I got into roleplaying in a sort of roundabout manner, from a no-dice situation, starting a long time ago with PbP (play-by-post), evolving into me participating in the Dramatic Roleplaying Tournament (aka the DRT) at Running GaGG and eventually having my significant other lure me into the wild world of the New World of Darkness.
DRT-style modules are prone to all sorts of hilarious antics because it’s more like improv acting than any tabletop RPG session. There’s usually a good balance of characters, because all of the backgrounds are concocted by the GMs beforehand just to make the next 3-5 hours about as insane as they could possibly be.
Take, for instance, one module I ran called BLOOD FEUD! Somewhere, William Shakespeare is still spinning in his grave over this one, because it was one part Romeo & Juliet, two parts The Comedy or Errors, and three parts TV Tropes.
Imagine, if you will, that you’re reading a character sheet that explains the background of the situation you’re in:
God only knows how it started. . . . then again you might have better luck asking the man downstairs where it all began. The bad blood has been flowing between the Relos and the Veams for longer than anyone can remember. Even the history books can’t pinpoint the original cause. The physical violence has dwindled in recent years, replaced by frequent verbal abuse, meaning that the current generation of Relos and Veams is intact. On the other hand, the previous two have all but been annihilated. Nobody wants to be on the street between a Relo and a Veam. Since both families live in the same small city, it makes it very hard for the average citizen to go out. It’s gotten so bad lately that people have started complaining to the Prince.
Every year the Prince holds a party called the Conference of Nobles at the capitol city, so he can touch base with the various noble families and make sure none of them feel neglected. This year the Prince intended to pay particular attention to the Relo/Veam feud, and the issues stemming from it. He was gentlemanly and reasonable at first, but when Rosemary “Ro” Relo and Julius Veam started in on one of their infamous screaming matches, even the even-tempered Prince had had enough. He threw all the Relos and all the Veams into a room together and told them to “Work it the f#%k out, or you’re all banished tomorrow!” and slammed the door.
So here you are, a member of one of the two rival families, locked in a a room with your mortal enemies, being forced to make peace or be evicted from the country your family has lived in since your great to the umpteenth power grandparents were children. It’s the only home you’ve ever known, and making peace is the price of keeping it. Still, these people are responsible for the deaths of members of your family, and they let you know how much they hate you on a regular basis. Can you really be expected to kiss and make up?!
Then you get a little further into your character history and you realize that your character’s personal background has them in a secret relationship with a member of the rival family. You and your lover were supposed to abscond from the city during the party, but now that you’re locked away in this room you two have to either figure out how to end this age-old feud overnight or GTFO without anyone noticing you’re sneaking off with “The Enemy.” The good news is that you don’t have to talk directly to your significant other; the tradition is to pass notes to the servants whenever you want something, so you can have the servants relay messages for you in secret.
Seems simple, right?
That’s when The Comedy of Errors bit comes in. You see, you have a twin. And so does your lover. In fact, all of the Relos and all of the Veams (with the exception of Rosemary and Julius) have a twin that’s in the room with them. While some are fraternal, the fashion in the city is for gender-neutral clothing, and men are wearing their hair a little long, women are wearing theirs a little shorter. In summation: You can’t tell your lover and their twin apart. To emphasize this point the GMs have handed out name tags to everyone with TWO names on them, saying “This person may be either of these characters.”
Then the GMs take their places playing the two 90-year-old NPC servants who will be passing the notes between you and your lover back and forth for you.
And, as a final note, the GMs start to play a song they consider the “theme” of the module to kick off the in-character antics.
This is when you realize it may be a fine time for your character to start to panic.
Stay tuned here on Thursday to find out what actually happened when I ran this scenario.