It may be my days as a LARP:er but I think that the Emotional Pain of the characters (not the players) are vital for creating good drama. But some players are very uncomfortable when it comes to this. Not because it triggers some painful in that persons past but because they want their characters to be “cool”, “badass” and “untouchable”.
Well a Cool, Badass and Untouchable character is the same as an Uninteresting character in KULT: Divinity Lost of you ask me.
The reason for this Untouchable-ness is of course the uncomfortable situation of having to display emotion, portray a character as weak, distraught, powerless and afraid in some situations.
There are ways to lead players that are uncomfortable with this in the right direction. And here are some suggestions I have for you as a Gamemaster if you want to push the players to play more daringly.
Be clear from the start: Explain for the players that this game is about daring to play human characters that will have put in situations that are emotionally challenging for them.
Define Character Weakness: Ask questions when the characters are created such as, “What is the worst thing a person could do to you, What would you find embarrassing.”
Use the Dramatic Hooks: Give players incentives to display their emotional pains. Use the system for dramatic hooks and give them Hooks in the style of: “Be Emotional Vulnerable. Tell someone about your inner pain. Have an Emotional Breakdown.”
Give direct feedback: If a players creates a character that is “safe” in all emotional aspects then say so. “What is your emotional weakness?” and be quite clear that the character won’t fit in the scenario unless it is added.
Use the Relations: Now relations can only be used if the characters care about them. But create scenes so that the character starts to care for them. Then put them in trouble.
So dare to play unsafe! And dare to demand that characters have emotional weaknesses.