Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace is the second James Bond movie in the new 'reboot' of the venerable character.

It starts off with high action. This is a mantra often repeated in various fiction writing fields and has been mentioned for RPGs as well. Start off in the middle of a scene.

It has several plot twists and turns. While difficult to do in a game when the players are more interested in looting a dungeon then in a long term campaign, it is still possible. Red herrings about the types of treasure being sought for example, could lead the players to surprise when they uncover the real treasure that has nothing to do with what they thought it did.

Ambiguous allies and love interests. There are times when watching Quantum when as a viewer, I'm wondering who is loyal to the main character and what their own private motivations are. How far are they willing to go to fullfill what they consider to be their roles. In terms of love interests, much like plot twists, sometimes characters never seek out such relationships. In others though, they can be complex as the game master makes them. For example, instead of saving a princess from a dragon, what if the princess is the dragon's ally and resents the player's actions?

Keep Things Moving. Not as easy as it sounds, especially in a game like 4e where you have managed resources in terms of daily abilities and healing surges but if the party starts to get bogged down, keep them on the move. Throw a new clue at them. Have an old friend give them a hint. Have an enemy attack when they least expect it.

Let the players be cool. Sometimes this is as simple as letting them use their signature move. Other times this may be using the environment to act as providence and knock the bad guy down for a moment while they get back to their feet. It may be them finding a cast off weapon after a rust monster destroys their old trusty blade. It could be making a last minute dex check to grab the bad guy and pull him off the cliff with the player where the two of them must make saves every round to avoid smashing into the cliff face and instead use vines and trees to slow their descent.

The world is bigger than you think. There's a scene where James Bond says something to the effect of, "Judge a man by his enemies." By putting the players against a wide variety of enemies from a wide variety of sources, the game master provides the players with a greater feel for the world and more potential plot lines than if he just has them fight orcs or undead all the time. This is especially true of some game systems where there are only so many types of creatures that the players can go against in terms of level appropriate fights.

Quantum of Solace has a lot of things that a high energy, high action game can take from it.