Relationship Web Builder

So I thunk this tool up a while back, and am looking to develop it further. It combines the Blood, Violence, Sex, Money ties that Brand tells me are from Sorcerer Soul into a process not unlike Dogs Town creation. I tested it out on Dave Cleaver, and he came up with something kinda nifty. For now it can be used to create a web in any game that has no explicit tools to build such a thing. Maybe at some point I’ll actually build it in to one of my games.

1A) Write down the name of an NPC that is of the gender most sexually desired by the players at the table. Give the character a profession and a context. Write a one sentence description about why the character is sexy.

1B) Write down the name of a person that the NPC in 1A has had sex with. Write one sentence that describes the nature of their affair. Also, Write down what one of them (1A or 1B) needs out of the affair and what the affair is keeping the other from getting.

1C) Write down the name of a person that is, or would react violently to the relationship between 1A and 1B. Write down why the violent reaction will occur.

1D) Write down the name of a person that will resent the reaction that 1C has about 1A & 1B. Give a reason why this person is desperately emotionally dependent on 1C.

1E) Write down the name of someone who is loyal to the character in 1D that is also secretly in love with the character in 1A.

2A) Pick one of the characters in Section 1. Write down the name of a blood relative that has an intense investment into that character. Write a sentence that describes the reason for the investment and its intensity.

2B) Write down the name of a person that has a deeply invested financial interest in the character in 2A Write down a one line description of that financial interest, and identify a way in which it could be completely jeopardized.

2C) Write down the name of a person that is planning to come between 2A and 2B and leverage that financial interest away from 2A to reap the rewards. Write a sentence that describes their relationship to 2B.

2D) Write down the name of a person that has betrayed 2C in the past so brutally that 2C still to this day desires revenge. Write down one sentence that explains the betrayal.

2E) Choose a person in 1 for the person in 2D to be replicating the betrayal with in some way, and write down how they could be doing that, and a way that that person and 1C might know each other.

3A) This will take some time. Write out all of the names of NPC’s that you’ve made in 1 & 2. Write down why they haven’t acted yet, and what would make them act.

3B) Pick the 3-5 of the NPC’s on this list that are the most interesting to you. Circle their names, and write down something that they desperately need from the PCs

3C) Draw it all visually on a large sheet of paper if that sort of thing helps you see where everything connects.

If you want, playtest it with your game and let me know how it worked for you.

17 thoughts on “Relationship Web Builder”

  1. This is what I generated before we had to stop.

    1A) Millie Trudeau – waitress at Mama’s Diner – she has the most beautifully engaging eyes.

    1B) she is having sex with Billy Barker – It’s a long tired relationship, and neither is really sure why they stay in it.

    1C) Billy’s mother will react violently when she learns the news of their relationship, because she wants Billy to be with someone of a higher station in life.

    1D – Billy’s mother’s butler, loves her desperately and will resent her reaction to Billy’s situation.

    1E) the butler’s best friend, Tom eats at Mama’s diner just to be near Millie.

    2A) Millie’s mother, Susan, loves her daughter very much and wants her to find a good man that will make her happy.

    2B) Millie’s mother and her business partner Fred are trying to start a bakery. If they don’t get the location finished in time, then they will be too far into debt to continue.

    2C) Victor doesn’t like the plans that Susan has for the bakery and wishes to run it himself. He is Fred’s domestic partner

    2D) Victor’s old boss, Frank, fired him after he came out.

    2E) Tom will soon be fired, because his lack of relationships recently has Franks suspecting that he is gay. Tom and Victor worked together for many years

    3A) Millie – is waiting for Billy to sweep her off of his feet. She would leave him if she knew this was never going to happen.
    Billy – He’s afraid that his mother will disown him if he asks Millie to marry him. The death of his mother is the only thing that will allow him to act.
    Billy’s mother – she is not aware of Billy’s affair, but …

  2. I really like the fact that the sexy first start is based off things the players at the table (at least the majority of them) would find sexy. In mixed groups I’d suppose you would switch off, back and forth.

    My main concern is 3a. In running a few of these through in my head (I’ll write them down when I’m less lazy) I find I’ve often had people do things already, and the PCs are coming in mid-action in motion. Someone getting killed, robbed, or beaten on the web by another person on the web seems like a great way to start things off — with PCs coming in just after the first crime.

    I do think the “what will make them act” is good, because that way you have some idea of the preset triggers that’ll throw them into Action Jackson mode. But I might replace the “why they haven’t acted yet” with “what they have and haven’t done already.” I also might add some indications of what their most likely actions would be — screaming and running to the cops vs. killing someone with a chainsaw, for example.

