This past week, I introduced a bunch of new plot elements to the players. The “B story” about the CAG (a PC) who is also an oracle and has been found out for his abilities while engaging in initiation rituals with an Eleusinian-like mystery cult culminated with the revelation that their priest, Iblis (a tip of the hat to the old show), is in fact a Cylon. Iblis realizes that the CAG is the man destined to destroy the Blaze and seeks to get him alone and kill him. The intent was for a good fight that might lead to the chaacter getting roughed up and a chase to find Iblis by the fleet’s marshals. Instead, Iblis fairly easily incapacitates the character, but they are interrupted by a third party — a young girl from the cult that has been a sort of spiritual guide for the character (he’s even seen her as an angel-like creature in his hallucinations.) She’s no match for Iblis, and even though she distracted the Cylon long enough for the PC to get in a few blows, he’s knocked cold.
Oops. Now what? The obvious end to this is Iblis kills the unconscious character. We cliffhangered on that for the night, but now the question is, “What do I do?” I’ve been too successful with my baddies, and now it threatens the overall plot. I dropped a few emails to the character to ask him what he though: Do we kill him and roll on? Do we kill him off but find some what for him to aid the others in what he was supposed to do? Do we come up with a contrived last-minute deus ex machina savior?
The key, I think, in something like this, where you’ve set up the character as “the One” or some kind of plot-important element is to remember to provide some kind of escape hatch…I didn’t do that. It you get into a situation like the one above, and don’t wish to use GM fiat to ‘cheat” for the character, then I think it’s important to touch base with the player and see what they think should happen. They’ve invested a lot in their characters, and if the dice roll the “wrong way” for the story, you have to improvise. In this case, the player is more interested in aiding the story than saving his character, so we’re trying to figure out what, exactly, would work here.