Jump to content
sithlord78

How to use conflict and emotional situations

Recommended Posts

I have an upcoming game where the party has to infiltrate a small Imperial Base.  One of the characters is an ex-military and there's a potential for dark side emotions when he finds out that the troopers at the base mutinied and killed their commanding officer.

My motivation is that I want to push the character's morality to the edge with this.  Somewhere between fighting to suppress his anger to "Hulking-Out".  

My question to FaD GMs:  What game mechanics can I use to nudge him with towards the Dark Side?  I was thinking give him conflict on seeing the body of the dead officer.  What about strain?  Maybe both, like he gets conflict and if he tries to push it down he gets strain?  

Any thoughts from more experienced GMs?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You should never give conflict just because they see something, that's too abusive. You have to wait for his reaction to it but have him make a discipline/resilience check when seeing it and give him strain based on threats or failure.

Even if he doesn't have the correct Force Powers, give him a vision of the CO's men turning on him due to the violent nature of the crime leaving a Force Image behind.  Then if he tries to ignore the vision or the crime, then you can give him conflict. 

At random times throughout the base have something spark another vision or memory, especially if he sees one of the men who killed the CO.  As soon as he sees him, he gets a vision of the guy  stepping in front of the CO waving a in friendship only to turn on him at the last moment and stab him when the others come in and attack as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, having him roll either a Discipline or Cool check when experiencing these extreme situations would be a good start, as those skills are mostly about keeping your composure under stress, and not having emotional outbursts of one kind or another.    If he has a Morality Weakness related to Wrath or Hate or whatever, I would say, if he fails the check, that he's basically "triggered his Weakness for the scene" and will have to act in accordance to that Weakness.   In theory, if  the player actually goes along with this and doesn't do what a lot do and just say "No he isn't upset by this, he has no negative reaction"  (because they don't want their character to behave in a negative way,) then it should play out how you want.  With him likely doing things that would warrant Conflict.   

Now don't be a jerk about it, and make the check impossible to pass, but I think that's a reasonable mechanic to try and provide the opportunity for a dark decline.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, sithlord78 said:

I was thinking give him conflict on seeing the body of the dead officer.

Don't just do this outright. Illicit a statement from the player (or rp from his PC) to figure out how the character feels about it. ie Ask him "Does this make you angry?me", If yes, then have them make a Discipline check to avoid Conflict. You could convert Threats on the check to Strain as you normally can on any check, but don't just give them Strain "because". Use the mechanics. They can do everything you want to do, but in a way that's not a cheap-shot. It's a very powerful narrative system.

2 hours ago, sithlord78 said:

What game mechanics can I use to nudge him with towards the Dark Side?

So the easiest way to use Conflict is to make "Conflict-worthy Actions" be the easy way for your PCs to get their mission objectives done. Whether that's using Dark pips to make the Force Power trigger (and therefore having use of the Force create an "easy way") OR whether that's having lieing, stealing, coercion, property destruction, torture, and murder be short-cuts to success.

In your specific circumstance I would recommend the following scenario:

Have him/the party witness the mutiny as it's taking place. Have them witness the execution of the commander and 2 of his closest subordinates, by the troopers. But have it happen from a vantage point where they are concealed. The easy way vs. hard way choice becomes:

EASY, They do not stop the execution, they ALL receive 3 Conflict (1 for each murder the didn't stop), and maybe your ex-mil PC flies off the handle, and you have him do the Discipline check to avoid more Conflict. But the PCs by letting it happen, do not alert the facility to their presence, and can therefore go on to complete their objectives more easily.

HARD - they step out of concealment to stop the executions, if they initiate combat that's still 1 Conflict a piece, if they don't (if they wait for the troopers to open fire) they don't even get that. BUT now the facility is on alert and it's much harder to get their full mission done.

It is important - always - as a part of a functioning Morality mechanic, that you as GM allow the use of Force Powers to do awesome things, so that the PCs always are tempted to trigger those Dark pips. The results of using the Force had to be better than using a similar skill, otherwise, why risk the Conflict.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would also add, that there is some precedent for handing out Conflict for failed checks, as that's one of the results for failing a Fear check in a Vergence, as listed in the Places of Power sourcebook.   For threat, despair, or flat out failure, it's not unreasonable to give some Conflict, but again, be reasonable.  

Conflict isn't just "you did something bad, so here's a mark against your record" metric.  It's supposed to represent a very nebulous thing, that isn't easy to define.  This goes against the very gamer code of having everything defined and measured I know, but still, that's the spirit of it.   I've heard people describe Conflict as the representation of whenever something stressfull or bad might happen to your character.   Examples given for the theme were things like "Break up with your girlfriend?  Conflict.   Get fired from your job?  Conflict.   Suffer a severe injury that might have you develop psychological problems as a result?  Conflict"    All these things are events that might push a person to lose their composure, and "give in" to the dark side of their emotional urges.   To lash out at the unfair world for how it's ganging up on them.  To punish their lover for "unfairly" dumping them.  To decide that the best thing to do to their boss, is to smash his car in the parking lot.   Etc etc.   All of those could be seen as someone deciding to give into the Dark, and could be a result of accruing Conflict over the course of the day.

 

If you've ever seen the movie Falling Down, you can easily say that all of the things that happen to that character, leading up to the point where he starts fighting back, and becoming a threat, were the events that earned him Conflict, until he snapped, and started to "go dark".  

Now, the problem with this method of using Conflict and Morality, is that it relies very heavily on the player buying into this and going along with it.   If the player is like a lot of players, and just refuses to have their character  behave in a way that might be a negative reaction, no matter how natural it might be for the situation, it will be hard to get this kind of story at your table.  

It's been my experience, that players tend to behave in a meta-level, when it comes to the emotional state of their characters.   You can describe the most terrifying thing, but since they are sitting comfortably at a gaming table, munching on chips and goofing off with friends, there is no actual threat or tension that they feel.  So the reaction is frequently:

*relaxed, deadpan tone*  "Ok, my character pulls out his gun and starts shooting."  

Nevermind you just said he is facing down an eldritch horror from beyond the realms of sanity, the PLAYER still isn't worried, so his character isn't either.    

This to me, is the biggest disconnect when it comes to storytelling and gaming.   A lot of reactions a PC might have, aren't going to be beneficial to the character.  And so players (not all players of course) are reluctant to engage in those actions.

And setting up a situation where your character might decide to "Hulk Out" is one of those kind of situations.  The other being Fear situations.

So this won't be an easy thing for you to pull off, especially if your player isn't committed to the tone you are going for.   It's a delicate balance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bear in mind though that the PCs aren't obliged to intervene in everything they happen across, so unless there's a specific reason for them to intervene then you shouldn't expect them to sit around watching a vignette play out and working themselves up into an emotional froth over it.

The cause of the mutiny and the people involved may also be a factor: if it's because Lt. McBackstab decided that they wanted to seize power that's one thing, and the PCs could go either way on involving themselves. If it's because Commander Cadaver thinks that Darth Sidious is way too soft a touch and his soldiers aren't willing to stand for it anymore, well, that's a completely different kind of mess, one that they'd be well justified in staying out of. On the other hand, if they're Alliance operatives and this particular officer is known for being one of the more sympathetic sorts (or at least less unsympathetic sorts) then there's a good reason to try to put a stop to it, since whoever replaces them will probably be worse.

Edited by Garran

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...