About two months ago, the game group I had joined decided to take a chance on me and let me GM Shadowrun, 3rd Edition. I decided to implement my “Project ShadowWatch”, a campaign setting/paradigm that can be read about here: https://dicemechanic.org/2017/07/16/project-shadowwatch/
One of the players, however, decided that his character was not a willing participant, and that the Project organizers had implanted a cranial bomb (a micro explosive device surgically implanted at the base of his skull) in order to get him to comply/participate.
At the time, I was honestly disappointed and a bit irritated. Why didn’t he just go along with my story? Why was it so important to him that he NOT be a part of the Project? The worst thing about this was that I turned into a jerk about it, and I’ve never gone back to that group without one word of explanation.
Tonight, though, I’ve had my own kind of Skull Nuke. I realized that, in the words of Matthew Colville (https://www.youtube.com/user/mcolville) I had taken away his Agency. His control over his character. His ownership of the character’s story. I had no right to impose this on him or the other players. By the way, I did it underhandedly… I had them completely make their characters as regular Shadowrunners before I surprised them with the fact that they were actually undercover government agents.
I can already hear you thinking, “dude, that was an asshat move”. You’re right. Unfortunately, it took this long for me to realize it. I owe all of them an apology.
So what do I do with Project ShadowWatch now? I still like the idea of undercover agents going deep as Shadowrunners to try to take down the organizations that employ them. Next time I use this, though, I’ll present it to the players ahead of time. Give them the choice. Maybe I’ll just take one or two aside and “recruit” them unbeknownst to the rest of the group. Asshat again? Maybe. You tell me.
Seriously. Tell me. I’m open to suggestions. I’d love to hear some feedback. What would you do if your GM had pulled that on you? Now that I think about it, I probably wouldn’t have liked it if a GM had pulled that on me as a player, either.