Typhoid Mary

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This is a placeholder for terms unequivocally associated with dysfunctional play. Do not use this category for techniques or whatever which MAY be problematic or which you happen not to like.

This is what people are complaining about when they say, "I don't want to have to violate my character to make a story."

Taken at face value, that sentence is nonsensical; a plot results specifically from the actions of characters, after all. But in the context of dysfunctional Story Now play, it makes more sense - because one person, typically the GM in a traditional GM/players construction of play, makes it impossible for anyone at the table to play according to that agenda except for him or her. Armed with a variety of Force techniques, as well as any number of misconceptions about The GM, this person tries to make all the characters' significant decisions for them (De-Protagonizing, specifically Railroading). Therefore yes, someone with a story in mind is demanding that everyone else subordinate their characters to his intentions.

This is not a case of Agenda Clash, nor of Techniques Preferences (although both may compound the problem), but simply a dysfunctional, self-defeating failure of technique that reaches all the way up to the crucial "Let's play this game together" component of Social Contract. The Typhoid Mary is trying to play Story Now, but they mistakenly think the only way to do that is to make sure the other people at the table don't screw it up.

If anyone else at table really wants to play Story Now, he or she may well become a Prima Donna, and a tug-of-war over "the story" ensues. This leads either to the player being labeled "disruptive" and leaving the group, or to a coup by that player and the expulsion of the old GM, unfortunately all too often resulting in the ascendance of a new Typhoid Mary.

The people who continue playing with a Typhoid Mary GM cope as follows. First, with Participationism: "He makes the story, we go along." Which tends to break down in this case, because the GM harbors the (vanishing) expectation that the players will become Story Now go-getters. Therefore he wants exciting and emergent themes, but since he always wants players to go the way he wants, he continually shuts them down, so he enters a spiral of dissatisfaction. The group then tends toward Zilchplay: "He seems to like it, I get to say stuff for my guy once in a while, it reminds me a little bit of how much fun I had when I starting role-playing, and 'game night' is a good excuse for a low-pressure hang-out with my friends."

Relevant threads

Summarized in 2004: Narrativism: Story Now