The monologue action is an opportunity for players to draw attention to moments in the game they deem narratively important, and an invitation to you to reward them for engaging deeply with the fiction. Monologues can take many forms:
- An inspirational speech to turn the tide of battle;
- A heartfelt proclamation of the power of friendship;
- A dark soliloquy revealing the PC’s interior state of being
- A harrowing denunciation of the villain, designed to intimidate
- Dying last words to rally the party to action
- A rhetorical flex to win a political argument
GM Uses for Monologues
As a GM, you can task the players with the monologue action in a scene to introduce their characters in one-shots. In Fear the Light, for example, PCs have an interior monologue in the style of melodramatic Wild West movies to establish their background in game, rather than during a session zero.
Monologues are also great downtime actions to tease out characters’ interior states when the parley action wouldn’t make sense. If the PCs just lost a friend to a grim battle, it might be fitting to explore the PCs' emotions by having them speak to the camera rather than to each other during their journey through the bloodied battlefield.
On Theatrics and Acting
Some players may not be happy to deliver a monologue on the spot, and that’s OK.
Such players can monologue in the third person, speaking broadly about the sort of topics their PC would touch upon, or summarize the general thrust of their argument. In these cases, you can ask them to come up with a one-sentence takeaway after talking through what their PC would say, called a one-liner.
Example Non-Theatrical Monologue
For example, say the player explains that their PC is trying to inspire the party to double back into danger to save an NPC. They party is out of fate points and there’s huge risk if they decide to go back into the fray, so the player wants to give a monologue to create some narrative currency. The player might explain broadly that the PC says to the other PCs that he reminds them of all the times the NPC they want to save stood by them through thick and thin, all the times they brought laughter and joy to the party in their travels, and how the NPC has become like family, and so on. The one-liner might be, “We leave no man behind.” So the player makes that pronouncement at the end of his monologue, in lieu of trying to say all that he summarized in-character.
Rewarding Ideas, Not Acting
You should reward the theatrical player in the same way you’d reward the non-theatrical player, despite the lack of theatrics. What matters in the monologue are the ideas it communicates and whether those ideas, had they been expressed adequately by the PC, would impact the fiction.
Successful monologues produce global story tags that you name after the nature of the monologue. In the example above, No Man Left Behind would be an appropriate tag for a monologue about finding the courage to face insurmountable odds and rescue a friend.
To resolve a monologue, you can have the player make a success check with an appropriate attribute and then use the success table from overworld play to adjudicate success. Monologues will always either appeal to the audience’s empathy (Deft), their conviction (Mighty), or their reason (Smart).
Like any other success check, applicable skills and story tags can be applied to bolster the result. Finally, if multiple players work together to produce a monologue, follow the rules for group action.