  3. Okay, so to actually try it:

    1a) Sakari Boparai is a mid level auditor for Canada Revenue who is torn between pleasing herself and advancing her career and pleasing her traditional father and having a family. She’s confident, physical, and darkly exotic in a way that gives people unfortunately orientalist fantasies.

    (Played by Bipasha Basu)

    1b) Tyrone Remaley is an upper level financial consultant for Canada Trust bank. He and Sakari have been having an affair that started when she was auditing one of his clients. He needs her to stay under his sway because he’s using her to get information about Canada Revenue cases. She is being blocked from advancing in her career because she is under investigation due to irregularities in files concerning Tyrone.

    (Tyrone is played by Jimmy Jean-Louis)

    1c) Sharron Remaley, Tyrone’s wife. She would react violently because she has given up her own career and dreams to make Tyrone’s possible, and seeing him with another woman — especially a non-black woman — would be spitting on everything she has done with her whole life.

    (Sharron Remaley is played by Queen Latifah)

    1d) Avis Losh, Sharron’s illegitimate son from before Tyrone. Avis is one of the things that Sharron “overcame” in her past – a messy teen pregnancy that she tried to keep for 6 months before giving him up for adoption. He’s only recently found her again and is trying to be part of his mother’s life, but she only cares about her husband and new family. Seeing her lose it over Tyrone would be her telling him he isn’t part of her life, never was, and never will be.

    (Avis Losh is played by Derek Luke)

    1e*) Kurt Flegle is the PI who helped Avis find Sharron. He likes Avis a lot and has sort of become a father figure to the boy, who reminds him that he’s never been able to make a family work no matter how desperately he wants it. However, in the course of his investigations he’s found out about Sakari and conceived a mad lust for her.

    (Kurt Flegle is played by Vincent D’Onofrio)

    2a) Citrasva Boparai is Sakari’s father. He’s a traditional Hindu Ksatriya who is gravely disappointed that his daughter is now 30 and is not married and has no children. Luckily he’s still deluded enough to think she’s a virgin, and if he knew she was screwing a married black man he would lose his mind. Unknown to his daughter this is because her mother, his wife, cheated on him and when he found out and confronted the other man it turned violent and ended up killing his wife.

    (Citrasva Boparai is played by Amitabh Bachchan)

    2b) Darren Nordlund is the silent partner in Citrasva’s restaurant, they have joint ownership in the business. Despite his mostly silent participation, the restaurant is vitally important to Darren, as he’s using the place to launder money that his family brings in from running cigarettes and alcohol across the boarder. A lapse in attention, a careless word to Sakari, or Citrasva letting the wrong accountant in could bring investigators in, which would be ruinous.

    (Darren Nordlund is played by Daniel Craig)

    2c) Mallory Laguerre is the owner of a major construction consortium, Dog Chain Buildings, that is buying up property to develop in the Bay-Bloor corridor. He is trying to get Citrasva to sell out to him so that he can develop the are the restaurant is occupying. While he respects Citrasva, he knows that Darren is into dirty business and isn’t afraid to play rough and use blackmail or even violence if that’s what it takes to secure what is for him a 100 million dollar deal.

    ( Mallory Laguerre is played by Carlos Bernard)

    2d) Jesse Truex is a forensic accountant and expert blackmailer. In the past he slept with Mallory, embezzled from him, and then ruined both his first business and his first marriage. The shame of the homosexual affair was such that Mallory was unable to pursue any action at the time, but to this day he holds a hatred for Jesse so black that it could douse the stars from the sky.

    (Jesse Truex is played by Michael C. Hall)

    2e**) Jesse is now working with Tyrone, and is stealing money from Canada Trust and filtering it through Tyrone’s projects so that it will look like Tyrone took the money. He’s also hired a PI to find out who Tyrone is having an affair with so that he can ruin his marriage and destroy him badly enough that Tyrone can’t get back at him. Tyrone is currently working with Mallory on the financing and investment side of Dog Chain Buildings.

    3a) In order of appearance:

    Sakari Boparai isn’t going to wait around forever, but she hasn’t kicked Tyrone to the curb yet because she honestly thinks he will leave his wife or hire her on. If she has any reason to doubt this, or if she finds out he’s involved in pressuring her father’s restaurant out of business, she’ll leave him. If she suspects that he’s using her files to avoid the law (even if she wrongly tracks Jesse’s work to him) she may become violent.

