Since my game is now out on its own in the Big Wide World, people may in fact be planning on running games of it. I figured now would be a good time to do some Game Master guide type entries so that people can learn a bit more about how I run the game. Part one: Parents.
So, as a GM one of the most useful tools I have for creating conflict in a game of Silver Kiss is Parents. Parents are freaking useful for ruining teen player character’s plans, making them feel stupid or inadequate, giving them a foil to be emo against and bringing the anger.
Specific ways of having a parental unit insert themselves include:
- Demand time with the teen. e.g. “We never see you…” or “We have a skype appointment with your mother which you have to stay home for.”
- Complain about the choices they have made in character creation. e.g. “I don’t know why you waste your time on cheerleading when you could really use that extra study time…”
- Ask difficult questions. e.g. “How did you get that black eye?” or “What’s that mark on your neck?” or “Why are you home so late?”
- Be there at the wrong time. e.g. Chaperone at the school dance, turn up at school as a substitute teacher, observe the PCs doing something unusual or overhear a fraught conversation.
I always ask my players, especially the people playing the human characters, to tell me a bit about their character’s family life. Do they have both parents, are their parents supportive, etc. Using their answers will give you the skeleton of a character that you can then stick into the game at an inappropriate time. Last week Sam mentioned that her parents were often out of town. I had her Dad be home when she got back after meeting her True Love. I didn’t know what it was he did, but Sam asked in character “How was the conference?” Due to slow thinking on my part I flubbed my answer “There was lots of…keynote speaker…action.”
One of the other players laughed and said it was a cover up because he was really a spy, so I ran with that. From that moment on, Sam’s character was daughter to two world class spies who just wanted her to follow in their footsteps. It was comedy Gold, but meant I could play the guilt card about her going out when her father was in town for such a short time.
As a GM it’s important to remember that the story isn’t about the parents, it’s just the way that they can ruin what’s happening for the PCs. Sometimes you may invent an incredibly cool parent NPC such as a version of Zeus, who likes to flood towns when things get tricky with the girl you just slept with, or a Were-Jaguar pack leader who just wants the teenage boy to learn some responsibilty, but it’s important to keep the focus on the players.
If you’ve played in this game, have run something similar or have an example from TV or movies I’d love to hear from you. How else can parent characters create conflict for teenage protagonists?