Monday, June 13, 2011

Player Monday: "I did warn you not to trust me."

Game of Thrones has been one of my favorite fantasy epics since I first got into the world with the debut of FFG's original core set for the card game way back in, what 2001? Has it really been ten years of Thrones for me? Anyway, I figure since now the story has exploded as a result of it being on TV, it might be a good time to discuss betrayal from the players' side of the table. Intrigue is a central theme of Thrones and can easily be a central theme in our weekly games.

Of course, we almost always see intrigue and betrayal coming from the NPC's as the evil GM laughs maniacally from behind the protection of the omnipresent Dungeon Master's screen, but it doesn't have to be that way. There's a couple of ways we could explore betrayal as players, but you need to make one decision before going any further: do you want this to be a surprise to the group?

Do you think you have a group that could deal with one player's dissent at the cost of the players? Think long term - are your fellow players going to hold a grudge and naturally distrust any of your future characters simply because you're playing them? Put a lot of thought into these questions and this decision before springing what could potentially be a very frustrating action on your character's part toward the rest of the group. You know what though? It could be worth it, and I never want to shy away from failure or making the game more difficult on the player characters. Ultimately, this could be the greatest difficulty a group of characters can overcome, and although it could immediately be very upsetting, it could also be very rewarding in the long run.

Of course the real question is, who do you betray? Does your character betray his fellow party mates or does he betray a long-time NPC ally of the group? Generally speaking, the longer the relationship between your character and the betrayed party, the higher the impact on the other players - good or bad. If you decide to betray your fellow player characters, you need to be very careful in anticipating whether the decision will break the game or even the group up. If you go that route, I highly recommend at least broaching the topic with the GM first so he can push and foreshadow your character so that the other players who are paying attention might even see it coming. Your character will become a crucial part of the overall story and character arcs of the other characters.

If you end up betraying a long-time NPC ally, try to get at least one of the other players to go in with you. It's up to you if you want to tell the GM, but I know it would really depend on the tone of the game whether or not I, as GM would want to know or what to be surprised. Although it could be frustrating as the GM to lose a character I put a lot of work into, I'm always flattered when the players take the initiative and want to run with the story on their own. Betrayal can be a lot of fun, but more than anything, keep in mind that each group is different, and within each group, each game is different, so practice caution before stabbing your friends in the back!

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