Passionate Game Design

Sorcerer Unbound: Conflicts With Inanimate Objects

In my thread on conflict subtleties I talked about the case where a man is chasing a woman and there’s a fence between. I noted that the fence was not a character in conflict with the man but rather a modifier on his conflict with the woman. There are, however, some cases where a character can be in conflict with an inanimate object.

The key to identifying when this is appropriate is to determine if it’s possible to view the object as if it were willfully acting on some kind of agenda. Consider the scene in a lot of movies where a character is trapped in a malfunctioning elevator. Ever notice how the elevator behaves as if it were intelligent and doing everything to proactively thwart the character’s attempts at escape? That’s how you do conflict with an inanimate object.

In Sorcerer the GM just assigns the object some dice. There’s a chart in the book guiding how many dice should be assigned but Ron has admitted to defaulting to three. Then you just run the conflict as normal with the GM announcing “actions” for the object. These can even be physical attacks like, “The cable snaps and whips violently at you.”

Much simpler situations can sometimes warrant such things. Consider the example of a gun sliding around on the roof a train. The player could just roll Stamina for the purposes of ordering his attempt to grab the gun relative to the other action in the scene and when he’s turn comes up he just grabs the gun. But man, doesn’t it seem sometimes like that gun is *purposefully* crawling away out of reach? Hmmm…. Grab some dice.

If a player is attempting to do something to an inanimate object and the object can be treated as if it had an agenda that opposes the player then it’s a conflict and you should roll like any other conflict.

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