Character Arcs

Photo by Jeremy Kendall

In Spaceship 47, there is the main story going on – the players are trying to recruit allies, find technologies and information so they can go back to Earth and stop the Draydun from doing their evil deeds.

On top of that, I want the players to have more personal stories as well. These personal stories would lead in to the final mission. I would like to split the final mission up so that each player takes a small mission in turn, with the other players playing unnamed supporting characters while not being the star of their own mission. These small missions would be the culmination of each character’s smaller personal story.

For these final missions I want the players to feel utter hatred towards the antagonist that they are facing; sheer dread at what they will discover behind the door etc. Whatever the end mission for the character is, it should bring about a lot of emotion in the player.

So the above paragraph is the goal of what I am trying to do.

This has lead me on a bit of a journey and I am still not sure what the best way to achieve this is.

Character Arcs

I started thinking about character arcs, where the player would choose early on what arc the character would go on, Selfish to Selfless etc. My thought was to have a goal in each mission that reflected where the character was in the arc. So for Selfish to Selfless, the goal for the first mission would be to be selfish – e.g. ensure you are the only person to receive money. Then the final mission would be where they are totally selfless.

It would be a deck of cards, with the back stating the mission and what the goal is and then the front will be a personal improvement to the character if the character completed the goal. The player would need to balance the desire for personal improvement with ensuring the group completed the mission successfully.

Originally I had intended to make the game 100% co-operative, but I have been reading up on design of co-op games and having some incentive to be slightly anti-co-operative is essential to a good co-op game.

While this character arc idea seems like it would be nice and simple to implement (although coming up with all of the goals for each mission for each character arc is going to be mind numbing), it doesn’t, on its own, get me to my stated aim of heightened emotions in the final mission. I wonder what to do about that. I would be really interested in hearing other people’s thoughts on this.

  • Is my aim a good one?
  • How should I go about it?
  • Is there a way of implementing the character arc idea to achieve my aim?

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