Leadership Bleed-Through

Jun 13, 2010

I’m one of those people who ends up being a party leader even if the stats don’t fit. I’ve tried multiple times to honestly play the game-engine statistics and stay away from a leadership role. Occasionally, I’ve been lucky with another player stepping up to the plate whose taken over the leadership role. Most times, it has devolved into an episode of the 3 Stooges with 5-6 stooges in play.

Group leaders can be played well, temporally created or just default to someone. I lament the last case. Defaulting seems to fall on the guy who either played a leader last, knows enough about the GM to make good choices, or who succumbs to the bumbling about first and makes a choice. I admit to being annoyed with bumbling. Its cool for an hour or so. My patience quickly evaporates with the lack of forward momentum. So I make decisions outside of what my character’s capabilities.

Upon making those decisions, I admit complete failure in staying true to my character’s persona. In fact, I can recall too many campaigns where I fell into that role.

Behind the screen, I have also seen people struggle with the same issue. Rightly so, one character played to form during our last Convergence. On the ride home, he fed me back my plot line with the statement — “I knew what you wanted us to do. My character isn’t the guy to do that.” It hit a wall so badly, I chose to end the session rather than sit around, doing nothing.

Both failures are completely mine. I either broke character or failed to establish an environment characters could exploit. However, I am tired of being the guy who needs to break character to keep the game flowing. If I choose the path of characterization, will it result in a stalemate with the GM as my campaign did? How many hours of pure boredom can a person take before he succumbs and moves the plot along?


1 Comment

  • “Defaulting seems to fall on the guy who … knows enough about the GM to make good choices…” Though not necessarily a good choice, in the case of some decisions, can read the GM well enough to “take one for the team.” Stupid Girdle of Femininity/Masculinity… ’nuff said.

    In reference to stalemate and game flow, Trail of Cthulhu takes an interesting stance on this type of roadblock wherein the players may find themselves pixel-hunting for the proper clue. In Trail, all necessary clues will be found by characters and provided to the players. However, rolling well leads to additional details that more fully fill in the puzzle picture while poor rolls means no additional details are provided. In essence the game takes the view that stalemates suck and should be avoided at all costs.

    By extrapolation, perhaps games should be played where the characters further the plot regardless of their decisions. Success is basically assured while “rolling well” or “choosing well” yields more generous successes while choosing poorly doesn’t lead to a stalemate.

    I can see the arguments now: But whats the challenge in playing a game where success is guaranteed? Where’s the challenge in that?

    I’ll answer before the flames start to lick my backside: Success of the group is separate and irrespective of success of the individual character. Characters fail and fall but the group is propelled to the final outcome regardless of their (or the player’s) ineptitude. What’s more, success in getting to the final battle doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in emerging victor from said final battle (or challenge.) In fact, Burning Wheel is a game system based on just this concept. As quoted from the game’s website: “In this game, the consequences for failure lead to the next conflict. There are no dead-ends in Burning Wheel, unless it’s a dead-end alley with your enemies lying in wait. The story told is about the path that gets you to your goals.”

    Food for thought.