Earning Artha for 1 Player and 1 GM (Embodiment, Workhorse and MVP)

(Judd) #1

I’ve played a bunch of games with 1 player and 1 GM and have really enjoyed them.

The characters develop and change so quickly; it is amazing.

Belief, Instinct, Trait, Humor and even Right Skill, Right Time are pretty easy. It is when we get down to Embodiment, Moldbreaker, Workhorse and MVP. Those are the tough ones.

Moldbreaker, now that I think about, isn’t that tough. Those moments when a character pivots and the GM has pushed on their Beliefs to the point where something tangible and foundational about the character changes. It comes not only from the GM pushing on the character’s beliefs but also in the player writing brave beliefs that offer situations that might change their character forever and push the game into totally unknown territory.

Example

Last game Aaron’s character had a big one. He is a Marshal for a king’s northern army and as a leader, he’s shown a stern, stony face with only slight moments of humor and emotion. I would have never questioned his loyalty to his king.

Then he wrote a belief about reaching out to a former Marshal, Gondegal, who turned rebel and tried to hold one of the king’s cities with his own forces. When his hired mercenaries fled without any battle, he fled into the northern Stonelands, the very lands Aaron’s character, Boinn, is responsible for taming.

  1. It is only a matter of time before the Zhents contact Gondegal. I will reach out to him first.

The Zhents are an evil group of slavers who would likely reach out to Gondegal, wanting his skills and knowledge, getting him to lead their own army. The wording was so interesting to me. It wasn’t about bringing in a traitor but reaching out to a colleague. He brought Gondegal in but promised that if the king went to take his head he’d stand up for him.

For a second I thought Boinn was going to turn against the king.

It wasn’t a DoW (but perhaps should’ve been?). We had Boinn make an ob 5 Persuasion and Aaron threw every bit of Artha into getting that obstacle met.

It was a clear Moldbreaker moment. Boinn went into a direction that surprised both of us at the table, talking to an enemy officer, a traitor to his king and the traitor’s logic made sense - we could both feel Boinn considering it.

When we’re looking for Moldbreaker moments we’re asking, “Did the character evolve beyond their initial concept, forging into unknown territory in a way that surprised everyone at the table?”

Embodiment is an easy one with a group because it isn’t just the GM’s decision with more players at the table. The players can say, “Wow, you really played the hell out of that moment. I think X deserves a Personna for Embodiment.”

With just one player it feels like I’m judging some kind of performance.

Embodiment, Workhorse and MVP might have to be jettisoned for one GM/one player campaigns. Should something replace them?

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(Mark Watson) #2

In my one-on-one games, we’ve kept them all in.

As it’s a judgement by the two of us, not just the GM, that really helps.

Also, after a few weeks / sessions, we find the common ground of what we reckon is worthy of Embodiment / Workhorse / MVP.

Yes, quite often you’ll get Workhorse / MVP, but then that seems fair enough in a one-on-one.

We do also look at whether a specific NPC might deserve something (that’s normally the player’s call in our game), so maybe an NPC earns Embodiment, but it’s a rarity!

Worst case? The PC ends up with a little more Artha than they might have got in a game with more players.

The big thing we tend to find is quite how intense (and tiring!) one-on-one games can be.

There’s no real resting from the Spotlight!

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(Devon Kelley) #3

While I’ve never done one-on-one, I have played solo several times. I think you just have to be honest and award those if a moment comes to mind that fits. Besides, with only one character in the action, they’ll need all the extra oomph they can get to fight for their beliefs. They don’t have any other PCs to ask for help.

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(Thor) #4

What was the belief that Aaron’s player was going against in that moment? If there isn’t a specific belief that he was wrestling with and breaking, I think that was more of an Embodiment moment than a Moldbreaker moment.

I try not to think of Embodiment as a roleplaying award. The rubric I use is: Did the player show me something new and true about their character? Was there a moment that crystalized my understanding of that character, made me see them in a new light? That’s Embodiment.

Embodiment doesn’t necessarily turn on a belief. It’s about the gestalt of the character.

I think of Moldbreaker as the obverse of Embodiment, but entirely focused on the character’s current beliefs. Does the character confront a belief, struggle with it, and ultimately break it? In essence, is the player allowing the character to change their relationships with their beliefs as a result of what they experience?

For instance, let’s say Aaron’s character has a belief about supporting the king’s right to rule. We see the character righteously smiting the king’s enemies and securing the king’s throne. Over time, though, Aaron’s character sees the people suffering because of the king’s policies and begins to question just how righteous the king’s rule is. Aaron’s character struggles with this, strives to justify the actions taken in the king’s name, but finally decides to start working with the rebels to bring about the king’s downfall. That’s Moldbreaker.

Workhorse I would cast out. You can’t work behind the scenes to support the other players when you’re the only player.

I don’t know that I would throw out MVP entirely, but I’d set the bar very high. In a one-on-one game, most of the Persona should be coming from Embodiment and Moldbreaker (and accomplishing beliefs) – everything is focused on the one character after all! I would consider awarding MVP when the character takes bold and decisive action toward furthering the story. If something happens in the game and you both look at each other and say, “Holy shit! That changes everything,” that’s probably a good candidate for MVP.

If Deeds is the award given for the big things – stop the Invasion, overthrow the tyrant, break up the Zhentarim slave trade in the north – the Persona awards for MVP should flow from the important steps taken toward achieving that ultimate goal.

What do you think?

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(Rafe) #5

This is what we did in both the one-on-one game where I played and the one that I ran. Any artha award that defaults, disregard.

I also agree with this.

Generally speaking, I’m of the mind that the player ought to be receiving about 2 Fate and 1 or 2 Persona per session. If sessions have been looking skimpy or overly generous, reconsider, naturally. Sounds like a fun game, Judd!

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(William) #6

I ran a 1-on-1 game for about ~45 sessions (a year and a half) and Workhorse and MVP didn’t come up that often. Usually only when the session went on for longer that 4 hours, or awarded during trait votes, instead of every session. Maybe I was being too harsh, but I don’t think she was that starved for artha either. Even now though, with games of more than one player, we don’t give out Workhorse or MVP every session; usually only when the group really feels like they’ve earned it this session.

Edit: Also she would occasionally award my NPCs with workhorse.

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