Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Relationship Maps

Player Character Relationships

What my RPGs focus on varies over time. Probably not too surprising given that I started playing and running RPGs in 1974. I've done quite a bit of duet gaming (one GM and one Player) and a lot of small groups (one GM and two players). My H&I campaign started out with two players, then expanded to three and then four regular players and the once in a blue moon guest. Currently I have three regular players with an occasional fourth who shows up when the stars are right. 

One thing I noticed with only one or two players, was that proportionally more time was spent talking about how the PC(s) relate to the other PCs and the NPCs. Now some of that is probably a function of the specific people involved, but some of it is a matter of time and focus. With only one player there is no need for concern that another player is bored or needs to have their turn or share of the spotlight and that can make it easier to delve deeply into what a PC thinks and feels about what happens. Also, I think part of it is it just seems a little more difficult or awkward to discuss the internal state of mind of a PC when several other people are in the conversation whose characters don't have access to that kind of information. In any case, whether the lack is due to time and focus or awkwardness I sometimes miss knowing more about what is going on in the heads of the PCs that I GM for. 

In one post in a long and rambling discussion thread with Chirine on the RPGsite I happened across a reference to relationship maps and a link to a Gnome Stew article by Phil Vecchione. I'm pretty certain* I'd read that article, but this time around something about it piqued my interest with the thought that this might be a means of getting the players to spend a little time and effort detailing how their character feels about others in the game world (and vice versa).
You might want to skim or read the Gnome Stew article as I won't repeat what Phil said in his article.

Here's Phil's example of a completed relationship map for his super heroes campaign.

Since I'm not familiar with Google Draw, I used PowerPoint to create a similar template. Which I then gave to my players.

My Template

I'm curious to see what I get as a response. I hope that it will add depth to my understanding of their heroes. I'll post a follow up article later.

* I probably saw it last year when I was working on a faction relationship maps to graphically present information about the campaign world to my players.

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