|Yeah, But... My Character Doesn't Give A Shit!|
Your campaign is written and ready to go. A two-year plot arc stretches
ahead of the players. It will take them to the far reaches of the galaxy; bring
them into contact with strange exotic species; change the destiny of mankind
And it all begins with a little boy, crying in the street. A few words of comfort and inquiry from the player characters will lead them onto a mystery bigger, and more shocking, than they could possibly imagine.
GM: "Okay, you walk down the street from the starport lobby towards the New Galactica Bar. You notice a small boy crouched crying beside a parked air-car."
Player 1: "I'm gunna go into that there bar and see if I can rent me one of them whores!"
GM: "What about the little boy?"
Player 1: [Shrugging] "What about him?"
Some campaigns don't last very long.
Now, you might look at that example and say that though, clearly, there was a fundamental discrepancy between what the character wanted and the bait the GM was offering, only minor tweaks would be required to correct the problem.
You might suggest this:
GM: "Okay, you walk down the street from the starport lobby towards the New Galactica Bar. You notice a girl slouched in the driver's seat of a parked air-car. She in her late teens, with shoulder-length blond hair. She would be pretty, except that she's clearly been crying. She looks vulnerable."
Player 1: "I''ll wonder over and tap on the driver-side window."
GM: "She looks up, takes a second to notice you, then presses the dash control to lower the window."
Player 1: "I'll say: 'Hey doll, what's up? Can Jimbo put a smile on your face?'"
There you go, you say, that's it sorted, there's the lead-in. Yeah, right!
Because when she explains that, yes, Jimbo can put a smile on her face, by going to the warehouse that is the base of the mobster organisation who are threatening her father, and telling them really firmly to leave Daddy alone...
...she won't see Jimbo for dust.
You could sweeten the bait a little. Perhaps she is:
a) A little reticent to talk about her father's troubles to a complete stranger.
b) Sexually available.
This will makes things go smoothly for a while. But later, in Jimbo's hotel room, as she lies in his arms, soothed by the warm fuzziness of a post-lovemaking glow, and tells him of the terrible trouble that her father is in...
...Jimbo will leave.
(Actually, since it's his hotel room, he probably just throw her out, and leave the poor cow scrabbling around the corridor looking for her underwear).
Face it. Jimbo's in it for number one. He's never going to go for this bait.
Constructing believable and plausible plots is difficult enough anyway, when it's for a a piece of fiction, and there's only one brain involved. But throw in a bunch of players, each with their own ideas, and it's like trying to write a novel by committee.
You could just go with the flow, and do a campaign that is basically five middle-aged ex-military sex tourists, checking out all the best whorehouses in this sector of the galaxy. (Now there's a supplement GDW never came out with...)
But you don't want to that campaign, do you?
Good. Glad we've got that sorted.
The issue here is the motivations of the participants involved. This is complicated because there are two sets of motivations:
The motivation of the character (what that character wants to achieve and experience in that setting).
The motivation of the player (what that player wants to get out of the game, or in other words - why he or she is playing).
Let's examine them separately.
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