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Liars, Unreliable Narrators, and Differences of Opinions

July 30, 2019

Imagine, for a moment, that we’re several months forward in time, and the people of Attaway have a chance to come face to face with Ingrid, in one final showdown. You exchange barbed one-liners, declare your intent to end her reign of terror once and for all, and just before the shooting starts you ask her, “Why? Why have you done this, all of this? Why the violence, why the terror?”

 

Suddenly, a mustache sprouts from Ingrid's top lip. As she twirls it maliciously, she cackles, “Because I’m evil!”

 

Seems unlikely. Whatever answer Ingrid would give you, it won’t be, “because I’m bad.” it will be her reasons, from her lens, as to why her actions were justified, maybe even moral all along. Ingrid doesn’t think she’s the villain. Ingrid knows she’s in the right for her situation.

 

But Attaway sees it different. If you sat Ingrid down in a casual conversation and thoughtfully examined her actions, she may, deep down, have some very compelling reasons for doing things the way she did. Ask a random Lightfoot, “what’s your deal????” And you won’t hear a flat out, “I love murdering innocent people!” Instead, you might hear a story about loss and struggle, coercion and a promise for a Bright Future. Remember Lex?

 

As we go through the narrative world of Attaway, we are going to meet characters who are Unreliable Narrators. These people do things for their own reasons, and they think those reasons are good, even just (or they wouldn’t do them). When you ask these people why, they will tell you their truth, even if it’s not The Truth. 

 

To be clear: Staff will never lie to you, or deliberately try to trick you, or lead you down the wrong path. But certain NPCs do not always tell the truth, and are sometimes unreliable. Narratively, there are reasons for this. If we write an NPC who lies, it’s because we want you to find out why. Both good and bad characters (and anyone in-between), could be capable of being an unreliable source of information, because there are many shades of grey for certain narratives we put out there at Attaway. 

 

For example, sometimes an NPC will see things from a perspective that is not the reality of the situation. Unreliable narrators can come in many flavors!

  • The character who lies, or evades the truth out of self-preservation

  • The character who doesn’t tell the whole truth to protect others.

  • The character who doesn't know all of the truth, or has already made up their mind.

  • The character who holds a diverging opinion with another and will not budge.

  • The character believes they are in the right:

  • And many, many more!


 

Sometimes, encounters or conflicts will have clear cut win-conditions, sometimes, it will not, because there is more to unravel. There’s a few ways to get the truth out of someone, mechanics wise. We have the skill Detect Lies, so that you can figure out the truth when someone is objectively being false. You can also use social combat to try and get the truth out of an NPC, either by charming them, intimidating them, or tempting them. Mechanics will help you uncover the outright falsehoods that are meant to be discovered. But, when a character believes that what they say is the truth, you will need to exercise judgment and diplomacy, and sometimes, you will need to make a hard choice. Because the world of Attaway all about choices, and every decision has a consequence. 


 

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