Reprise: Impractical Applications (Confessions of a Professional Party Backstabber)

Last post of the finals week reruns; I should be back to new content Sunday night.

Originally posted January 3, 2009.

This week, I talked about betrayals in story, and about recruiting PCs to perform the betrayals themselves. I’m sure you’re all expecting me to launch some sort of grand betrayal on my poor unsuspecting PCs this week…

But really, what’s the fun in being that obvious?

So instead, I’ll tell you about how I learned what I know about PC betrayals. It’s actually pretty simple; for several years, if anyone in the group has been likely to be on the other side to begin with, talked around by the other side, blackmailed by the other side, and in any way passing information or waiting for an excuse to turn on the party, nine times out of ten it’s going to be me. For some reason, nobody ever seems to catch me until I’m outed by the plot.

It started with my cousin Matt. For someone I never got to hang out with very often, he was responsible for a lot of my understanding of RPGs. In this case, it was the first winter break after I’d gone off to college, there was one day in which we were all at my parents’ house, and he’d decided that since I knew the system he was playing in better than most of his players, I may as well help out. Character I played had been blackmailed into drawing attention to the party. In the process, I discovered just how much fun being the GM’s random factor tool was.

Then there was the incident with the magical girls in Aberrant, but we don’t really talk about that one. Wasn’t conspiratory, just “I want to be active in this scene.”

One of my characters never actually managed to betray the party, instead turning the tables on the person who’d been influencing her midway through. She was probably the best to do so, though; my ability to pull off socially adept characters and overall deceit is greatly increased by being online.

Then there was the one in moral crisis who’d been talked around by a very convincing demon. And the one who was just keeping her identity secret and who betrayed her previous employer within a few sessions of joining the group….

With the exception of one of these cases, I wasn’t recruited because I had a poker face. Far from it, in fact. If anything, it’s the other way around; most live games I’m going to be rather twitchy as often as not. Fortunately—well, I was twitchy anyway. Everyone else thought it was general nerves, not “Oh, crud, how do I scam these guys and get away with it?” The emotional camouflage helped. So did the fact that at the time, they hadn’t been playing with me for too long, or at least not face to face. How I managed to fool the same group twice face to face, though, I’m probably never going to figure out.

So there you have it—the confessions of a professional party-backstabber.

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