I’ve been more or less keeping up with thessalian‘s Mage game as part of reading her LJ (also dodgyhoodoo, weaselbitch and nadriel). It does sounds as though those playing are having a great time. I’m glad I left the game some time ago since, as a purely remote observer, it sounds far more like a contempary horror game than I would like to take part in (and different to how it was originally described). Also it sometimes appears that the PC are bit-parts in the
game (some problems can only be resolved by powerful NPCs). These are not critisisms of the game. Jan’s obviously happy to run the game how she wants and the players are having a great time – good for them – it’s simply a comment that it’s not a game I’d like to be part of.
That said this post is really about roleplaying in general and the contract entered into between players and GM when the game begins. I’m genuinly interested in other people’s opinions here – especially people
like corone and angusabranson.
When a game starts what takes place is produced from a mixture of the creativity of the GM and the players. Both groups bring something to the party (pun intended) and neither can achieve the same effect on their own (for the GM that would be writing a book, for the player that would be wandering around talking to people that aren’t there and being locked up).
How GMs deal with absent players is one of the things that characterises their style of play. I’ve only once seen a GM let a character be taken on by another player (my charcater, shot somewhere
very painful with a crossbow). Most of the time the characters are assumed to be “elsewhere” even if this is hard to justify. Very occasionally the GM will treat the character as an NPC but will usually
try to limit their interaction with the party to a bare minimum.
In thessalian‘s Mage game I used to have a character by the name of Carl Tanner. Carl’s character was deeply flawed for the game in question. Partly becuase he was designed to be a low-impact ‘talky’ character which was destined to never fit into a game designed for high-impact theatric heroics and limited slow development. Secondly I decided to have a vampire lover as part of my background. Since the only White Wolf universe I has played in previous to Jan’s game (run by my friend Shaun) has an uneasy truce between the ‘light’ factions of all the major WW players I didn’t see this as being a problem. Having read the Mage book I now realise that this was bound to cause major conflicts. Jan could have pointed this out but really it’s much more my own fault for not knowing the ‘cannon’ universe
Now, having left the game it became up to Jan what she wanted to do with Carl. It’s worth noting that when she left corone‘s 7th Sea game he offered her the chance to ‘park’ her character
so that she could return at a future point. She decided against this, as is her prerogative, and supplied a written description of who she wanted Alison killed off. This removed the difficult question of what
to do with player characters who have left the game. As above for temporary absences it’s up to the GM what they want to do. Most people will make up a reason as to why the character has ‘left’ for good and
have the players deal with the aftermath. thessalian has decided to do something different with Carl. Firstly she has decided to turn him into a vampire (something that I would never have
seen him doing) and secondly she has decided to make him a minor throw-away bad guy for the party to dispose of on the way to doing something else (at least that’s how I read it).
The question is, I guess, one of ownership. Who owns a player character after the player has left the game for good. After they’ve gone does a GM in good faith have carte blanch to do anything they want
with that character? Perhaps the reason why Jan wanted Alison killed off when she left 7th Sea was so that the situation that has happen re myself and Carl in Mage wouldn’t happen there.
Personally I’d view players characters as sacred and would never attempt to use them as NPCs in their absence – even if they had left the game. I’d be interested in other GMs points of view.