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How do I articulate to a player the concerns I've got with their character?

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  • How do I articulate to a player the concerns I've got with their character?

    Okay, so here's what we've got:
    A Forensic Investigator-turned-Dullahan (Scion of Mannannan Mac Lir)
    A Charter Pilot who is also an Incarnation of Loki
    An imposing FBI Agent who is also one of the Hundred Eyes of Argus given form and life again (Created by Hera)

    And then there's the last guy. The player was in the last Scion game I ran, nearly a decade ago in 1e. That character was an inner city poor kid who'd managed to get a football scholarship, who had intended, before his Visitation, to get hired on by a pro team, play until he had a solid nest egg, and then retire, invest wisely, start some sort of business, and not become the financial train wreck that some players do.

    The character he played then was a son of Quetzalcoatl (they started off as mortals and I decided divine parentage; I don't remember why I chose the feathered serpent for him) , and took that edition's writeup of his father as something of a renaissance man to try to be everything: the muscle, the brains, the face. He tells me that the guy was intended to be the backup for everyone, who helps the team shine brighter through his support, but acknowledges now that he was more of a spotlight hog and is well aware he was everyone else's least favorite PC.

    When I'd suggested that I might run Scion again, he said he might want to take another crack at the character, and see if he could have him be less of a jackass.

    Monday, we got together, I managed to start up character generation for folks, and by the time we had gone our separate ways, I was not confident about his second attempt. Since we were going to be starting off at Hero level this time, he wanted to advance his character's storyline to where he had envisioned it going: he'd been hired on by one team or another, led his team through a handful of super bowls, retired from the game, had founded dozens of different companies under an umbrella corporation, had a couple senators in his pocket, and was wealthy to the point where his involvement with his company was basically scanning a report in the morning and he was farting around on wild escapades around the world out of boredom before his Visitation (at last check, he has yet to pick out a divine parent or Pantheon.)

    After folks went home that evening, I spent a good chunk of time in bed mulling over the characters in general, and that one eventually bobbed up to the top.

    From rags to sports superstar to Waynecorp-level affluence.

    By 30.

    As prologue.

    At that point, it felt less like the character had been reined in so much as metastasized.

    Last night I talked to him on the phone, and he seemed inclined to to listen, and he suggested making the whole thing a little less extravagant: not a repeat MVP, but a solid recruit who went pro just out of high school and made only a few million per year. Not quite idle rich, but retired after a handful of years with the nest egg he wanted, set aside a trust fund for himself and his mother so that even if his financial aspirations went belly-up tomorrow they'd be okay, and is currently only running a small handful of businesses and charities and realizing that he doesn't have an interest in administration.

    We'll be talking again later before we get together in a couple weeks to wrap up character generation. I've already told him that I feel like this addresses some things, but not everything, and that this is two major personal reinventions, again, as prologue before we even get to "how does finding out that a god's ichor courses through your veins change you?"

    As much as I sound like I'm complaining here, it's not what I'm writing this to for.

    Okay, it's not just what I'm writing this for.

    I'm trying to figure out how I can communicate to the player that I'm still not enthused about this character in a way that moves us toward a good resolution.

    Or alternately, I'd be happy to discover why I'm overreacting to this.

  • #2
    You can ask to the player what next for his character?
    Or a no answer to that can be part of the development for the character.
    What is above the top ? What do i earn for whne i have everything ?
    Alternatively the character can find out just how much of a small fish in a very big pond he is when confronted with the sheer divine scale of the pantheons.

    Hope this helps a bit.

    Completed campaign: Scion 2nd Edition. Les Légendes Currently playing: Being a dad for a 2year old daughter anf a 1 year old son.


    • #3
      I can certainly see your concerns, and I agree with everything Maitrecorbo said.

      What is his money in, this business of his? If you're out to find the answer to "how does finding out that a god's ichor courses through your veins change you?" then consider changing his parent and giving that parent (and the powers that the character inherits) a different view point. Not because you want to abuse the player at all, but more to provide a world-shaking moment where they see things in a way that causes them to have to face a balance between their mortal and deific lives. Much like Tony Stark, on finding out that his weapons were being sold to terrorists, shifted everything toward clean power and other philanthropic pursuits a guy who made his money in coal or plastics being taken on by someone like Artemis or Demeter might see the damage that their business does in the most personal way possible.

