Monday, October 4, 2010

Identity Crisis

Dave (again) gave me a wonderful idea, only this one was from years ago when he was running his own unique game. Heavily influenced by anime themes, we and a bunch of the guys at Oakland University's Order of Leibowitz had a great time playing it because we were often encouraged to play outrageous characters. Mine, I thnk, was a bit more mundane than most; Ken Koda, super cop.

One night Dave takes me aside and says, "I want you to play a doppelganger that has replaced your character. Drop hints, give everyone else a chance to realize you aren't you." I had a ball all night doing evil shit, being a bastard, and yet no one caught on. It could have been that they simply were not expecting me to be not me, or I was not as out of character as I thought, or everyone thought I was being more of a dick than normal. It is hard to remember but I think Evil Ken led them into a trap.

Years later, I gave it a try. Keith's character-Black Angel-was comatose, and I e-mailed him privately suggesting his character was possessed. And as long as she wore this magic coat those with supernatural senses would not notice. Keith dropped hints both in role playing and even changing the color of his e-mail posts from violet to red, but no one caught on. Again, either he was not doing it well enough (and I think he was, personally) or people simply were not expecting it.

There were no hard feelings, no outrage over the deception. My players seemed to have fun with the revelation. Keith especially had a great time. There were no hard feelings, either the first time years back or when I was running my game. If you pick the right player and if you play fair, giving the rest a chance to trip on to the switch, then the GM and players both could have a great time, provided there are opportunities for the characters to discover the deception.

The scheme truly works best if the campaign is a well established one with most of the players and their characters being familiar with one another. Perhaps to spice things up a hint is thrown that one of them is not who they appear, and perhaps there was an instance when everyone at one point or another was absent from the rest. Is there truly a double in their midst, or is the GM playing head games with the players?

This plot is not new. Marvel Comics had Secret Invasion where Skrulls had replaced numerous super heroes. In Deep Space Nine Doctor Bashir was replaced by a changeling. In The Original Series' Turnabout Intruder Kirk was forced to switch bodies with a woman named Edith Keeler. Picard was replaced at least twice on TNG and in Voyager I believe it happened to Tom Paris.

Which brings up a variation of this idea: body switching. What if everyone on the team/party wound up with someone else's body? They would have to learn one another's powers and perhaps deal with their civilian lives. Perhaps one character's original body is hideous and he doesn't want it back? Perhaps a person from one sex occupies the body of another and discovers they actually like being a chick/dude? There are all sorts of role playing opportunities here and a lot of potential fun.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Let Me In...

I saw the vampire flick Let Me In last night with my brother Donald.

I liked it.

If you are interested in seeing the movie, do not expect a gorefest. There are some fantastic gory moments but ultimately this is a story about a lonely, introverted boy who has to deal with the real life horror of school bullies, who meets a very strange girl who moves in next door and ultimately becomes his friend. She just happens to be a vampire.

One thing I really appreciate about this movie in the wake of that Twilight crap is vampires are portrayed as being inhuman predators, but just as important the movie shows that human beings can be just as inhuman and you don't need to be a supernatural blood sucker to be a bastard. From Abby's murderous companion to the school bullies, there is plenty of evil to go around. And while you might think this is one of those stories that suggest that the true evil is Man, that is not the case at all. To me Abby is the most evil of all.

Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz carry this movie and both did a wonderful job. I also give credit to Dylan Minnette, who plays Kenny, the main bully. I hated him. I mean, the kid filled me with loathing and he really comes across as a menacing little bastard when he is making Owen's life miserable. The rest of the cast was also good.

I think the film's only failing is the special effects. The CGI is terrible and looks like something from more than a decade ago. Abby is seen attacking people and I think that rather than attempting to use CGI there could have been better ways around it. Otherwise it is a great movie. I am not sure it was worth ten bucks, so you might want to wait and rent it.