Finally, have an opportunity to work on Hari Ragat again after a long real-life imposed hiatus.
As I was musing on how to refine my Ties mechanic for the game, I recalled a discussion with other gamers about player reluctance to define relationships for their characters. The argument was that creating or implying an NPC important to the player’s character gave the GM practically infinite power to screw with that PC’s life.
Quite a few of these players on the other hand were eager to explore relationships; they added depth to their experience of the game. I still vividly remember Tommy’s reaction to his Red Branch character finding out from the chief druid that he was to be a dad. (His wife had concealed it from him.)
This got me thinking. Players can get a lot from relationships – and not just romantic ones – if they can trust the GM with them. So I’m thinking of writing in a little bit of GM’s ‘code’ on handling Ties. These are still rough ideas, but basically, they’re to help the GM and players build trust while empowering both to create more interesting stories.
- The purpose of Ties is to make the character’s life more interesting by adding relationship-driven possibilities, opportunities, and challenges. Ties can be to family members, love interests, rivals, debtors, allies, enemies, and so on.
- Player-defined NPCs are considered player property. Similarly, GM-defined NPCs are considered GM property. You have authors’ rights over the NPCs that you defined.
- The GM may not kill off a character to which any player has defined a Tie unless that player consents. Similarly, the GM may not change the details of any NPC to which a player character has a Tie, without that player’s consent.
- The GM may endanger any character to which a player has defined a Tie at any time; part of the challenge in having a (desirable) Tie is to preserve them so you can continue enjoying their benefits.
- The GM may cancel a Tie if the player knowingly plays their character in such a way that the NPC involved would have strong reason to break the relationship. For example, if you insult an allied datu, don’t expect him to remain your ally for much longer.
- The GM may award new Ties on the spot as rewards for good role playing. In fact they’re meant to be one of the ‘trophies’ of the game. If you’re playing to become or to set up the Hari Ragat (High King), you’ll want to collect as many allies as you can.