No character exists in a vacuum. One of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of Mythras gaming is connections - Allies, Contacts, even Rivals and Enemies. Much old school gaming tends to focus on player characters being self-contained agents of their lives, yet life doesn't work that way.
Connections are part of every Session Zero. Every character should go through the process of creating a possible family, background events, and their Connections. This might seem like a waste of time to some players who might be champing at the bit for the chance to get into that dungeon and start slaughtering - but in fact, Connections can make the difference between a page full of empty, meaningless statistics, and a person whose achievements and accomplishments in adventures have meaning.
Connections can galvanise the player characters into action - problems arising in their lives can lead the characters into an adventure.
- An old military buddy usually meets the characters every Monday afternoon to go bowling. On this Monday, he's not at his usual rendezvous, and the characters find that he is in the hospital with a stab wound in the back, and his home has been ransacked. The assailant was after something. There is one clue - their friend gave good fight, and landed a few telling blows, so they're looking for some guy who's as badly injured as their buddy is.
- A younger family member has gone missing, and the characters have to track down her skeevy new associate, an older man. They track them down to a martial arts studio, where the older man discloses that she has been training under him to take on some college bullies. Now she, and the bullies, have gone dark. Nobody knows where they are, and the trainer hopes she won't get too much in trouble because she has been training with illegal kubotan melee weapons.
- An old friend's father is dying, and his last words to the friend turn out to be a cryptic clue to a literally haunted treasure.
Connections can keep the adventurers grounded. No matter how wild their adventures are, or where they go, the characters need someone to come home to, to share their lives and weird exploits. Apart from the characters themselves, their Connections might be the only people who are willing to entertain their wild war stories.
- Some ex-service buddies hang around in a bar near the barracks, swapping war stories with some of the raw recruits who are allowed off base during furlough.
- Former Banevio fighting school mystics gather around a fountain in a piazza in Semmi West and reminisce about the bouts they fought, and their old mentor, gone but not forgotten.
- University alumni meet up once a month in one another's homes and talk about their urbex exploits in reputedly haunted houses, including an abandoned hospital where at least one of them can confirm that there is a definite presence, and it isn't some crook on the run, wearing a rubber monster mask to scare away the casuals.
Connections extend the characters' reach into places where the adventurers themselves cannot go.
- A character with an Ally in one of the Familiar in Fioracitta could find a lead on a case which could drag the adventurer into a world of Fiorese organised crims or the Shadow Society.
- An informant working for the Department could slip an agent a note under the door of the hotel she is staying in, with a warning that her cover's been blown and mercenaries are on their way to get her.
- An associate of a notorious sorcery cabal can ask a Connection to deliver an invitation to haul them halfway across town to the cabal's chantry to talk about a possible job offer.
- A friend of a friend of one of the Curators of The Occhiadero in Lascha District has obtained a copy of one of their tomes, teaching some vital Folk Magic the characters need.
Sometimes, the characters get into something they cannot handle. The Games Master can either have some of their Connections turn up (or pull strings and have some heavies go in to haul them out), or they can get the players to roleplay their Connections themselves, investigating the disappearance of the main characters.
- That old buddy with the Family ties can call on the services of some friendly enforcers to back the characters' play if they are up against an overwhelming antagonist force.
- The Banevio gym can send their finest students to help the characters to win a sporting contest for the honour of Little Fourche District against those Gioconda snobs.
- That nice lady with the poison garden in Outer Gioconda can send spirits aplenty to help one of her Maledittara sisters on the spirit plane.
Connections provide the adventurers with a found family, a place to belong, and a sense of involvement in a community.
- The Department's teams are often closer than friends; closer than family.
- Family is the place where nobody keep score or counts the favours owed.
- 'ohana means family ...
- Your mission, should you choose to accept it ...
- It's time! Suit up, boot up and mask up! Brigadier Bay needs us!
In The End
The Connections forged during Session Zero should not be an afterthought. Whether they are the initial hook, the steadying influence, the backup, the found family, or the extension of the characters' reach, the Connections represent the ordinary people around whom the characters' lives revolve.
As non-player characters controlled by the Games Master, the presence of Connections gives the Adventurers opportunities to communicate with the Games Master in character, in a way which avoids breaking the fourth wall and allows the players to remain in character.
The Games Master can use the characters' Connections to help steer them towards answers when they are clueless; to warn them if they are about to try out something dangerous and stupid; and to give them roots into the background community they belong to.
It's all about making the characters' stories meaningful and memorable, and giving the players something to really talk about at gaming conventions.
Edited by Alex Greene