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Relationship Maps and other fun stuff

Started by AndyGuest, January 14, 2002, 09:08:06 AM

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(I think this should be under Actual Play, if not I apologise)

I'm trying to put some stuff together for a game I'm planning on running for our group. The basic idea is for the PCs to be FBI agents sent into a small town to investigate a murder (or maybe a disappearance, not decided yet). I want the town to be, well, strange. I'm wanting a Twin Peaks, Eerie Indiana, American Gothic strangeness/surreality about the place.

I don't want to put together a timeline for the game. What I want is a central mystery (either the murder or disappearance) which drives the game across numerous sessions and lots of smaller mysteries, mostly one session deals, that either give clues to the mystery, give false clues, give insights into the witnesses/suspects or just highlight the oddness of the place without any connection to the central mystery.

Now I've been reading about relationship maps here and they look like they could be an interesting way to set up the strange people of this town and their strange relationships. I've only really got a vague idea how to do this and I'd like some suggestions please.

I think that I want, at the core, maybe half a dozen fairly simple r-maps that overlap to make the whole situation confusing and more than a little warped. Of course I want to give nearly everyone a motive, opportunity and a weak alibi.

I guess my question is, where do I start ?


Ron Edwards

Hi Andy,

Not everyone agrees with me about this, but I think that a lot of detective fiction is perfect for your needs. Any of the novels by Ross MacDonald and Robert van Gulik, or many (not all) by Walter Mosley, Sara Paretsky, Raymond Chandler provide excellent back-stories. A relationship map is built of lines corresponding to sexual contact and kin-relationships; actions (the "back-story" or during play) are then conceived as either strengtheners or disrupters of these lines.

The point is not to emulate or repeat the plot of the novel (which may be described as "what the hero does and what happens to him and everyone") but rather make use of the unstable, intense, and highly loaded relationships and actions that precede the plot - such that the player-characters ignite it in their way.

And ... well, the appropriateness of this next part is questionable ... but the second supplement of Sorcerer, The Sorcerer's Soul, is written specifically to address your entire question. It's at the printer even as we speak and should be available from stores by early-middle February.


Paul Czege

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans


Thanks for the pointers. I think I'll have a play tonight and maybe post again when I've made a start and see which is the best way to go.