Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Subtle and Not So Subtle Reminders


This volume of Berserk takes us to the halfway point of what's been published for the series.
This time around, we start with Guts as a prisoner.
This is a tough thing to pull off well in a role playing game. Unless you're going to dedicate a lot of time and resources into making a lot of interesting places and people for the characters to meet, such as in the video game, Escape From Butcher Bay , where the escape itself is the adventure, it's best to just do what the author does here.
Have an immediate getaway.
After resting and recovering, Guts is able to get away from these individuals because he's a much more powerful character than those around him for the most part. He's able to do so because he's the star of the story. He's able to do so, because it keeps the story flowing.
Now during his escape, he takes a female, Lady Farnese, captive, reversing the roles they just had. During this escape, his brand summons the nightly horrors and they take possession of wild dogs. Another case of having a 'skinning' ready to go. If you've got a lot of monster stats that you'll need frequently, having some descriptive terms ready for whatever you decide the monsters are for that enounter, can make things go much faster.
In terms of role playing opportunities, something happens or almost happens that reminds Guts of how he got his brand, lost his eye, hand, and woman. It's enough to make Guts follow the title. In terms of the actual game, if the GM keeps notes on significant events in the campaign, he can allude to those events by having similiar, if not exact events, happen again. This theme of repetition can lead to reinforcing behaviors of the players for both the good and the bad.
Dreams are also used as an oracle of the future. People see the various horrors of the land, plague, earthquakes, invasion, and other events, all being pushed aside by the return of the Hawk of Light.
In addition, while investigating a city overrun by plague, one of the former allies of Griffith runs into an old man who hasn't abandonded the city and this allows the old man to act as a mouth piece as to what's going on here. By placing an individual of low worth, one without gems, jewelry, or a high xp value in the player's path, the GM can provide the players with quick roadside information that they may need for future sessions.
Another method of providing options for future campaign seeds is provided with a group of standing stones. Because these stones are of a magical nature, Guts brand won't attract the horrors of the night. However, it does allow another visitor to provide Guts with information that his commander, Casca, is heading for another sacrifice.
This starts Guts on the way home in several ways. The blacksmith who forged his weapons is astonished at the damage they've taken. Even with the high quality, it's a sign of the quality of foes he's fought. Having players have to do a lot of boring maintenance on their weapons can be boring, but pointing out the wear and tear on their arms and armor every now and again and having them seek out a high quality black smith to repair said weapons can be a quest in and of itself.
The black smith, Gordo, is also dying of old age. This is not a common fate for anyone in most role playing games, but using it to showcase a personality flaw or trait of an older character that the players may know and respect, may force them to think about why their characters act the way they do, for good or for ill. Ironically enough, despite the black smith's initial sayings, Gordo acts true to his own nature even in his illness, recasting Guts weapons at the cost of his little remaining health, telling his apprentice to tell Guts to not end up like him.
Keep your options for providing the characters with information open. Don't be afraid to remind them of what they've done and what options they have in the future. Keep the player's aware that death can strike at any time but that the future is worth fighting for.