MoonHunter Sayeth 20181005

MoonHunter

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Game of Crowns, Birthrights, and Politics
aka a Noble game of Politics and Intrigue. Done as of 10/05@1430

Ever since Game of Thrones/ Song of Fire and Ice have become so large in the public consciousness, players have wanted to play Games with Crowns, Birthrights, Politics, and Intrigue. This idea is not new. People have been playing RPGs with these these since well forever. My first recollection of players wanting this kind of game, was because of The Amber Series. However many a political game based directly or loosely on a period of history are political. Nipponese games of wars and politics do come to my mind. Many games in the Elizabethan era are quite political. Musketeer games tend to be quite political, with a big scoop of espionage. Arthurian games can be political, but there is more mythology there. The most political rpg chronicle I am aware of was actually based on Pern. I am sure there are more, but you get the idea. These kinds of games are nothing new, but there are not accepted best practices for these kinds of games.

So let MoonHunter explain some GM Techniques that might be useful for GMs of such games. Note: I have gone over a number of these techniques before, but I want to put them into context for this kind of game. (Plus if a statement doesn't make sense, click through the hyperlink and read the related blog post.)

Let me harp upon something. **Gets out the Harp** Player Investment is critical. **strums the Harp** to repeat, Player Investment is critical. **strums the Harp** Players need to know the setting. **strum** Players need to know the key players.**strum** Players need to know "the tides of history", thus why people act/ feel the way they do. Recent and ancient history always creates the foundation for the actions of the now. **strum** **strum** **strum** Without a lot of study, the only way to for them to know what they need to know is to help in its creation. **strum** **strum** Without it, such a rich and complicated chronicle will wobble and possibly fail. **strum**

First, you and the players should work together to create the chronicle ala The MoonHunter Way. The players need to be involved in making the general setting and the history of the setting. The players should help in creating "main" or "public" characters, as well as any Historical Figures which might cast a long shadow. They should also give bits about general plot lines for given courts and states. They are not just randomly giving bits and the GM is shuffling them together. The troupe needs to work together to create a coherent setting. Then they give the bits to the GM and they have the unenviable task of putting it all together.

Note: You can opt to do a group build. It depends on the group.

The Troupe needs to work out "the scope of the chronicle". Are you just agents. Is it just one crown and its agents? Are the players running several crowns and their agents? What about other forces? It helps to determinethe number of characters, their status (minor or major), and what stages will the events be played out on?

No matter how the group create characters (PCs and NPCs), the GM will need to create a data map to detail the relationship status between everyone. Data Maps listing alliance, contracts, religious affiliations, blood lines, and other things are also useful. These graphic representations will make understanding the setting and all their relationships easier.

The Troupe needs to understand if they are crowns or agents. Crowns are people of royal/noble bloodlines in the running for a given throne/ position. Agents are spies, courtiers, scholars, warriors, and hangers on that work with or for a given Crown character. Certain Chronicles will have major protagonists as Crowns and Minor Protagonists as agents. You may need to dice off to see who is the oldest or youngest of a royal house or who has what rank. One might have to buy certain privileges with points.

Players will need to divvy up various characters, protagonist and non protagonist, to be played on various stages. Certain ones will be locked to them, some will be set to a group, and others will be there for the GM or any player to use.

Character Generation
The players need to be rewarded for creating characters with the maximum drama potential possible. A GM might even measure the character's against The Martin Standard. Players should receive bonus XP or quick and easy miletones for advancement for making their character's lives complicated. (These are different than flaws/ disads.) Some of these will be "yet to be determined".

Initially, this will all be rough ideas and conceptions (maybe some mechanics). You might do foundation work level 1 and maybe level 2 at this point. These characters are not yet set in stone. They need to be introduced to the chronicle.

Ages
In these kinds of chronicles, I like building characters (and important NPCs) in ages. In an Amber Game or an Elven Crown, ages are hundred years long. In a more human game, you could make them every ten years. If you are detail oriented, they could go down to every 3. Whatever value fits your setting. Figure out your generations and how many ages that might be.

The minimum number of ages is based on your youngest character (So in a game where ages are 5 years, and the play will start when Arthur is 13 (3 ages). The maximum number should be your oldest included character, plus any time since death. (Majon was 70 years old (14 ages) and died 60 years ago (setting up the crown conflict we find ourselves in now). The ages will start at 26 and count down to one (with Arthur only being involved in the last two ages (as his first age was a bit small, unless someone uses him as a hostage or political football).

The GM will need to place any historical events in those ages (Such as the Grand Dragon War 12 ages ago and the Upsurper Rebellion five ages ago.)

Character will enter into play in their teens usually, but earlier or later may be an option. They will play through the scenes

Each character will have at least two "events" each era. The player will choose one of them. The other will be randomly selected. Start with the oldest character in play and go around the table playing out events. Some people use events equal to half the characters in play or one for each player, it is up to the troupe.

Events will be either important things that happened or important memories. The event between the two characters must make logical sense to occur (the character is 2000 leagues away, the character isn't alive yet, they are on opposite sides of the war.) The Event might not be important in the grand scope of things, "that your older brother rescued your character when you fell into the ice one Wintersend", but your character will always look up to them and trust them with their life because of it. You get one event for any historical event (war, coronation, wedding of note, etc..) and pick one or two other players to be involved.

These events will be worked out as Foundation Scenes. Work with your history and stage directions, and things will work out well.

These scenes let you organically build a history and a relationship history with characters.

The players might have to play out The enemy or some side people while this process goes on.

The game starts at age 0. Remember that the chronicle should start with a powerful exciting scene (or have it occur during that first session).


Finalizing Characters
I would round out characters with remaining character foundation work for such a roleplay intensive chronicle. Make sure that they define their Goals, Needs, and Fears and their initial plot lines. The players should be what is driving the game in this kind of chronicle.

Include all those extra dramatic moments from the foundation scenes, when awarding extra XP for "complicated lives".

Remember that the players might not be together often (or on the same side), so the chronicle will play out on many different stages.

Remember, that players will know a good deal about "the characters" involved in the game of thrones. If by reputation, if nothing else. Thus you can still have secret, but people will still know things....

Cast of Characters
These games are often played out on different stages with major and minor character. These minor characters should be written up (to a good degree). Some should even be used in The Ages. Sometimes you just run through the ages with just them... pulling other players as needed.

Personality Traits
First perfected and used in Pendragon (and found in BRP Gold and other BRP games, I tend to use this mechanic or something like it in all my games. It gives me a chance to keep characters more human, by making them have saves for moments of weakness or guidelining play.


Those Plot lines
There are some core story arcs and plot lines that will occur as the chronicle begins. There will be motivating or exciting actions/ calls to action that will happen at the beginning. Once the wheels start turning, additional plot lines will come into play. Players should be helping the GM and the other players come up with cool and dramatic plotlines. This gives the characters more chance to have an exciting chronicle.

Teamsport
For the troupe, this is a team sport. Everyone should be helping everyone be as cool and as awesome as they can be. Now, nobody should be telling people they have to do things, but giving suggestions is great.

I like an additional rule change or six
Make sure the experience point/ advancement milestones are all based around plotting, intrigue, and social goals. (Well, that was hard. I am down to 3% of my HPs. How many EPs do I get for taking The Man Mountain down? 15 EP. WHAT! But you get 500 EP for embarrassing Lord Milton by doing it.) This will be a tweak to what ever system you are using.

Players are very good about playing to system goals, once they realize the rewards for doing such.

Drama Points are normally awarded for cool scenes. I would make a second pool of points earned by doing intrigue only for rolls directly related to intrigue.

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This is not The MoonHunter Way to run this kind of chronicle. There are some other things I might add: social damage systems, relationship tracks (mechanics on how you might feel about someone), drama points just for intrigue, systems for schemes, and so on. But from this point on, with what is present, you would have a strong foundation to build such a chronicle way.
 
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