Challenging beliefs in a one-on-one game

Now as preamble, I’ve played one-on-one before and had no real trouble scene framing. This time however it just isn’t gelling. The player took some time trying to craft beliefs, and in the end we just got them down and tried to make them actionable.

Setting: Edge of the wild, a human stronghold, where the last elven folk are treated like vermin and outcast to the slums against the exterior walls. Dwaves are treated like second rate folk, yet have one ace up their sleeve - they trade from the north down the river, offering precious mithril weapons with which to best the increasing surge of monsters from the ancient forests sorrounding the besieged town. Monster hunters are more prevalent, spreading their ire as they awash the town with fear and some measure of monster-slaying fervour.

Character concept: Iorveth, Elven rat catcher (human outcast setting) who seeks to murder the (far distant) king by first overthrowing the tyranny of the Sheriff of the slums, harnessing the monsters vitriol and allying himself with the dwarves.

The Situation: Duke Stal has ordered the elven slum be burnt to the ground, (seeing them as vermin too long tolerated) creating a ‘fire zone’ sorrounding the walls to assist in repelling attacks of the larger and bolder monsters. This will be tantamount to genocide, since they are the last of the known elves. Iorveth has a hateful relationship with the Sheriff carrying out these orders (the illegitamate daughter of the Duke).

Iorveth’s Beliefs are:

  1. I must stop Trutka from carrying out the burning of the elven slums to bolster my reputation amongst the last remaining kinfolk.
  2. I will strengthen my affiliation with the dwarven merchants as they can provide me with sanctuary in these troubling times.
  3. I will murder the king by any means for what he has done to my people. First, I will delve deep into the wild and harness the vitriol that monsters possess.

He has instincts relating to always having his knives at the ready and always insulting the sheriff.
His traits are: Loner, bitter, scarred, one-eyed, cold-blooded killer.

Any Ideas to start the game of with a ‘bang’?

NB: If you have been following previous posts on this game, the character we semi-burned to play a prelude with was Iorveth’s only relationship character - Trutka the Sheriff. She is a desperate, focused, misunderstood loyalist - trapped by position and birth. They share quite a few similarities of character and point of view.

Especially with small numbers of characters I favor starting in medias res. If the Belief doesn’t have the specifics of how Iorveth will ally with the Dwarves, make one. Start him out in a meeting with the Dwarves out in the slums, and then have Trutka’s thugs show up nearby in the slums, slaughtering and stealing. Make Iorveth decide whether to drop his dealings with the Dwarves to try to stop the marauders, try to call on the Dwarves for aid at high price, or let more Elves die in an effort to get the Dwarves on board later. And make sure the Dwarves’ demands are painful to meet.

Another possibility is starting out in the woods hunting monsters. (This is something Iorveth is doing?) Put him in a situation where he can rescue a prominent Dwarf or an Elf, but not both. Is he callous enough to let his kind die to forward his goals? Or give him a choice between hunting down the sheriff’s right-hand man or saving an important Elf/Dwarf.

Basically, come up with a scenario that pits Beliefs against one another, see what this Iorveth really wants, and then make the player feel bad for whatever the choice is. It’s the BW way!

Wayfarer has some good advice, but I wonder if you can tweak the first Belief a little bit by simply asking how. As it stands, it lacks a little context. How is Iorveth going to stop Trutka? Does she have any skill songs (specifically: Weather Song). I could see a scenario where the Elves sing constantly to make it rain, adding further tension to the situation. This would allow a narrow window of time for Iorveth to travel upriver to the Dwarves and work out some kind of Alliance, but, due to the rain, the journey will be rough.

I think the situation needs just a little more definition to work, both on the immediacy of the threat to the elves and what Iorveth is doing to stop it.

Thank you both! Great advice and just what I needed :slight_smile:
And you are right, the first belief definately needs a ‘how’. I think by blackmail seems the way the player wants to go.
I think the first scene will definately be a choice between the dwarven aid and saving elven lives. Oooh this is going to be great! :slight_smile:

You guys rock, ta very much :slight_smile: