On Remaining Anonymous

   Player characters tend to do exciting, important, and notable things. That’s a large part of what makes role-playing games fun.

   On the other hand, many player characters try to cling to the shadows. They like the style – and they like to be unknown, mysterious, and untraceable. It’s a strategic advantage since it helps them keep opposition from arising in the first place. If no one knows who you are or what you’re up to, how can they plan against you? Tactically, if no one knows what your abilities are, how can they plan to stop you? If no one knows who you are or where you’re based, how can they pursue you?

   The trouble is, practically everything they do leaves clues – and while it may take Sherlock Holmes to find someone based on just a few clues, they tend to accumulate. Eventually, even the most foolish pursuers will start to catch on. If it takes too long, the characters will eventually find that nothing intrigues the public – or draws would-be detectives – like an unsolved mystery.

   And few player-characters are so cautious, well-organized, and subtle as to leave just a FEW clues. They tend to scatter catchphrases, wear distinctive outfits, wield exotic powers, repeat favorite patterns, gratuitously rescue witnesses, justify themselves to people, spend money, have casual liaisons, frequent preferred hangouts, and cherish their friends and contacts. Pretty much everything that a witness protection program would tell them NOT to do.

   Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman may all get away with this, but their secrets are protected by their authors – and in a well-run game with a neutral game master, there is no power that great anywhere. If the players don’t have to deal with the consequences of their decisions, there’s not much point to playing the game.

   As an example, in the Federation-Apocalypse game, Kevin, Marty, Jamie – and, in fact, most of the other characters – generally prefer to operate in the shadows of their advanced-technology multidimensional cosmos. For a time, this was possible – but they don’t really seem to realize that that time is drawing to an end.

  1. Their initial exposure – a news article about their “Training Exercises” at an estate outside of Core Earth London – was fairly rapidly buried in the news of the first major riots and outbreaks of violence resulting from the contagious-violence memes. On the other hand, while it was both benign and not especially noteworthy in itself, it could be classified as one of the triggering incidents. Still, it’s a big solar system. So far, so good.
  2. Their involvement with releasing the Hellstorm – a sentient Sith Battlecruiser which also happens to be an Archdemon – may or may not have become publicly known, despite the Hellstorms well-publicized attacks on the New Imperium star wars dimension, the Crusader super-hero dimension, and the Core Earth Federation Starfleet in pursuit of it’s vendetta against Ryan O’Malley. The information about their involvement was reported to the Emperor in the New Imperium, but how far it’s spread from there – if the Emperor hasn’t kept it secret – hasn’t come up yet.
  3. Rescuing the survivors of the Earth of the “Singular” dimension may have attracted some minor notice – more because of the fact that the survivors promptly sent representatives to Core Earth and began trading in technology that actually worked in Core Reality (a distinct rarity among science-fiction realms), than because of such minor shennanigans out in the infinite dimensions.
  4. Providing special agents – with some rather unique powers – for the Core Earth Military and the Core Earth English House of Roses might have led to some more publicity, but both groups are probably keeping that quiet for the moment.
  5. Rescuing a hundred or so Core Earth youngsters from a malevolent entity called Vekxin – and sending them home both cured and with a public-service announcement warning about Vekxin – made definite news. The details, including the fact that they’d been granted ready access to the dimension of Kadia and the abrupt establishment of twenty-odd gates scattered across nearly that many Core solar systems – was pretty blatant. While it was done under a local alias, that won’t be too hard to sort out – and will have established the fact that Kevin can imbue normal youngsters with quite a lot of power. After all, he enhanced quite a few friends of the youngsters Vekxin had taken so that they could help him look.
  6. They’ve established some business offices and enhanced agents on “detached duty” in the Core Worlds – all of them with general orders to show off and to do subtle recruiting/referring. Lately, this presence has been augmented by an actual advertising campaign. While all of that is – once again – going on without much of a direct link to their “real” identities, the similar abilities and patterns are going to be hard to miss.
  7. Being involved in moving the planet of Pictsome in advance of the supernova wavefront – and presumably later intending to use the same technique to move a major inhabited world – has drawn a good deal of attention. Admittedly, they managed to leave most of it focused on Ryan O’Malley and Advanced Technologies Incorporated, but they couldn’t exactly hide the fact that they were involved – and that little stunt was definitely newsworthy.
  8. Their mass purchases of property-class NeoDogs may not have drawn much attention yet – and by now Kevin should have gotten most of the ones that were available on the market, as well as having recruited quite a lot of the free faction – but it will probably have become a news item in conjunction with the next item.
  9. Opening up a treatment program for the people who have been exposed to the Weaponized Memes is probably drawing a good deal of notice – and, since Kevin intends to use that as a sort of good-faith-gift/bartering chip with the Core Government (such as it is), Kevin, at least, hasn’t even tried to hide his involvement with that.
  10. Finally, they delivered some representatives form the Linear Realms dimension to apply for membership in the Federated Americas. That might not normally be all that newsworth – there are a lot of applications – but at this point there seem to be several groups following their activities anyway and they’ve attracted a good deal of attention.

   Somehow I don’t think their optimistic notion of “anonymity” is going to hold up much longer. Do you? Do you think your own characters are going to be able to do it?

   Probably not. And it’s best to be prepared for that.

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