Monday, September 08, 2008

Romantic entanglements

On Saturday, we played our temporally-displaced Exalted game. It was a good session in which I got to explore my character a bit more than usual. One thing that I sometimes have trouble with is figuring out how characters feel about things. Sometimes it is obvious. Sometimes, though, people have unpredictable desires... and PCs should be no exception. So, yeah. This is about a girl.

Specifically, my character, Red, is a Solar Exalt who was raised in the Realm - where Solar Exalted are considered demonic Anathema and the empire is ruled by Dragonbloods - lesser exalts who have numbers and a constructed state religion on their side. Red is driven to overturn what he sees as the hipocrisy of the Dragonbloods.

So, when the PCs captured a young Dragonblooded girl (about his age) from a noble family, Red dedicated himself to pointing out this hipocrisy and bringing her around to his point of view before she was turned back over to her family. Of course, things are never that simple. Some Solar Exalts are really good at persuasion (natural or otherwise). Red is just a goofy kid (who can walk unseen down the middle of a street in broad daylight and punch a hole through a castle wall). Tigara (the girl) is a noble naval officer-in-training. He had to point out that he was worried that she was being taken advantage of by her family and society... and to do that, he had to convince her that he cared about her. Despite being incredibly good at stealth and theft, he isn't much into lying... so he came to care about her. How much? He's not sure... and neither am I. He's wholly opposed to her family and upbringing - and she still accepted them. Eventually, I just played up the confused teenager angle. He didn't really try to talk her out of leaving (in part due to a magical compulsion...), but he did sneak on to her brother's ship to say goodbye and make sure she really wanted to leave when she was returned to her family.

It was a good scene, but I'm still left with a vague bit of confusion as to how to determine PC feelings in cases like this. Any thoughts?

4 comments:

Ravyn said...

By instinct!

Okay, clearly not working here. I'd say the first thing to do is start asking yourself questions. "What does he see in her" is a good start. It's possible that he's just in love with being in love--particularly since romances across divides are so epic (he's a Realmie, he was probably raised on this stuff. The novel is after all an art form thereabouts).

When I do this (and my PCs tend to end up in some rather interesting relationship situations, let's put it that way), I operate by a combination of what feels right for the PC and what feels appropriate to the mood and drama, then go back to the question phase in retrospect and internalize the answers into my character-vision. Which I suppose sort of explains the multiple messes with that last Air Aspect I played.... the main thing to do is to make sure you know what your character wouldn't do and isn't doing, and Not Do That. The rest can be justified in retrospect, and trying to figure out why he did what he did can give you a stronger idea what he's going to do next time.

Nick Novitski said...

1) If you think you can make a budding teenage romance entertaining to yourself and the other players, then the goofy kid falls for the naval officer.

2) If the gm thinks he can make it interesting, then the naval officer falls for the goofy kid, and/or the two cross paths on the opposite sides of various conflicts. Or, to avoid cliche, she sees that there's all kinds of problems with the Realm, and they end up in tense and mistrustful alliance. That latter is probably a better idea for realistic, non-operatic romance.

Alternately, maybe he (meaning you) is just not that into her (meaning the potential story). Maybe the scene(s) were about how he's still just a nice kid, about how he has love to give, but maybe not to a girl like that. Maybe he'll meet her someday. Maybe (does he have high compassion?) he'll just end up caring to some degree about a lot of young women. Maybe he'll remain pure forever.

But yeah, too bad exalted doesn't have a functional mechanic for suggesting emotional reactions for PCs.

Exalted needs aspects. Heck, why isn't there a pulp/wuxia spin on Fate 3.0 yet?

szilard said...

Mmmm... FATE-run Exalted would be awesome.

I suspect that much of my confusion in this case stems largely from my intuition that my PC would mostly be confused himself.

Nick Novitski said...

Well, if you like the idea of his being confused, maybe that's the angle you should run with.

I think if it were me, I'd take opportunities to say one thing and do another. I'd switch between being angry and being worried, or being kind and being frightened. I'd Show him thinking about her, but not show him being tortured or pleased about thinking about her, and definitely not show him thinking about what he feels for her, since that risks leading to a resolute decision.