Monday, February 11, 2019

Emotional Motivations vs. Action Motivations

A common theme in D&D statblocks is the inclusion of a monster/NPCs 'motivations', often laid out as whatever scheme they have going on, who they want to kill, what evil plan they want to see succeed or fail.

For the most part they use action-based language to inform the prospective GM.

HD 5. Armor as plate. Halberd 1d10. Movement standard.
Motivations: Serve the Undead Prince Orcus, open a gateway to Hell, overrun the village of Thalma.

I am curious about the possibilities and differences of an emotions-based language for motivations.

So it becomes...

HD 5. Armor as plate. Halberd 1d10. Movement standard.
Motivations: Overcompensation for insecurity, jealousy, fits of violent rage in response to his own perceived failings.

I think both of these function quite well, and tell the GM different things.

The first (action based) is simple and gritty and indicates how best to factor this monster or NPC into a larger picture, adventure, or campaign.

Meanwhile, the second (emotion based) deals with larger concepts but works on a micro level -- it helps you run the encounter with emotional knowledge and nuance, as well as informing you of the things that truly drive this character. Which gives you greater insight when running a social encounter. The possibilities increase when the text suggests that there are ways to befriend or deceive a character that aren't simply "go along with his plan to slaughter a dozen orphans".

Which do you prefer? What strengths and weaknesses do you see in either?

1 comment:

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