So in sketching out the Shannon character for this post, I became aware of a really cool ‘dark-side/light-side’ thing going on:
When she was setting the character up, she chose to connect Humanity to ‘Mastery’. I’m naturally inclined toward connecting it to something like Empathy, but one of the example sorcerer groups (the Black Wheel) fit the Mastery idea pretty well, and I thought her history could tie into that, and that might be interesting. End result, we went with Humanity=Mastery for her, even though I didn’t really have the impression that it would be a compelling definition of the Attribute.
And then she chose “Rageful/Vengeful” as her descriptor on Will.
Now, for those of you who don’t know my wife, imagine she and I smirking about this and making jokes about Playing to Her Strengths — Jackie has a… pretty easy time playing characters who channel their anger in both constructive and destructive ways — call it a talent if you like, or art imitating life. Anyway, what we ended up with was this quiet librarian who’s not very good at social situations and for whom the core of her Will is basically a hard kernel of anger and resentment… lots of which is generated by the awkward social scenes that seem to gravitate toward her. (Sounds like the bad-guy/girl for a Stalker-Thriller movie.)
Also, within the game, you can (in theory) get bonuses for using an Attribute in such as way that it dramatically emphasizes the descriptor for the Score. (Note emphasis on ‘dramatically’ — I understand that it’s no good to just say “I hit him, and I’m mad”.)
What this boils down to is that, in the short term, it’s in the player’s (mechanical, game-based) interests for Shannon to ‘lose it’ in critical situations — it’s interesting, it’s appropriate to the character, it’s dramatic, and it’s also potentially worth a bonus on her dice.
It’s also, long-term, a bad idea.
See, the definition of her Humanity is “Mastery”, remember?. There’s lots of things that could cause a character to risk a drop in Humanity (contacting and summon Demons is a universal risk for anyone, regardless of how they define Humanity), but in addition to the ‘standard’ reason, things that cross the line in regards to your personal definition of Humanity also mean you’re risking a drop in the stat.
Well, “Losing it” in some violently emotional way is one of those things that causes a Humanity test in our definition of Mastery/Humanity.
First response: Hmm… nice dynamic.
Second response: What a great, classic bit of character drama! (Particularly fun since we didn’t set out to create that crisis for the character… we only realized it later.)
Do you go for the quick and easy pay-off of flipping your lid and letting out your anger or do you keep control of yourself, thereby protecting your Humanity in the long-term but robbing yourself of some easy strength at this particular moment?
Give in to your anger… Heh. Classic stuff. I’m loving this game and we’ve only played one session.
For the record, I like the fact that any character can, if designed right, theoretically want to do things that test their Humanity… it happens when you try to get another demon working for you, and eventually everyone wants that… but in this case I’m just really enjoying that there’s a game-“carrot” out there to constantly tempt the player. 🙂