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Paranoia: When is enough, when is too much?

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  • Paranoia: When is enough, when is too much?

    So, something I've noted in the few Demon games I've been in is the handling of paranoia. Having some uncertainty in how something will go is good for a game of Demon - after all, with the God-Machine, how can you ever be sure something is what it seems to be?

    However, as the title posits, when is too much too much? At what point does the game become less about a Demon's fight to stay alive and with their own secrecy from the God-Machine, and more about the player fighting to keep their character alive and powerful? How do you avoid making it become less a Demon shoring up against a threat within your own environment, and more a player outwitting their ST only for the ST to step things up in turn?

    It's a concern because, as someone who has played Demon, I'm interested in hosting a game of my own at some point down the line. However, one of the games I was in had a bad issue where the players experienced with other games the ST has hosted were paranoid of the ST, not of the God-Machine itself, to the point the game was stalling from inaction even when there were plot-points abound. While I don't blame either the players or the ST for that event - sometimes games just don't mesh as they should, and themes and attitudes are appropriated from other games - it is a result I'd want to avoid making myself.

    Any advice?

  • #2
    There's a number of prophetic abilities, such as Voice in the Machine when it concerns the Machine's endeavors directly. For the other part, given the way that Demons are perfect liars, you should really always worry about that Turncoat potentially selling you out.

    Knowledge is power, doubly so in Descent. When you set up a surveillance to make sure the Integrator isn't selling you out, the same system can later be used by agents of the Machine to monitor you. It's a double edged sword. The maxim I'd use is "Trust, but verify". If you're going to act in the hypothesis that you're being sold off, you better have something more than a leap of logic to justify it.

    If there was no way the Ring could've acted without tipping their hand, up the scales. Make consequences for inaction. Taking risks makes for good histories.


    • #3
      First I'd play the angle that the GM is highly knowledgeable and capable of great surveillance, but it usually isn't paying attention to most things. So most things the GM isn't going to notice if they go a little weird like a person going from "One more slip up and you're fired" to employee of the month overnight. More work needs to be done when Infrastructure or a GM plan is involved, but in those cases the players are going to accept that going against a place under police investigation might result in having to dodge cops. The rest of the time so long as they can avoid anything big ,or a compromise check, then the normal paranoia of a group of criminals with a standing agreement that if things go wahoonie-shaped then everyone is on their own.

      Plus a social contract between ST and players might be helpful for this. You know what is something the players just don't want to deal with at all, or at what point does springing something on them become dirty pool.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Malus View Post
        If there was no way the Ring could've acted without tipping their hand, up the scales. Make consequences for inaction. Taking risks makes for good histories.
        Relatedly, it's not an accident that the compromise rolls for partial transformation are so generous — temporary glitches and breaking point Conditions allow for more immediate side-effects, and those same Conditions plus the heightened odds of exceptional success mean it's a tempting road to Hell (perhaps literally, depending on the circumstance, given how finding Keys works).

        Resident Sanguinary Analyst
        Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e


        • #5
          Its a fine line to walk but what I've taken to saying when I'm trying to coach new players (in just about any RPG) is that you have to be paranoid without being risk averse. A certain amount of paranoia, whether its over a tension building story element or just over whatever the ST/DM has up their sleeve, helps you react on your feet and adds to everyone's experience of the game. When that paranoia makes you avoid taking risks though you're less likely to engage with the story, as chances are you will inevitably find yourself in some kind of adverse or unfavorable situation in order for the potential of failure to exist and for the story to have stakes. It might make logical sense to avoid those risks, but at that point you aren't actually playing the game anymore.

          I sometimes relate it to watching a horror movie. At some level you dread the scare that you know is coming. So you tense up a little, your eyes are watching the corners for the direction its going to come from, you know there might be a fake out so you don't totally relax after the first one happens. Chances are the scare still got you a little, but you had fun trying not to be and you don't resent the movie for having done it. You also don't avoid the scare by turning off the movie and walking away. That might be the best way to actually avoid the scare, but if you aren't going to watch the movie what was the point?


          • #6
            When is too much paranoia too much?

            What kind of question is that? Why you asking? Who wants to know? You say your Taidragon, but we only got your word for that. I aint ever heard Taidragon asking about no paranoia until now. Maybe his account got hacked. Maybe your someone totally different. Why you asking? Who are you working for?