Player complicity in a game...

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

I had a thought about a game I might like to run, with a bit of a twist on
the "dopplegangers replace party members" type of thing, and wanted to
bounce it around a bit. Constructive comments are appreciated.

On the outside, it would appear to be nothing more than a standard
adventure, with "some standard plot", "baddies to eliminate", "princesses to
save", "dragons to kill", "treasure to loot", you know, the standard stuff,
whatever adventure happens to be running. The only thing about the plot of
the "adventure" is that it would have to be something they could tear
themselves away from if something happened, so ideally it would be something
voluntary or something where time isn't a factor.

The twist is that just prior to the adventure, a character is replaced by a
monster that has doppleganger like ability to assume the form of characters,
and to mimic personality, and to use standard attack modes of that
character(special abilities excluded, of course, so no spells or turning or
stuff like that). The monster would be tough enough to individually present
a challenge to all remaining characters, but not a deadly challenge(a single
"by the book" doppleganger would not present a challenge to the characters
at this point, so it's either got to be a beefed up doppleganger or my own
special monster).

Over the course of the adventure, this monster would start out as acting
precisely as the character it is replacing, but over time, would progress to
more and more "outside of character" things, trying to convince the party to
do things that it otherwise wouldn't do. It would start small, like telling
other characters to lie when they normally wouldn't, then moving on to
having them steal things, vandalizing, arson, torture, and so on.
Presumably at SOME point, hopefully before the good characters, at the
urging of the imposter, actually kill someone they know they shouldn't, the
characters would look at each other and collectively say "Who the hell IS
this guy??", would somehow discover that the character isn't who they think
he is, subdue it to find out what they've done with the real character, and
go to save him, after which they could finish up the original adventure. So
it's an adventure inside an adventure. There are currently several
problems.

First, what's the adventure to run that would allow for all sorts of morally
ambiguous things to take place? I was thinking something associated with a
recently retired ex-PC now NPC who is running a newly built casino for one
of the local thieves guild. That would allow for more leeway than normal,
and would allow for a certain level of "normal" moral grey area to exist.

Second, there's the problem of meta-game knowledge, which is where the
complicity of one player comes in. I would approach one player ONLY, the
one who's play style is most likely to pass unnoticed for the longest period
of time, the one who is a strong enough role player to convincingly pull
this off, and the player has to be playing a non-spell casting/fantastic
ability character(fighter, thief, or monk, in our case)(unless I want to
make this "creature" able to duplicate spell effects as well, but I'm not
sure about that, but if I *DO* allow that, then there's a cleric and wizard
to consider as well). The player has to be willing to progressively
"evilify" his play style, but it has to be subtle enough that it will go
unnoticed for a period of time. The reason for this is simple, the other
players cannot know what's going on, and if all of a sudden *I* am playing a
character, it's going to be obvious as hell.

Third, what's the mechanism for discovering the fake? At some point, the
character would do something so utterly out of character that the other
characters would be forced to take action. If they attack the creature, it
responds with force as appropriate by the character in question, and when
they subdue it, it returns to normal non-doppled form(whatever that is), at
which point the characters are free to ask it questions and find out where
the real character is.

Fourth, what's the motivation of the monster? Why is it doing this? Dunno.
Honestly, I haven't got a good idea for that. I was thinking of doing
something where it's just some otherplanar creature trying to study human
behavior(ala that one ST:TNG episode where the one creature tries to make
Picard fall in love with it). But that's pretty cheesy. This is the
biggest stumbling block as far as I am concerned.

Fifth, do you think this would be fun for the players involved? Would
players appreciate being misled in this manner, for the sake of an
"adventure"? What would you, as a player in this situation, find annoying
about it, what would you find enjoyable, what would be ideal to emphasize,
what would be ideal to put in the background? Would you, as a player, feel
betrayed, or would you feel invigorated by a storyline like this?

Long post, I know, sorry bout that! Constructive comments are welcomed.

--
Jeff Goslin - MCSD - www.goslin.info
It's not a god complex when you're always right
8 answers Last reply
More about player complicity game
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    In news:Yu6dnWE_m-EjY6bfRVn-1Q@comcast.com,
    Jeff Goslin <autockr@comcast.net> typed:
    > The twist is that just prior to the adventure, a character is
    > replaced by a monster that has doppleganger like ability to assume
    > the form of characters, and to mimic personality, and to use standard
    > attack modes of that character(special abilities excluded, of course,
    > so no spells or turning or stuff like that). The monster would be
    > tough enough to individually present a challenge to all remaining
    > characters, but not a deadly challenge(a single "by the book"
    > doppleganger would not present a challenge to the characters at this
    > point, so it's either got to be a beefed up doppleganger or my own
    > special monster).

    Maybe a possession/Corruption type thing would work better? No need to jugle
    what abilities remain as it's still the same being. To go with popular
    tricks, a cursed item slowly corrupting it's owner would probably work like
    you want. The item can be anything from weapons to utensils. Nothing obvious
    like a head of Vecna but it might help the other players if they could
    (later, when suspicions start to rise) trace the changes in behaviour to
    when the item was gained. Of course the item should also be something that
    the character can hang-on to no matter what without arousing suspicion. Also
    a parasite with possession powers might work. Check out the Goa'uld from
    SG-1 series or Keepers from Babylon 5.

    > Fourth, what's the motivation of the monster? Why is it doing this?
    > Dunno.

    A fantasy setting answer might be that the characters are destined for some
    greatnes and something has been sent to corrupt them / disband the group
    before they can realize their destiny. Or maybe this the creature way of
    adventuring. Why does any evil being adventure. Think of the possession as a
    way to acquire henchmen. Or maybe the creature was implanted as revenge
    (either against the victim or someone in the party) and it's more
    mischievous evil type likely to get the party in a lot of difficult situatio
    ns. Or maybe it was simple bad luck. The creature needs the victims
    creaturetype to survive and pictim the character was just bad luck for the
    party. Maybe they ventured into a dangerous area without realising, this
    would give the other one way of later tracing the behavioral changes back to
    a certain place.

    > Fifth, do you think this would be fun for the players involved? Would
    > players appreciate being misled in this manner, for the sake of an
    > "adventure"? What would you, as a player in this situation, find
    > annoying about it, what would you find enjoyable, what would be ideal
    > to emphasize, what would be ideal to put in the background? Would
    > you, as a player, feel betrayed, or would you feel invigorated by a
    > storyline like this?

    Sounds interesting. Only problem is that you need a group of strong
    roleplayers (who stay in-character well) or they'll just think that the
    player is having fun/bored/decided to change his character/whatever. If the
    group has a tendency to drop out of character it will take them too long to
    realise what's going on and they probably won't enjoy the trick as much. If
    the players have a habit of sticking to their characters no matter what,
    they'll probably realise something is fishy earlier and enjoy the puzzle
    more. For me it would depend on who was playing the changeling, some players
    I've met I wouldn't wonder at widely varying roleshifts while with others
    I'd be immediately suspicious. Choose well. :)

    --
    T. Koivula
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    "Jeff Goslin" <autockr@comcast.net> wrote in
    news:Yu6dnWE_m-EjY6bfRVn-1Q@comcast.com:

    > I had a thought about a game I might like to run, with a bit of
    > a twist on the "dopplegangers replace party members" type of
    > thing, and wanted to bounce it around a bit. Constructive
    > comments are appreciated.

    How often do you play? If it's once a month or so then forget it -
    people won't remember.
  3. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Time to step up the meds; I could have sworn Kevin Lowe just said...
    > > Fourth, what's the motivation of the monster? Why is it doing this? Dunno.
    > > Honestly, I haven't got a good idea for that. I was thinking of doing
    > > something where it's just some otherplanar creature trying to study human
    > > behavior(ala that one ST:TNG episode where the one creature tries to make
    > > Picard fall in love with it). But that's pretty cheesy. This is the
    > > biggest stumbling block as far as I am concerned.
    >
    > Most PC groups have some kind of enemy. I say that enemy paid the
    > doppelganger a big bag of gold to get the PC's declared outlaws and
    > hung. So the doppelganger's goal is to get them to be complicit in at
    > least one capital crime, preferably more, and then let the law get them.

    I actually kind of liked your passing comment earlier about trying to
    morally corrupt the group. That screams "demon or devil" and there are
    multiple examples of both that are a) shapeshifting and b) telepathic,
    at a reasonably wide variety of power levels.
  4. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    "Quentin Stephens" <stq@stq.gro.ku.invalid> wrote in message
    news:Xns961E9300F3B81stqstqstq@130.133.1.4...
    > "Jeff Goslin" <autockr@comcast.net> wrote in
    > news:Yu6dnWE_m-EjY6bfRVn-1Q@comcast.com:
    >
    > > I had a thought about a game I might like to run, with a bit of
    > > a twist on the "dopplegangers replace party members" type of
    > > thing, and wanted to bounce it around a bit. Constructive
    > > comments are appreciated.
    >
    > How often do you play? If it's once a month or so then forget it -
    > people won't remember.

