Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A bit of suspension of disbelief

Getting characters in an RPG to do things together can be a trick.  This week I am adding a new player to my Heroes By Trade group and it was quite the feat of engineering to make everything work.  I try very hard to let the players decide what they want to do next but to bring a new person in I really need to end a session with them in a place where that can happen.  If, for example, the previous session ended with them on a boat headed to the fantasy world version of Antarctica it would be a bit rough to bring a new person on board!  I stressed out far too much over how to make that work and how to smoothly add a personality to the mix.  As one would expect it is going to take a bit of kludging.

After all, these characters live in a dangerous, unpredictable world.  Randomly trusting their lives to a stranger who they just met is likely a very foolish plan indeed.  A new character in the group likely is exactly that though, a stranger who has not proved themselves an ally.  Even if the characters do decide a new person is an ally they still have to decide that it is the sort of ally who travels with them and should have a vote on how things go.  Given all that it is hard to imagine how anybody ever joins such a group!  I have plans though... they largely revolve around 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' and lots of running away from crazy cultists.  Nothing bonds a group like massacring fanatics.

What I can't figure out is how groups manage to continue to play together with traditional DnD death rates.  I read recently about someone who was in a group which had 37 character deaths in 3 months of play.  This group is somehow introducing a new character more than twice a session?  How do you maintain even the tiniest veneer of immersion when people say "Can I join up?" and the answer is "Sure, but people who join up with us tend to live about 2-3 days on average."  These people are brave heroes and all but that kind of fatality rate has got to convince even a fearless paladin that retirement looks good - or maybe a different group of friends.  You can go be brave somewhere else where people don't die quite so often after all.


  1. There might a big intersect between the high attrition games and the 'RPing is for nancies, what do we kill today?!' games... that would explain it, right? :)

  2. I am sure you are right. You obviously can't sustain roleplaying in that sort of environment and those folks aren't trying to. Nothing wrong with killing dudes and levelling up but it doesn't grab me as thoroughly as roleplaying does.