Thursday, August 22, 2019

Unknown Armies Episode 11

So... that didn't go as I expected.


Let me tell you a story. Back in 1995, I was asked to GM a game of Vampire: the Masquerade at the local engineering college. They were all members of a local RPG group who really wanted to play this hot new game but didn't have anyone to run it for them. I was active on the various World of Darkness mailing lists at the time (ah, mailing lists. How 90s) and someone saw I was in their area, said "Would you like to run for us?" and I was all "Sure!"

So I showed up and saw that most of them had made their characters. OK, cool. I get an idea of who they are and what kind of characters they're running. I start an introductory scenario where they, newly made vampires, present themselves to the head vampire of the city (the "Prince" in V:tM lingo) and meet the local clan heads (movers and shakers of power). Then I say to them, "OK, what do you do next?"

I was met with blank stares. Apparently the idea that they, as player characters, should have goals and motivations was foreign to them. They wanted to be told what to do. They wanted to given a quest, go do it, then come back and get a reward and another quest.

They were D&D players in a very NOT D&D game. I was frustrated by this and tried to make it work, but I failed. I was told by one of them (who was a good friend of mine for many years after) that I was expecting a "very advanced form of roleplay" from them.

I feel like that's what is happening in this game. I put the players in a strange place, and instead of trying to blend in, lie low and figure out why they are there, they fight it and do their best to opt out of the scenario. I think you can hear it in my voice as I die a little bit inside in what is supposed to be the climax of the scenario.

Honestly, the only thing I thought was successful was when they (probably unwittingly) crafted an ad-hoc ritual to pull them back to Texas. They technically shouldn't have been able to do that without a magickal charge, but at this point I was basically "Oh thank goodness, they're actually working together and engaging in ritual symbolism" and I decided it was better to reward them for desirable behavior rather than drag out an obviously unfun and unhappy scenario for purposes of rules.

I don't really know what to do. These are D&D players in a very not-D&D game, and I don't know if I can change this game to suit their playstyle without eliminating the elements that make it fun for me to run.

Thanks for letting me vent.

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