The Economy of Cool - Selling the Cool : Part 3
Viewed from a certain perspective, professional wrestling may be considered a type of LARP. Wrestlers take on personas and maintain the story by strictly staying in character. This method-acting is known as kayfabe, and a big component of it is selling the cool of the other wrestlers.
Players and Storytellers must sell the cool of the other characters. Here are a couple of examples of selling the cool from a character sheet:
• If a wrestler’s story is that he was burned horribly and has returned from Hell to defeat his enemies, his opponents will flinch with fear when faux-hellfire fireworks light the arena. In MET: VTM, if a vampire has the flaw Eerie Presence, other characters should react to that flaw with fear and trepidation. Failing to sell this flaw will disappoint the flawed character’s player and discourage him from selling the interesting things about other characters.
• When a wrestler strikes another wrestler, it is expected that the faux-injured party will sell the strike to the audience, especially if it is a signature or finishing maneuver. In MET: VTM, if a vampire possesses Puissance (Potence 5), her targets should sell suffering through her attacks. This helps both players feel the intensity of the scene and makes the both of them experience the cool.
• Wrestlers generate interest, known as heat, via their feuds against their rivals. When a storyline has enthralled the audience, the wrestler strives to keep the heat alive for as long as possible to benefit both sides of the conflict. In MET: VTM, the trick is to capture the mindset of an immortal monster while fulfilling the needs of an excited gamer. Killing your enemies is a waste of an interesting story. This balance requires that both players agree to certain ground rules and maintain good conversation outside of play. It is hardly fair if one player is out for blood and the other player is seeking to extend the story.
• Wrestlers are expected to sell their feuds while avoiding the disruption of kayfabe. This involves attacking each other with violence, clever insults, and political dirty deeds while battling over a championship belt. Off stage, they are coworkers and collaborators trying to tell the best story they can for the audience. In MET: VTM, players should actively sell the pains of maneuvers in the jyhad. When the harpy tags a rival with the negative status Warned, both characters should play the scene to the hilt. Ignoring the power of status kills the scene’s energy and downplays the players’ contributions. Once the scene is over, the players should meet together and break kayfabe to congratulate each other. Occasionally, players might suffer through bleed, where the emotions of the scene and their characters linger in the consciousness. It is important to have a clean break, celebrate the story, and remind everyone that a game is a team effort and that in the end the health of the chronicle greatly depends upon a mosaic of characters.
The Economy of Cool depends upon a spirit of cooperativeness and the players’ willingness to leverage their own self-enlightened interest to put the health of the game ahead of their own short term gains.
When players freely share their personal cool with their fellows, they lift the spirits of everyone involved and increase the total fun of the entire chronicle. The return on the initial investment of effort and cooperation is infinite in terms of goodwill, chronicle growth, and the potential of future stories.
The urge to win is strong in the gamer perspective. Our culture encourages us to master the game and achieve victory over our rivals. Society has trained us to think of excluding others as a form of control and power.
The truth is that winning pales in comparison to sharing experiences. A short-term victory is a gilded cage that offers no real satisfaction.
The real immortality is becoming part of a story that is told with bated breath by a player sharing her first experiences with Mind’s Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade. Imagine your name spoken in whispers and your tale told at local greasy spoons for decades as an example of fun. In the end, isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
Ryan B Roberts