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Using R-Maps for adventures


Ian Cooper

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Hi all,

A litle bit of feedback I am looking to get for something that I am working on.

How many of you use the relationship-map as a techinique to run sandbox adventures. For those who don't know what an r-map is, or want be sure what I mean, the definition I use would be this one: http://sgcodex.wikidot.com/relationship-maps

If you do use r-maps, I'd like to understand:

  • How you use them? As a game aid for a plotted scenario, or campaign, or as the driver for the game i.e. in other words do players frame scenes with characters on the map, or do you frame all scenes and just use the r-map to give context? Do you update them in play as relationships in play?
  • How do you create them? The GM creates the map and shows the players? Or do you collaboratively develop the r-map as part of setup. (Games like Fiasco, Questlandia, or In A Wicked Age have a setup step where you create PCs and the NPC R-Map at the same time).
  • Do you mix both plotted (on rails, branching or not) sessions with r-map sessions, or is it exclusive.

If you don't use them, I'd like to understand why:

  • I have never heard of them.
  • They don't suit my group's style, they prefer plotted 'on rails' material
  • I have heard of them, but I don't really understand how to use them to drive play, so I just use them to explain the key NPCs and then drive with plotted material.

And in both cases, do you think that advice on how to use them to run a Heroquest game would be valuable?

Thanks in advance for any responses.

Ian

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I don't use relationship maps.

If I do any kind of graphics-supported mapping, I normally fall back to using mind-maps. Otherwise, I use wiki-like cross-referencing.

For my still not finished project about the granddaughters of an earth priestess as characters (or character patrons) I tried to use a genealogical mapping tool, but that turned out to be unable to handle re-marriages after divorces or widowing. Most NPCs are introduced as sample members of their organisation (like clan or Enfranchised House, military unit or similar).

For wiki-like hyperlinking I have sort of adopted the format used in the Gloranthan freeforms - what the character currently viewed thinks about people or groups of people he knows (has relationships with). Goals, secrets, possibly some character history. Resources, dependants without separate entries yet.

 

When it comes to providing a short campaigning background, my notes look something like this:

http://www.sartar.de/seshnegi-campaign.html

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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8 hours ago, Ian Cooper said:

How many of you use the relationship-map as a techinique to run sandbox adventures.

I like the concept, particularly as presented in the Coming Storm, but have yet to use such. 

8 hours ago, Ian Cooper said:

If you don't use them, I'd like to understand why

I wasn't familiar with the concept when I started my Orlmarth campaign.  I do to an extent for my Nochet campaign, but used some slightly different techniques, though could be fashioned into an R-Map.

My Orlmarth Campaign:  I presented overviews of the clan and then all the bloodlines including renowned members as with the following.

Orlmarth Relationships with Neighbors
• 3 Friends (Ernaldori, Zethnoring, Hiordings)
• 3 Allies (Taraling, Enhyli, Red Cow-Cinsina)
• 5 Enemies (Greydogs-Lismelder,Varmandi,Antorling,Lysang,Malani)

Urothorlings, called Bluesheep
• The descendents of Urothorl the Blue Ram, the oldest bloodline. The bloodline has always been strong with magic.
• They primarily reside at Oranesstead by Orane's Loom, the Ernalda holy site, as well as steads around the Guardian Woods and the Big Starfire Ridge.
• Bloodline Members: c. 200
• Renowned Members: Morganeth White-eye, Hantrafal Runemaker, Willandring Windspeaker, Wilms Vak the Bulltamer (thane), Enterossa Three-Sticks, Olav the Carpenter. And the heroes.

Each hero also has a lineage (example attached), which has been my main 'relationship' view so far.  It doesn't capture conflicts, but does help me place the heroes in the context of how they relate to each other.

My Nochet Campaign:  as with the Orlmarth campaign, we did a clan/house generation and came up with relationships for House Lorionaeo (a client of House Hulta).  Their general relationships include:

The other thing I added for each individual hero was a set of starting relationships.  These include:  Best Friend, Primary Contact, Current Mentor, Greatest Rival, Worst Foe, and Biggest Pain in the ^$@!.  These relationships come from a set of Stock/Common Characters I built out so after all the heroes had rolled or selected theirs, there is some natural overlap.

For example, Serenalda the Earth Seer got these relationships:

While Amanorina Queen's Eye is her biggest pain, is Kalavan's Best Friend and Bruvala's Primary Contact. 

How does she end up with so many roles? Ah, well, the daughter of the Orendar of House Floraeo is well known in the neighborhood. And that she is active in not one, but two, of the famed Societies of the Cloth, she gets to know many women very well. Amanorina is part of both the Red Thread Spinners, who have close ties to Queen Hendira herself(!), and the Serpents of the Loom Sorority, in which the famed Talosa priestess Serzimarja holds court. Perhaps a chance encounter at the Cistern connected her with Kal. She's of an age with Bruvala - they played together as girls, and likely she helped Bruvala join one of Societies of the Cloth. As for Serenalda, well, surely Serenalda wants to join the Serpents of the Loom Sorority! How could she not! Of course, it has many obligations, and perhaps those do not accord with Serenalda's view of life? But Amanorina is notoriously persistent.

The intent is to create a web of relationships, like the R-Maps, that can pull a character in differing directions at points where sandbox play becomes important.