      Or, if that seems a bit heavy handed, use what the character has as a hook. If he has all that stuff, and all those connections, then it certainly makes sense for a deific parent to expect him to turn those assets and contacts toward their ends and the game again becomes about that balancing of what he had and what he is now. When he's chugging along happily and then Quetzalcoatl tells him that he has to spend a couple of billion in buying up Amazon rain forest he gets to play out the situation "How do I please my patron and still not have to destroy everything I've worked for?".

      Again, not out of some mean spirited desire to take away everything the player has. That's not cool. But when you start with a background like that it's (to my mind, anyway) a player's way of saying 'These are some of the plot hooks I'm offering you here.'. They're asking for the conflict of having to decide between charging off to fight the bad guys in some far off realm and attending a crucial board room meeting after having missed the last three, where the board is starting to get agitated about their absentee colleague. They're asking to be put in a position where they can smooth the way with money and connections, but where those same things are also put at risk by a Titan corporation waging economic war on them.

      If not, if he just wants a bucket load of money and good wishes from the people around him but he doesn't want to run anything or attend business meetings, suggest that he made his huge nest egg on his playing and investments, and that he's a beloved celebrity figure in the public eye, and let that be enough. He has plenty of money to do what ever he needs to do (short of buying up luxury mansions every Friday), people want to help him because he's Johnny Football Hero, and he doesn't need the business stuff at all.


      • #4
        In my GMing experience, the best thing to do with a potential Problem character and player is to be clear to them. Take them aside, face to face if you can manage, but over phone or messenger if you can't, before the game begins, and lay out your concerns in a very clear and straightforward way. No ambiguity, be up front.

        Now don't be RUDE or CRUEL or BRUTAL, but don't imply or beat around the bush. Go right in and say "Okay so I still have a few problems with your character, namely here, here, and here, let's work something out, now."

        Don't let them get off with "I'll take another pass at it tonight" and leave it at that, because it may just end up forgotten by both of you. No, sit down and work it out there. Make notes, come up with a concrete plan for what you want to do for this character to improve him. When you come to at least an idea or direction, THEN improvements can be made, but giving half-vague "Hmmmm I dunno it needs something-" probably won't get any results.

        Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.


        • #5
          Might also clear up some things as well, like if he wants his character as just a retired pro-football player then a question comes to mind of why he retired. Was he injured, was it a conflict with a his divine parentage, hell was he just worried about the prospect that as he got older the odds of him suffering a major injury started to get too much for him to be willing to risk it for another season?

          As others have noted what kind of business is he in is something to mention, or to my knowledge how he's running them.

          Hmm honestly an angle that comes to mind would be that he's got a prosperity for service deal going on with his divine parent, but I feel like I'm getting off topic with that thought.

          Maybe check with the other players as well, one on one PMs and what not, just ask if they have any concerns about the other PCs if something comes up as a concern then it can be addressed regardless of the player and it would give you an excuse to address this player and more if you did find out that there was a concern about it from one of the others.


          • #6
            Okay. So a few things. The tl;dr is that right now I feel significantly better about things.

            1.) The character was a football player to make money. The player made it clear that he was never there just for the love of the game, it was a means to get himself and his mom out of poverty. As such, every iteration has had his character leaving the game basically with an "Okay, that's enough zeros. I'm good." He acknowledges that leaving at his prime means he probably offended a few devoted fans.

            2.) The business was vague, or maybe more accurately broad. He was very clear that his character had multiple businesses under an umbrella corporation, and he was rarely specific about what any of them were, although he had one suggestion briefly for one he got in on in his pro days, but that was in the middle of discussions regarding this and I at least had the impression that his character's corporate presence was like an octopus with arms everywhere. I think I touched on this in the initial post, but the character had little interest in running the companies, he was the kind of Trailblazer archetype that America has lost over the years (his words, not mine), and the character wanted to start businesses but found actually running them to be a chore. While the nature of the business beast was left undefined, he was quite clear that his direct involvement was minimal: the character was smart enough to know he wasn't the best person to be handling the day to day, so he'd have people to run stuff, and people he could call up to look into the feasibility of whatever.

            3.) He called me up and we spoke a couple days ago: he told me that he was going to scrap the whole business angle for the character, and basically going for Squee's latter suggestion of being a retired football star. And I can work with that. I was really bothered by the conceptual crowdedness of the character, and also a distinct discomfort of his character having a great deal of temporal power with what seemed to be an explicit minimum of personal investment placed into it. But now that seems to be resolved to my satisfaction, and we'll all be getting together next weekend to wrap up character generation; if things start to veer back into something I find concerning, I feel like I'm going to be in a good position to address it.

            ​Thanks, everyone.