Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Adversity & The Loner

I've been thinking a lot about adversity lately, as well as about 2-person gaming. The concept for this game would be that it focuses on loner archtypes - the superspy, the rogue cop, the samurai with a shadowed past, the berserker who goes into voluntary exile to avoid hurting those he loves. There's a couple of ways to structure the roles of the two players vis-a-vis each other:

One player has a character, the other provides the adversity.

Both players have characters, and they switch off providing adversity for each other.

Both players have characters, and they provide adveristy for each other while simultaneously playing those characters.

The first is easy and kinda boring at first glance. The last is really interesting, and would require some work to pull off. The middle one seems to strike a good balance (and I submit Scarlet Wake as an excellent example of revolving GM authority).

[Quick review: I agree with the Czege Principle. "When one person is the author of both the character's adversity and its resolution, play isn't fun."]

In any case, the idea would be that the characters player would
create the adversity for his character, and authority for that adversity would then pass to the other player. Keep everything focused on the character, nothing extraneous. Nothing happens that that player hasn't set in motion, though it can (and should) mutate and grow past the original conception.

What does adversity mean in this context? Well, characters could have a Dust Devils-esque Issue or Problem, with associated problems cascading from that. I think it would be appropriate for the reason that they're a loner to be a BFD. It would be valuable for part, if not all, of character creation to be playing through their "origin story," with various characters and situations spiraling out of that. Assiging post-fact mechanical-ness to things that come up in a more free-narration kind of setup.

[Another note: I only know Dust Devils through AP posts, so if the comparison isn't accurate, my bad.]

Also, I think it would be valuable to explore the characters player proposing situations, which the adversity player then files away and brings out later. Like "at some point, I'm going to have to choose between my honor and my pride" or "I will fight a wolf for her cub," very concrete situations that the adversity is then to take and spin back out farther down the line. The system should mediate self-generated adversity into other-enforced adversity - or to put it another way, a player can propose adversity for their character, but that adversity is provided by the other player.

I'm very interested in two-player gaming. I used to play with lots of people in school. Then we graduated, and everybody moved away. And while FindPlay and such are cool and all, now it's just me and my wife, and I'd like to have something that works for just us, too.

...which of course makes me wonder about that middle road, with two loners and their players providing adversity for each other, and the possibility that the loners ever come into contact.
Right-o. The question is, is their coming together something that is structured by the system? Something completely voluntary? Something emergent?

I imagine for short-term play, it wouldn't matter. But long-term play would, I think, demand their meeting in order to acheive some kind of resolution.
...especially if they're on two sides of a question about how to deal with a certain campaign-wide situation. I mean, that's the plot of how many movies?
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