It recently occurred to me during the course of play in our current Hunter game that one of my Disadvantages–much to my horror–had not been used after roughly 8 sessions. My character is “Unlucky,” which is to say that once per session a roll–at the Storyteller’s discretion–should have its difficulty increased by one. So who’s responsibility is it to remember these character facets? Honestly, I had forgotten, but I’d certainly put the onus upon the GM of the game in question. So, here are some tips on remembering and incorporating character idiosyncrasies.
Bake It In
I’m a proponent of character-based adventures (and campaigns) and as such design every adventure through that lens. That means tying the story to the character’s backgrounds, skills, or traits–or, ideally, all of the above. Give everyone a chance to shine but also an opportunity to be challenged. Speaking as a player, I look forward to opportunities that push the boundaries of my character or take them out of their comfort zone. As a GM that same philosophy holds true. Put the non-social character in a position where they have to confront their weakness; make the non-combat character the linchpin on having to rescue the group; put the level-headed thinker in an emotional hurricane.
Look for these options but don’t rely upon them week after week; shift the spotlight as well as taking a character out of their comfort zone. No one likes to be incompetent every week!
It may sound silly, but sometimes I would put Post-It notes on my GM’s screen that “Bob has Telepathy!” Keeping it front and center (literally) also keeps it front and center in your mind. This technique is primarily for those idiosyncrasies that are real-time or dynamic in nature. The ones you can’t plan for in an adventure ahead of time. My “Unlucky” disadvantage mentioned at the top is a good example, versus having a trick knee that applies a physical task penalty. The latter you can build into an adventure, the former is better to ebb and flow through the game.
All Hands on Deck
Another method is to put the responsibility upon the players. Now that can be the individual player or in an open game with shared backgrounds and total transparency, the other players can even help. That’s going to be based more on your table’s social dynamic and whether it’s okay for other players to chime in and present these “opportunities” to the GM. This ultimately comes back to everyone wanting to share in an engaging experience and good story. If the GM and the player have forgotten about that trick knee while climbing over the fence while being chased by zombies, why the hell wouldn’t you want it to be brought up to raise the stakes?
Sure, most games are giving points for these disadvantages but realistically its their roleplaying opportunity–not those points–that players choose them for. Well, at least, that’s what I like to believe.
How do you remember the subtle options that characters in your campaign have and work them in? Share below!