• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

MoonHunter Sayeth 20180504

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
We All Need a Reason
aka The Power of the Three Motivations.

Yes this is related to the Rule of 3 as discussed in another post. It is an expansion of one Rule of 3 aspect.

Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
Kurt Vonnegut
You have a newly minted character, with good rolls, great mechanics, clever combinations, and such. It is ready to be taken out for a spin on the gaming table... to see what it can do.

The GM then plays The Passive GM Card and says, "So you are all hanging around town doing very little. What do you do now?"

All of a sudden, you are at a loss. You have the mechanics of a character, not the actual character. You don't know what to do.

Lets see another situation: The GM punches the railroad ticket and says, "So your characters are going into The Evil Place to face The Army of Certain Death."

The basic response is "Say what?" or "Umm. No." Of course, you have no reason to do that.

Last example situation, then I will get to the point. The assuming GM says, "So we are getting The Magic Disk to defeat The Blue Lord. Why are you doing it?"

Don't you dare say, "Because I'm a Major Protagonist Character and that is the adventure."

You might say, "umm" because once again, you are at a loss.

Your character might be perfectly constructed but it needs more. It needs motivations; reasons why are you doing what you are doing.


Wants, Needs, and Fears, the primary motivators of fictional characters. (*1) These three impetus drive characters through their story arcs.

Players and GMs must know what the characters want, need, and fear to make sure they change and grow in a credible and satisfying ways over the course of the chronicle. Every character must want something, something that "gets them involved" in the world around them. Otherwise they will just sit on a couch somewhere drinking and doing very little.

This is the great Why of things.

Wants
Wants are your tangible goals. The other players and the GM, your audience, can see what you want and your actions towards that goal.

  • I am performing this dangerous task
    [*] I want to marry Jane (Donovan's significant other).
    [*] I need to make this multi-million dollar deal!
    [*] I will race down this mountain road and win!

These are all valid Wants. The best wants are the "next want". You may have a bigger goal, but you might need to succeed at some smaller goals, to reach the big goal. The Next Want are the next steps towards the bigger or notable goals.

Remember: Your character must always want something at the start of your chronicle, even if it is a glass of water. We are told, time and again, that this want must drive the character’s main goal – so it must be something external and tangible.

Needs
Needs are what really drive the character. They are what make us have wants.
They are the reasons behind one or more wants (and maybe why we change the wants). They are the explanation, the intangible reasons that explains Why.
  • I am performing this dangerous task, because I need your approval.
  • I want to marry Jane (Donovan's significant other), because I must beat Donovan!
  • I need to make this multi-million dollar deal! Because I must beat Donovan!
  • I will race down this mountain road and win! Because I must beat Donovan!
Okay, this guy with the last three is not very heroic. But he has wants and needs, so we know what to do with him in a game.

Every Want needs to be coupled with a Need. The character's wants might change, but the needs will usually stay consistent. You will slowly reveal needs over the course of the chronicle by your actions. (Sometimes you just tell someone, that is okay too.)

Fears
Most players don't like using fears as a motivation for their characters. It shows a weakness (and weaknesses can be exploited). However, some of the most interesting characters have flaws, limitations, and weaknesses. It is their overcoming them that makes them so interesting.
  • I am performing this dangerous task, because I need your approval.
    There may be a fear of death involved sometimes, but perhaps his fear of death is less than his need for approval... thus he will do apparently suicidal things for approval.
  • I want to marry Jane (Donovan's significant other)! Because I must beat Donovan!
    Sometimes, Fear does not get in the way.
  • I need to make this multi-million dollar deal! Because I must beat Donovan But I afraid to fail in business because of my father.
    Oh look hidden depth. And an NPC who might not ever show up in the chronicle, but has an impact
  • I will race down this mountain road and win! Because I must beat Donovan. But I am scared I am going to die
    Now we have a complication. He feels he has to race but his need and his fear are competing. So he might be all bluster, but back down in the end... or be pushed to do something he knows will get him (and maybe Donovan) killed.

Now you can have fears that are primary motivators. Perhaps Donovan's nemesis is doing everything for his Father. He is afraid of his father (needing approval, afraid Dad will pull the trust fun or cut him out of the will). Kicking Donovan's butt is just a side benefit, he is doing the deal, marrying the girl, and showing everyone he is the best, because he needs his father to accept him or is afraid his father will get rid of him.

Fears should polarize the character’s emotions. GM Hint: Create a villain or antagonism that embodies a character's fears, so the character will have to adapt and change and evolve and grow to win.

As soon a character feels fear, they react in a way that will either make them feel in control or try an irrational solution to avoid a fearful emotion or situation. Their behavior may be unhealthy, their responses faulty or self-sabotaging. Players should always choose the most dramatic choice... and sure those might not be the most heroic, but they will be the most interesting.

Now it is time to put this into play

Once you know a character's Primary Motivators, playing the character is easier. Choosing the character's next move is a breeze. (Planning it might be a bit more complicated.) Understanding what is going on and why becomes a snap. Really, defining the Primary Motivators

Every character should have a want or 3 (Hey! rule of 3). One can be personal, one can be professional, and one can be... somehow related to the adventure at hand (or just another one). They are concrete and definable. They should also be obtainable (or otherwise the character sits around and daydreams about the impossible goal). If you have a big want, they you should break it down into lesser wants that are the stepping stones to the big want. That next stone is The Next Want... an important step in obtaining the goal.

They can have one to three needs to fulfill through some wants. Make sure to line the wants up with a need (if not the character should have a new need or want.)

One or more fears is always a fun complication (make sure to take appropriate disadvantages if your system supports that).

Note: Lining these up with the three (well 2+1) character traits or descriptions makes the character have more impact in play. Also if you have these wants, goals, and fears ready, the GM can help you line up your character's three plotlines.

Now when the GM says... ...

"So you are all hanging around town doing very little. What do you do now?"

I am hitting my contacts looking for dirt on Black Bart, so I can sell him out and eventually take over The Thieves Guild!

"So your characters are going into The Evil Place to face The Army of Certain Death."

"I still think we are not going to do that, but I will only do it if I can win the hand of The Princess if I go. "

The GM says, "So we are getting The Magic Disk to defeat The Blue Lord. Why are you doing it?"

"General Dodd, the man with one red eye, killed my father. I will kill him and if we can save the country from The Blue Lord at the same time GREAT!"

See... Much Better


(*1) Some people will use categories of wants/needs and maybe fears, but it all boils down to these three.
 
Top Bottom