Friday, September 18, 2009

Sins Of the Father

When looking at character background, some Game Masters are worried that the option of having the characters come from noble background could provide too much leverage to that player.

While its potential for abuse is present, the Game Master should also be aware of the potential adventure hooks for such a character. In Crown of Stars, King Henry is determined that his bastard son, Sanglant, a half-elf, should be king after him. The prince has his own ideas. A man raised from birth to die from servicing King Henry's army as the leader of the Dragon's (heavy cavalry), the Prince doesn't' really fit into the noble world. And since his mother abandoned him, doesn't even know what the elf world is like. This makes him a potential outcast in both worlds even though his father holds great love for him. His father has plans for him. His father tries to set things in motion so that things work out as his father wishes.

In another medium, Yet Another Fantasy Comic, the Maula Bloodhand is a female orc warrior of old blood and impressive fighting prowess. A changing of the guard occurs among the leadership in the underground dwelling in which they all live and the leaders of the various factions decide to elect her. She at first declines until it comes clear that no one else would be suitable.

However, she has a bastard son , a half-human half orc named Glon. And unlike other comics, in this instance, the half-orc side is actually the side that would be in charge if the other orcs didn't see him as a weakling bastard.

This leads to some potential issues as when given the leadership, the orc queen notes that if she does take over, that it will be a return of her tribe and methods to prominence and that her son becomes the heir.

The comic isn't far enough along to know how this new action will play out, but in a game, things can take many different turns depending on how the players react. The players, unlike the characters in a novel, tend to have a lot of individual will that they wish to put into play. They don't want to be the pawns of the NPC's. While there could be fantastic benefits to being the son of nobility, the players will most likely avoid any of the responsibilities that come along with such duty.

For example, if the family follows a certain deity, the nobles may not allow the player's character to associate with clerics and paladins or other divine champions, of a different faith. In a campaign with a group of five, this could easily happen where there are multiple players with a divine power source and worship different deities. What happens if the nobles don't want them to be in the same crowd anymore?

In addition, nobles often have various family duties to attend to. This may not only include marriage to someone they don't even know for political gain, but may include guarding other members of the family that are going to be married for political gain. Imagine if the player has to go on a 'quest' to escort his sister or younger brother to a far away land in order to cement a relationship. What happens to the rest of the party? Would the nobles allow a group of relative strangers to escort their children?

Nobles may also be involved in various dealings that may leave a sour taste in the characters mouth. For example, what if they have alliances with slavers? What if they have dealings with those who are not slavers, but might as well be? What if they have dealings with drug slum? The power base has to come from somewhere and most likely, its not all perfect. The Game Master can use such events to move the campaign forward.