Thursday, December 9, 2010

[OT] Language Barrier

A situation that has come up recently. Perhaps a little venting, perhaps a little hypothetical. A new adventure is started, the characters are 'rolled' (in my case a Savage Worlds) and they set off. They've been told a basic plot, you've been banished to another plane for a few years and you are going to return to take vengeance on the one who banished you and some other people there. Now you have to summon your friends back and stop an evil dictator.

You get back, struggle through an abandoned ruin, find some native people who you don't know how to speak to figure out a plot to help them against some humans and head out to figure out from the humans what is going on. Time for vengeance...

Except not really, you discover you can't speak to the humans, you also discover you are being pushed to choose the humans or the natives RIGHT NOW. Oh and one of you figures out it's really hundreds of years later.

So what is the problem here? How can I feel like I am making an educated choice? How do I as a player feel like I have the ability to push the plot in my favored direction? How about the character's background? Suddenly my family, my home, my target of vengeance, my knowledge of the world, my possessions are all now gone. I have nothing to save but the people at the other plane, I have no enemies, I have no way to communicate with these new people and get an opinion. These humans are not my team, these lizard folk are not my team, I have no allies, I have no enemies.

We flipped a coin. We delayed and tried to communicate, we gesticulated we flailed and eventually someone threw the native companion a sword and we killed the humans.

How could the situation been handled? How could it be presented better? How could we have prevented every character from putting points into speaking skills when we can't communicate? How could we prevent players from creating elaborate plots involving secret organizations with exotic weapons (we specialize in.) How could we prevent them from taking abilities representing reputation or even land holdings?

Was this the best method? Could the GM had faith that the players could pretend they wouldn't know its 700 years later? Could the GM just have filtered our character abilities and plot with an ambiguous 'you can't take that'? Or perhaps they could trade every loss with a bonus, if you find or make the weapon you are looking for your style is so unique you get a bonus to fight. If you find your holdings through magic it can be proven you are the legitimate heir to everything. I don't know. It's a tough nut to crack, suggestions?

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