Tales from the Gazebo – The Alliance Method: There be Hybrids on RPC!

The Alliance Method: There be Hybrids on RPC!
By Cape Rust

The Alliance or Hybrid method is the third of the character creation three stooges. This is the method I try to use as much as possible when I’m running games. The Alliance method allows for maximum flexibility on both the players’ and GM sides. Sadly, the Alliance method isn’t just a matter of grabbing the Crew and Brown Coat creation processes, slapping them together and calling it an Alliance sandwich. Because this method cherry picks aspects from both of the previously covered methods, it requires some careful planning on the GM’s part. The careful planning on the GM’s part includes looking at the players involved in the game, the “type” of game that is going to be run, and the rule of cool.

For the past few months, I have been advocating player centric game and character design. I believe that the best and most successful games are designed with the player in mind. I don’t believe that the player should rule the roost, but if the player’s gaming needs are met, then there is no way a GM can’t claim a measure of success. Gaming is a bit like a family. In a family, if momma ain’t happy, no one is. GMs if your players ain’t happy, no one is. If you as a GM choose the Alliance method, you need to go back into that loose leaf notebook that I suggested you establish earlier and read the notes you took down when you discussed the game with your players. Look back through your notes to refresh your memory and to determine if the information you captured is still valid.

People, especially players change their minds! Depending on the circumstances and time elapsed, your players might have decided that they want to play completely different characters, or they might want to play a completely different style of game. I do not advocate that as a GM you scrap all of your hard work because one player has changed their mind, but it is important to take those desires into consideration. You have to remember that in your game, the one thing that your player has control over is the actions of their characters. In some systems, players are given the opportunity to actually take control of the entire game, but in our case, type of character and character actions are the only control measures the players have. If you as a GM take these control measures away from your player then you back them into a corner, and we all know what a wild player backed into a corner tends to do… To keep from backing your players into a corner, do a final “safety” check and ensure that none of your players have changed their minds in such a drastic manor that the entire game will be thrown off. If this is the case, pull that player aside and negotiate an amicable settlement. This should be done before the character creation session to avoid conflict that will halt the creation process. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a little conflict or discussion during the creation session, but it all has to be managed. GM sometimes stands for Game Moderator.

After you have done your final “safety” check and made any necessary revisions to your notes, and possibly your game, you should have a good understanding of what your players are going to bring to the creation table. Having an understanding of what the players are thinking before the first session is great because it allows you as the GM to formulate some questions for the players as they develop their characters. Looking back at your players’ desires and conducting that final “safety” check has the added benefit of reminding your players of just how important they are to the game, that their input is valued, and it creates buy-in. Most players I know are willing to adjust their style of play or make concessions if they understand the reasons behind them. If you have a player that won’t buy-in to the overall concept, bribe them by making a few minor concessions of your own.

In next week’s installment, I will look at the type of game the player wanted, the type of game the GM has designed, and how that can affect the character creation process. Remember your “safety” checks and try to minimize player dissatisfaction and GM frustration during the character creation process.

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