Thursday, September 2, 2010

Locations as Characters

During Shark Bone 022, we talked about the Locations as Characters concept from Invite Only.

Invite Only says give your important scene (setting, location, whatever) a concept, a few notes, and a virtue/vice combination. Think about it like a character and bring it to life. It all seems a bit ambiguous though.

I had a few thoughts on the show and a few more once we stopped recording. The discussion is over on RPGnet and only time will tell how productive that turns out to be. Until then, though, here's the gist...

Locations as Characters

Details - Each location should need only a few brief elements to really shine.
Name: The name. (Hills Cemetery)
Concept: The few word concept of the place. (Spooky Graveyard)
Theme: The feel of the place, what it stands for or against, etc. (Creepy)
Showcase: An item or person that exemplifies the concept and theme. (The unmarked grave no one goes near.)

That's the basic part, here's where it gets fun.

What if each location also got a Rank? What if that's how many dice it got to further its theme? Of course, a spooky graveyard doesn't actively try to scare people away, but damn if trespassing PCs don't have to resist 3 dice worth of fear just for being there.

At the same time, these dice would aid or hinder any action taken by a PC that supported or resisted the location's theme. Want to get answers out of that mook? Threaten him at the spooky graveyard! Want to seduce that cute girl from the office? The spooky graveyard's probably not the best place to do it. (Though scientifically, it actually would be!)

Even better, what if each location actually got an action. Every once in a while during narrative scenes or at the end of every initiative round. You dive into an open grave for cover, they fire wildly in your direction, then spooky graveyard rolls 3 dice to intimidate you as you realize 'open' does not mean 'empty'.

Location actions could be taken by the location itself, like chill winds and eerie howls, or taken by the inhabitants of the location, like child ghosts or the crazy grounds keeper. The location is never, well rarely ever, an actual participant in the conflict, just an active backdrop.

Picking a fight with the president of a biker gang will probably make every biker in the bar an active participant, but that doesn't stop the bar's owner or some of the strippers from taking action for the bar itself.

What do you think? Are we on to something?

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