Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gen's Story

One of the things I've mentioned before, is that in the Usagi setting, everyone has a backstory. We might not always get to see it but that backstory helps expalin who the characters are and what their motivations originate from.

Here, Usagi meets an old woman and her single retainer asking for a meal. Usagi obligies, recognizing the noble spirit in Lady Asano. Turns out that the Lady's house was betrayed and they have spent all of their money and time looking for the traitor.

Gen's father? A famous general who also sought out the traitor, even though it meant his family had to live like destitute beggars and the mother had to perform acts that perhaps bordered on prostituion although full details are never given.

In this light, Gen's character and shape come into sharp contrast. Events of the past, such as his reluctance to help the poor children or his self serving attitude, those come into a more reasaonable being.

But Gen is not a one dimensional character. When Usagi is in trouble, Gen helps him. When the chips are down, Gen is there for him. In some ways, Gen is even fooling himself. "Well, he does have all the money." It's important that characters in a campaign, even if they are not all friends, even if they don't all have the same motivations and the same purpose in adventuring, are all loyal to one another. It just makes the game run smoother. If the players have to come up for reasons why they'd help each other, like Gen, they need to fake it.

I know there are some games that thrive on inter party conflict or at least the promise of it, but in most standard games, especially those not necessarily design for 'clan' politics, it's best to keep all the players loyalties above the surface unless one is deliberately running a deeper game of espionage where trust itself is a treasure well worth having.

Bringing in Gen's background is a sort of 'round robin' technique that GMs can incorporate into their own games. If the players provide some background elements at the start of the game, and the GM isn't necessarily running adventurers out of modules (nothing wrong with that in my own opinion), he can use a round robin method of having someone's background crop up every other game or so to keep the character's past in the now and to use different characters to move the characters against different elements.

In terms of GM tricks though, Stan pulls out a great one. When Gen and Usagi are captured by the tratior to the house, Gen rummages through the weapon storage and grabs some new weapons. He even notes that he was never as attached to his weapons as Usagi is to his own specialty blades. After the fighting is all said and done, Gen notices that the swords are those of his father, the famous general, and takes a moment to reflect how they must have come into the traitor's hands.

Providing characters in a game with legacy items, not necessarily those of power, but those that have a connection to them, is a way to establish a powerful bond between the campaign history and the player's place in it.