Friday, June 13, 2014

Life Is Not a Game

I'm drowning at work with a boss who is pouring water on me. At least that's what it feels like. With my job under fire that pretty much puts my mortgage, pension, and living arrangements at risk. If I were a younger person I'd consider running away from home. But I'm not going anywhere I can't take my wife and dogs.

So I'm firmly in the camp of those who will try to keep their routines and put a twenty foot brick wall around their comfort zones. Obviously most player characters are not.

What was the stress, the final straw that led your character to turn his back on his home and kin. I mean how often do you see your players sending their characters home or sending their dads Father's Day cards??

Did they borrow money from the wrong people? Were they hurt by someone so badly they had to leave everything that would remind them of that hurt behind? Are they on the run with a price on their heads?

Don't get me wrong. Wanting to explore the galaxy or the Underworld are good reasons for adventuring. But they get a little trite with time. The trend to portray character motivations as seeking something doesn't always generate hooks for a story as well as motivations involving escape.

In Star Trek: The Original Series we had Kirk, SPock and McCoy who were all brave explorers seeking out new worlds (I know McCoy had that Transporter phobia but he was still a stand up guy in a dicey situation.) In later episodes and especially the reboot movie, we saw some darker reasons for their travels. McCoy was divorced, penniless, and bitter. Spock was a truly gifted scholar but looked down on by his fellow Vulcans due to his human mother. He wanted to get away from them and prove his own worth. Kirk was saved from a self destructive nature by a mentor.

But the best part of these backgrounds is what happens when whatever the character is trying to escape finds them. The disapproving parent appears, the loan shark's goons show up, the lost love returns ... with her fiancee. You get the idea. Roleplay at its best is always about conquering inner and external demons.

From the player's point of view if you are going to get hosed by the GM (and who isn't?), why not at east be given center stage when it happens?