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How to handle the alien "otherness" of the Geist?

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  • How to handle the alien "otherness" of the Geist?

    Hallo. I recently had one of my players comment that he slightly dissatisfied with the way I portrayed his characters Geist.
    He felt like that the way I occationally reminded him how his Geist was feeling about certain things, and the occational spoken line of dialog from it, took away his agency of his character, since I was essentially dictating how a part of his character acted. I tried to explain to him that I were doing this mainly to emphasize the alien otherness of the passenger, and that putting the Geist under full control of the player, would make the player too familliar and cozy with their Geists, negating the alien otherness I'de like to have as a theme.
    After a brief discussion, we let the conversation rest for the time and I simply eased off on portraying his Geist for the rest of that nights scenario.

    Now, I think its a slightly silly complaint given that its Geist. That would be like a Promethean player complaning about Disquiet or a Vampire player complaing that the character cant go out in the sun light, and that those things ruin the game. That said, we play roleplay to have fun, and if an aspect of play annoys a player, then it is worth considering even if I think its silly.
    So my question is, how have the rest of you handeled this? How have you portrayed the Geister? What has the response been, from your group?

  • #2
    In Balance of Shadows, I put it to the group that I could portray the Geist, that they could portray their own within their character, or we could Shadowguide where people portray each other's Geist. The group Unanimously went with portraying their own. The five-shot I had run before it I only gave them B or C as an option as trying to run a story in 5 sessions my plate was too full; they went the same way. While part of my logic in allowing it was that the player created both parts of the character, I was not going for the alien otherness theme you are.

    If I run the Geist, my goal is to get as much information from the player who created it as possible and run it that way. I agree with you that the Geister should seem sort of alien at times, but given their elemental nature not really inscrutable or anything just...not really human.

    Honestly, though, if the alien otherness of the Geist is a theme in your campaign, and you made this clear to the players, and they did not protest or take issue, then you have simply been doing what you said you would. As you noted, though, it is for fun, so it may be worth checking that people understood your side about your campaigns themes and that you understand theirs.


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    • #3
      There was a post I saw a while back which talked about different kinds of ambiance, and it came with a suggestion which I highly endorse for running geist. I got to be a player with a ST that did this, and it worked out great. Any lines of communication the geist had were scribbled notes tossed at the player. I loved that, because it could simulate the nagging that a geist does, with the player trying to patiently endure having benign demands constantly tossed at their face; it maintained the intimate privacy of the geist's whispers; forced awkwardness of responding (or not) to the geist when in public, as all the responses had to be role-played 'out loud'; and, best of all, it led the story teller pass messages while leaving the exact tone and imagery of the geist to the player's imagination.


      Second Chance for

      A Beautiful Madness

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      • #4
        @Samedi: I fear I may have not stressed it hard enough, atleast to this particular player. No one else has complained, and one other player specifically told me he found it immensely cool, so I am hesitant to change it across the board. Do you think it would work to portray one players Geist in one manner and portray the other Geists in a different manner? Basically, what I am afraid of when it comes to full control, is that the Geist will loose whatever unpleasantness it has. I am afraid that the Geists wishes will always allign perfectly with the Sin-Eaters wishes or that the only problems that will arise will be very minor. To put it bluntly and perhaps alittle insultingly to my player, I'm afraid the Geist will become an extension of his characters "badassness" and little more. Has this at all been an issue with your game? Has your players been portraying meningful Geist/Sin-Eater conflicts even with full control?

        @Kitty: I had actually considered something along these lines, what with flashcards and all. My only disconfort with this, is that it might take too long to scribble things down in the middle of play. Its a really good suggestion though. Maybe one could have specifically colored flashcards with the characters names written on them to convey emotional urgings in a quick manner? Like a red flashcard with "Mr.Luther" written on it, to imply that Mr.Luthers Geist is angry about something? And then have seperate small pieces of paper which can be written on and lobbed at the players, to convey actual verbal dialog? That could probably work, unless the players found this method too demeaning. Its pretty much along the same lines of how you educate Autistic people about emotions, so I could understand it if my players found it alittle off putting :P

        Thanks both of you!

