Tracey is an army mechanic, Janusz is a Polish doctor. They find themselves detained by U.S. forces while scouting what they believed to be a Polish town. Turns out this town has an odd US-Polish arrangement that seems to work. It isn’t perfect —but it might just be a good spot to call home in the WWIII that never was! However, that mucks the game up for the other players and me!!
Play games where there are goals, drives, or motivation mechanics and you are certain to get to a spot where you’re having a grim and grave conversation with your players about where your game is headed. Playing to find out also fast tracks your table there. It could be about character death, but I tend to think it is more likely to be about navigating the consequences emerging from play. Things that change the kind of game we started out playing. Tracey realized her big dream could be fulfilled by joining up with this new outfit of U.S. soldiers. They seem to have something stable going for them, and a tank she’d love to work on. That game isn’t about survival so much anymore. It could be players with characters that are at odds, like one character killing off henchmen loyal to another player’s character. That was hot fiction and in tone for the game we were playing, but sure made for some bottled-up table grief at the player level.
Some of us bristle at the thought of aftercare for gaming, I’m that fool at times. Yet, I like my players to keep showing up to play. Some sessions require genuine real talk time about where we are taking the game and are we all, all of us, okay. We are at a spot in a Twilight: 2000 game where I have 11ish sessions running. Two characters got themselves “Detained”. One stands to achieve their character’s big dream, the other might “vanish”. So we discussed where do we, players, want this game to go. What kind of game are we playing. Are we okay losing characters to the fiction, to the grave? Are players ready to wrap up these game sessions? Do we want to have more sessions with these characters, new characters? Have these discussions rather than continue to play until someone’s dissatisfied. Use the results to direct where to steer the sessions to next.
Our results have us leaning into the situation. The players feel doing less diminishes the authenticity of these characters. They are also okay if these characters exit the fiction, they will generate new ones. So we will play to find out! This. Right. Here is where Great gaming stories begin.