When the character surprises you.

Sometimes a tidbit comes up on a forum and I want to share it.  Here it is, a response to someone on the Burning Wheel forum asking how we handle mechanics for falling in love:

I was playing a sorcerer, a bastard who had been trained in the arcane arts. Poor guy longed to be accepted and was in love with a local duke’s daughter. He had a belief about impressing her father so that he could win her hand in marriage. I didn’t know much more than that as the game began.

Then I met her in play and Storn, the GM, played her as this fearless warrior woman. When I shared a meal with her family, the father was jesting with the kitchen workers and enjoying his food and family, enjoying life. I realized that my character wasn’t just in love with her (and he was) but in the life they would lead together, in bringing his cold, stark ducal house with this warm ducal house. It was linked to my BIT’s but rather than challenge them, it kind of deepened them as they already existed.

I wouldn’t let something like that come down to dice. I’d go by your instincts, get into the character’s shoes and see how they feel about it. I like it when characters tell me something that surprises me, something that was hinted at on the character sheet but that I just didn’t know yet.

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2 thoughts on “When the character surprises you.

  1. The Caretaker I play in the ongoing, con-based BW Great Spiders game that Judd, Witt, and I are playing really surprised the fuck out of me. There’s not a lot in that culture to have any respect for, but it was pretty clear to me from reading the spiders stuff in the Monster Burner that Undernesters used magic to rape their males. More than that, this was an empire of spiders of many species that had fallen utterly under the hegemony of the Undernesters.

    So I’m playing an Orb Weaver, who are the wizards, and who by their nature have more egalitarian mating rituals. I decide, due to his skills, he’s a frequent victim of the attentions of the Undernesters, it’s driven him a bit nuts, and all he has left anymore are his identification with the power that abused him (his military service and patriotism), and his lust for power.

    That doesn’t leave a lot of room for a person you can sympathize with. However, Judd had a stroke of genius after reading my Beliefs. He had a servant elf who I didn’t even like that much put in a position where she was going to be raped by an orcish friend of my character. I tried to run him off, then I killed him.

    That moment has been like a flowering of heroism for this character. I’m excited to see where it goes.

    • I love those moments as a GM, when I toss something on the table, really just to get an idea where the character’s moral boundaries are. I had no idea your spider would save her but it really was a defining moment, where he kind of admitted, in his own terrible way, that he had been mistreated, that the Undernest’s way of life is wrong.

      Great stuff, Rob. Thanks for posting.

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