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PhilHibbs

Playing a trickster

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Feel free to tell us about your best (or worst) ever trickster!

For me, it's like walking a tightrope. Fall off in one direction, and you disrupt the game, alienate the other players, and people don't have fun. Or even worse, everyone has fun except for one player who is deeply upset about something, sometimes something trivial like their character being eaten. Fall off in the other direction, and the character becomes a harmless jester, an occasional source of amusement, but without the frisson of danger.

The trick is to walk that line between being a dangerous sociopath and a fun character to have in the game. In the end, the ideal is for everyone to say "yes, it was an interesting experience, sometimes nerve-wracking, sometimes annoying, sometimes hilarious, but overall, looking back, I'd say it was enjoyable."

And, when it comes to an end, why not make it spectacular, with a farcical chase scene, a dramatic showdown, histrionics, and brutality.

 

If I post an example, it will probably be about Gribble, my most successful and notorious trickster character.

Favourite Use For A Lie Spell: "I killed the Crimson Bat, three times!" - this  just made the predicament worse, and directly led to being beheaded for serial murder.

Second Favourite Use For A Lie Spell: "He was an assassin, I saw a poisoned dagger hidden in his cloak", after pushing an innocent beggar down a well. Actually I have no idea if he was innocent, we'd only just met him. He might have been a vital plot NPC, I never did ask.

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I remember a conversation with Greg when someone said they had a trickster in their group. He was asked how best to deal with them. His simple reply was “kill them”. It’s stayed with me ever since. 

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So, you introduced the equivalent of The Joker or Marvel’s Loki as a PC in your fantasy game?  What could possibly go wrong?

What about modeling a kinder, gentler trickster — Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Brer Rabbit, Turtle from African folktales.  Annoying and selfish, yes, but they didn’t kill anyone.  Except maybe Daffy Duck ... multiple times.  🤨

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Just now, PhilHibbs said:

Murderer is not the only kind of trickster. There are plenty of other kinds of sociopath.

No, but have you ever played an RPG Phil 🙂

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2 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

Feel free to tell us about your best (or worst) ever trickster!

For me, it's like walking a tightrope. Fall off in one direction, and you disrupt the game, alienate the other players, and people don't have fun. Or even worse, everyone has fun except for one player who is deeply upset about something, sometimes something trivial like their character being eaten. Fall off in the other direction, and the character becomes a harmless jester, an occasional source of amusement, but without the frisson of danger.

The trick is to walk that line between being a dangerous sociopath and a fun character to have in the game. 

Wouldn't a trickster bounce between the extremes. Dangerous sociopath, fun character and character that disrupts game all in one

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"Trickster" is a loaded term that conjures up different images for different folks.  I think it should be more of a spectrum...there are certainly trickster, Picar-esque characters that aren't disruptive in nature and more benevolent, but still through a off-kilter lens.  "Trickster" doesn't always mean "chaotic" either. There are as many variations to the Trickster motif as there are to a "Priest" or "Warrior" one.  I mean the most famous one today (for better or worse) would be Deadpool.  Violent and slightly absurd, but still somewhat aligned with a sense of altruism, however twisted.

To me it's like a talkative Zen Buddhist could be considered a "Trickster" via the use of koans...

I guess I would define the "Trickster" character arc as "being dedicated to the awareness of the inherent absurdity of sentient existence, and the perpetuation thereof"

(Discussions like this bring to mind the episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia where they were discussing their group dynamic, and Charlie was "The Wildcard")

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3 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

Favourite Use For A Lie Spell: "I killed the Crimson Bat, three times!" - this  just made the predicament worse, and directly led to being beheaded for serial murder.

DId the beheading hurt him, or did he manage to cast "Remove Head" before the executioner's tool met his neck?

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12 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

Feel free to tell us about your best (or worst) ever trickster!

In my old Imther campaign, tricksters were a recognized part of the society and expected to add the randomness in life that would keep society from either falling into stasis or devolving into 'violence is always an option'. A couple of my players ran tricksters, notably the aptly named Hysterious and Impetuous. My favorite event though was when I ran a one-off marriage in the village of Moonpost. Marriages in Imther were only truly blessed if a trickster actually played a good trick on the bride, groom, or whole ceremony. Lots of things kept getting messed up in the courtship, including one of the groom's best men being seduced by the bride-to-be. The backstory was that it was the bride who turned out to be the trickster. One of our most memorable sessions.

More recently in my HQG campaign, when the heroes were captured by the Lunars, stripped of their weapons, and sent to the stockade within the camp, one of the other prisoners turned out to be a trickster by the name of Rostoth Oakmoss. To help the heroes escape, Rostoth used his Great Swallow. The heroes did go along with this escape plan. I was expecting them to just wait until they were regurgitated, but they got scared of possible falling into the stomach acid, so decided to try the Other Door in the Trickster's gut. Led them into the Otherworld, of course.

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I played a Duck Trickster in our Runemasters game at Continuum 2018. He disguised the Humakti Ducks and Storm Bull Duck as corpses, to hide them from the Crimson Drake, but they flew off to fight it, when the Humakti saw the Storm Bull as a flying corpse, they attacked him, so he fought back and all 3 died in the combat. I was so proud.

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22 hours ago, Joerg said:

DId the beheading hurt him, or did he manage to cast "Remove Head" before the executioner's tool met his neck?

He didn't have any Remove spells. He had Become Pair of Smoking Boots, but he'd already used that in the obligatory farcical chase scene when someone cast Disruption on him.

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