Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Sneaky Little Thing With The Birds

 I should have put this in the Amber post last night, but forgot to mention it then. It's okay, that post was mostly about how great my players are, and in this post I'm going to beam some arrogant pride about a fun thing I did.

When I got to first scene for one of the players, I told him that he'd just gotten back to his office from a short vacation, and asked him to tell us what he'd done to relax on that trip. He said that his character, who does falconry and raises birds, had found a wild bird of a species he'd never seen before, a big hawk with a beak longer than any he'd seen before in a bird of its size. He then a few moments later showed the bird to a minor improvised NPC who shared his love of birds. I had that NPC gush over it, and reinforced his description by having them say that its beak was at least a full inch and a half larger than he'd ever seen on a bird of that size. I put just a little bit of extra emphasis on the words to make them stand out.

I did this, because I knew that I was leading in to a scene later where someone else was going to receive a messenger bird. In Amber, these are usually a semi-magical "bird of my desire" found via the use of the Pattern, they don't have to be a species you'd normally use for sending a message. 

So when a messenger bird arrives in another scene, for another player, with a note tied around its leg, I describe it as a large hawk, "with a beak a full inch and a half larger than you've ever seen on a bird of that size". Suddenly, the fun little detail that the player had improvised to describe what their character did on their vacation became invested with extra meaning and connection. Does this mean the message-sender was in the other character's world? That seemed clever, but too easy to get forgotten. Thankfully, I had another plot element ready in my toolbox.

Earlier, in a previous scene that neither of those characters were in, a different PC found a black unicorn, that was wounded and being chased by nasty cat-monsters. They saved it from the creepy cat-monsters.

When I got back around to the PC who introduced the bird again, I now narrated that one of these same cat-monsters had somehow managed to get into his building, and tried to get to his new bird. Thereby making the detail the player introduced somehow now tied directly to three characters' plots, one of them by way of a thing that happened before the 1st player improvised the bird detail. It's a little thing, but I'm really proud of myself for weaving this together like that. The birds are clearly linked, the cats are clearly linked, but how does the unicorn tie in?

The players picked up on it, despite the three characters having not yet met, and therefore not had a chance to compare notes. I'm looking forward to that connection in a future session. It feels like something straight out of a carefully structured novel, not stitched together in largely-improvised RPG sessions, so please allow me a moment to show-off and gloat about it. 


Thank you.

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