mediaprophet (mediaprophet) wrote in roleplayers,

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Gaming on the Edge

You thought this was a news link about idiot vampire players drinking blood. Sorry. I didn't mean to misrepresent. I'm talking about how the "PCs as a unified party" assumption for tabletop gaming seems to be failing due to players playing vampires too well.

My vampire game ends soon. Three games ago the players were at each other's throats. Well, their characters were scheming against each other, and one - my girlfriend's malkavian - even rebelled at one point and fled for fear of her unlife. Fear of the other PCs! I put them in a "save your friend" scenario, and that seemed to patch things up a little, but there was a lot of angst.

The problem is that half the PCs are being violent tyrants, and the other half are alternately getting abused, avoiding it, or rebelling. Some of them are getting so in character that they take things personally.

I've got six people coming over to my house to play monsters and doing too good a job at it. One thing is, all but two of my players have LARP'ed vampire orders of magnitude more than they have TT'ed it. In a LARP, it's OK to screw each other over with in-character but harmful acts, ignore or walk all over the less assertive characters, and get into shouting matches. To a point, those things are OK in table top gaming, too. To a point.

From a gamist point of view, the game is going horribly. They're sabotaging each other's agendas, losing trust in each other, and having secret cabals. When they work together, they're great. They killed an elder in 1 combat round, after hours of planning and careful preparation. They're putting members of their coterie up for city officer positions in the new regime. But they spend more time working against each other than with. There's only one character out of six that wouldn't have gotten himself killed by another PC if this were a LARP.

However, from a purely narrativist point of view, it's going great. Everybody is playing their character to the tee, except for the few times I forced them OOCly to reconcile just to move the plot along. The story is bigger and more detailed because of their internal disputes. They had great success at their main goal last game - killing the 7th generation prince of Seattle. Now that they're in denumont, there're a million loose threads and sequel possibilites in case they want to keep going, write personal postscripts, or design further stories based on tangentially related events and subplots.

Over the past three games, my interests were torn. I wanted the players to have fun. Some of them are more unhappy about the infighting than others - ranging from not really caring about it to not being comfortable. However, the infighting made for great plot. To settle things enough to keep moving, I forced some resolutions; there's enough Dominate, Presence, and Dementation among them to enforce calmness and fraternity for a time, but it's ironically hard to roleplay Presence when you're too IC.

The coming game is the last game of the chronicle as planned. There's no point to further infighting. If it gets more touchy - or worse, if one of them tries to kill another - they may walk away from the whole chronicle unhappy.

So how should I go about getting them to set aside their differences while they play kingmaker in a city without a prince, but with a handful of elders poised to take the position - if only this shockingly powerful coterie would assist, endorse, or at least not interfere with them? Or should I let the fires rage for one more game, and hope they don't take things too personally?

There's one little snag I should clarify: I can't lecture them because the tyrant half don't/won't see their actions as wrong or destabilizing (it's just playing a cold blooded vampire; after all that's what they're supposed to be doing), and some of the others will (rightly) justify their actions as reactions. In other words, a "play nice" speech means nothing to seasoned Vampire players. For these at least. Nice is not an option.

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