Sunday, August 17, 2008

World Building Through Interrogation

I tried an interesting experiment earlier this evening. It didn't accomplish everything I had hoped, but it showed promise.

Early last week I tried to get some player input into building my mini-campaign story arc by throwing it open on this blog. That (as my wife predicted) got almost zero response and none of it was really useful. I then tried to get her to contribute by playing the role of the tiefling the party was going to interrogate first thing in our session this evening. She didn't go for that plan, feeling that she should be able to focus on her characters, not my NPC.

So earlier today I hit on an idea that seemed to have promise: I would play the tiefling NPC, but only Jen's tiefling PC would be able to understand him. I had to retcon some minor things about the world and Jen's character (the tieflings of Bael Turath now spoke Supernal instead of Common and so do many of their descendants, including the prisoner and Jen's tiefling wizard). Then I told Jen before the game that the tiefling was going to refuse to speak Common to the party, instead speaking "Supernal" that I would make up on the fly which she would have to "translate".

For some things the prisoner was going to say I prepared translations on post-it notes ahead of time. I handed these to Jen so she would know what he was saying without the rest of the party knowing. I also warned her that if the line of questioning led into areas that
  1. The prisoner would know about and be willing to tell them
  2. I hadn't already fleshed out
  3. I didn't even have an idea off the top of my head for
then I would spout some "Supernal" and hand her a blank post-it and it would be her job to "translate" by creating whatever he said.

In the end, I didn't have to hand out any blank post-its. I had thought out what the prisoner did and didn't know well enough that they didn't go down any tracks I hadn't thought of. I think the interrogation session in "Supernal" went really well anyway, though. I had prepped some insults and innuendo for the prisoner to say to Jen's tiefling privately that really stopped her in her tracks. At one point the other player at the table observed "Boy, it's taking a long time to translate that one" as Jen wrestled with what she should and shouldn't reveal.

1 comment:

Donny_the_Dm said...

I used this scenarion once before. The difference was that the character ciducting the interrogation had an agenda different than the party.

It was pretty interesting, I handed the notes to the player, and she made something up to answer the parties concerns.

She was an imperial agent, and the group thought she was just a sword for hire. Was an interesting twist.