I've talked before about the differences between strategic and narrative role-playing games (RPGs). Some systems lend themselves more to one than the other. Sometimes it comes down to the adventure being played.
There are adventures written to be a series of combats, emphasizing the strategic aspects of the characters being played. Others, like A Breath of Fresh Air by Janek Sielicki for the Cypher System has combat, but is designed to give the players an opportunity to dig into the characters' personalities.
A Breath of Fresh Air has the party facing challenges that are more than just overcoming a number of combats to achieve their goals. Some of the ideas are familiar to what narrative players are used to, but with a nice twist.
The party is positioned to put themselves into the hands of fate. They're faced with overwhelming odds and an escape route presents itself (a standard play for one-shot convention style games). They just don't know what is in store for them by utilizing the opportunity.
This leads the party to be in an environment they cannot survive in for a long period of time. With the timer set, they have to figure out how to communicate with creatures they're not familiar with. Then, as they come to understand the position they are in, they must take actions which could have serious consequences.
Using this adventure as a one-shot or in a campaign has the potential of impacting players and characters in future play. A Breath of Fresh Air will have most players, and characters, questioning their choices as they start to learn about their predicament and the possible consequences of what they decide on doing.
For the standalone adventure, that is the part affecting the characters. In a campaign setting you now have characters who have faced a situation most people don't have to ever face. This gives the players the opportunity to role-play out the impact on their characters in future adventures. The characters will have something to look back on, see what they've done before, and use it as a significant part of their story.
For those who are familiar with ethical dilemmas, A Breath of Fresh Air establishes one nicely. It is well placed in the setting. The options are their within the framework of the game, which makes this a more acceptable location of delving into the underlying theme.
This has been a fun adventure leaving the players, and the game master, thinking afterwards.
Originally published on Guild Master Gaming on Blogspot