Game today included an Incident. I’ll grant, Incidents are pretty common in this particular game. We are, after all, the kind of people who will infiltrate a black market weapons convention, as vendors, with a mess of stockpiled items that would all make excellent weapons for the cause of world domination if they didn’t have at least one fatal flaw. The kind of people whose immediate response to running into the AI of an Atlantean military outpost is to claim to be from the Library of Alexandria. (…come to think of it, that really should have been too late in history to have worked… oh well!) The kind of people who end up as chupacabra hunt leaders because we’ll do anything for good reinforcements. ….and as we found today, I apparently play the kinds of characters who will leap onto the back of a cyborg sasquatch attempting to jet-pack away from a confrontation, even to continue a fight they’re clearly losing.
I like recurring villains. But I’ll fight to the death to keep them from getting away.
…no, wait, maybe that’s not entirely true. Let’s try this again.
I like recurring villains. I just hate it when they get away… unless I know two things. That we’ve actually gotten something done (aside from making them vacate the premises, anyway). That they’ll be back, one way or another. Preferably, that they’ll be back because we’ve gotten something done, and that something has ticked them off. If they managed to get clear with a hostage, ’scuse me please, I don’t care if I’ve expended all my resources, I’m going to go do Something Clever. ….whatever that is.
The term that comes to mind is “Terrier PC”. The kind that grabs on, and doesn’t let go, often unless asked to, OOC, for the good of the plot. I’m not sure other terrier PCs would do that—I just have a soft spot for feeling like I’m collaborating with the GM.
So what do you do about us?
It varies. Asking nicely sometimes works. Making sure there’s a clear objective that can be/has already been accomplished sometimes works…. though the more the opponent’s managed to offend, the harder it’s going to be to find something that justifies letting go of the fleeing opponent. It helps to make sure you know why the terrier’s biting today: sometimes the escaping just sets off one of those ‘no, I am not going to stand for this’ results, or plays to something that you didn’t realize was quite the priority objective they decided it was. (That one happened to me a couple of weeks ago; nobody ever quite explained to my GM that I get a little weird when we’re too little, too late for the same person or people twice or more in a row. Particularly not when already under stress in the real world. We all have our quirks.) Two of my GMs have dealt with this by making their NPCs technically immortal; this may be one of the few groups in which that realization was answered with an OOC “Thank you!”
If I’m any indication of the type, though, my conclusion would be that the best way to get a terrier PC to let go is to make it clear that the antagonist has definitely been hurt. I don’t necessarily mean in the physical injury sense; let’s face it, in most RPG systems I’ve played in, broken bones are a dime a dozen. But I, at least, want to know they’re not just inconvenienced but set back. To know that this isn’t just a ‘meh, let’s try this again another day’ but that they’re actually having to pull themselves from the battle because common sense is barely winning the tug-of-war with bloodlust. That the fact that they’ll remember this isn’t just the invocation of a cliché phrase. It means a lot more to have the opponent, say, practically gut themselves to open a gate out into another world, sacrifice what’s clearly one of their favorite resources… you get the idea.
And when they’re that desperate? Yeah… it’s not so bad if they go. They’ll be back.