    This adventure is meant to wrap up COMPLETELY in a single session. I agree,
    if the session gets split for some reason, the players will forget, and it
    won't work. Fortunately, we will be missing one player for one session
    only(the missing player being the reason for a oneshot mostly non-campaign
    related adventure).

    So, if we DON'T wrap this up in one session, that player will be MIGHTILY
    confused. "... So, uh... we're attacking our own monk *WHY* exactly,
    again?" "It's a long story..."

    --
    Jeff Goslin - MCSD - www.goslin.info
    It's not a god complex when you're always right
  5. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    "Jeff Heikkinen" <no.way@jose.org> wrote in message
    news:MPG.1ca647846bcf366d98a0e5@news.easynews.com...
    > I actually kind of liked your passing comment earlier about trying to
    > morally corrupt the group. That screams "demon or devil" and there are
    > multiple examples of both that are a) shapeshifting and b) telepathic,
    > at a reasonably wide variety of power levels.

    Agreed. Plus which, behind the scenes, the super big baddie in question is
    actually working with a variety of devils to accomplish his goals. He's
    powerful enough to have access to gate spells and whatnot to move this thing
    into position, so that works too. Sounds like a winner to me. This thing
    will basically be a "morality devil". I suppose *ALL* devils are into
    de-moral-izing(not demoralizing, but de-moral-izing), to some extent, maybe
    this one is SPECIFICALLY the prototypical devil on your shoulder, and this
    is how he manifests his power. That sounds like a definite winner. Thanks!

    --
    Jeff Goslin - MCSD - www.goslin.info
    It's not a god complex when you're always right
  6. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    Jeff Goslin wrote:
    a single
    > "by the book" doppleganger would not present a challenge to the
    characters
    > at this point, so it's either got to be a beefed up doppleganger or
    my own
    > special monster

    I actually used a similar plot. the party was being lead through some
    tundra by a dwarven war hero. the dwarven city had just been hit hard
    and the party had helped to save some of them, so they sent one of
    their eliet to guard them and guide them through some terrible terrain.
    saddly foor them he was a replacement (part of the reason the dwarven
    city fell so hard in the fist place weas his help on the inside). Not
    only was the fight tough, but the party was not looked upon favorably
    when they returned sans dwarven hero in tow.

    For that encounter I used a feindish doppleganger assasin. basically
    he was a part of a line that had been bred for many many years to serve
    dark masters and demon lords and the like as assasins. he was
    ftr/rogue/assasin. It was a nice challenge and with those classes
    there aren't many class abilities you can't fake well. Strongly
    recomended, though the feindish template may noot work here (but if it
    does that'd be fine as it was greatly useful).
  7. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    "Mr. M.J. Lush" <mlush@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote in message
    news:d1i23b$hdn$1@helium.hgmp.mrc.ac.uk...
    > In article <Yu6dnWE_m-EjY6bfRVn-1Q@comcast.com>,
    > Jeff Goslin <autockr@comcast.net> wrote:
    > >I had a thought about a game I might like to run, with a bit of a twist
    on
    > >the "dopplegangers replace party members" type of thing, and wanted to
    > >bounce it around a bit. Constructive comments are appreciated.
    >
    > >Fifth, do you think this would be fun for the players involved? Would
    > >players appreciate being misled in this manner, for the sake of an
    > >"adventure"? What would you, as a player in this situation, find
    annoying
    > >about it, what would you find enjoyable, what would be ideal to
    emphasize,
    > >what would be ideal to put in the background? Would you, as a player,
    feel
    > >betrayed, or would you feel invigorated by a storyline like this?
    >
    > My money would be on the players never noticing until it gets to the
    > stage of open murder and torture, this could take some time.

    Especially since many DMs will accuse the players of being 'bad roleplayers'
    and using 'out of character knowledge' if they are suspicious without
    blatantly obvious clues; and never giving the PCs skill checks or saving
    throws
    to notice the fake (that's not ROLEPLAYING).

    Geoff.
  8. Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

    One possible twist, just to add suspense.

    The being is also trying to have the rest of the party duplicated by
    his kindred. So, as the adventure passes, there are a small party of
    these things waiting to replace unsuspecting PC's, but too weak or
    timid to just jump the whole party.

    Another little twist to add could be to make them like Sherri S.
    Tepper's Mirrormen (any True Game fans here?), where they need to take
    a "reading" of the victim every day or so. This way, the captured
    PC/PCs are nearby when the plot is finally uncovered.

    Motivational plot twists become possible here too, if the creatures are
    not entirely bad, but just needing help and so trying to "become" a
    powerful party of adventurers.


