Posts Tagged ‘Antihero’

Wanted: Partner in crime

Fastaval now less than a week away. I am chief of the Info this year which means I have plenty to do answering emails, organizing and packing my own stuff (I’m leaving Monday to go set up for the con). With all this on my mind, there is one more thing I can’t help thinking about: whether I should write a scenario for Fastaval next year.

On one hand, I would really like to. I am thoroughly engrained in the organising side of Fastaval’s twin crews of the organisers and the creatives. But I feel that I should belong as much to the creative side of things, something my experience writing both my contribution to the Empire 40k and Antihero has underlined. On the other hand, I don’t think the way Antihero was created is the best way. Antihero was written in a sense of: “Oh, shoot – deadline’s around the corner!” Writing it was also in many ways a lonely process, as I am not currently in an environment where I often run into other role players, let alone people with an interest in scenario writing. That will, hopefully, change before the next scenario writing season comes around in earnest, but it has still helped me come to one important conclusion:

I want a co-writer.

I want to write my next scenario with somebody. Both as a measure to help the writing process along – I find it easier to do that kind of thing if I’m obligated to someone other than myself – and as a way to help me develop my understanding and style of roleplaying. In other words, I want someone who knows something about roleplaying and scenarios. Not neccesarily a veteran (though it could be), but someone with a perspective that complements my own – alike enough that we can agree on a vision, different enough that we will bring something different to the process. I want someone who wants me to challenge them as much as I want to be challenged by them.

So, what do I want to write? Good question. I guess I would like to write something different than both Under My Hive and Antihero. I might want to write a more classic kind of scenario. Both UMH and Antihero have been indie-like storytelling games with the GM in a very pulled-back, mediating kind of role. While that is the kind of game I often like to play, I also like many other kinds of game – like the more classic scenario with a strong GM and a story for the players to go through. I might like to try something along those lines. Maybe a scenario with very loose constraints and a lot of player interactivitiy. It might also be a GM-less thing. I haven’t played a lot of GM-less stuff, but both UMH and Antihero have had very weak GMs, and for Antihero, I considered whether the GM was actually necessary (there is actually a version provided in the scenario in which the GM plays a main character). So why not try to take the plunge, and do without a GM?

Another kind of scenario could be the retro scenario. It seems that dungeon revival is the hot retro fashion these days at Fastaval, with scenarios like Dungeon, Lydia’s Funeral and Kristian Bach Petersen’s Reservoir Elves, Magician: Impossible and Apocalypse Drow in the lead. Maybe it’s time to be avant-garde retro and make a bloodsucker revival that can show today’s kids that you don’t have to glimmer to sparkle. White Wolf just came out with the Vampire: the Masquerade 20th anniversary edition, and this year’s “Whole Con” is Dancing with the Clans, a game of Camarilla Disco. How about “Fear and Loathing in Lasombra” or some similar ironic nostalgia about the hottest games of the late ’90ies? I have a feeling that there is a Vampire/chick-flick crossover just waiting to happen – “Legally Brujah”?

I have also been doing a few “Fictioval” scenario previews that might be turned into actual scenarios. Like Kthulhu Kindergarden (kiddie investigators in an Arkham daycare facility). Or how about Love in the time of Chess, a sad game of chess prodigies using chess as a mechanic?

Continuing on the retro from before, it seems that half the blogging community has fond memories of Planescape. Maybe it would be an idea to bring Sigil to Fastaval. Giving the setting an indie motor and sending the players off to some corner of the Planes.

What to do?

So, if you might be interested in a partnership for next Fastaval, don’t be a stranger! Write me an email, or approach me at Fastaval, and let’s see if we can come up with an idea we can both agree on. It could be some of what I’ve mentioned above, some of what I have mentioned earlier on this blog, one of your ideas – or something we come up with together!

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Antihero: Supporting characters as main character antitheses

A while ago, I wrote about my thoughts on the main characters of my antihero scenario. But what I really wanted, was to follow it up with this post, which explains my thoughts for some of the important secondary characters in the game. And at the end, I’d really like your thoughts.

Now, the Antihero scenario has a main character – the Hero – and four secondary characters: the Sidekick, the Elder, the Villain and the Coveted. The main conflicts of the game build on these five, and each player will control one of them. But these are not the only characters. And this brings me to an idea that I want to incorporate into my scenario: that each main or secondary character has a supporting character who is his antithesis.

Lemme explain what I mean with antithesis. An antithesis

” is a counter-proposition and denotes a direct contrast to the original proposition.” [link]

Thus, the antithesis character is one who is a counter-proposition to a main/secondary character, and who by doing so makes that character more sharply defined.

