Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lights, Camera, Stunting!

If you ever play a game that has some form of narrative control mechanic, in this case we'll use Exalted's stunting, you have just stepped into the Twilight Zone my friends. Not because it's creepy, oh no. It's because you have just been given a ticket to pull off some of the craziest table breaking insanity ever. Let me show you how:

In the case of Exalted I was playing a Dragon Blooded game when the group got into a complex fight against a Fair Folk Noble who was kicking out butts. So there I was in the middle of the fight playing my Fire Aspect trouble maker when an idea hits me. On my turn I suddenly start talking to one of the other players like he was a bar patron offering to tell them the tale of that fight. That's right, I broke the 4th wall, walked the games focus on a scene days if not weeks later in the timeline, and then told someone what I was doing like a  bar story. The GM and players were floored and I got a 3 die stunt, the highest you can get. After that I experimented a bit sure I had stepped into Oz of narrative combat and actions. It took a year but it finally hit me: YOU CAN BREAK THE 4TH WALL! Not just once and a while, casually, creatively, and if you do it right the group will love you for it.

Lets dip into FATE. You know how you can tag aspects in the scene itself, but you can also create aspects based on use of FATE points. Well, when caught up in the middle of a tight debate over a battle plan you can tag the aspect of Sports Commentators. What? Yep, you break the scene and suddenly the POV is that of a TV audience and they're watching a sports show where the commentators are debating the merits of the current battle plan. Have a retired 'adventure' come on and give his (your) opinion. Finish the back and forth quickly and then "return to the action" to see how it unfolds. What's more hilarious, the commentators are STILL active in that scene. Others can tag them too. More pan aways, commercial breaks. It's the ultimate mood lighter. Table laughter is great to relax people who are too on edge during a game.

But what if you want to crank up the tension, up the anty with horror? Suddenly the players are being read by a cultist in a tome of dark secrets and horror. The title is "The Sad Fate of the PCs" or some such and somber mood of the reader allows the PC to add their own take on the narrative of the game.

That's the trick. You want to frame the scene with you feelings and opinions. But, and it's a BIG BUT, you need to do it with creative descriptions, fast acting, and do no try to hijack the game repeatedly in the same session. If you have a good 4th wall breaking formula, like my bar stories, a vexed director calling CUT and then directing actors in a scene, or maybe even strange messages from mars (whatever fits your game) you can pull it out once a game to keep the theme going.

And the list is crazy what you can do breaking the 4th wall stunting. One of the best is the Spaceballs inspired ones. Slay the sound guy with a missed attack, sudden product placement Wayne's World style, or Sam Spade mono logging to the reader.

Try out different styles and see what works for you.

Now back to you Mitch.

That was an interesting intrest piece there Joe. But after these messages, the Weather!