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Episode 1956: Altar-cations


This is a variant of "As you know...", a form of exposition used in fiction where one character explains to another character something that they both already know, for the meta-reason of actually explaining or reminding the situation to the audience/reader.

Here, we are using Bala-Tik's "as you know" speech to reveal exposition to you, dear reader, but it's not really clear if this is information that Xasha already does know or not - in fact given what we know about Jim and his roleplaying style, the odds are he might well not know it. You can use this trick in games, to have an NPC provide information to a group of PCs. If the NPC thinks the PCs already know the information, then they'll have no qualms about stating it plainly.

Incepting a level deeper, we have another variant within the framing of the game. Instead of the GM using Bala-Tik to explain something that Umberto/Han/Xasha already knows, for the benefit of the other people present (i.e. Rey, Finn, BB-8), the GM is using Bala-Tik thinking he's explaining something that Umberto already knows, for the benefit of Pete, Annie, Corey, Sally, and Ben one meta-level up, their PCs within the game, and maybe even Han/Xasha himself, who very possibly doesn't know any of this.

Try it some time. It's a good trick, if you can keep your meta-levels clear.

Commentary by memnarch (who has not seen the movie)

Umberto, so three identities ago. And seeing as Umberto left to avoid the trouble of marriage, I'm guessing identity thieving is just Alberto's(??) way of getting out of trouble and staying that way for a time. After all, that's how Greedo got out of the trouble of needing to suddenly find a spaceship and present themself as captain to the rest of the party. And probably how Freddo kept their nose clean enough to be allowed onto Cloud City without more trouble. There was even an almost attempt to use Iago just before that! Can't ruin your name if you're using a different one! But wow, that's some adventure to end up with an engagement to a gang boss's daughter.

Also, judging by the lack of reaction from Bala-Tik, it seems that plan "hide under the floor" worked out well enough. It looks a little cramped, but I think that Finn and Rey would be able to sneak around and possibly get in a surprise attack of some kind. On one hand, the floor looks like a literal grate, so anyone in the gang should spot them easily just by looking down. On the other hand, Xasha is the most interesting person/machine/animal/anything in the hallway, so there's no reason to be watching the floor for an attack.

Hang on. I just realized that the creature outside was screaming about Xasha. And this group is going after Umberto. Are we looking at a Gambit Pileup of some kind or something? That'd easily allow for the PCs to escape in the Millennium Falcon. Even if it still needs the additional repairs to get the ship moving again after the modulator was installed, BB-8 could easily zoom off to the ship down one of the other hallways. It'd be an easy show-off for Corey to prove that 14 ranks in repair is perfectly fine to have when the PC with 15 is stuck to an easily detectable living body.

Commentary by Keybounce (who has not seen the movie)

"Of course, you know all this".

Sometimes, as a GM, you need to bring a player up to speed with something that their character knows. The infodump can be straight GM to player, or it can be provided in-character by another character that happens to be aware of the backstory.

Now, politics. What do you do when a character can slay dragons, command a hundred mid-level followers with class abilities, or tank a demi-god? You put them into politics. The only thing nastier than a skilled human is another skilled human.

Or, you know, a skilled elf if you get into elven politics. But that's really getting into "mean GM" territory. Just consider all the off-screen infighting that was happening in Lord of the Rings. Heck, look explicitly at the Motie books (The Mote in God's Eye, The Gripping Hand*). In book 2, we were explicitly told that the PCs were duped in book 1 by NPC wars happening out of their awareness, and even told the hints that the PCs missed in their first adventure. (Well, Horace said he realized something was up, and pointed out the flaw that he noticed and the others didn't. Still, he didn't share with the rest of the party.)

Yes, politics are the definitive end-game for high level characters.

In this case, we have a political matter of a marriage. Jim's character is (or has been) pretending to be in Crimson Dawn, and the Guavians want to join two groups. Of course, I'm willing to bet that while whoever Jim pretended to be was in Dawn, Jim's character never was.

And yea, at this point, "Jim's character" is much easier to keep track of then all the many different pretences that he is keeping track of.

* Editorial note: Released as The Moat Around Murcheson's Eye in the UK and Australia. This confused me no end when I was younger. I kept running across people on the net talking about "The Gripping Hand" and thought it must be a third book in the series, but I couldn't find it anywhere.


Bala-Tik: Umberto! You spineless double-crossing no-good son of a bantha!
Xasha: Ballistic! What’s the problem?
Bala-Tik: You know very well what the problem is. You’re engaged to Hondo Ohnaka’s daughter.
Finn: {in the under-floor crawlspace with Rey} Umberto?
Rey: I think that was dad’s identity before Vittorio. It’s hard to keep track.
Bala-Tik: We want to consolidate Guavian power with Crimson Dawn by marrying Hondo’s daughter to you.
Bala-Tik: But you left her at the altar, and here we are to drag you back!
Bala-Tik: Of course, you know all this.
Chewbacca: If you actually know all this, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.
Xasha: You could be, for all I know!

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Published: Thursday, 11 February, 2021; 01:11:07 PST.
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