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A lot of times, I’ll start off a game by asking the players to describe what their characters are doing. While this always works out well with the Hex group (with the intro scenes often becoming the focus of the adventure), I’ve found that groups who are used to more typical mission-based role-playing don’t really run with the concept.
Part of the problem is that they’re not used to thinking about what the characters do during their “down time” when they’re not fighting monsters or solving mysteries or otherwise doing whatever activity makes up the core action of the game. The result is along the lines of the old saying about how if you give someone a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. In this case, if you give a player a set of game stats, they think everything the character does has to revolve around those stats. So when I ask “what is your character doing?” the answer usually ends up being something related to one of the character’s stats. The player whose character has the “Video Games” Skill tells me “I’m playing video games,” the one whose Job is “M-Forcer” says “I’m reading a book about monsters,” and so on and so on. Since these sorts of answers don’t really do much to introduce interesting subplots or move the story along, this week’s table provides some things for characters to do that aren’t necessarily related to their game stats.
- Babysitting (whose kid(s)?)
- Dealing with bureaucrats (doing jury duty, renewing car registration, etc.)
- Having an argument with some jerk on the internet (about what?)
- Reading or surfing the internet (about what?)
- Having an argument with a friend/family member/co-worker (about what?)
- Attending a concert/sporting event/movie/whatever
- Hanging out with friends (watching the game, playing poker, etc.)
- Helping someone out (doing charity work, helping a friend move, etc.)
- Working on a project (setting up a web site, painting the kitchen, etc.)
- On a date/trying to get a date (where, who, how?)
- At a meeting (AA, PTA, book club, etc.)
- Doing something outside (fishing, hiking, sailing, etc.)
- Working out/exercising (where? what kind of exercise?)
- Shopping (for what?)
- Calling tech support. (about what?)
- At a family/class reunion, company picnic, etc.
- Enjoying your vacation (where?)
- Dealing with a minor catastrophe (car accident, storm damage, etc.)
- Dealing with police (getting a traffic ticket, reporting a robbery, etc.)
- Doing something terrifying (skydiving, karaoke, IRS audit)