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Friday, December 23, 2016

AP: Realizing you might be the villain in the story (also, stumbling into a potential character arc)

So, I've been playing a solo game of Trollbabe, experimenting with various things in a search to take more of that "writing exercise" edge off it.*

However, what prompted me to write this bite sized AP is that the latest scene I played was probably the most immersive solo experience I've had so far, and probably the only time in my roleplaying career (social or otherwise) where a potential player character arc has manifested itself without any planning or engineering on my part.

I'll try to make it truly bite sized:

Greta, the trollbabe, arrived to a walled city called Kragg Keep (the real Keep is inside the city, so it's like the settlement grew around it). The area has had a bad harvest, and for some reason, it wasn't very welcoming to her. She was almost turned back by the authorities, but was allowed to stay for one night after some convincing. During that night, she had a comical run in with the Lord of Kragg Keep, who had invaded her room in the middle of the night. He is able to practice some sort of magic (glittering eyes, and can disguise himself as a statue).

During the course of that, Greta is accused of stealing from the innkeeper and is put on trial. She also finds out second hand that Lord Ingald is quite the unsavory character due to his wanton nature. Some conflict ensues and it's decided she is to leave the city immediately. She is sure that Lord Ingald had something to do with it, and so begins her quest to both clear her name and put this character in his place. Eventually, things escalate to a point where she is forced to kill and hurt some soldiers, including hurting one that she had some sexual/romantic tension with.

She is very close to achieving her goal of infiltrating the actual Keep and finding Lord Ingald. As the author/player, I want to make some connection between the bad harvest that is in the background, and Lord Ingald as the character responsible for it (in some way). I also want to make that connection in-character, and through the events in play, not by fiat.

 In-character, Greta wants to find the same connection in order to justify her actions so far beyond just vengeance...and it is at this point that I begin feel that Greta and I don’t have very good justifications for our decisions; decisions that have led to killing in order to continue her quest, but which could have been avoided if she had just left the city.

So basically, all of a sudden it's dawning on me that she may not be all that noble (actually, 'we', because I made the decisions to keep the adventure going)...all because we were stubborn (me in not wanting a boring story where nothing much happens, and her in wanting to clear her name and get some payback against Lord Ingald).

I don’t know what's going to happen, but if it turns out Lord Ingald is not responsible for the bad harvest (in some supernatural way), she's basically ending up as a tragic anti-hero, or worse, a villain. And, it's also an opportunity for a character arc, because both of us have realized now that she might have a big character flaw.

I never expected that, and it has been one of the coolest moments I've ever had in anything RPG. I doubt that I'll ever luck into this experience again, because I don't think I can ever trick myself this way again.


*To that end I have tried enhancing my experience with the help of my own #writingwithdice framework accompanied by technology in the form of iOS apps that use predictive text or cut up techniques. The apps replace your keyboard with actual words (rather than letters) and this tends to make the apps suggest "their" own ideas to me, since available words are limited. You have to play around with the apps to see what I mean.

Creative Writer:!-easy!/id737521232?mt=8
Word palette:

Actual play link here: