|Ending Your Campaign|
Smearing The Cheerleader
Captain Liberty looked around the penthouse meeting room of Team Eagle Tower. A lump formed in his throat as he looked at the men and women of the reborn Team Eagle.
Of Team Eagle II.
He remembered bouncing little Adam Jackson on his knee. Now, following the death of his father, Adam had lifted the straight willow bat and taken on the mantle of the Cricketer. His costume of some kind of weird blue pyjamas was unfamiliar to Captain Liberty's gaze, but the steel in his eyes was not. He was his father's son.
And Cyndi Starling, who had taken on the role of Mother Earth from her dead lover. Well, she said that they had been lovers. In fact, the whole lesbian lover thing had been a complete surprise to everyone including the Captain, but apparently she had been... so here she was. At least it explained his complete failure to pull her predecessor, thought the Captain.
Ben Nevis could never be replaced, but in the days following the death of the gentle Scottish hill-farmer and rugby player, a new volunteer had contacted the team. A gentle lad called David, a Welsh hill-farmer, who played a bit of rugby at the weekends. And was really strong, with granite skin.
And called himself Snowdon.
Nobody knew where Mr Mysterious had come from, and no-one knew where Mr Enigma came from either. It was enough that he came.
The team had died. But the team lived on.
Sometimes an all out blitz to vaporise the party fails. Like that incontinent old dog that just won't die, they cling to life by their fingernails. Some escape, some somehow come back, and others... others are replaced by characters new, yet somehow familiar. (Don't you just hate players who clone characters?)
Characters have died, but the party lives on.
In this case, where the party has proven to have a spirit which can survive the death of most of its members, a more subtle approach is needed. In this case you will often find that it is the enthusiasm of a single player which is keeping things going.
Killing his character won't necessarily work. He loves the campaign and the world so much that he will want to keep it going to keep the memory of his late character alive.
Killing his character isn't enough. You have to kill the love.
Then Agent Peters strode into the room. Little shit, thought Captain Liberty. The scroat had been trying to throw his weight around ever since the President had appointed him liaison.
Peters looked around the room and spoke: "All here..? Good."
He stared straight at Captain Liberty and experimented with a variety of sneers. "Okay if I have the floor for a few moments?"
The Captain shrugged. Peters spoke.
"I know what you all think of me. Nasty scroaty little security man, right? Always poking his nose where it doesn't belong, right? Well, I have been poking my nose around. The US government pays a lot of money to keep this place going. We have a right to know it's spent on the right people."
He circled the room, and paused behind Adam Jackson's chair. "I had a look in your room Jackson."
Little Adam looked uneasy.
"Just back from that stag night in Amsterdam, yeah..?"
Looked a little white...
"Changed quite some cash into Guilders at the airport..?"
Looked a little green...
"Bought back a souvenir?"
Sweating and shaking.
Peters spun round in front of him. "You ever buy that shit again and I swear I'll hand you over to the fucking DEA!"
The new Cricketer nodded nervously, but already Peters had walked away.
"Is that it, Peters?" the Captain spat contemptuously.
"Oh no," Peters sneered, "see I found something much more interesting when I got to your room."
The Captain gulped nervously. It couldn't be. Could it? It was protected, encrypted. Wasn't it?
"It was you who asked for the Internet access to be installed, wasn't it Captain? Like a bit of net-surfing do you? Gathering intelligence and research, wasn't it?"
"Yeah..." the Captain spluttered.
"Well I found some of the results of your research, Captain!" He paused for a moment.
"I'd have expected it of him!" he announced, pointing at the Flasher, who merely shrugged in resigned agreement.
"And bat-lad here, I was pretty much expecting something along those lines... quick word of advice son, when you're done surfing Swedish web sites, clear the cache out."
"I'm learning Swedish!" the Cricketer protested, to general sniggers.
"But you!" Peters screamed, pointing straight at the Captain. "I never expected it of you. I don't like you, never said I did. You're a right-wing authoritarian prick. You have the charisma of a water-melon, you think you're so fucking superior, and... AND you never invite me to your parties. But I never figured this of you!"
"I think this meeting's starting to lose focus," said the Captain quickly, clapping his hands, "how about we reconvene---"
"Oh yeah, you'd like to stop discussing this right now, wouldn't you? Captain Liberty. Defender of the free. Saviour of the brave. Shining symbol of the nation. With his grubby little secret.
"Always did like doing the school run, didn't you Captain? Going down to talk to the little kiddies about how they've got to say no to drugs and grow up into good little citizens. Always first to volunteer, weren't you? The good brave captain..."
Peters rounded on the Captain and screamed into his face. "You're finished! When the American public find out about the crap I just pulled off your PC you won't be able to get a job rescuing sheep in fucking Tibet!"
This approach is nasty, and without any obvious morality. But it can be very effective when used in the right situation. Smears break down into two basic categories:
True smears, where the player was unaware of the nasty secret (in other words you rule that all along the character had some kind of disadvantage the player didn't know about).
False smears, where the character is being framed.
A false smear is easier to set up, and will be regarded more fairly by the player, but is not necessarily as effective. For a true smear you have to be a bit more creative. A good way to do it is to "reveal" that the character actually has multiple personality disorder, with the player only playing one of the personalities. Meanwhile, the other personality can be getting up to all sorts of shit...
Either way, the key here is to change things so that the player can no longer enjoy playing the character.
In the above example, the player loved playing Captain Liberty. He loved to stand and receive the adulation of the crowds. He loved to stand as a living emblem of his nation.
But now - does he really want to play Captain Nonce?
Does he want to walk down the street and see the good citizens dragging their children indoors and bolting the doors?
But sometimes even a good well-aimed smear fails to dislodge a player's devotion to the campaign.
I smeared, but he apparently has no shame...
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