Passionate Play #2: It’s Worth Risking What You Want

I’d like to share a couple more scenes from my recent Grey Ranks game that hopefully illustrates my points about Character Advocacy, legitimate tension, and emotional vulnerability. Throughout the game my character, Roman had been staving off the advances of Ludwika (“the patriotic slut”). He in turn had been trying to get across to her why his faith was so important. As mentioned in my previous post about this game it came into play that Ludwika was pregnant.

To acknowledge the parallel with my sister that Laura wanted I set up a scene where Roman was going to tell Ludwika that he’d marry her when the war was over so that her child wouldn’t grow up with without a father. Now, understand that I, personally, wanted her to say, “Yes.” Indeed I probably could have just narrated her saying, “Yes” and made my goal for the scene something else. But that’s not very interesting. My investment in the scene was in whether or not Roman would convince Ludwika to marry him. That’s what he was trying to accomplish in the scene. Any wiggling on my part would have constituted an emotional dodge.

So that’s what I set as Roman’s goal, “Ludwika agrees to marry him after the war.” My target number was seven. I was rolling a d10. Things did not look good. I rolled. I got an eight. I literally cheered. My stomach finally settled after doing a back flip. That’s the tension of playing passionately.

Now, I want to draw attention to the immediacy of that goal. All that happened was that right here, right now, Ludwika agrees to marry Roman after the war. Nothing says she will. There’s nothing about her state of mind and nothing about her loyalty to Roman. We have no idea if she wants to marry Roman. We only know that she has agreed to do so. This is important.

Later in the game Colin frames his own personal scene with Ludwika and his character Grom. Grom has had his eyes on Ludwika. The scene is Grom basically seeking comfort from Ludwika. His goal is to get Ludwika to sleep with him. I saw in his eyes he very much wanted it. I hope he saw in my eyes how much I did not want it. He rolled. He won. That bastard.

We played passionately.

I deliberately left it vague and unstated whether Roman ever found out about Ludwika’s betrayal. They did get married after the war.

One Response to “Passionate Play #2: It’s Worth Risking What You Want”

  1. storybythethroat Says:

    That’s a great play story, Jesse. Focusing on what happens here and now is an important principle of this play style, and one that’s easy to muck up or obliterate entirely in the wake of newfound narrative freedom. this story is a good practical example of avoiding that pitfall.

    Plus, combined with the previous account, a moving story to boot! I got to play me some Grey Ranks.


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