The chains of the soul

  • 6 Replies
The chains of the soul
« on: August 04, 2010, 09:38:48 PM »
Let's talk about chains.  I think these are going to be crucial, so I would definitely enjoy hearing feedback.

In Wraith, characters have Passions -- important feelings and stuff they want to makes sure gets done, even though they're dead; stuff like Finish My Novel, Protect My Wife, Preserve My Childhood Home, Revenge Myself Upon My Murderer; stuff like that, all with some emotion that helps clarify it; you can have Protect My Wife - Love, but you can also have Protect My Wife - Jealousy
Wraith characters also have Fetters -- important people, places, or things; stuff like My Wife, My Childhood Home, My Unfinished Manuscript, etc.
Passions and Fetters got ratings, and they didn't have to be related.  I always felt they were best if they WERE related, however, and I still feel this way.

Thus, I'm combining them into something I'm just calling, at least for the moment, Chains.

A chain is something that is tying your ghost to this world, either saving it from falling into the pit, or preventing it from moving on to paradise (or something else) but definitely keeping it where it is.  It's an obsession.  It is, to be honest, the reason your ghost exists.

At the moment I'm thinking chains will work something like gigs do in AW proper.  But they'll probably be more like obligation gigs (or like a combination of obligation and paying gigs) and they might have some gear-like tags attached to them.

I'm thinking they look something like this:
Love - Protect My Wife
An emotion, a verb, and a noun

It also needs to be clear, in a case like this, what the wife needs protection from.  So maybe there needs to be an object with each chain as well?

Love - Protect My Wife from her abusive new boyfriend

The player needs to choose at least 1 of his or her chains to attend to at the beginning of each session.  I'm not sure yet what the roll will be for them.  Possibly it will vary.  If there is a set list of emotions or other elements, maybe it will be based on those.
At any rate, I'm thinking the results break down something like this, based on the above example:
10+ Your wife either doesn't need your protection, or you see positive changes due to previous interventions, your choice.  Describe what happens and, if you wish, take comfort in your chains.
7-9 Something bad is happening, but you're there when it goes down!  Deal with the situation just like anything else in the game.  If you succeed in protecting her, you may be able to take comfort in your chains once things are over.
Miss- Something bad goes down but you weren't there when it happened.  You arrive too late to intervene.  Deal with the aftermath as you wish, but regardless you are too distraught over feelings of helplessness to take comfort in your chains.

Re: The chains of the soul
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2010, 06:20:23 PM »
I like where you're going with these, and I think obligation gigs are a good place to start, but I have a couple thoughts:

1) these are *so* central to your character (as you said, why you're a ghost in the first place) that they probably deserve a little more development and tie-in to play than just a 'set up situations when there's downtime' like an obligation gig does. I'm not positive on how to do this, but I have some suggestions below :)

2) building on the 'being central and having more to do in the game' if you want the game to really revolve around exploring each character's chains, you could make character advancement related to chains somehow. Maybe something like keys where it can be hit or bought off, but either way you're getting advancement and development for it, I'm not sure.

3) I actually think I like the slightly vaguer "protect my wife" example than "protect my wife from her abusive new boyfriend". I guess it kind of goes into how 'temporary' you want the ghost characters to be and/or what sort of themes you deal with. In the less constrained 'protect my wife' that implies that your overwhelming jealousy/love/whatever for her kept you around no matter what happens, and in game play that'd translate to you having the potential to protect her from all manner of craziness and deal with it in differing ways. If it's "protect my wife from her abusive new boyfriend" then that implies that some action involving this one particular relationship kept you around as a ghost and that when it's resolved you won't have a reason to be a character or a ghost any more.

Along these lines, I like the fact that the less detailed one allows more collaboration of GM/player and/or player/other players. If I say "protect my wife" then the MC or the other players can come up with crazy ways to make that applicable, but if I say "protect my wife from abusive boyfriend" that's less room for input and shared ownership of characters. So, the more detailed answer isn't bad, just seems like fewer options.

Oh, and finally on the topic of 'broader chains', I think that would make it easier to make them mechanically precise. Because if you have to pick from a list of emotions, then a list of verbs, then a list of specific options, that might seem overly constraining for a game on AW bones.

Re: The chains of the soul
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2010, 08:55:39 PM »
I'll address your third point:

I didn't say this, but I was thinking it (why didn't you KNOW that?), but my idea was that the ending detail or object (what the wife is being protected from) is something that would probably change on a pretty regular basis.

So yeah, the core would be that it's your general NEED to protect your wife (for whatever reason) that is keeping you stuck as a ghost.  What I don't want, however, is for the player to make the roll and then go, "Huh, something goes wrong, I guess.  Ummm... "

I feel like I want there to be a clear situation going on that everyone can easily jump into.  And maybe that situation revises regularly, even while the core stays the same.  The ghost scares off (or kills?) the abusive boyfriend, but the need to protect the wife remains.  Driving off a boyfriend was easy for a ghost, but now the wife is depressed and thinks she's going crazy.  How does he protect her from herself?

So maybe the object/specific detail isn't really required.  I guess it's just something I'd prefer to see if I was MCing this game.  I wouldn't want my player to say, "Okay!  Now, make up something for me to protect my wife from!  Quick!"  It's not that I don't want group discussion, input, and shared authorship in the game, I just would rather have it ahead of time rather than right in the heat of the moment.

Re: The chains of the soul
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2010, 03:27:32 PM »
Good deal, I'll keep working on my psychical web-fu :)

I know it's considered sloppy game design these days, but maybe the specific thing (e.g. "from the boyfriend") could be covered by some MC advice: "Hey, if you don't have any exciting ideas on where to go with your player's chains, ask him for some more specific information. 'Oh, hey, I see you're protecting your wife. From what? Why is she in danger? Is the dirtbag abusive or just smothering her?'"

Re: The chains of the soul
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 05:02:11 PM »
That's a good point, Jeff, and probably the best way to cover it.  Some people might be like me and prefer to know specifics before hand, other people might prefer to keep it vague until it really matters.

Re: The chains of the soul
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2010, 07:50:36 PM »
That's a good point, Jeff, and probably the best way to cover it.  Some people might be like me and prefer to know specifics before hand, other people might prefer to keep it vague until it really matters.

Just as a bit of a side note, that's one of the things about AW's MCing principles and moves and what not: they take a lot of stuff that is/can be vague and manage to give clear instructions on doing them. Hell, even the general principle of *having* principles and moves is a tool to develop clear play instructions for the vaguer driving forces in the game. One more reason this game makes excites me all over.

Re: The chains of the soul
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2010, 07:57:31 PM »
Yeah, as I've commented before, both on here, and to people in real life, I don't think AW is "easy" to hack in the sense that it takes little work to do so, but the text makes it very obvious how to hack it.  It's practically a manual for game design--assuming you want to design a game at least somewhat like AW. :)