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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 82 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: School me on relationship maps  (Read 2061 times)
BlackSheep
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Posts: 40


« on: April 13, 2007, 04:13:01 AM »

Following up from a post in the Chimera forum:

Actually, what you're describing isn't a relationship map, not as I introduced the term in my book The Sorcerer's Soul. What you're describing is relatively traditional prep. If you're interested in the difference, or rather, in the term and concept, head on by the Adept Press forum and let me know. I don't want to divert Matt's forum into Adept-based topics.

This is one of those terms I've seen bandied around on other sites, probably not used in the sense it was originally coined.  My conception of an R-map is something like the one in the back of Weapons of the Gods, showing marriages, children, rivalries, friendships and so on between the major characters.

I've had a look over the maps on the errata page, and they give me a better idea of what the maps look like (less concerned with 'narrative' relationships and past events, more with literal ones; marriages, affairs, offspring, ties of blood and law) but don't really tell me much on how you'd use them in-game, other than as a reminder.

So, anybody like to clue me in on what term actually means and how the technique is used in-game?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2007, 06:39:29 AM »

Hi there,

Thanks for coming by!

Your observations of the differences are correct - the relationship map is primarily (literally, meaning "first") composed only of kinship and sexual contact. The point of doing that is that these ties are non-negotiable, they do or don't exist, or they did or did not happen, regardless of whatever the characters involved feel or think of one another at any given time during play.

That's important - because the other ties, like employment or feelings or social role, are labile; they shift or reverse or vanish "on the chassis" of the primary relationship map ties. If someone decides to stop being the hitman for a crime boss, that doesn't change the fact that he had an affair with the crime boss' wife.

The problem (in my view) of the kind of prep you see in Weapons of the Gods, or the social maps of alliances that first appeared in Over the Edge supplements and in GURPS Goblins, is that they lock in NPC behavior into the stated/written social ties ... the very ties that should be labile in the GM's mind, freeing him or her to play those NPCs as flexibly and responsively to in-game events as players can do with their own characters.

So a relationship map is best understood not as a guide to NPC behavior, but rather a reminder of what incontrovertible tie that any NPC decision (or PC decision affecting an NPC) "plucks," like a harp string. When the hitman decides to quit, it affects the boss' wife's emotions, even if the affair is long over. And the boss' reaction to the hitman's quitting is certainly compounded by whether he does or doesn't know about the affair. Anyone learning of that affair affects their interactions with any of the three people.

That brings up another issue - the GM should neither hide nor data-dump the relationship when running a Sorcerer session. The information should appear when it makes sense given various actions and dialogue (and sometimes conflicts); it should not be blocked as if it were state secrets; it should not appear as a handout or as a running exposition.

Various social ties can be added onto the map, but I usually do it with dotted lines or by writing names next to the boxes with names in them. Sometimes I just add them in looking the same, though. These really are minor reminders, though, just so I don't forget about an NPC or something-or-other. I should also stress that the relationship map is a component of prep, not all of it; I have all the usual notes and scribbles that most people use too.

Does that help, or make sense?

Best, Ron
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2007, 08:37:47 AM »

A very conscise explanation! I like.
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BlackSheep
Member

Posts: 40


« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2007, 01:39:10 PM »

Does that help, or make sense?
Both.  Many thanks.

I also learned a new word: labile.

Edited to fix formatting - RE
« Last Edit: April 14, 2007, 03:07:00 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
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