Friday, 13 September 2013

Defining relationships


I may have mentioned before that I think relationships between the characters are key to the feel of gaming in the 'Verse - it's how the nine "crew" reklate to each other, and to Serenity that defines the show, to my mind. Therefore as I planned to start our crew off as a "going concern" - even if some of the crew are greener than others I figured that it was important that everyone identfied what their character's relationship is with each of the other crew.

Essentially I planned to do a "lift and shift" from the ol' Serenity RPG supplement "The Big Damn Hero Handbook" (great supplement btw...) but while that book uses this concept of defining "Relationship Traits" as a basis for an ongoing game mechanic for managing relationships, and their changes and intensities, I was only concerned that we define our starting points - essentially capturing a little of "what has gone before".

Each character would define their Relationship for each other crew character and then one additional important relationship for an inanimate object or important supporting character (i.e the ship, a piece of gear or an NPC/GMC). Each Relationship is written as a single sentence.
Here are a few points to remember:

  • Crew characters do not need to share the same relationships with each other. One character might have “I’m madly in love with him” and the other has “I don’t know she exists.”
  • The Relationship is JUST the most important or interesting aspect of how you deal with the other character, it’s not supposed to encompass every last little detail.
  • The Relationship is changable and emotive, so don’t select something like, “Zoe is Wash's wife.” While that may be true, this fact is not as important as the way Wash interacts with Zoe and what he thinks about her. It’s extremely important to develop these cooperatively with the other players - and thus while I got the players to think up their initial ideas alone we shared them all as a group and some made sadjustments after hearing what the others had to say.

As mentioned, a Relationship like this is expressed as a sentence mentioning both people and summarizing how one (the owner of the Relationship) feels about the other. Keep it to one sentence, though it can be a complicated sentence if you want it to be. For example, some of Kaylee’s Relationships might be:
  • Inara is Kaylee’s surrogate sister.
  • Kaylee has a huge crush on Simon but is intimidated by his intelligence.
  • Kaylee hurts when Serenity hurts.
Be careful when composing compound sentences; if someone is using the conjunction “and,” you might be wrapping up multiple Relationship aspects rather than explaining a single complicated one.

There is no defnitive list of Relationships. The best Relationships are those that can cut both ways, and all Relationships should be subject to change. Here’s a few examples. These relationships belong to the Mechanic character, Leo:

  • Leo enjoys the company of Doctor Norris
  • Leo considers Captain Floris a good friend
  • Leo is often finds Bean annoying
  • Leo doesn't enjoy being around Judah
  • Leo takes pride in working on the Bei Xiang's engines

Hopefully you all get the idea.  It was useful for us as it gave us a start point - these people knew each other, and while there's work to be done to examine those relationships, how they were formed and how they will change it allowed us to have a head start at how they all relate to one another (and immediately defined a rivalry between Judah & the Doctor...but more on that as it develops)