    Cameron

    Jeff Goslin wrote:
    > I had a thought about a game I might like to run, with a bit of a
    twist on
    > the "dopplegangers replace party members" type of thing, and wanted
    to
    > bounce it around a bit. Constructive comments are appreciated.
    >
    > On the outside, it would appear to be nothing more than a standard
    > adventure, with "some standard plot", "baddies to eliminate",
    "princesses to
    > save", "dragons to kill", "treasure to loot", you know, the standard
    stuff,
    > whatever adventure happens to be running. The only thing about the
    plot of
    > the "adventure" is that it would have to be something they could tear
    > themselves away from if something happened, so ideally it would be
    something
    > voluntary or something where time isn't a factor.
    >
    > The twist is that just prior to the adventure, a character is
    replaced by a
    > monster that has doppleganger like ability to assume the form of
    characters,
    > and to mimic personality, and to use standard attack modes of that
    > character(special abilities excluded, of course, so no spells or
    turning or
    > stuff like that). The monster would be tough enough to individually
    present
    > a challenge to all remaining characters, but not a deadly challenge(a
    single
    > "by the book" doppleganger would not present a challenge to the
    characters
    > at this point, so it's either got to be a beefed up doppleganger or
    my own
    > special monster).
    >
    > Over the course of the adventure, this monster would start out as
    acting
    > precisely as the character it is replacing, but over time, would
    progress to
    > more and more "outside of character" things, trying to convince the
    party to
    > do things that it otherwise wouldn't do. It would start small, like
    telling
    > other characters to lie when they normally wouldn't, then moving on
    to
    > having them steal things, vandalizing, arson, torture, and so on.
    > Presumably at SOME point, hopefully before the good characters, at
    the
    > urging of the imposter, actually kill someone they know they
    shouldn't, the
    > characters would look at each other and collectively say "Who the
    hell IS
    > this guy??", would somehow discover that the character isn't who they
    think
    > he is, subdue it to find out what they've done with the real
    character, and
    > go to save him, after which they could finish up the original
    adventure. So
    > it's an adventure inside an adventure. There are currently several
    > problems.
    >
    > First, what's the adventure to run that would allow for all sorts of
    morally
    > ambiguous things to take place? I was thinking something associated
    with a
    > recently retired ex-PC now NPC who is running a newly built casino
    for one
    > of the local thieves guild. That would allow for more leeway than
    normal,
    > and would allow for a certain level of "normal" moral grey area to
    exist.
    >
    > Second, there's the problem of meta-game knowledge, which is where
    the
    > complicity of one player comes in. I would approach one player ONLY,
    the
    > one who's play style is most likely to pass unnoticed for the longest
    period
    > of time, the one who is a strong enough role player to convincingly
    pull
    > this off, and the player has to be playing a non-spell
    casting/fantastic
    > ability character(fighter, thief, or monk, in our case)(unless I want
    to
    > make this "creature" able to duplicate spell effects as well, but I'm
    not
    > sure about that, but if I *DO* allow that, then there's a cleric and
    wizard
    > to consider as well). The player has to be willing to progressively
    > "evilify" his play style, but it has to be subtle enough that it will
    go
    > unnoticed for a period of time. The reason for this is simple, the
    other
    > players cannot know what's going on, and if all of a sudden *I* am
    playing a
    > character, it's going to be obvious as hell.
    >
    > Third, what's the mechanism for discovering the fake? At some point,
    the
    > character would do something so utterly out of character that the
    other
    > characters would be forced to take action. If they attack the
    creature, it
    > responds with force as appropriate by the character in question, and
    when
    > they subdue it, it returns to normal non-doppled form(whatever that
    is), at
    > which point the characters are free to ask it questions and find out
    where
    > the real character is.
    >
    > Fourth, what's the motivation of the monster? Why is it doing this?
    Dunno.
    > Honestly, I haven't got a good idea for that. I was thinking of
    doing
    > something where it's just some otherplanar creature trying to study
    human
    > behavior(ala that one ST:TNG episode where the one creature tries to
    make
    > Picard fall in love with it). But that's pretty cheesy. This is the
    > biggest stumbling block as far as I am concerned.
    >
    > Fifth, do you think this would be fun for the players involved?
    Would
    > players appreciate being misled in this manner, for the sake of an
    > "adventure"? What would you, as a player in this situation, find
    annoying
    > about it, what would you find enjoyable, what would be ideal to
    emphasize,
    > what would be ideal to put in the background? Would you, as a
    player, feel
    > betrayed, or would you feel invigorated by a storyline like this?
    >
    > Long post, I know, sorry bout that! Constructive comments are
    welcomed.
    >
    > --
    > Jeff Goslin - MCSD - www.goslin.info
    > It's not a god complex when you're always right
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