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Fill In The Gap

The Replacements

by Matt Turnbull
May 25,2005



Welcome to Fill in The Gap, a column devoted to individual, "one-off" scenarios, that any GM can run for his/her group.

This month's scenario is another one to run with the group you've already got. It's lighthearted and humorous, designed to allow your players who may be taking things a bit too seriously to poke fun at your game, and each other.

If you need to know more about the FITG(Fill in The Gap) system/column, please check out the first (and second) of these monthly columns. Without further ado, I bring you today's scenario:

The Replacements

As always, if you're going to play in this scenario (run by your favorite GM) then please read no further, for fear of spoilage.

Today's is a scenario for your players (however many you have!) and their characters. It's important to note: People won't necessarily be playing their own characters...

The Premise

This month's scenario is designed to be an aside from your main campaign. A chance for you as a GM to catch your breath, and your players to make fun of each other. It requires solid improvisational skills, but is hilarious when pulled off well.

In this scenario, each player takes on the role of one of the other player's characters. They take their character sheet in whatever game system you're playing, and then do their best to play the character as they've perceived him being played, though a little exaggeration is welcome.

Quick Warning: If you've got uptight players who are too attached to their characters, and/or people not mature enough to give and get a little bit of good-natured insulting, or you have a player that you know will take the scenario too far as an opportunity to air grievances against another player, then this scenario is most assuredly not for your group. Also - find a new group, your group is bad.

There are many ways this scenario can be setup. One method, that makes it seem innocuous, is you hand out character sheets to your players (if you keep the sheets for them) and intentionally give them the wrong sheets. Then, try to explain away the mistake by saying you planned this all along. Played as a funny spontatneous idea, if it blows up horribly it can be easier to recover from.

Another great method of setting up this scenario, is to put the game itself outside of continuity. A mirror-universe type scenario, where you explain to the players that everyone here is just a little off. This helps give them license to do things that would be considered insane for your actual game, but help undersign their preconceived exaggerated notions of the other characters.

My personal favorite method, although the one I'm most leery of suggesting, is putting the game in continuity itself, and calling it a soul-swap type situation (possibly explained in game). In this case, there's many ways to run it, but it can definitely detach itself from the main theme of this game. The best way to do this, is to have the players keep all their physical statistics, but swap their skills and mental statistics. In that case, it's a true body-swap situation, where the player is playing their character, simply in another's body. The benefits are that they get to play themselves, the drawbacks are similar. Since the point of this scenario is allowing the players (in a more meta perspective) reflect on their friend's characters, doing the scenario this way can undercut that.

Whatever way you try to run it, keep track of the theme of the game and make sure it still fits. Also, keep in mind that some of your players may be extra-worried about this scenario if it occurs within their precious continuity, but if it's a separate entity they may be much more receptive to it.

Once you've decided the setup, you've got to decide what kind of scenario do you put the players through? Well, that's up to your game, its setting, and it's purpose/theme. But here's some good guidelines:

Make them extreme. This game (shouldn't) occur in continuity (unless you've chosen to do so) and if it doesn't, then you're fully-allowed to put in situations that could be considered a lot more dire if the characters actually faced them. There's nothing more interesting than seeing how someone thinks your character would react to one of those age-old "save myself, or my friends?" kinds of questions. It can really put some thigns into perspective.

Include obviously tilted situations. If you've got a character in your group that can't help but flirt with every girl in sight, then have a harem show up. A daring do-gooder? Slave-traders. Put in overstated situations that allow the players playing the unamiliar character to step up and really show-off the behaviors they've witnessed.

Encourage teamwork. Force the players into situations where their characters would all need to work together for greatest effect. This will make them interact with each other, which can be very very funny, to them and to you.

The Characters

Your Characters!

Your characters in this situation are the same as always, but most likely overplayed for humorous effect by the individual playing them today (not their usual player).

The Theme

The themes of this scenario are detachment and reflection. Everyone's getting a chance to reflect on how their character is perceived, and getting to distance themselves a bit from it. It's the detachment that allows for the reflection. As always, a lighthearted mood and some humor go a long way towards defusing any possible resentment.

The Setting

Obviously, the setting is going to be pretty darn specific to your game. If you're running a space opera, and the setting for this was relegated to a medieval castle, I doubt you'd use it. Here's some ideas as to setting elements:

Familiar territory: Make the setting places the characters have been before, and definitely include NPCs they're familiar with. Seeing just how flirtatious the other partymembers think you are with the barmaid is fairly interesting.

Unfamiliar territory: Another option, is to make the setting entirely different than where the characters are used to, to allow the players to see how the others perceive their character would deal with the unknown.

Tightly confined spaces: People tend to act differently when there's pressing circumstances. Drop your players into precarious places, and see how that influences their working together. Caves that occassionally flood is a good example of this type of situation.

The Events

None of these this month. Everything was pretty much covered in the premise and setting materials question.


Let me know what you thought of this scenario by E-mailing me at Msturnbull@comcast.net

See you next month!

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