Friday, January 6, 2012

The Ties That Bind

by DSB
The Ties That Bind
by Tobie Abad

Sometimes, you will want to have games where the players themselves have interconnections with one another beyond what their character concepts were originally planned to be.  Most of the time, players seem to be happy with just having characters that were created to stand alone with their own stories and their own back stories.   Here's a little something I thought of that can help you add a dash of inter-connecting ties between your players' player-characters.

The Bonds People Know
Start by having each player roll a six-sided die on the following table in relation to another player.  The information here is clearly shared as things everyone typically knows.

1 - Resents... because of...
2 - Admires... because of...
3 - Respects... because of...
4 - Fears... because of....
5 - Trusts... because of..
6 - Supports.. because of..

For example, between players Adam, Burke and Charlie, you have Adam's character rolling once for Burke and Charlie, and likewise for the others.  You may end up with Adam admiring Burke's character for a reason that is appropriate of the character and Adam trusts Charlie because of another reason.  Smart players can use this table to build interesting interconnections.  Burke might admire Charlie, for example, but Charlie might fear Burke for the same attention he gets.

The idea, however, is it adds a nice layer of interconnections by encouraging the players to build some back story history between each other.  Whether the characters are family members, old classmates, co-workers, or practically strangers, players can develop nice ties that shape new role-playing opportunities between them.

The Bonds People Don't Know
Like above, you roll once again for each character, however this time, these are things you note down in secret.  Why?  Because we always have secrets that we won't reveal.  And are afraid to reveal.     The roll represents the minor and major offenses you have on the other character that the other is not aware of.

by that guy who's going places
Minor offenses can range from simply lying about being sick for a party or event, to claiming accomplishments which aren't really yours, while major offenses can include everything from cheating in a relationship with someone the other character is related to, or having committed murder, rape, etc.

1 - one major offense/lie/betrayal
2 - two minor offenses/lies/betrayals
3 - one minor offense/lie/betrayal
4 - none so far
5 - one major  offense/lie/betrayal and one minor offense/lie/betrayal
6 - two major offenses/lies/betrayals

While the other character might not know about these offenses, you are required to share these with the storyteller however.  The storyteller now has a pot of ideas and additional hooks to draw upon to expand on the game.    The storyteller can always throw in a non-playing character who knows some of the character's secrets.  Or maybe even bring in a plot which forces some characters to admit the secrets they've kept from another.

Not to mention, the storyteller might want to expand on some of the results with the other player in time.  Or, since the storyteller knows the results of BOTH tables, work the details to tie in to each other for a much more comprehensive web of drama.

Like in the example above, Burke might have a major offense, and might decide that he once secretly spied on Charlie's character while in the shower.  Charlie might roll a minor offense towards Burke and the storyteller may suggest (knowing what Burke got in his roll) Charlie might have noticed Burke spying on his character while undressed one time (to connect to his fear of Burke's attention) and might have just pretended not to have noticed... but deep down now fears him.  In a super hero game, maybe a telepathic villain uncovers these secrets, and throws at the players' faces to taunt them.  In a game with magic, the said secrets may be uncovered when a cursed item reveals a character's greatest shame.

And suddenly, the drama between the players gets even more awesome in the game.

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