be willing to tell anyone I was playing Capes with what they were - so that they can better collect resources off me.

Quote
Moreover, to give this "force of destiny" drives, to my mind, is to risk actually breaking the rules of the game.  On page 32 it states:
Quote
But when they Stake Debt, it must be on a Conflict that is morally charged for that particular character and Drive.
 
You have successfully created a non-entity; what could possibly be morally charged for this nothingness that has no real existence?  You said, in one post:
Quote
Quote
Goal: The mysterious entity becomes trapped in a human body
Event: The mysterious entity sacrifices itself for humanity
Goal: The mysterious entity falls in love.
What mysterious entity?
But here is an alternative bit of game business:
Quote
Sindyr: I stake two hope debt on this conflict.
Me: One moment please, to whom is this debt staking morally charged?
Sindyr: My character.
Me: What character, I don't see any character? 
It can accumulate debt, but I would argue it can never actually stake it without some semblence of a personality.  And a semblance of personality makes the character touchable.

Whether it has a "semblance of a personality" or not is debatable.  I will only state that on any conflict I stake debt on, it is morally charged for my character.  You don't have to see it or understand it, and I don't have to prove it, any more than you have to prove that this conflict is morally charged for Bob the Barbarian.  It just is, if you say it is.
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-Sindyr
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2006, 12:37:45 PM »

Sindyr, come back after you've played Kismet in Capes, with someone who knows how Capes works.  I think you will have changed your mind.

I am always willing to change my mind as I experience new facts.  I dont like to type much if I can avoid it, but I would be willing to play by Skype, Teamspeak, or Ventrillo.  Or in person in Mass, VT or NH.
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-Sindyr
Andrew Cooper
Member

Posts: 724


WWW
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2006, 02:03:40 PM »

Essentially what I'm saying is that the nameless entity isn't functionally different from any other character.  It doesn't gain the player any extra protections from narration or Conflicts or anything.  It just makes it a little easier to dodge stuff you don't like without having to rack your brain for appropriate narration.

I will dissent here, Andrew.  I think what Sindyr has proposed is very different from a PLAYER character.  I think it does give you extra protections from narrations and conflicts, because, frankly, there simply aren't that many things that are interesting to narrate or make conflicts about.  Reading between the lines of Sindyr's other posts, I suspect that Sindyr is VERY concerned about people narrating things he doesn't like about his characters.  He has achieved just about the perfect defense against this possible danger; he has created a character about which very little interesting can be narrated, by anyone, including himself.

You can make a completely "normal" character that is uninteresting and nobody wants to take the time and effort to make conflicts about.  We've had that happen by accident in games.  That character just ends up in the pile of unused characters most of the time unless someone gets some real inspiration and *makes* the character interesting.

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Matthew Glover
Member

Posts: 160


« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2006, 06:52:56 AM »

Seems to me that your non-person character isn't substantially different from the ones in the book.  Public Opinion, Murphy's Law, etc.  Yours has Powers, but still completely legitimate.  I'm kinda with Eric on this:  Having unpersonified Fate as a regular intervening force over the course of a game could be super awesome.

I rather agree with Hans, though.  This doesn't sound like you're doing it because you think "Fate takes a hand" is a cool idea.  This is a dodge so that you can play Capes while avoiding having to actually put anything at risk.  You aren't suggesting using this as a sometimes character or along with some real-people characters.  That makes a big difference to me.  You intend to play Kismet exclusively so that nobody can threaten you. 

If you were to sit down with me and three other guys and say "Hey, I'm just gonna play the unpersonified force of Fate, so that I can meddle with you, but none of you guys can do anything to me," I'd roll my eyes.  No, if you're gonna do that, I don't want to play with you.   "Hey, I know this is poker night and you guys always play for money.  You go ahead and play for money, but I'd just like to play with chips, no money.  Cool?"   No, dude.  Not cool.  We're over here trying to have a serious game with serious stakes.  You want an equal opportunity to affect the outcome?  Let's see the color of your money.

Said another way:  You're trying to put yourself in a position where you get to meddle with the story as an outsider.  The story will be about the characters that the other players created and put on the table, with each player saying "This guy is interesting to me.  Let's see what he does and what gets done to him."  What you're saying is "I'm not putting a character on the table.  I don't trust you with my character, but I still want the opportunity to do stuff to yours." 

