- On Preparation
- Again it has to Be?
- The Neighbors
- A Matter of Time
- The Mycroft Holmes
- They Did What?
- Fancy Meeting You
- Are You Sure?
- RPG as Story”>The RPG as Story
- On a Consequence
- The Price
- Who Said You Were Useless?
- The Neighbors
- We’ll Take the Niggers and the Chinks…
- Things I get in the Mail
It’s really an old one, going back to my earliest days in the hobby. The problem lies with players and GMs who see a character as useless in an adventure?
Now for those who insist that there can only be one activity in an RPG — killing people and taking their stuff in one case, then I can see discarding an inadequate character. Or what is seen as an inadequate character. But for those who can allow other activities then playing characters with shortcomings becomes possible.
What good is a Mountebank in a dungeon crawl? Well, if you must insist that interactions between parties include violence and mayhem, not much. But when you allow the Mountebank’s player to be conniving, sneaky, duplicitious, evasive, misleading, or even dishonest, then he can do a lot. Even if he’s a paraplegic getting around on a Tenser’s Floating Disk—remember those? — he can still take part.
The thing is to think beyond the usual in RPG play and to let events happen that otherwise wouldn’t. Let your players try things you may otherwise disallow. They want to ally with the adventure’s villain? Let them. They want to go shopping? Let them. Let them give you opportunities to screw them over, for your characters have the same right to shaft them as they have to shaft the parts you play.
My advice is to insist they play an inadequate character. Make it a challenge, and reward them when they are resourceful and clever. Let playing a sub-standard character fun and watch as your players leap to take up the role. But don’t reward them for taking a disadvantage by then letting them take an advantage that more then compensates for it. And above all, don’t ignore the disadvantage just because you or the player find it inconvenient. Whatever the disability is let it play a role in the character’s life, shaping and directing events.
So the Minstrel is blind. How does that stop him from having a life? Even blind a flock of birds summoned by an Aves Warble Cantrip can still make things hard for a pair of would be thieves. Take a chance, be daring, and let your campaign be something your players will tell stories about to their grandkids.
What have you to say?
Also published on Medium.