“My Character Wouldn’t Do That.”
Everyone thinks this is a bad thing. You’re not being cooperative. You’re not a team player. So what?
There is a constant chorus of people saying the party should get along and function like a well-oiled machine — that party conflict is not the foundation of a story, but an impediment to it. That’s ONE way of playing, and it’s a common one.
But think of it this way: the story told at the table is not just about how the party handles what the GM throws at them. Instead, it’s about whether or not the party CAN handle it; whether or not the party WANTS to handle it.
Simply because the party doesn’t want to delve into a dangerous dungeon to stop an unspeakable evil doesn’t mean the story ends there. Maybe the unspeakable evil gets a foothold and things start getting worse. and that drives the party to action. Or maybe it doesn’t.
Perhaps the party decides to “get out of Dodge,” and now they’re strangers in a new land, with their homeland now representing a creeping evil beyond the horizon.
Building an adventure on an assumption that the PCs will do a certain thing — especially if it runs contrary to their interests — is asking for trouble. It’s much akin to having a vital piece of information relying on a single notice roll.
In some groups, this kind of impasse will result in a meta-game conversation where the GM says, “Look, the adventure I have planned is down the left-hand path, so if you want to do that adventure, you’ll need to turn left.” This is certainly one way to handle it.
But it makes sense to keep your PCs’ motives and desires in mind when designing adventures, that way you don’t need to mess with the meta-game conversation, as the party will gladly turn left.
Filed under: Adventure Design