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Looking for Ideas: When a PC loses their freedom…

Caragond

New member
Wizard of Story
Wizard of Combat
Hello everyone!

I’m running a Shadowrun campaign and the players are in a cross-over adventure using the Darkest House system. Essentially, imagine an epic haunted house filled with evil spirits and a secret past. Anyway, in order to escape through one of the exits, the PCs had to offer “who or what [they] love most” to an eldritch being. If they said a person, that person would die. If they said money or wealth, they’d lose all their currency and valuables. If they said a concept like “loyalty,” they’d be seen as a pariah and none of their contacts would ever be trustworthy again, etc. None of them were willing to say a word, and were preparing to turn around and find another exit, when our Street Sam / meatshield steps forward and says, “I love my freedom more than anything.” The eldritch being promptly sealed the deal and took away his “freedom.”

This particular PC made up a wacky (if not very elaborate) backstory where they are being cloned by a corporation and the PC is one of those clones, unbeknownst to him. They left me the rest of it to make up and fit into the campaign in a fun way. This PC is the wealthiest of the group and the most devil-may-care as well (evidenced by them stepping forward). They are mercenary in nature, a true murder-hobo invested in jobs for the money first and foremost.

I give you this information with a request. The effects won’t happen until they leave the house, and for some reason they decided to go look for something else in the house instead of escaping, so I have some time to think about what it means when, metaphysically, a PC loses their “freedom.” I’m interested to hear other gamer’s and GMs’ thoughts on how you might take away “freedom” from a PC in an interesting way. It could be harsh and challenging, or whimsical, but imagine that a god could essentially wipe away the concept of “freedom” from a person’s life—what do you think that would look like? I have some thoughts, but rather than taint your imaginations with them just yet… I’m looking for creative ideas!

Thank you!
 

ExileInParadise

RPG Therapist
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
Living through the same scenes over and over such as in Groundhog Day or the Doctor Strange movies is one loss of freedom.

Trading places with the eldritch being and having to do their "job" until some condition is met...

Giving them a debilatating drug dependency ... and the name of the drug is the eldritch beings.
If they don't get enough, on time ... well... let the ability atrophy begin.

A subtle one is that they just become hyper-extroverted - requiring constant acknowledgement and feedback from others... which then manifests during any sitation where they have to operate alone... suddenly having no confirmation, feedback, options, etc... they get analysis paralysis unable to figure out a plan or path.

The PC is suddenly "married" and everyone thinks they always have been.
And the spouse? Well... Harry Mudd from Star Trek wouldn't trade you spouses.

The outer limits had a great episode where a character was sentenced to a year of social invisibility - no one would help them in any way... no hospitals, stores, etc.
 

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
Wizard of Combat
Borderland Explorer
Freedom can be applicable to very different areas of life.
- Freedom of thought
- Freedom of choice
- Freedom to act on your choices
- Freedom to move
- Freedom to follow one's own destiny
- ...

Solution A
In respect to the background I would choose freedom of association.
I would bring in the corporation that cloned him, make it a topic of the campaign and have the PC be confronted with this fact. He is a clone and the corporation has come back to have him serve them again. As a Street Sam his feel of freedom might be that he can do what he wants and no one can stop him. But this corporation suddenly can.
a) They might have installed a chip to actually control his thoughts, vision, emotions, body.
b) They might use other clones (versions of him) to break off ties with friends or urge him to act on the corporation's goals.
c) They might confront him with actual clones with the same cyberware to stop him in case he tries to break free.

Solution B
This act of taking his freedom under the above solution seems just like the eldritch being would nudge fate a little. It could just be chance. But in case the eldritch being is actually wanting to profit from this situation, it might take the spiritual base for the concept away from him, making it create something that is usually not possible. Now, what is juicy for the eldritch being? I can think of several things, but the most interesting choice as a roleplaying opportunity might be, that the eldritch being attains the Street Sam's freedom to act. I'm thinking of inhabitation of the Street Sam as a host. Every now and then, the eldritch being just takes over. But the Street Sam is not "away" in these times, but rather "watches" everything without his freedom to act. Sometimes the eldritch being is just acting like the Street Sam, but sometimes, it does things completely opposite to what the Street Sam would have done (I'm thinking torturing his girlfriend or giving away all of his money). Maybe, the eldritch being has a real agenda in this world.

You see, I'm opposed to solutions that will control the PC for the rest of the campaign or that would take the PC out of the campaign. That's no fun.

Solution C
And then there is a solution that really shows how powerful the eldritch being is. It creates an effect that is not usually possible. If you want to make the influence small, he could just loose the ability to lie, to open doors, to sit, to kill, to hold back, to not act on his urges, or similar. But if you want to make it big, you could make him loose feeling in his legs, he won't be able to walk again, you could take away his ability to drive in vehicles (they won't work anymore with him seated), you could make the others get injured also, when he is getting injured, or you have the whole land be concquered and enslaved. Or, you trap him in the matrix and he can't access his body anymore. Or no cyberware works anymore with him.

Whatever you choose, I would suggest you (a) work his background in, (b) make it personal, while maintaining a roleplaying opportunity and increase the fun for the player, for you and the group, and (c) introduce wonder by a completely unnatural power that should be feared not bargained with.

The entity never said that what they give is only from themselves, I believe.... it might just assume he decides for all the others too. He gives away Freedom? Whose freedom?

An invasion of clones like a Hittler state? Extraterrestials? Maybe even an invasion by eldritch beings? Maybe it uses this mellow phrasing by the Street Sam to interpret this as "the humans want to lose their freedom to my domination"?

It all depends on where you want to lead the campaign next.
 
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