As an aside, here's a question:  What if every player played a non-person character like yours?  Would that be a fun game?
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LemmingLord
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2006, 07:15:40 AM »


As an aside, here's a question:  What if every player played a non-person character like yours?  Would that be a fun game?


Actually that gives me goosebumps!!  That would definitely have a "hand of the gods" feel to it as all of the individuals in the game do what they do by the different forces of the universe... Quite a depiction of the "we have no control of our own destinies" concept!!!

Although this idea can be abused easily, I think it has lots-o-potential.  It is also another great way to slap people like me who are having so much trouble divorcing myself from characters (even though I'm eager to do so!!).  It becomes an interesting challenge indeed to try to figure out what is important to a player who may be playing such forces or phenoms...You don't get their character's success and failure mixed up with the players's own goals. 

But yeah, as with all things, an asshat will take this and laugh about how they broke the system and made everyone cry; so my thought is that the non asshat players should first try to find some ways to have fun with the behavior, use the game mechanics and reward system to reward the non asshat players, tell the person to grow up, and last resorts - don't play this game with them.  These are the kinds of people who need a gamemaster as a babysitter to constantly be saying, "no, that doesn't happen; you're being a jerk."

Maybe we should offer that jerks will just need to grow up if they want to play this game.  :)
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Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #26 on: July 15, 2006, 09:23:37 AM »

Personally, since you brought up asshats and jerks, I think the asshats and jerks are the ones who would only play with you if they can have a way to threaten to hurt you and coerce you.  The ones that lose all interest when the only way they can intereact with you is in a positive way.  :)

More to come.
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-Sindyr
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #27 on: July 15, 2006, 11:32:33 AM »

Seems to me that your non-person character isn't substantially different from the ones in the book.  Public Opinion, Murphy's Law, etc.  Yours has Powers, but still completely legitimate.  I'm kinda with Eric on this:  Having unpersonified Fate as a regular intervening force over the course of a game could be super awesome.

I rather agree with Hans, though.  This doesn't sound like you're doing it because you think "Fate takes a hand" is a cool idea.  This is a dodge so that you can play Capes while avoiding having to actually put anything at risk.  You aren't suggesting using this as a sometimes character or along with some real-people characters.  That makes a big difference to me.  You intend to play Kismet exclusively so that nobody can threaten you. 

The coolness of playing a universal cosmic force is what struck me when I came up with this idea.  Please, everyone, do not think that the only reason I like this idea is to avoid other player's coercive attampts.  Though that is part of it's allure for me, a probably even larger part is the idea of playing a narrative force, a cosmic force of destiny.

I do not intend to play Kismet exclusively so that nobody can threaten me - that's just *one* of the benefits. 

Quote
If you were to sit down with me and three other guys and say "Hey, I'm just gonna play the unpersonified force of Fate, so that I can meddle with you, but none of you guys can do anything to me," I'd roll my eyes.  No, if you're gonna do that, I don't want to play with you.

And I hope reading the above you know that I would not do that.  My goal (I feel like I am repeating this a lot) is to earn story tokens by playing conflicts and performing narrations that make you *want* to have me in the game gaining your resources.  Some people here say they want their characters to be meddled with, well then I am happy to oblige.  You may be more like me and prefer to be enticed into spending your resources instead of coerced.  Whatever you want out of playing Capes, unless it is diametrically opposed to what I want (such as you want the world to be destroyed and I want it to persist) I will offer it to you in order to earn your resources.  I hope people do the same for me.

Quote
  "Hey, I know this is poker night and you guys always play for money.  You go ahead and play for money, but I'd just like to play with chips, no money.  Cool?"   No, dude.  Not cool.  We're over here trying to have a serious game with serious stakes.  You want an equal opportunity to affect the outcome?  Let's see the color of your money.

This analogy is invalid.  Poker's very ruleset requires money.  What I am suggesting is valid within Capes. A better poker analogy (maybe) is if we were playing Texas Hold'em and I showed my cards all the time after folding - not usual poker play, but not invalid.

