Brainstorming: Chargen Hooks


  • Pitcrew

    So, something we've been throwing around regarding Dust is some sort of 'hooks/prompts' section of chargen. People can take one or not, they're just things (either plot or setting related) to work into your background.

    If one gets chosen, it comes off the list unless it's something that can be multiple people, and then it'll go back on. Possibly considering a small amount of bonus points at the end of chargen for it or something. Hell, it could even be a variable point thing depending on how immediate the need is / where the request came from.

    The keys here I think would be:

    • Optional
    • Relevant
    • Updated regularly
    • Interesting / valuable to the game

    What are folks' thoughts on such a thing?



  • I assume by 'hooks' you mean 'this thing that is plot-fodder'?


  • Pitcrew

    Correct.



  • @Sunny
    I think it could work, given the right presentation. I think people would go for it, particularly if they get some type of little bonus for it.


  • Pitcrew

    It's very similar to what we do in Eldritch, except we do it far less formally. I often wonder if we should formalize it but then I get distracted by the other metric ton of shit I need to do. XD But yeah, it should be good. Make sure you don't give people things that would fuck the game plot up if they idle or drop.



  • Working on methods. :sunglasses: Will poke when viable and functional! (Still working on prefs things, it just now works... )


  • Pitcrew

    I think that sounds wonderful. The biggest thing to make sure of, though, is that there's follow through on the part of staff. If you set up the expectation that hey, here's a thing that will help you get involved in the plot, and then don't follow through, players will feel more put off than if you offered nothing at all.


  • Admin

    @Pyrephox said:

    I think that sounds wonderful. The biggest thing to make sure of, though, is that there's follow through on the part of staff. If you set up the expectation that hey, here's a thing that will help you get involved in the plot, and then don't follow through, players will feel more put off than if you offered nothing at all.

    Yeah, this. Very often staff vastly underestimate the amount of work things like this take. The idea is sound but scales up very poorly.


  • Pitcrew

    The Cyberpunk & Cybergeneration table-top RPG's had a concept called 'PlotPath', which was a flowchart type system for something similar to what you're proposing, Sunny. The idea first came out in Cybergeneration and was added to Cyberpunk 2020 with the GM Guide 'Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads!'

    Yes, that is the actual name of the GM Guide.

    It's easy enough to find used copies or pdf's of the books online.

    The basic idea is to choose a subplot idea, then go through complications one by one until the subplot gets resolved. Then you start over with a new subplot, go through new complications, etc.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said:

    @Pyrephox said:

    I think that sounds wonderful. The biggest thing to make sure of, though, is that there's follow through on the part of staff. If you set up the expectation that hey, here's a thing that will help you get involved in the plot, and then don't follow through, players will feel more put off than if you offered nothing at all.

    Yeah, this. Very often staff vastly underestimate the amount of work things like this take. The idea is sound but scales up very poorly.

    This is essentially the hurdle on Eldritch as far as plots go. I am happy to run things for people, but it takes effort, time, and commitment. I can't do all the things all the time, and if I don't run something big and inclusive, people will think there is nothing going on (not necessarily true) but at the same time I'm letting those smaller plots stall a bit.

    This is why more storytellers is always good. I can and will hand out plot stuff for people to run for others.


  • Admin

    @Coin said:

    This is essentially the hurdle on Eldritch as far as plots go. I am happy to run things for people, but it takes effort, time, and commitment. I can't do all the things all the time, and if I don't run something big and inclusive, people will think there is nothing going on (not necessarily true) but at the same time I'm letting those smaller plots stall a bit.

    This is why more storytellers is always good. I can and will hand out plot stuff for people to run for others.

    What you are experiencing on Eldritch is an early lack of task delegation. On one hand you guys have the advantage of a small staff team with fewer politics and administrative overhead than other MU* but the flip-side of it is that too much is bottlenecked in your hands. To me it sounds like a recipe for burning out to a crisp, especially in the long term, and even more so if one (or more!) of you happens to go AWOL at the same time due to real life.

    Plot will help of course since running scenes is a hardcore obligation (you can't tackle it at your own pace, it lasts for hours in a row, you can't take breaks to do something else at the same time without risking losing momentum due to such delays, etc) but even the rest of the non-administrative overhead seems like it's a lot to handle for 2-4 people.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said:

    @Pyrephox said:

    I think that sounds wonderful. The biggest thing to make sure of, though, is that there's follow through on the part of staff. If you set up the expectation that hey, here's a thing that will help you get involved in the plot, and then don't follow through, players will feel more put off than if you offered nothing at all.

    Yeah, this. Very often staff vastly underestimate the amount of work things like this take. The idea is sound but scales up very poorly.

    I agree that it scales poorly, and it would certainly be something I'd need to revisit and readdress if the game blows up. I'm trying to think of a better way to handle this. I mean, I have a single person already who has decided that their entire focus as staff is going to be integrating new characters into the story and game, but it can't be something that all falls on one person.

