This question is spawned from the IndieGameADay thing, which pokes fun at1 #RPGaDAY with questions such as
- What kind of shit-fit did you throw the last time someone tried to schedule your convention game in a ballroom like you’re playing fucking Pathfinder or something?
- What was the very saddest thing you wrote on an index card? and
- What is your fondest memory of a game you thought was fun before you knew better?
But they had a really interesting question for day 2 — once you take out the snark — about relationship maps which was What game created your most elaborate relationship map? How much of it did you actually use?
A quick bit about what a relationship map is: You take the names of the protagonists and draw lines between them with notes. You then write on the same piece of paper with names of NPCs, locations, maybe even events, and start drawing and labeling. And then you’ve got a charted out map of what the relationship between elements in your game’s setting are. If you’ve played Smallville (or other Cortex + Drama games) or the upcoming Unknown Armies game, you’ve created a relationship map during the first game session.
Above is my relationship map for a Shadowrun game set with the PCs as employees of the Atlantean Foundation’s Acquisitions Department. Our PCs are the boxes in the center circle. I used this to keep track of the players involved in the game, but it wound up solving a major question for me: who “Father” was.
See, in an earlier game session, we only had three of the five players showing up to game day, so we had a flashback to an earlier mission that ended with a cut-scene to the big bad of the session, using a remote camera to watch our heroes escape with the goods. “They’re gone,” the big bad said to a figure just off-screen2. The figure replies with “And my son? He was with them?” The big bad nods. “Yes, he was there, too.”
Whoa! Big reveal! One of those three’s characters — all who had lost their fathers3 — has their father alive, and working with the bad guys!
So who was it? I didn’t know. I just threw that in there ‘cause it was One Cool Moment.
I looked at the relationship map. Bo’s guy had a lot of relationships with people. Ben’s character had links to people and organizations. But Brian’s character4 only had ties to organizations, no people outside the group and the group’s boss. Obviously this Father person was Brian’s character’s father.
They’re both the same game. Although now, the favorite SF RPG has changed a bit. I’m tempted to say it’s The Sprawl, but I haven’t played that. But it is a combination of Shadowrun (especially when they finish that The Touched supplement) and it’s Powered by the Apocalypse. I’m not willing to say that it’s my favorite game system as I’m having a hard time thinking of PbtA games as anything but tweaks of the original Apocalypse World games, so I’m still going with AW for favorite game system.