Friday, October 12, 2012

 Recently, there's been a lot of talk about Player Agency. I even talked about it a few posts back. I think there's a second side of the issue that I haven't addressed, however.

When I run games now, there's an unwritten understanding between me and the group: I will let you explore wherever you want and generally pursue whatever interests your characters, so long as you pursue something that is interesting.

You want to explore ancient ruins? Cool. Want to blow off the ruins and see what's over that horizon? Cool. You want to research some obscure, throw-away lore I never planned to develop? Cool. Want to start a crazy mercantile enterprise? Cool.

Want to be a bunch of feckless assholes who antagonize normal people and commit petty crimes, even against those who did you a good turn? Well....if you can do it in an interesting fashion, cool. Cugel the Clever was a right sonofabitch, but he was charming. The Joker is a psychotic murderer, but he was fascinating. It has been my experience that most of the time, PCs who decide to be "bad guys" are not charming or fascinating*.

My current work situation and the presence of other obligations in my life doesn't leave me with enough free time to do things I don't find interesting. My time is valuable to me. If you want to go commit a bunch of random crimes, go play GTA. If you want to commit a bunch of random crimes with a sword, go...I don't know, play Skyrim or something.

I presently have the good fortune to play with a group that does surprising, interesting, unexpected things. When they do unlawful deeds, they are intriguing deeds. They are not asking me how much xp townsfolk are worth. They are not planning to rob the innkeeper's lockbox because the innkeeper wouldn't give them half-price rooms for no reason.

Player Agency (as it is bandied about in this corner of the internet) is awesome, and it makes RPGs worth playing. Remember, though, the the DM is also playing this game to have fun; he is not there simply for the aggrandizement of your character.

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