Warning: Copious necessary bragging ahead… proceed with caution. If you’re not interested in hearing about just how awesome players can be, then move along… there’s nothing to see here.
Still with me? Good. I think you might just enjoy this.
A couple weeks ago I ran what I presumed would be a one-off Darkwood game.
Turns out that one-nighter bled into a second evening of gaming as the survivors drug themselves to the safety of town… just as the sun set again. They regaled those who would listen to the details of the ghastly ordeal they’d managed to survive. Some were amazed, some unbelieving, and some downright fearful that the horrors would follow this group to the edge of their small sanctuary in the wilds.
So we’re all working with the same information, during the battle to drive off the werewolves, one of the beasts was significantly wounded with a few gashes to the muzzle. During the discussion following the gaming session, the players theorized that the wounds were specific and likely obvious enough that they might just be able to recognize the werewolf’s human form should he or she foolishly cross their paths.
And indeed that’s exactly what happened. As Lacey and Daniel’s characters were attempting to get an audience with the priest and town council, they discovered that the son of the mayor had presumably been injured the afternoon before during a riding accident. His wounds were almost identical to those they’d caused to the werewolf in question… almost, but not quite.
After some discussion with Phil, they agreed to go forward with the town meeting and use it as an opportunity to possibly draw out the truth of the situation as well as a chance to confront the mayor, his son, and anyone who defended him.
Everything was in place. The stage was set for what would have been an incredibly drama-focused scenario.
And then Max did something so completely awesome that I have to chronicle it here:
Just as the townspeople were gathering in the church, Max’s character pulled the others aside to a quiet corner. When they asked him why he hadn’t been present in the planning of this meeting, he began to weave a tale about how his father had greeted him with great news for the family and had kept him in the family homestead until he gave an oath to be discussed later.
Apparently, while the caravan had been away, the father had negotiated a betrothal that would significantly elevate their family’s status. His father joyfully regaled Max’s character about how he had proposed a marriage of his eldest daughter to the Mayor’s eldest son and the Mayor had agreed. The father went on to speak of how great such a union would be for everyone involved and how elated both the bride and groom were over the proposed nuptials…
But that now he was hearing rumors that concerned him.
Max’s character informed the rest of the group that his father was hearing hushed rumors of a concern running against the Mayor and his son… rumors that, if founded could forever mar the family and would destroy any happiness the bride and groom might hope for. Max’s character loved his sister greatly, and would do anything to see her happy, hence the struggle within him… perhaps the wounds were merely coincidental, they weren’t exactly like the wounds they’d inflicted on the wolf.
The father then declared that anyone who spoke ill of the Mayor’s family was to be harshly dissuaded, his hand was on his knife as he spoke these words, so the implication was clear… and if that speaker be family, he would disown such a man before running him out into the wilds forever.
Finally, he demanded an oath from Max’s character that he would uphold his family name and the name of those soon to be linked to his family… as this union would clearly, and so greatly, benefit everyone. The father played heavily on the bond between Max’s character and his sister, knowing that was a powerful leverage point.
The situation, from Max’s character’s viewpoint, was quite clear. He could not speak out against the Mayor’s son, nor could he support his friends in doing so. In fact, he strongly urged they do nothing lest he be forced to act against them.
Just then the town bell pealed indicating the meeting was being called to order… and I called the evening’s game a wrap.
Everyone just stared at Max. Max just smiled. He’d successfully made the entire setting so much more vibrant and interesting and dramatic.
All that without a single bit of input from anyone else.
Nothing from the other players beyond the simple and idle curiosity that they might see the werewolf in human form again.
And not a single bit of prodding from me.
Simply put. Awesome!
So why am I telling you this?
Because this is why you should let your players run the game.
This is exactly the type of game you can have and can be gained from unshackling your players.
People rise to the level of their expectation.
Expect them to bring awesome and they will surprise you by doing just that.
Again, awesome… wonder how that meeting is going to go… ?