    Tyrone Remaley, as of now, thinks he’s the king of the world. He has a wife and two kids who are totally in the dark about his affair with the hot Asian girl who he’s getting insider-information from, and he’s about to make millions of dollars from Mallory’s business. If push comes to shove he’ll kill to protect any of those things, but his very real feelings for Sakari may be his downfall.

    Sharron Remaley has grown very suspicious of Tyrone, but isn’t ready to move for divorce or accuse him directly yet. She has, however, hired a PI – who just happened to be recommended by her newly rediscovered first son.

    Avis Losh has desperately been trying to start a relationship with his mother, but doing so has been hard. They have come into different worlds and she’s reluctant to accept her own past or jeopardize her present for something she gave up years ago. He has managed to get her to meet him in public a few times though, but her extremely paranoid behavior around the whole thing has started to make her friends wonder if she’s cheating on Tyrone. One of those friends may speak to Tyrone about it, especially if other men come sniffing around.

    Kurt Flegle has started investigating Tyrone and Sakari. He’s even talked to Sakari under pretext, and has formed a fledgling friendship with her. Due to his feelings for her he has not reported her affair with Tyrone to Sharron yet, as he wants to be sure his relationship with Sakari can withstand the mess before he breaks her off from Tyrone. He also isn’t sure about how to do it due to his relationship with Avis, as he feels Tyrone staying in the picture could make it harder for Avis, as Sharron might be more willing to gain a son if she loses a husband – but only if it happens in the right way. Kurt has also uncovered some incriminating evidence about Jesse, but isn’t sure what it means yet, nor even that its about Jesse – just that there are taps and computer records showing that someone is stealing information from both Tyrone and Sakari.

    Citrasva Boparai does not know that his daughter is having an affair, nor that his partner is a criminal. His honor would not allow him to stand for either thing, and as he is old and bitter and full of fear and rage over what happened to his wife, he is likely to become violent if confronted with proof of the lies he’s built his life upon.

    Darren Nordlund has men watching the Boparai’s, and has started moving his own people into Citrasva’s restaurant more and more. However, he’s afraid of Mallory as he knows Mallory has dirt on his family. He has men looking for dirt on Mallory currently, to meet blackmail with blackmail. If pressed to the wall by anyone violence is an easy option for him, as he’s from a very hardcore criminal background.

    Mallory Laguerre feels everything is going his way at the moment. He’s recovered from past trauma, has money enough to buy out Citrsva, and has almost managed to forget about Jesse. He’s got security and PIs doing counter-surveillance on Darren’s men, and is confident that the can keep Darren in check – though it hasn’t occurred to him that Darren would turn on Citrasva, which would cause him pain as he respects the old man. However, if he finds out about Jesse, especially Jesse’s current activities, he will lose all sense and jeopardize everything to nail Jesse to the wall, no matter who or what he has to burn.

    Jesse Truex is almost done with his embezzlement scheme, and is waiting until he can destroy the remaining evidence and ruin Tyrone before he pulls out and lets everyone else burn behind him. However, he’s wary of Mallory and is doing everything he can to stay out of the other man’s line of sight. One of his dodges ended up exposing his suspicious behavior to Kurt Flegle, and now Jesse nows Kurt has evidence on him – but isn’t sure what. So he’s getting a gun, a van, and some duct tape and planning to find out and then eradicate the threat.

    3b***) Randomly

    Sakari knows that she’s under investigation by government censors, and suspects that Tyrone’s wife or company may have surveillance on her as well. She’s afraid for her job and her safety, and needs the PCs to help her and to find out if Tyrone is serious about her.

    Kurt desperately needs advice and help in tailing all the many leads he’s dealing with. He’s a hard bitten man not used to losing his professionality who is now dealing with a woman he’s in love with and a boy he wants to be his son – and he has no idea how to deal with it. Unbeknownst to him he’s also going to need help staying alive when Jesse comes knocking.

    Darren needs Mallory to back the fuck off, and his own men can’t get him the leverage he needs to make it happen. He will pay the characters vast amounts, and give them major underworld favors, if they can get Mallory to back away long enough for Darren to pull his business out of the restaurant.

    Tyrone and Mallory want Citrasva to sell, and would be willing to pay big bucks and not ask any questions to the types of folks that could convince the old man to step out. Alternately Citrasva is no fool, and has an idea that people with this level of money don’t always play nice, and knows he may need information and/or protection.

    Jesse is willing to kill, but if he can get one of the PCs in his grip he knows its better to have others do the dirty. So he’ll make up any kind of story or lie (including that he’s afraid Kurt is going to rape Sakari) to get the PCs to bring Kurt down or destroy his files.

