This week I want you to think back to all the different tabletop RPG campaigns that you have played over the years. Think about individual scenes or moments that you enjoyed, and most importantly, think about what made them enjoyable.
Describe an individual scene or two in a tabletop RPG that you really enjoyed. Then, more importantly, tell me what about the scene made it so enjoyable for you. Was it something to do with the tropes being played off of in the scene? Was it the relationships between the characters in the scene? Was it the scene's use of humor or drama? Was it some player interaction with the mechanics?
Edited beholdsa (December 04, 2014 13:43:45)
Aside from talking about Darin with a club in his pocket I would have to say my favorite “scene” from a game I played in was in a Call of Cthulu game that I played in Wichita about 7 years ago.
The campaign took place in the 1920's New York (and other places) and really the game changed when my character (a spoiled playboy and son of wealthy parents) realized that all of this detective work was no longer a game when his parents were brutally murdered. The character had never had to face any kind of reality before this and it was a great job of interaction between characters and story telling by the GM. This had little to do with mechanics and everything to do with the drama of the moment.
I also particularly liked several scenes from the Arth campaigns I ran involving the USS and its escapades into occupied europe. This mostly due to the humor involved.
I will admit that I like big dramatic scenes: The scum's sacrifice at the end of Dark Heresy, Midas giving up his powers in Auspicious Beginnings, standing between Elissa and Olivia Gray's gun in Infinite Worlds, and so on. What makes them fun is the strong dramatic tension and the point where my character went beyond some numbers on a page.
I have also enjoyed some humorous scenes: amusing strings of good/bad luck, weird NPCs, etc. Some of the stuff in supers games (or Freemarket) sometimes goes a little silly. It can be nice from time to time.
I like scenes where I can feel competent with my character. In my first Shadowrun campaign, my Skill-wired Jack-of-all-trades managed to go into an installation by himself and get out with the paydata because of a weird set of events. It was one of the few times where he shined directly in a run (rather than being the group swiss-army knife). It was memorable, though I think single character spotlights shouldn't happen all that often.
I once played in a D&D game where my character had gambled his soul to a demon and lost. During play one session, we came into a town under attack by a horde of demons, and that demon was there, and he called my character out to talk to me, specifically. Me and the GM went and had a private scene where I demanded the demon back off from the town and the demon offered me a choice: I could challenge him to a rematch fiddle contest for my soul back by wagering the soul of one of my traveling companions, or I could take on a mission for him against the devils, and either way he'd leave the town alone. I loved that scene because it gave me the opportunity to assert my character's values, demonstrate character growth, and make a choice that would have important consequences. I chose to take the mission, and the demon walked out with me to the town square and made a loud announcement that the demons were leaving, and it was all thanks to Matt's character. Then they disappeared and left me in an awesomely awkward position with my party.
Similarly, I really enjoyed the final scene in the most recent Warhammer game we played, wherein my scholarly spoiled fop was cornered alone by the campaign big bad, injured but still pissed, and he had to take up a pistol and end the man's life himself. He had to get his hands dirty, accept that there was no going back, and not only bring the man down but actually execute him once he fell. It was a moment that combined the thrill of victory in combat with the crystallization of a lot of character growth for Caspar - he couldn't keep running away from his responsibility to the Empire and expect things to change. If he wanted to fight Chaos, he couldn't hide behind his brother and his bodyguard, he actually had to take charge and make things happen. I guess moments that highlight character growth end up being my favorites, although victory and looking cool are always good for a thrill.
I really like when my character feels particularly relevant. And not just their warm body, but them as an entity in whatever world they exist in. This can be through the implementation of backstory plot, or plot that has been shaped by their choices in the world, but I really like it when I feel like my character and the choices they have made and the things that have happened to them (either off screen or on screen) have merit and consequence. This was what made Deadlands particularly amazing for me, as the entirety of the campaign seemed geared towards us as people and the choices we made and who we were. A scene that sticks out in my mind is the Tenochitlan fight. Despite this being a kind of massive clusterfuck of a fight, it felt rife with roleplaying opportunities from start to finish. Saralynn wanting to confront her brother but being forced to fight the other guy instead (which was totally random but really awesome). Xaio Fan's death. Jacob trying to save Saralynn. Jeb sacrificing himself for Jacob. The Hougan making a choice and opening fire on Santa Anna. The entire fight, despite being mostly dice rolling and minimal conversation, seemed to have so much personality and roleplay.
I think this is why I prefer longer campaigns to shorter. The more of a chance we get to touch the world, the easier it is for a GM to take those touches and shape the world from what we've done. And that is my favorite thing. I loved when Ayana was being accused of war crimes, and there was this exhaustion and feeling of “What would you have done differently? You *weren't there*.” and knowing they would never understand but she had done what she had to.
I also like good interpersonal plot between players. When Skylar mindcontrolled Cal to prevent him from tagging along. When Bryan's king released Yvonna and her response to his question did not change. Those sorts of moments are equally good but not really manufacturable by a GM. I also, like most people, enjoy feeling like a badass in combat or whatever else I'm trying to do, as are victories pulled out of the fire.
I like chances to affect the world and have my actions matter. As my Captain of the guard, I shoved two council members in a box. He had been driven to think that was the right course of action from all the other things he had experienced leading up to that point. The fallout from that decision was amazing fun to roleplay.
Character growth is a huge factor for me as well, and longer campaigns give more room to grow. The Professor grew a lot over the course of the campaign, learning to care about his friends, the world and his place in it. By the time he had his showdown with Prime, he had a much better understanding of who he was and seeing that fractured thing that Prime was made him realize he never wanted to be that.