    The sort of things I am thinking about:

    ...grew up in the Bay City Lighthouse.
    ...once found a cursed artifact of some sort while exploring the island.
    ...is the great grandchild of Marcus Armadon.

    Then based on that we'd give them little pieces of the metaplot so that everybody who chooses one brings something to the table, so to speak.

    Does anybody have any thoughts as to how we might be able to manage the overhead on this without insanity? Totally just brainstorming here. I want this to work, but I suspect my game might not stay tiny for forever. -.-


  • Admin

    @Sunny said:

    Does anybody have any thoughts as to how we might be able to manage the overhead on this without insanity? Totally just brainstorming here. I want this to work, but I suspect my game might not stay tiny for forever. -.-

    Thoughts are easy! Actually doing it is hard though. It does scale badly no matter what you do though, as it's not so much the initial burst of activity that kills you (although it will) but the maintenance over time, keeping track of everything, not being terribly repetitive with plot hooks, not telegraphing your whole metaplot right away to players who're really good at reading it anyway, etc.

    Just for starters... break your metaplot into units. Then hand characters pieces of those units.

    For example:

    The orphanage (slots: 10 PCs). These people all grew up together at the same place but during different ages. What did they see/dream/experience during those years?

    Goonies (slots: 5 PCs): These people all had an adventure together. Where did it take them? Why don't they talk about it any more?

    Catholic highschool (slots: 10 PCs): These characters went to an ultra-conservative school together. Who was really in charge of it? What kind of trauma do they share?

    And so on. Obviously with more detail, but this way you can quantify your seeds and, at the same time, create links between characters. It works for some spheres easier than others (with vampires you'll need to get creative, for example) but it gives you a launching point and it allows you the flexibility of ripping off countless of coming-of-age movies. You can put anything in there from Buffy to freakin' Ocean's Eleven and it'll still work.

    ... If someone busts their ass and pours a ton of work into it. Creativity is the easy part, maintenance is the bitch that gets you.


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality said:

    Working on methods. :sunglasses: Will poke when viable and functional! (Still working on prefs things, it just now works... )

    You are doing amazing, wonderful things.

    @Arkandel

    Brilliant. Thank you. I wish I had some big long reply, but just thank you. I'm going to chew on it for a while. If you have any other brilliant ideas, I am all ears. :)



  • @Sunny said:

    @surreality said:

    Working on methods. :sunglasses: Will poke when viable and functional! (Still working on prefs things, it just now works... )

    You are doing amazing, wonderful things.

    @Arkandel

    Brilliant. Thank you. I wish I had some big long reply, but just thank you. I'm going to chew on it for a while. If you have any other brilliant ideas, I am all ears. :)

    Prefs is working, so Seeking should be easy to adapt from that.

    I am wondering if it might not be possible to work in a 'staff' catchall for the seeking template idea where these things could be added to mix in; it was already a consideration for individual players and stuff like factions/businesses, so if all that can be made to work, adding a 'game-wide' list shouldn't be too tricky!


  • Admin

    @Sunny said:

    Brilliant. Thank you. I wish I had some big long reply, but just thank you. I'm going to chew on it for a while. If you have any other brilliant ideas, I am all ears. :)

    Well, the bitch of the matter here is making it in a way that scales up so you don't either burn out to a crisp trying to keep up with the requirement of all those people wanting those background tidbits to mean something or making them be some inert piece of trivia in their +bg somewhere that barely does anything for them. After all if it doesn't generate RP what good is it?

    You probably want to crowdsource this shit. Like, let people pick their poison from a list ("this is what's available for you guys"). Some of them will pick individual tidbits ("sure, my PC spent two years in that ultra conservative catholic school") waiting to be paired up with others pretty much at random and others might create as a unit ("we got really drunk that one night and broke into Native American museum"). Then try to organize - but not run yourself - that unicorn of all PrP arrangements; plot trading.

    Plot trading is ... hah. It's not easy. I very often see people offering but it very rarely happens. So you'd need to be on top of people, motivating them any way you can at all - XP, recognition, extra access to staff plot, anything - to run stories for each other. Basically the idea (in this context, pending further refinement) would be to give players control over another unit's metaplot; that'd include a write-up of just what it entails (what did those drunken idiots steal? what did it do to them?), some loosely defined NPCs they can use (the now-retired teacher with a worm inside their skull, the former school janitor now working for an asylum) and let them go to town. Hopefully.

    Basically you can't do too much to encourage plot on this level. Player-ran plot is the only thing here that scales up, where almost everything else does not.

    Running plot is a lot of work. It just takes so long and there are so many bored players around. If they take care of each other that's great, but if you need to do it for them... well, you might as well book a spot for that asylum, too. :)