member, 318 posts
Fri 26 Feb 2021
at 23:12
Help needed with a Masks player- Social levers
So I've got kind-of a Masks dilemma.
I've been running a game monthly for about six months now, and I'm having a slight problem with a player / character. To wit: Germaine (Janus playbook) plays off everything as if she doesn't care about consequences. Not really, at least. Teacher mad at her? Whatever. Student causing her grief? Double whatever. I'd say she's acting much more 'adult', but it does mean that a lot of common teenage / Masks levers just aren't useful to get her to engage. The only two things she's got that really seem to click with her are: Her parents who are trying to live vicariously through her (and she just avoids them at every opportunity), and her aunt who is encouraging her artistic side (whom she loves). Her 'identity' is a mean-girl-turned-social-batman (she's trying to better the student body of the school by using her 'mean girl' position), and I'm just trying to find a way to make it so she takes the social entanglements a little more seriously.
(It doesn't help that last session ended with an incredible team-building moment, but her player had to ditch out before it happened due to an early flight the next day).
Harley Quinn
 member, 99 posts
Sat 27 Feb 2021
at 00:12
Help needed with a Masks player- Social levers
Make her character suffer a drastic injury that puts her in the hospital for a while.

I would have killed the character off.
 member, 1380 posts
 Err on the side
 of awesome.
Sat 27 Feb 2021
at 00:28
Help needed with a Masks player- Social levers
In reply to CrazyIvan777 (msg # 1):

"Whatever" at a teacher is pretty normal for a teenager, and delinquents often don't really interact with the school's hierarchy. This is likely to be in-character play for her.

She's given you levers to use and create tension. Her parents can force her to involve them in her life. Have her aunt start intervening over school. If she doesn't fight back against the student giving her grief, then have the grief hit the people she's trying to manipulate. How can these fit into the rest of the team's drama?

Also, remember the general PbtA rule: Make a soft move that hints at greater trouble. If she doesn't respond to your soft move, then you get to make a hard move - make sure that you've pointed said hard move at something she does care about or can't get away from.

This message was last edited by the user at 00:30, Sat 27 Feb.

 subscriber, 159 posts
Sat 27 Feb 2021
at 00:39
Help needed with a Masks player- Social levers

I would consider adding an element of 'stakes' to the story.  The character is running roughshod over the tale because it's fun and doing so doesn't cost anything.  Make some of those player's choices have consequences in other words.  Consequences in a way that affects the game.

Teacher's mad at the PC, PC is meh, doesn't bother me.  Maybe that bad attitude escalates the situation, the teacher was only going to verbally counsel ... but now makes a formal complaint to the school board or whatever.  Maybe the student gets on academic probation.  Committee memberships might be in question, team sports might have to wait until the matter is cleared up.  Certainly no attending prom, attending field trips,  or walking during graduation ... upcoming scholarships might be in question, etc

Maybe the student gets accused of something that isn't even true.  Rumors fly.  Cheating with someone else's significant other?  An honor code violation?  Hired a stand-in to take the college exams or something?  Something that jeopardizes her ability to use her mean girl persona to be the social-batman.  The 'mean girl' vibe only works if people let it ... maybe whatever scandal that gets dreamed up sidelines the PC in the world of the 'school pecking order' and takes the wind out of her sails a bit.  Have her see what it's like to be on the other side of the conversation.  Someone ignores her, or disregards her, or knocks the lunch tray out of her hand causing uproarious laughter ... something like that.

Ignoring the (vicariously living through the hero) family?  Have them need her at a time you reasonably think she'll ignore them.  Guess what?  Mom/Dad/Grandma is in the hospital, or jail, or got fired or whatever.  A huge life event just dropped on the family, and the hero was too busy to give a damn.  Skipping the phone call was a bad choice, the family really needed the PC and they were not available.  Have the PC's distance from the family be the reason that the 'family trouble' spooled out of control.  It should be something that she could have fixed/avoided with a snap of her fingers.  Basically, come up with a "If only they had been there"  kind of situation ... and then turn that dial up to eleven.

For the aunt?  More of the same.  Maybe this aunt buys into the rumors of cheating or family drama or something ... or is really let down that the PC could have (but was not) there for the family in their time of crisis.  You could have the aunt sit them down with a whole "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed" speech.  Make it sting.

All of these sticks though, they only have the effect you'll be after if you whack the character with them after they make an obviously self-interested choice to ignore the situation.  If they are doing everything perfect and then you whack them out of nowhere ... they won't feel like they earned it.  Make it karmic.  Put the player in a situation though where you reasonably assume that the player will ignore the problem ... fully expecting there to be no consequence because there haven't been any (well, any that matter, at least not yet).  Then wham, the plot stick comes out of nowhere and whacks them with consequences real consequences, dire consequences, perhaps life-changing consequences and the PC will have no one to blame but themselves.


I'd be careful though, with making the fiction seem punitive.  It can't have the 'you are playing wrong and I am punishing you for it' vibe.  If it does ... it quickly sours the game.  Whatever drama you decide to spice the hero's life up with ... it should further the story in some way.

This message was last edited by the user at 00:44, Sat 27 Feb.

 member, 1273 posts
Sat 27 Feb 2021
at 01:53
Help needed with a Masks player- Social levers
This might not seem sensible at first but, if the PC is enjoying it, maybe let them have it?  Focus on playing the other players' hooks and if their fun is too good to resist, that player might want to join in. Ski-Bird made many excellent suggestions but the problem doesn't sound like you are engaging poorly; it sounds like the player just isn't interested.

Also, have you tried asking the player how you can make it more engaging or what plot directions he or she wants to see in the future for the character? Ramidel is on to something too - perhaps the player has give you levers but you did not interpret them as such.

This message was last edited by the user at 01:54, Sat 27 Feb.