    And, that feels about ready to explode.

    *As a note, I found this one a little awkward, it could maybe work better if it is to another of the characters in 1, rather than 1a specifically.

    **I did this as 2c, rather than 1c – as that seemed to make more sense. Is the write up for this one supposed to say “and a way that that person and 1C might know each other” or “and a way that that person and 2C might know each other” or something else?

    ***This part would work much better if I actually had a game going on. As I don’t know who the PCs are, what they do, or what their flags are, I’ve more or less gone with the assumption that they’re PIs or the like for this part.

    1. Rocking!

      *1E. You’re right. secret love to someone in 1 rather than 1A.

      *2E. What if it was tie it to 1C *or* 2 C?

      *3B. Yeah. I was thinking the same. I think that each PC should have a connection to someone on the web, and that the connection should be one of the ties (Sex, Money, Blood, Violence). It would work better in games with explicit flags, and it would work best if the PC’s were made before hand with the requirement that they include one or two NPC contacts that could then be used on the map when building it to ensure the tie in.

      I would also think it would be interesting to play with pacing NPC connection players out through the web to see if it intersects with the relationship between the PC’s. If Sakari is the woman your PC is in love with and Mallory is my PC’s bastard of a brother the game might work very differently than if akari is the woman your PC is in love with and Sharron’s my mother.

      1. It also occurs to me that in many games in which magic is a rare, mysterious, or hidden thing (so Unknown Armies, In Nom, most White Wolf games…) if the PCs have magic and one or more of the NPCs suspects or knows it, then there is a huge angle right there alone.

        How to make PCs special in a game with magic? Make them the only ones with magic. How to make them miserable and always in danger? Make them the only ones with magic.

        If I were doing this as a WoD or UA game the only thing I’d change would be to give Jesse kewl pozwerz, as I see him as “big threat” in my head. No one else gets them, they’re just competent mortals.

  4. Oh, if it were to be, say SVU rather than PIs, I’d just have the game start right after Jesse kidnaped, tortured, raped, and murdered Kurt. Dead body, and everyone has reasons not to say why they were involved with him.

    Didn’t even think of that until afterwards.

    Also, for those curious — this took about an hour to an hour and a half, with me eating dinner and typing as part of that. So it shouldn’t be to killer to do this for game, I think, because this should run for at least 2 or maybe 3 sessions (depending on pace, scene framing, and how small you cut your conflicts) so that’s not bad for prep time.

  5. First off – Hello Mo, long time!

    I’ve been reading this with rapt attention since i first found it a few days back from a link i can’t remember. Lots of gems buried here… i really need a game with gears like this.
    What i find fascinating about this “web”, is that after making the first character (1c) upon which the design hinges, that always seems to be the least significant character overall. Mind you, as insignificant as they appear, they are the cornerstone.

    Very cool.

    1. Well, they might seem like the least significant overall, but that really depends on where the PC’s plug into the web and what they groove from the inside once they’re there.

      If I’m playing Janessa Tyler (played by Esther Baxter) the affair that Tyrone dumped in favour of Sakari, and you’re playing Raj Kumar (played by John Abraham (rowr)), who is the man with whom Citrasva Boparai has arranged a to marry Sakari to then 1A-C will really end up being the really significant group.

      And Carl… you’re not Carl from Peterborough are you?

  6. True, however i was still looking at it as more of “there was a fly that brought down the kingdom” POV. Obviously, for any given interaction with a PC, the nexus where they plug in will be more significant. I was just surprised at how the process itself seems to make the initial character /seem/ less relevant than the massive (conspiracy?) unfolding around them.

    And yes, do you know any others? =)

    1. Hey!

      You know this last month has been like old home month. First I ended up talking to Misha, a friend of mine (and ex of Nicole’s) that I haven’t seen since 1999. Then I end up reconnecting with Ray. *Then* I end up discovering Ben again, and now here you are! It’s like the universe is trying to tell me something.

      How did you stumble onto Sin Aesthetics?

      1. LOL! That’s awesome.
        I’m not really sure how i found my way here. I was doing some sort of googling for RPG stuff, and i think i found a page where someone referenced “Sin Asthetics” (your old site) as their friend Moyra’s site. I’d always wondered how you did since the old days at Bell, (Last i heard you’d run off to the US for a boy!) so i figured a gander couldn’t hurt.
        First paragraph, and i said “That’s Mo’s writing/mannerisms!” =)

        I haven’t heard/connected with Ray since he changed his name.. but y’know, email me sometime. I feel foolish posting all this on your blog. =)

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