For instance, the Coveted is not impressed with the hero’s appearance, and will not bend to his will. This makes him interested, and he must strive to win her. Her antithesis is a village girl, who falls head over heels for the hero, and is blinded by his flashing smile and his heroic exterior. Similarly, the Sidekick is not fooled by the hero’s appearance – he helped create it. He is old and cynical. His antithesis is a young boy, who looks up to him and wants to be him when he grows up. His heart would be crushed if he knew the truth about the Hero – and I predict it will be crushed when the hero’s bluff is called at some point during the scenario.

Now, the question is how to use these characters. Should a character control his antithesis himself, allowing him to sketch his own counter-proposition? Should it be controlled by the characters opponent (on the two axes I talked about last time), allowing him to help define the opponents position, and cause a bit of trouble for him? Should it be controlled by someone on the other axis? Or the GM, maybe? Maybe you’d want joint ownership – or maybe just a common pool of all of them, so that anyone can use any character?

I should note that “control” does not mean  “play.” Control is all about who has the right to define and use that character. Whose character-sheet is he on? That person might ask someone else to play him, but even then, they have final say in the matter.

I think I tend towards having joint ownership between the two people on the axis. The problem with that is that you can risk a fight over the characters – or can you? Is that even a problem? Maybe communal ownership would be better, allowing anyone to use them – with the risk that no one will.

I’m also debating whether to give the Hero one. He could have a failing local guy who thought he could be a hero, and who’s intimidated by the hero. On the other hand, he’s likely to get loads of screen time anyway – he doesn’t need help.

What do you think? What will work? Do you have experience with this kind of thing?

[Antihero] The Main Characters

I am slowly starting to write my scenario, currently named Antihero, which will be featured at next year’s Fastaval. It is very much a scenario which will revolve around the characters, and they are probably the part of the game I’ve gotten the furthest with.

There will be five characters. One of them is the clear central character, while the others represent poles around him. All of the pole characters want something with the central character – the (anti)hero, and that wish is in someway opposed to what at least one character wants with him. So, the five characters in short:

The (anti)hero: the protagonist of the story. A con man, who makes people believe in him, uses these trusting people, then leaves before they call his bluff. That is not to say he isn’t a capable character, nor that he is all evil – he probably does good things for many villages. But mostly, he does it to help himself. However, there is a part of him that longs for something more. A part of him that wants to settle down, to gain a true life, instead of living a comfortable lie.

Two of the pole characters represent the outer struggle, and two of them represent the inner struggle that the hero faces. So, first I will present the outer struggle, then the inner.

The Village Elder: On one side of the outer struggle is the Elder of the village. At the beginning of the scenario, he enlists the hero to help defend the village against the plans of the Villain. That is not to say that the Elder is a saint, quite the opposite: he is manipulative, a coward, and he wants everyone to dance to his pipe. He is a very conservative person, wanting the status quo to be maintained.

The Villain: Opposite the Elder is the Villain. The villain wants to do something to the village, making life difficult for the villagers. Please note that it is not simply a matter of wanting to destroy the village. In fact, I think it is important to make it so that is it possible for the villain’s plan to be at least partially achieved, while still counting as a victory for good. The Villain represents a dynamic force, a force for change, but also an arrogant force, who wants to change the world according to his whim.

And thus, the outer struggle is the struggle for the fate of the village. The probable outcome is probably that status quo is not upheld, but that the villain does not achieve his plan either.

Then, the inner struggle:

The Sidekick: Every hero must have his sidekick, every Don Quixote much have his Sancho Panza. Also in this tale. The Sidekick is manservant, manager, squire, spy and spin-doctor, all in one. He cooks for the Hero, looks after him and his equipment and runs his errands. At the same time, he’s in on the scam, and he finds out who’s not convinced, and tries to make sure they ARE convinced – or at least that they don’t say their suspicions out loud. He tries to make the Hero stay with the same lifestyle they’ve been living together, and to make him stay the same.

The Coveted: Just as Don Quixote has Sancho Panza, he’s got his Dulcinea: the girl he pines for, and the girl he wants to commit heroic acts for. The girl, of course, is hard to please: She alone in the city is not charmed by the Hero’s antics, and is not charmed by his advances. He will have to win her over, somehow, and the only way to do that seems to be to (gulp) reform. He’d better shape up… thus, she is a force for inner change, challenging him to either become a hero, or to admit that he is none. Of course, she also needs to change: she needs to accept that there might be room for a man in her heart after all.

She’s to a large extent inspired by the woman here, the first four minutes of which display my idea of the Hero’s first approach, and of her initial attitude to him. She’s also inspired by the character Bean from Rango, the film that inspired the scenario in the first place.

And thus, the inner struggle is, in many ways, the real struggle of the game, though it needs the outer struggle as its battleground: can the Hero find a true life for himself, or will he forever live a lie?

These are the main players. Next time, I’ll write something about the main secondary characters – cause each main character will be matched by a secondary character that will act as their mirror. Also, I am planning to give the whole thing a framework that will give the GM a) something to do and b) a way to prod the players in a direction if needed.