Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Week In Stories: No One Gets Out Alive Character Creation

You know that moment when you've got your character created, and you know the basics of how they fit in with the other characters (at least at the beginning of the game), and there's juicy stuff to start playing right out of the gate? I'm there, and now I have to wait another couple of weeks before we can actually sit down and play. I can do it, but I'm very eager to get going.

On Friday, we sat down and finalized our character sheets for Bill's haunted house game, No One Gets Out Alive. By which I mean we finished talking to each other about connections and how to summarize them - the sheet draws heavily on DramaSystem, including what our stories are, our dramatic poles, what we want from each other, and why the other person can't give it.

I'm trying something difficult with this character, I think, and I'll be interested to see if I can pull it off. I'm fairly in touch with my emotions, so making a deliberate choice to play a character with low emotional intelligence, and low level of awareness of what she's feeling and how that might be affecting her actions, is going to be difficult. But I think rewarding.

We're none of us playing really nice characters, but I also don't think any of them are irredeemable. We're all keeping secrets, we're all policing boundaries of who belongs to this family, and who doesn't.

The story will be set on a private island in the 1000 Islands, on which all of our characters spent a lot of summers as teenagers, but haven't been there in years and years. (We're all in our 40s as the game begins.) The family matriarch, Miss Maudie, has recently died, and we have to decide whether or not to sell the island and large house on it, and negotiate the terms of the will, which wrote in someone no one was expecting.

My character, Jo, "played" by Robin Wright
My character is an in-law - married to the oldest son, the "good son," for a long time. A marriage that used to be good, but isn't any longer. It's cracking under too many stressors and not enough connection, not to mention the things we're hiding from each other. For my character, there are two teenage kids, an incredibly busy career as a surgeon, and her husband's mother in failing health to take care of. He's got the kids and the mother to take care of, as well as the knowledge that the family business is in way more trouble than anyone realizes. Plus, Jo has recently started an affair, and is using this time at the cottage to make a decision whether to continue with it, or recommit to her marriage.

This is complicated enough, but then gets even more complicated when you add back in the groundskeeper's daughter, now revealed in the will as the recently deceased matriarch's illegitimate grandchild. The groundskeeper's daughter and the good son almost had something going back as teenagers, when they didn't realize they were first cousins. Until Jo, urged on by Miss Maudie, framed her for theft and got her sent away.

So, how does the character sheet look? If I'm remembering what I wrote, the dramatic poles were: Bulling Through vs. The Easy Way, since I think this is a character who never ever takes the easy way...except maybe just recently, in starting the affair. And I think that was seductive in ways that have nothing to do with the relationship - the lure of just tossing things aside and starting again. Set up against her long history with the family, the fact that she and her husband used to have a good marriage, and her kids. Which will she choose?

What she wants from the others? She wants her husband to keep the house, no matter what. (And without realizing it, she's really asking for him to fight through difficulties to keep something, as a symbol for believing that he'd fight for their marriage.) He can't, because the financial difficulties really are too deep.

She wants the ex-friend to admit that Jo was right in setting her up as a thief. Which is obviously something the other woman isn't going to be able to do, even though now everyone knows that that couple were actually first cousins.

I'm excited. We've consciously committed to a drama-heavy game, and with three players plus GM, intensity should not be far away.

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