13 January 2009

Dwayne Stack

Who is Dwayne Stack? He's an office despot.

My friend Jarvis is running a game of Orpheus (by WhiteWolf), and created a Google group for his players to send emails back and forth. The premise is that the player-characters work for a company (Orpheus) investigating ghosts/spooks/hauntings etc.

Jarvis gave a couple of his old players access to the group so we could add flavor to the game. My own addition was primarily corporate-style emails that everyone in corporate America gets: New laptop security initiative, a reminder for everyone to get their case reports done by the end of the year, and so on.

Well, that spawned Mr. Stack. He is a librarian for Orpheus, and he's been a pain. Nothing really bad, per se, just the normal corporate-type with his little kingdom.

He reminded everyone to get their reports in on time, and then he took it upon himself to revamp the security measures and force everyone to use a typewriter for their reports.

It turns out, at least one of the players HATES this character. In a good way. His character is the opposite of Dwayne, and I'm having fun messing with the poor guy.

Dwayne recently sent an email to "Rodney" that his use of colorful language was unacceptable in his case report, to which Rodney got pissed and sent a rant back. The GM used this opportunity to remind the players that their characters do, indeed, work for a corporation. While the rest of Rodney's team gets some much-needed downtime, Rodney will be taking sensitivity training classes.

This has proven that, at least for modern RPGs, creating a Google group and getting people outside the players to contribute can create a dynamic environment that most games don't reflect. Dwayne was a throwaway character, just a mook doing his job, and he's turned into a piece of the campaign that the players will remember.

The rules for my contribution are pretty simple. I know the basic plot, having played it before, so I don't do anything that affects that. I can't add a major plot point (like, say, news of a supernatural event) that affects the game. But, I can add anything surrounding the main plot. I initially chose "Corporate Communications" because that was what I was looking at on my computer at work. Everyone hates those, right? Well, that's not something that most players normally encounter during an RPG.

Later, I might add another character as Dwayne's time passes and the group moves on. This character will be reflective of the characters' situation. Maybe a police officer, or a university professor interested in parapsychology. The trick is to make the world seem a little more real.


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