[Spark] Stock leading questions for initial relationships

edited March 2012 in Game Design Help
Hi there,

I am producing a list of leading questions for the Spark RPG. The specific reason for this is to define character histories and initial relationships before play, filling the same niche as DW bonds. These won't have mechanical weight, but should provide increased cohesion in an ensemble-cast style of game. My plan was to present a two distinct lists of leading questions: one relating to other PC's and another relating to the factions/organizations defined in the setting. Players would be asked to choose at least one question from each list to answer for their character.

Here are my current lists of questions. I would love to have suggestions on new questions to add, tweaks to existing ones or ones that need to be removed outright. General discussion on what makes a good leading question would be great as well. In my particular game, I don't have a pre-set situation so I have to keep them somewhat generic.


How did another PC hurt you?
Which other PC did you a favour?
Why do you hate a specific PC?
Why do you trust a specific PC with your life?
Why are you afraid of a PC?
Why do you disagree with a PC’s belief?
How did a specific PC inspire you to take up one of your beliefs?

Why do you hate a specific faction?
Why do you trust a specific faction with your life?
Why do you unfailingly obey a specific faction?
Why have you vowed to destroy a specific faction?
Why are you afraid of a specific faction?
Why are you passionate about a specific faction’s mandate?
How did a specific faction inspire you to take up one of your beliefs?

Comments

  • Personally, I think relationships are there to drive and complicate. i.e. spur the character to do stuff and/or cause trouble for the character.

    Looked at through that lens, "Why do you trust a specific PC with your life?" and "Why do you disagree with a PC’s belief?" and "How did a specific PC inspire you to take up one of your beliefs?" are not as strong as the others. They could drive or complicate but probably not as reliably as the other questions.
  • Thanks for the response Stefoid. If I told you that Beliefs were mechanically relevant and thematically important, would that increase the perceived strength of the latter two questions?
  • Posted By: Jason PitreThanks for the response Stefoid. If I told you that Beliefs were mechanically relevant and thematically important, would that increase the perceived strength of the latter two questions?
    How so?
  • Beliefs are aspect-like traits which define subjects and questions that the player is trying to examine during play. They are inherently non-falsifiable and provocative in nature, such as "The ends don't justify the means" or "The price of honour is blood." The economy and the narrative revolve around confirming or refuting those Beliefs, so they are a big deal.
  • A more important question: are "What PC did X" or "Why did PC do X" more effective during play?
  • Posted By: Jason PitreA more important question: are "What PC did X" or "Why did PC do X" more effective during play?
    Can you xepand on your question a bit?
  • Oops, I apparently missed your reply. This is what I actually put in my open beta.

    PC History
    • How did a PC hurt you?
    • Why do you trust a PC with your life?
    • Why do you hate another PC?
    • Why are you afraid of another PC?
    • Why do you disagree with another PC’s Belief?
    • How did a specific PC inspire you to take up one of your Beliefs?
    • What favour did another PC do for you?

    Faction History
    • Why do you hate a Faction?
    • Why do you trust a Faction with your life?
    • Why do you unfailingly obey a Faction?
    • Why have you vowed to destroy a Faction?
    • Why are you afraid of a Faction?
    • Why are you passionate about a Faction’s mandate?
    • How did a Faction inspire you to take up one of your Beliefs?

    Do any of these seem particularly strong or weak?
  • Looking at your verbs/relationships, I think you could expand a little here or have a few more options.
    slideshare.net/GjDarma/emotive-words-list
    Maybe have a few When? Questions too?
  • edited June 2012
    I speak from experience when I say this: if you can find any way to give those relationships mechanical weight, do so. Even if it's a nominal award, like a few XP or a minor bonus to some action, give people a solid reward to pursue any relationship as defined.

    Here's some bonds:
    What did the other PC teach you that you still find valuable?
    What relative do you and the other PC share?
    What do you owe to the other PC and why is it so important to you to pay it back?
    Where do you and the other PC come from and how is it important to both of you?
    Who have you and the other PC both sworn to destroy?

    You might want to give bigger rewards or extra points for more controversial relationships:
    What character do both you and the other PC love? Why do you love this character? (Let the other PC give their own reasons why.)
    What scarce or unique resource do both you and the other PC need? Why do you need it. (Let the other PC give their own reasons why.)
    What crime did you commit that the other PC suspects you of?
    (Note, with relationships like this, it's often better if the player who gets to name the relationship must also be the one who has the morally=questionable side of it. In general, do you like being forced to play someone unsavory? Unless it's part of the explicit (or implicit) contract of the game, you probably want to set up your own moral parameters.)
  • Noofy: The concern with "when" is that it is too focussed and doesn't give the richness of context that you get with a "why" in my experience.

    Arpie: Those bonds are excellent, thank you.

    The underlying reason for these history questions is to establish a context for the characters, at the start of play. It't not meant to be an ongoing aspect of gameplay, but rather something that ties the characters to eachother and to the world.

    You make an excellent poiint though, concerning the morally questionable side of things. It is a subject that I have found top of mind, and one that I need to more deeply consider. Thank you.
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