Friday, December 2, 2011

Dealing with Jaded Immortals


Is that you, Peter?

Dealing with Jaded Immortals
by Tobie Abad
Originally published April 2, 2001

Immortality can get you down.

The reasons can be terribly many, but for some it boils down to one thing: BOREDOM.

It doesn't matter if the time in your hands allows you to earn so much resources you can buy a small nation (or maybe a big one!) and no one would be the wiser. It doesn't matter if you have zillions of followers seeking to even catch a glimpse of you singing a Sinatra. It doesn't matter if the person who has fallen for you is a drop-dead gorgeous human being who is adored by millions and untouched by all.

It just does happen that some players who get into deep immersive role-playing eventually find themselves proclaiming for their characters, "I'm tired!"  Or  "I need something new."

In Vampire: the Masquerade, it could be "I'm tired of all this politics, manipulations and mysteries." In Highlander, it could be "I'm tired of all the death, the betrayals and the innocent lives lost." Maybe in Nobilis, the character has just lost all interest in doing the same old stuff.  The point is, there are times the players think they want their characters to kill themselves, because they think that's what the character would do.

Strangely, 99% of the time, the player feels quite the opposite. The player does not WANT to end the character's life, but just feels as if he should.

How does the Storyteller coax the player to get the character to find a reason worth living again?
Here are some ideas:

By Michael Casey
a) Hit one of them with 'True Love'.
Perhaps the elder encounters a mortal that actually breaks his jaded-ness and inspires life. Perhaps in that brief moment, the elder 'experiences a touch of Humanitas'

Or perhaps the encounter reminds the immortal of a love that worked before, but ended tragically, and this inspires the character to "take another chance."

One could even turn things around and have the character "courted" by one who has truly fallen in love with the character. That could catch the player off-guard and raise his interest and curiousity enough to keep playing!

b) Encounters a 'mortal' descendant who inspires the elder to either watch or influence or protect the scion.

Its a classic tale. The old wizen master finds someone whom he cannot ignore. And the things he had learned can be useful for the descendant.

One could even combine this with the first one for a truly multi-faceted experience.

c) Bring up Flash Backs
Maybe the character seeks the freedom of death and the player doesn't think its feasible to change that because it defeats the tragedy of the character's story.

But neither want the game to end.

Then go backwards.

Bring up memories. Perhaps the immortal is spending the last day looking at things and reminiscing on his life. Each item touched, noticed or discarded releases a memory long forgotten.

PLAY THEM!

And don't be surprised if the "memory" might change the jaded character's mind and give him strength to move on.

Hey, that's what happens in real life.

d) Miracle occurs
Fine, its being to blatantly obvious and its really affecting the plot too directly and everyone hates that, but it does also bring up exciting roleplaying opportunities.

Consider an elder vampire who hasn't seen the sun suddenly waking one day to find out he is mortal.

Or perhaps a wanted criminal who has fled for thousands of years from his immortal captors, suddenly learning that he can "become someone totally else" with a certain ritual.

They're pushing the envelope of believability, but they just might pour the juice back into the game.

Just don't over do it!

e) Break Routine of the PLAYERS
Its a common practice for the Storyteller to break the routine of the players, hoping to awaken their character from their jadedness.

Try a new approach: Break the PLAYER's routine.

During the game, hand out pre-made character sheets and tell them they're going to play a second story which relates to the first one.

I have no idea by who.
This can be a story of the servants, or neighbors, or maybe even the enemies of the character. Get the players to do something totally different. After all, distance and time makes the heart grow fonder. If the players stop playing the jaded guy for a while, it might help them find reasons for the jaded character to return to activity. Especially when they realise that their jaded character is surrounded by NPCs (who are played for now as PCs) with little stories of their own waiting to be learned.

This can be the hardest to pull off, and mind you not all players would want to do this; do remind them though, its this or spend you're whole gaming session trying to roleplay boredom and ennui excitedly.  Or worse, just cancel the game and call it quits.

Trust me, they'd try the experiment.

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Jaded characters are not at all a bad thing, unless their being jaded threatens to end the game itself. Of course, some games are best ended with the jaded character giving up on everything or simply leaving everything behind. Only the gamers and the Storyteller can decide on that for certain.

But if you want to try and break it simply because none of you want the game to end, I hope these suggestions work wonders for you like they did for me.
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