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Episode 1838: Shadows and Dust


Generally it's up to the GameMaster to make sure the players are having fun - whether that be by prescribing strict boundaries to what can be expected to happen, or by stretching the expected boundaries to provide shocks and surprises to the players. Many sorts of surprises can backfire, so often the received wisdom is to avoid doing anything too radical. But at the same time, that removes the potential shock of something truly unexpected, which some players may enjoy.

It's a fine line to walk at the best of times, when you know your players intimately, but it also varies from player to player and group to group - so providing any more precise advice on what you can and can't safely spring on them is not really possible. Basically, you need to know your audience, and keep just enough mystery that they will be intrigued, but not so much that they will be upset when something unexpected happens.

Commentary by Keybounce (who has not seen the movie)

So the GM is apparently perfectly okay with what's happening, and pointing out that PC conflict has been fun, and the players have been entertained. (And if the ride is bumpy, or if the players complain about being clawed, that's half the fun.)

And Sally is saying, "It'll be fine. Trust me." Either she knows something (was this prearranged somehow? Was Lor supposed to be just the equivalent of an NPC info dump, run by a player instead of the GM?), or else she's promising something she can't control.

We have three nice closeup scenes on Ren. Unfortunately, there isn't much detail to be seen.

And once again, we see that Pete seems more upset that he didn't realize that he could have played on team evil as an anti-party character.

Maybe Pete should try playing Belkar. Hey, that might make a silly in-between campaign some time - two groups of players trying to control an interdimensional portal, and then one group decides to destroy it rather than lose it. As an in-between, it would give the players a chance to get the fight out without destroying the main campaign.

If your players start attacking each other, generally there are different things that can be happening:

  1. The players are well aware that they are on opposite sides. I've seen this at conventions - two groups go through the first half of an adventure from different sides, only to be fighting against each other in the final room for the grand prize.
  2. Players are separated from each other, told what they are seeing, and don't realize that the characters they are fighting belong to the other players. (Bonus points if the characters you personally are playing are split up, the GM is describing two different scenes to you, and you don't realize that your two halves have met up. In fairness, it was Tomb of Horrors, and I was expecting danger everywhere.)
  3. You are running some form of Paranoia. Possibly intentionally.
  4. Some players started on the other side. Maybe they will "convert", maybe they will stay there.
  5. One "player" is running the GM's creatures, while the GM is running the world/environment. (We had a strategy person who loved doing this at one point.)

If you've got another example, list it in the forum thread.

Commentary by memnarch (who has not seen the movie)

Awww, I guess Lor is definitely dead then. That's too bad.

And yeah, knowing what sort of game I'm getting into would be something I'd want to learn before the start of the game. At the very least, I would like to know what the expected life span of my character would be and how invested I should feel. There's a world of difference between making a character for a Paranoia game where death is frequently expected to happen (or Tomb of Horrors for D&D fans) and making a character for a Mutants and Masterminds game where you could expect to be put in deathtraps or rescue other people from them, but actually dying would be very rare unless it's dramatic enough.

Pete is fine with inter-party conflict as long as it's said in advance, no surprise there. I guess the difference he's seeing here is related to what I just mentioned. There's not been any time yet to get to know the other players' characters, so the sudden offing of one PC by another feels different than the more natural growth that led to Anakin turning obviously Evil. Here, Sally's just saying that it's in character for her, and we haven't seen anything else that could have said this would be a likely outcome or if even talking to Kylo like Lor did would have been a good idea in the first place.

Hm, now I'm thinking that Annie and Sally might have planned this out before everyone met up again. Either that, or the GM is quite fine with this turn of events as now it's not just Annie alone on the bad guy side. I wonder if Ben will stick with the good guy side or if he'll roll up a new character to switch sides.


Pete: Hold on, hold on, hold on... You just killed Lor?
Kylo Ren: It’s totally in character for me.
Pete: You didn’t tell me this was a party versus party game!
[SFX]: whooom
GM: We’ve always had elements of PC conflict.
Pete: Yeah, but Annie tricked us into it!
GM: And it was fun, wasn’t it?
Pete: Well, yes, but... This is different!
GM: Are you not entertained?
Pete: Well, I mean, Sally killing Ben’s character is pretty cool, but...
Kylo Ren: Pete. It’ll be fine. Trust me.
Pete: Oh, yeah, that helps a lot.

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Published: Tuesday, 12 May, 2020; 03:11:14 PDT.
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