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MoonHunter Sayeth 20180314


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Technique: Put a Face on it
GM Advice on how to show your factions/ social groups.
alternate title: It is a Small World

I tend to do chronicles with multiple factions (political movements, social groups, various organizations (heroic, neutral, villainous), and the Mob (the crowd, not organized crime)). One person was chatting with assumed that my love of Chronicle Packets was how I communicated all those factions. While I would noted them in the Chronicle Packet (as they may have been bits), you have to put them into play. Factions have needs, agendas, and actions. They are doing things while the chronicle is occurring. As just an amorphous group, it is hard to convey that. That is why you need to put a face on it.

This is a technique we gamers can borrow from Long and Short Video writers (Movie and Television/ series). Note Novel writers do it to, but it is mostly screenwriter thing. It is using one character to be "the symbol" of a group or faction. They can be "the Leader" of the group. (As seen by the followers and minions that follow their directions). They could be "the main lieutenant" that the players "see on stage". Those in charge may be shadowy figures or just very removed from game stage. They could just be "an average member". What this character says and does expresses what the group things or does. They are the "mouthpiece" of the group for the players. (Now there are chances the group might publicaly say one thing, but really mean something else... so the players will need to be filled in on that.) They may be the person "doing things for the group". Even if they are not hands on, they will be nearby.

By putting a face on it, you solve two problems. First, you make it easy to identify the group/ faction and express their goals/ actions. It can be a lot of fun to do this on the character's stage. However, most of the time I am using these characters "behind the character's shoulders" (something the character might over hear or see the face "over there". The other way is using them in a Cut Scene, where the characters are not around. Either way, The Players learn what is going on (and is can subtlety color their decisions).

Note: Sometimes the characters do not know the character is a Face or which faction they represent. (Heck, the players might not know either.) However, over time it will become evident to the players and perhaps even the characters.

Secondly, it creates a reoccurring character and clue well. Players no longer have to guess which factions are present. It makes it easier on the GM as they do not have to introduce and establish a different character each session. (And the players "don't have to figure out the score" on each new character. The players will also know that the character might be a place/ face to go to for clues (a wellspring to draw from). It makes The Face a GM tool to make information transfer to the players (the audience) and the characters easier.

If there is a disadvantage, they do make it "a small world". So now you have the same cast of characters hovering in the background. For movies and series, it means fewer paid actors and fewer lines of the credit. Unless you are JRR Martin, this is a good thing as it is fewer NPCs to keep track of. (If you want to assign a character to a faction, just have them spend a lot of time with The Face.)

Thus the Face of the group character becomes a story tool for the GM and the Players to use.
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I know you. You want some examples.
  • Bester in Babylon 5 is the Face of The PSI CORP.
  • Various Klingons were Faces for the Klingon Council in STNG and STDS9
  • The Smoking Man/ Cancer Man in X-files, represents The Conspiracy.
  • X and Deepthroat represent a different factions in The Conspiracy
  • Ferdinand Chevalier in Orphan Black as a anti-clone faction/ pro-Dyad (really, he is just Pro Rachael)

Now I use them in the chronicles I have posted up here.

In a cyberpunk cop thread, I wrote a chronicle with two-ish story arcs. There were many factions in motion, so I used The Face Concept frequently in that scenarios that make up that chronicle. I had the Bishop, The Rabble Rouser (our Synthetic Society Face), Felicity (below), Vice cops (a duo that were always there), the police dept (our publicity officer), the Mayor's office (publicity) and so on.