Quote
Said another way:  You're trying to put yourself in a position where you get to meddle with the story as an outsider.  The story will be about the characters that the other players created and put on the table, with each player saying "This guy is interesting to me.  Let's see what he does and what gets done to him."  What you're saying is "I'm not putting a character on the table.  I don't trust you with my character, but I still want the opportunity to do stuff to yours." 

As an aside, here's a question:  What if every player played a non-person character like yours?  Would that be a fun game?

That's a very good point.  If everyone played a non-person character it would be *awesome*.

Fundamentally, you can choose to bring a character into Capes and have your focus of interest be centered on that character.  Or, you can have a different approach, and be interested in the overall story, the way I am.

ALL the player's are outsiders.  Having a persona based character within the game is simply a statement of where your interest lies.  It is neither more correct to play a persona'ed character nor more correct to play a non-persona'ed based character.  It's is simply a matter of taste, and there's nothing wrong with it.

And I will say it, if no one else will: kudos to me for thinking of this. (grin)
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-Sindyr
Sindyr
Member

Posts: 795


« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2006, 11:41:49 AM »

Although this idea can be abused easily, I think it has lots-o-potential.  It is also another great way to slap people like me who are having so much trouble divorcing myself from characters (even though I'm eager to do so!!).  It becomes an interesting challenge indeed to try to figure out what is important to a player who may be playing such forces or phenoms...You don't get their character's success and failure mixed up with the players's own goals. 

That's how I came up with this idea.  People kept telling me that there is no ownership or authority of character's in game, that whether or not I am owning/playing the character sheet, I cannot prevent other plaers from narrating any actions, thoughts, or choices on the part of my character.  Also, it was told to me that whether the character was narratively in the scene or not, or even dead and destroyed, as long as I have the character sheet in front of me, NO in game narration can prevent me from being able to use my abilities and resources to affect conflicts.

This percolated in my head and created a eureka moment - that the character sheet and the power it represents to shape the story is completely disconnected from anything in the narrations.  And the next logical step if...  that I do not *have* to have a focus character to be able to help "gm" the story.

Playing Capes ultimately is about a group of GM's sharing and competing for narrative influence.  There is no reason to tie an embodied character to the character sheet when I can choose ANY character at ANY time to be interested in.  Yours.  Someone else's.  An NPC.  If there is a character I want to bring into the game, I will - through narration.  But linking it to my character sheet is simply not necessary and inefficient.

To my way of thinking, this is truly how Capes maybe deserves to be played - this is the kind of game Capes truly is.  And it's very interesting and cool.
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-Sindyr
Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #29 on: July 15, 2006, 12:00:45 PM »

Personally, since you brought up asshats and jerks, I think the asshats and jerks are the ones who would only play with you if they can have a way to threaten to hurt you and coerce you.  The ones that lose all interest when the only way they can intereact with you is in a positive way.  :)

Sindyr, you seem to assume that any game you play with, say, me or Tony, will involve goals like:

Goal: My character rapes your chracter
Goal: Your character becomes a serial killer and loves it, drinking the blood of innocents
Event: Puppies are murdered
Event: All goodness is sapped from the world by the forces of darkness

or whatever.  You seem to consistently assume the worst of a bunch of people you have never met.  If you are in a game and someone plays a conflict like those above with absolutely no warning, no hint it is coming, and no prior discussion, then I'll tell you what I would do.  I would slowly back out of the room and run for it.  For your information, these goals appeal to me not at all...except maybe the last one...the last one could be kind of cool in the right circumstances.

Here, for you information, are the kind of manipulative goals that I might play;

Goal: Doc Ock frames Spiderman for a crime
Goal: The Vulture scares Aunt May into a heart attack
Event: Mary Jane breaks up with Peter
Event: An editorial by Jameson incites the city against Spiderman
Goal: Peter Parker makes it to the hospital to before Aunt May goes into surgery

If you are playing Spiderman, I'll point out that three out of the five above are even vetoable by you.  Thats what I mean by meddling, manipulating, challenging you.   If you cannot bear the thought of any of those things hitting the table unless you think of them yourself, then, yes, you and I should never, ever play in a game together, and if you think I am a jerk and asshat for wanting to play them, then fair enough.  I can live with that.  
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* Want to know what games I like? http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/skalchemist
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