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        • #5
          I think you should be portraying this players Geist inderectly with double meanings and the like, the one exception being it's Death thing, and then you roll with how he interprets things and quietly agree or disagree or whatever this way he has more control without completely removing it out of your hands.

          Part of the insanity comes from warped memories that are not neccesarily tied to their Death and I don't know how tied up your representation of them is with their archetype but they do have some semblance of opinions and views outside their archetype (otherwise uncovering their history would be worhtless and they would never pass on).

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          • #6
            What's the character's Synergy?

            If it's high, hand control of the Geist over to the player (they want it, after all), with the caveat that you get it back when Synergy drops.

            Because high Synergy does mean that the Geist and the Sin-Eater are playing happy couple in the Sin-Eater's head.


            I have decided, after some thought, that I don't really feel happy on these forums. I might decide to come back to post. Who knows - but right now, I'm gone.

            So good bye, good luck, and have a nice day.

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            • #7
              I've recently ran across the Fate System; which I recommend as a game-universe itself, as well as; what's important herein: the general logic that follows the beginning of the book. In Fate, they strongly recommend that you and the group get together, and decide the universe as a whole: rather than a Storyteller building nearly-everything, and then presenting a game to the players, asking if they'd like to take place in it.

              To me, the latter is traditional where I come from, and the former a bit forward-thinking. Regardless, I ramble. (apologies, dear boy.) I bring it up, because when beginning my own Geist game a short-while back, I tried the Fate-system as a simple means of governing our group ooc. As the Storyteller, I presented a few ideas, scenarios, and such, and as my players and I hashed it out, we reached some mutual-agreements about the world. What's important in a dynamic like this, is that everyone has an equal-say, and you genuinely listen to said-input. At the end of such a session, you have a unique and flavorful cornerstone: and it also builds ooc-cooperation between you and your players. They see what kind of game you're trying to achieve, and you get an inside-look on how they're going to work as a unit, what each contribute, and how each one would like to see their part of the story, (and the greater-whole) to go.

              Now, all that flim-flam above is basically me-saying: Don't fight with your players, find a middle-ground. In your own example, you have a clear line of intent in place, and then a player who thinks he might play it better. The only trouble is, that you want to be fair and consistent. What a lot of folks don't get about 'fair and consistent' in games, is that it isn't a rigid set of rules on how you respond to each situation, it's how you deal with each situation with a special bit of shine, and then include everyone in the decision that is made.

              You have made the offer (and it been received as 'generally-awesome') to your players to play their Geists for them. It's neither here, nor there what OTHER people do. This is -your- game. You run it, so you have final-say. (BUT, that isn't a power you wield, it's a responsibility. ST JOB=Maketh Effin-Awesome-Story: PLAYER JOB=Entertain ST, and other players.) That being said? You just need to loosen-up a bit on how you deal with your player. Take them off on their own (if you haven't) and explain to them the central theme and 'feel' you're going with, when you portray their Geist. Tell them the direction you've come with it, and even drop a few hints as far as where you'd like to go with it. (And hell, transparency in a situation like this is totally-called-for: ask them if they want a bit of a spoiler, so they know what you're trying to do. So long as they can keep a secret, mind!) Ask for feedback. Nail them to the wall, and say: "Dude, be real with me. Don't be an asshole, but be real with me." And ask them to explain what it is that's bothering them. It might just -be- that you're not portraying their Geist the way they envisioned. Maybe they even -agree- with the alien-quality of it, but their version is This-Vanilla, and not That-Vanilla. Y'know? It might come down to simple miscommunication. Once th'guy sees where you're coming from, he might like the direction; or he might just wanna tweak with you how his Geist would respond. Keep in mind, that at the end of the day: you wanna tell an awesome story. Everything else in these books we read, is just there as guidelines. Keep what works; throw out what extra parts make your wagon have too many wheels.

              In the end, he might just want to play his own Geist. Discuss with him how he's going to, and get his position about how this will provide interesting story between him and his Geist. And always remember: Some folks just get along with the little brutes. They don't get the decoder ring of -understanding- what it does, or how it goes, but some do kinda click on odd-levels.

              I'd say more, but I think that should suffice your query. You're issue is more of a player/ST relationship, than anything else. Once you get this bump aside, you should be fine.

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