Felicity Connors
Found in Episodes 86 (87) (89) 90, 100, 101F She is a face for the Nekko/ Splicer community. Anytime they need to be expressed in the setting, it should be her. She is their average face, not their leader or the important people because for the purpose of the stories, they really aren't.[/i]

Felicity was an A-tier girl in Fujicorp High School II. She was a friendly popular girl, though barely corporate tracked. Felicity has always had a case of identity dysphoria, never feeling quite "human". So when she didn't quite do well in college, she took her tuition fund and took Escort classes at the Ford-General Contracts Academy (licensing tracked for highest end customer service). It was during her training that she learned of splicing. For Felicity, it was a dream come true. She started with cat eyes. Over the last year of her training, she converted to a full cat girl. She had to go "freelance" rather than work one of the academy contract contacts because she went "too far" and was far too exotic for any of their current contract lines. She hung out at The Factory before hand and easily transitioned into the Nekko escort scene. The girls did dancing, either go-go or exotic, serving, and companionship. Her Handler ended up being the ever questionable king of the Factory/ Splicer Scene Johnny "Liono" Machado. Unlike most of the Nekkos, Felicity was a licensed escort.

It has been a hard two years in the Sprawl. For a while there, all zeno-splicing (animal dna) was illegal. Felicity, sadly, converted back to baseline. Still, the laws changed back to a more reasonable level. However, while full cosmetic transformation like hers are still questionably legal (hers is in the work exemption clause), she is back in her more comfortable... cat inspired form.

Currently, she is splicing a leopard fur pattern, cat tail, and cat ear instead of human ears. She has feline eyes (Jaguar Gold), small fangs, but a human tongue. Her human style long hair is darker brown but still matches the fur.​

Recently I was putting up some scenarios for a steampunk world. I made Augerman as an "explanation" for a few scenarios. Augerman is a handy loony engineer who needs public approval of Society and The Science Community. He, like all his ilk, are prone to make "big events" and grand claims (and sucking up to nobles and people of note). I created a face is for an implicit faction. An implicit faction is not an actual group or organization, but a group of people that had the same general goals. By putting a face on it, so the players would know that they are dealing with a looney engineer (rather than a mad scientist). By reusing the same character over and over again, I don't have to introduce new characters and the players know what to expect. (Though if I needed too, I could easily substitute a different looney engineer.)

0) Dr Augerman is an engineer who presented a number of public papers which were not well received (to be polite). His theories about science were outrageous, then he spun tales of Atlantean Technology and other things.

He will disappear for a while. However, if I want to put "the crazy stamp" on anyone's lecture or theories, I would have Augerman show up at the lecture or have him, at a chance encounter with the PCs, go on and on about the theories.

1) Augerman's Mechanical Zoo is in town. It is all clockwork animals that move much like real animals. You receive some free tickets from a contact to make up for some minor slip up. Let something memorable happen.

2) A year or two later, Augerman's Clockwork Circus... animals and incredible wind up acrobats. (We find out the acrobats are actually people made to look like clockworks with makeup and props. The acrobatic performers are all Chinese and could not get work. Some of the other performers are humans from a bankrupt circus. Augerman is not as great an entertainment engineer as he claims... minor scandal.)
2b) Someone is going to "Steal" one of the clockworks... you need to rescue the poor girl.

Note: Once the Zoo and the Circus are going concerns he will have two or more shows going, and be reasonably well off... enough to finance his strange obsessions with clockworks, automatons, and big science. So he will be at all sorts of soirees, events, lectures, and so on.

3) Augerman says he has made actual flying clockwork birds. He is going to make a triumphant return to London's Scientific Society. He might actually of done it. (It is not as good as a real bird, but impressive). He has made some clockwork dragonflies and wants to show his dear friends his bird ahead of time. His works (gear shop) is up in flames, but the heroes will know the someone set it and stole his plans and his falcon. (He needs a rare alloy (of Atlantean Origin!) to make it work, so not easily made.)

4) He is going to build a Drill Locomotive to build tunnels... under rivers, or as underground trams, or for the main tunnels of mines. He wants to rent the machine out for now, so he may finance an expedition to the center of the Earth! (to find the last remains of Atlantean Civilization!)

4b) The Drill Locomotive has been stolen! (A bank or Special Repository will be the target). He will be blamed when the crime happened. So you can help him (and the bank) out.​

You see where this keeps going.....
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A Face for a Faction is a great GM technique. It gives you several avenues of providing information to players and makes it easier for players to recognize "when things are going on". By thinking in terms of "being the face", it makes plotting/ planning the actions of a faction. The Faces are a storytelling tool, and should be used that way.
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