PLAY SORCERER 74: V. The Game Master and Players Gather for Character Creation (9)

Sorcerer_Cover

9. Players Sometimes Hide What They Care About

Sometimes I help up-and-coming writers with their screenplays. Usually something like this happens:

“Hey,” I say, “you know, there seems to be this notion in your screenplay. This theme or idea, but it’s barely in your script. I mean, it’s there. But you really didn’t do anything with it.”

And the up-and-coming writer will say, “Well, yeah…” and get kind of sheepish and says, “I mean, I like that. But I didn’t think anyone else would care about it.”

But, of course, this always turns out to be the thing the screenplay is missing: The thing that matters most to the writer—that he’s afraid to share.

I’ve noticed that some Players do the same thing. For a variety of reasons, they hide what matters most to them. They learned to build characters that have no personal connection to the things that interest them and are ready to be of service to a “plot” of some kind. They’re looking to build a story where we staple together bits of business from movies we’ve seen or books we’ve read and call it a day.

But that’s not how Sorcerer works. If you look at the best work found in The Shield or The X-Files or The Lord of the Rings or Battlestar Galactica, you’re going to see work that is built from the things that the writers and creators care about.

When I’m the Game Master, one of my jobs during Character creation is to intuit when someone is dodging what truly interests them and stapling in some bits of fictional business from other stories. That’s another reason I ask questions: to dig down a bit and make sure the Player is really tapping that gold vein of what matters to them and finding a way to reflect it in the words on their Character Sheets.

When I’m a Player, my job is not back off and just depend on grabbing bits of fictional business from other stories. My job during Character creation is to really dig into the definitions of Humanity, the rituals of Lore, the definitions of Demons and all the color of setting the Game Master has created and find out what it means to me. Only by doing that can I guarantee I’ll be engaged and energized in the weeks of play to come.

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