Ravyn Freewrites: I Want

It’s fascinating how important a phrase “I want” can be.

In many of the stories I read, “I want” just isn’t a thing. The characters have vague desires, yes, but most of what they end up going for is more “Do not want” than “I want”. Reactive rather than proactive, unless they’re the antagonists. It’s something of a pity; a lot of my favorites begin with wanting, or come from wanting. There’s a reason why Memory and A Civil Campaign are two of my favorite Vorkosigan books.

My game has risen and fallen with the wants of its characters. There is a sense in which something was lost when the two most likely to say “I want” departed—even if one’s wants tended to stay offstage and the other’s were as likely to interfere with the group as to guide it. Those who remain have ideas, but they don’t feel like quite the same thing—I can’t really explain it, though I think part is a case of IC and OOC somewhat blurring, and part is just that it isn’t something consuming.

I have two kinds of PCs: those designed with personalities before mechanics and those, created in a hurry, who may somewhat lack such things. Of the ones who began without a desire, it was the ones who acquired one the most quickly who were the most fun to play—Shahar the ninja archivist, Absence when a simple question took her from amoral in a cartoonishly evil crew to downright vicious. Many of those who had personalities I hated, in the point where the build and the image clashed, and the build won, until I could step into their minds and find the thing they wanted—or at least, the thing they wanted that I could find a way for them to obtain. They want, and suddenly I am writing multipage screeds in voice on why this thing that the GM never realized was a Thing matters; they want, and they become Interesting, and worth occupying, and not merely a block of numbers through which I interact with the world.

Wanting brings action, brings conflict, brings direction… and makes things far more interesting.

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