More Rambling this week about flags. This time how to use them to help set up one-shots with pregenerated characters for a game that’s more about drama. I am down to cutting out only a third of my ums. I’m slowly training you to get used to my almost rhythmic use of ums. Those strange noises? My stomach. Ha.
Section One: Introduction
I mention a correction that Judd from The Sons of Kryos made about how bangs are open ended. I then talk about how I’d like to receive feedback. I then mention that it maybe better to think of what I said in last show as more of an idea of how to look at bangs to set them up. I also mention this cool thread on Story Games where I learned something after recording the show, maybe more about that in show011.
I then talk a bit about Episode 30: One-Shot Games and Urban Fantasy, of The Bear’s Grove. Mainly mentioning that he has a different take on making one-shots likely due to what I believe may be a difference in our gamemastering styles. So if what I’m saying doesn’t make sense or you think I’m full of shit, you should check out his episode. Even if you like what I say this episode, there is useful information there also I think.
Section Two: Flags and One-shots
I discuss how to set up and use flags, for a ruleset that doesn’t have good flags, and using the flags for setting up one-shots with pregenerated characters. I also discuss setting up a situation. I think we will cover this in a little better detail soon. At the end I discuss just a little about setting up the NPC’s. Since this is a practical show, I’m going to break it all down right here in text also to help show exactly what I’m saying. I think it would be great to look at this as you listen to the show if you listen at your computer.
So the first thing you need is a game. I chose Werewolf: the Apocalypse. I’ve bought Werewolf: the Whatever, but they screwed up the setting. No Bone Gnawers !?! Fuck you. So kids stick with the old setting even if you use the new rules alright? Then you need a situation. A situation is the thematic elements the story is going to address, or something. What I mean is it’s the issues the story is intended to address. Let’s see….
Your somewhat respected pack is sent to mediate a dispute between the Black Furies, and the Get of Fenris over a newly discovered Caern of War, in the brutal cold of a Wisconsin winter.
So the situation is mediating a dispute between the Black Furies and the Get of Fenris. The possible issues are Feminism, Misogyny, War, and Werewolf versus Environment. I’m not predeciding how these things get introduced in the game, or if they are. What the players push for usually dictates how I push back.
Let’s look at setting up two of the player characters. I try to usually reduce the idea of the characters purpose in the story to one word. This is typically what I try to use to sell people on which NPC they want. The one word is about the role of the character in the story, not about their character. What I mean is I wouldn’t try to describe them as the grizzled old wolf — that describes the character, you can do that in a small paragraph blurb. I would call him, the asshole. The examples I want to use for this adventure are the leader, and the advisor.
The next thing I do is generate a short quote. The purpose of the quote is to give everyone a picture of who the character is. This quote I write on the front of a sheet paper that I fold in thirds, so it will stand up and all the other players can see it. I also put the characters name here so it’s easy to remember.
Next I give the characters three goals, statements, or connections. Each of the three is likely to be a mix of several of those options. I use these to give the players reasons to work towards the supposed goal, to not work towards the supposed goal, to work with particular NPC’s, and against particular NPC’s, to work with each other and against each other. This gives the players options on where to take the character in the story. Rather than trying to slavishly recreate some personality I’ve created, they can grab the character and make the character their own. Let’s look at them:
- Name: Alisa “Claws from Behind”
- Tribe : Silver Fangs
- Sex: Female
- Sentence: “I lead by example, and by Birthright.”
- The Three things
- The Get are misogynists and unworthy of honor.
- I respect my leaders and will achieve their goals of peace in this instance.
- I lead by example when I can, by orders when I can’t, and by Tooth and Claw when both of those fail.
- Insanity: Megalomania.
- Make the rest of the character by the rules.
You’ll notice I listed four things. The Silver Fangs all have an insanity. This insanity is just a guess for her and not well thought through. I didn’t break out the book for making this example. I would obviously need to do so to make the rest of the character, and would think about the insanity, and what was good for the story then.
You see how she is in conflict? She doesn’t like the Get and doesn’t think their worthy, but she’s dedicated to achieving the goals of her elders. The last puts her in conflict with the rest of the players, if they don’t want to follow her lead. Megalomania means she see’s herself as omnipotent, which may put her in conflict with….
- Name: Hosokawa Taro
- Tribe: Star Gazers
- Sex: Male
- Sentence: “Bad things happen when people don’t listen to me.”
- The Three things:
- The Black Furies hate men, we shouldn’t further their causes.
- If the leader doesn’t listen to me I may need to take over.
- I need to protect the rest of the pack.
- Make the rest of the character by the rules.
Now he’s in conflict mainly with the leader, but somewhat with himself as the leader is part of the pack. This is good for an example, but not for an actual design. You should spread the working against each other, and together around. So he should only have one area to conflict with the leader, and one to get along, and have something pointed at someone else. I’m only using two characters for examples as this post is getting really long.
Designing NPC’s should go the same way, but you may only need a sentence, and two things, except for really important NPC’s. Running this adventure I would start by placing the group right at the caern, with a Black Fury, and a Get arguing and getting ready to fight. I wouldn’t do that preliminary bullshit where I have some NPC assign the characters the “job” of going to do this mission. That’s boring and rife with all kinds of problems. If they bought into your one-shot they bought into your situation so put them in it and get started.
That was a long post. I’ll be glad to talk more in comments below if there are questions.