OranesStead Lineage pt5-v2.jpg

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6 hours ago, Joerg said:

I don't use relationship maps.

If I do any kind of graphics-supported mapping, I normally fall back to using mind-maps. Otherwise, I use wiki-like cross-referencing.

When it comes to providing a short campaigning background, my notes look something like this:

http://www.sartar.de/seshnegi-campaign.html

For the purpose of this discussion, I'm less interested in the how of the mapping, just the idea that your game centers on a group of NPCs and the conflict between them. (Sadly Well of Souls, an example scenario in this style for Hero Wars is no longer available on the web). But if a story comes from 'conflict' then an r-map, which has NPCs in conflict, can be the source of story.

So in your notes you have a cast of NPCs. If they were shown with relationships in conflict, then they could be used to drive a game through the conflicts between the NPCs.

 

 

 

 

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On 7/21/2017 at 3:45 PM, Ian Cooper said:

How many of you use the relationship-map as a techinique to run sandbox adventures. For those who don't know what an r-map is, or want be sure what I mean, the definition I use would be this one: http://sgcodex.wikidot.com/relationship-maps

 

No, I don't use relationship maps. I toyed with them for a bit but they don;t help me much. One of our players loves them, though. so I sometimes sketch one to help him out, but that is a very quick map and not used for anything else.

So, I suppose I do and I don't ...

 

If you do use r-maps, I'd like to understand:

  • How you use them? As a game aid for a plotted scenario, or campaign, or as the driver for the game i.e. in other words do players frame scenes with characters on the map, or do you frame all scenes and just use the r-map to give context? Do you update them in play as relationships in play?
  • How do you create them? The GM creates the map and shows the players? Or do you collaboratively develop the r-map as part of setup. (Games like Fiasco, Questlandia, or In A Wicked Age have a setup step where you create PCs and the NPC R-Map at the same time).
  • Do you mix both plotted (on rails, branching or not) sessions with r-map sessions, or is it exclusive.

 

As a game aid, to work out the relationships between PCs and NPCs.

I draw some, players draw some and we mash them together.

No idea! My experiences with relationship maps is as a pretty picture than can be useful in mapping relationships. Beyond that, I am lost.

 

If you don't use them, I'd like to understand why:

  • I have never heard of them.
  • They don't suit my group's style, they prefer plotted 'on rails' material
  • I have heard of them, but I don't really understand how to use them to drive play, so I just use them to explain the key NPCs and then drive with plotted material.

I have heard of them.

They are useful to a certain extent, but only as a game aid.

I definitely don't understand how to use them in play to drive play. Can they be used that way?

 

And in both cases, do you think that advice on how to use them to run a Heroquest game would be valuable?

 

Absolutely, yes.

The more advice/examples of different techniques we have help us to learn new techniques that can be used in games.

Not just HeroQuest, either, they should be usable with RuneQuest and other systems as well. The relationships between NPCs and PCs are not rules specific, or am I missing something?

 

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R-Maps is an idea that I first saw enter gaming via the "indie" gaming environment a while back... maybe 15ish-20ish years ago.  Ian's link in the OP says they came to us via the Japanese RPGs in the 90s...

I know they are big with business-wonk types, and some fiction-authors use them; but I'm not sure where the concept originated, or how much cross-contamination there ahs been between the various communities.

https://hbr.org/2008/02/have-you-mapped-your-key-relat

http://stevenrsouthard.com/character-relationship-maps/

===

From an RPG perspective, they do that concise "picture worth a thousand words" capture of complex social situations -- a multiplicity of relationships between multiple individuals and/or groups.

Sometimes they can reveal stuff like, "whoa, why doesn't THIS person have a deep history with THAT group?  it's so clear... they MUST be related!"  This can lead to a deeper, more "real" feeling to the setting and/or character(s).

Sometimes they help the GM figure out what would happen (what would the NPC reaction/motivation/etc be) in a tangled/complex situation; sometimes they will highlight that the choice may be an agonizing one.

A quick Google (for the source/origin of r-maps, which I didn't find) found one game-designer who was playing with the idea of having the WHOLE character-sheet as an R-map:  the PC is defined as who they are in relationship to people & groups around them.

===

To answer Ian's OP:

I haven't used them explicitly, though I like the idea and they seem cool!  But so far, I haven't felt that r-map creation got to the top of my game-prep "must do next" list -- there are all manner of things one COULD do for game-prep; NPC sheets, maps, cool/evocative props, etc etc etc.  I don't have enough time to do as much prep as I would LIKE to do, and r-maps have never made the cut.

Sometimes, NOTHING makes the cut -- I run the game off of what is in the back of my head.  I have found the "nothing but what's in my head" games can be just as strong as the lots-of-stuff-on-paper games... which honestly doesn't encourage me to go deeper into my "game-prep to-do" stack.

 

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18 minutes ago, jrutila said:

Isn't this in the style of Hillfolk? In that game relationshipmaps are quite handy. 

Not really... the Dramasystem sheet is still fundamentally structured as lists.

It definitely uses r-maps, but the definitional element of the PC (their sheet) isn't an r-map.

 

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On 26/07/2017 at 7:02 PM, g33k said:

I haven't used them explicitly, though I like the idea and they seem cool!  But so far, I haven't felt that r-map creation got to the top of my game-prep "must do next" list -- there are all manner of things one COULD do for game-prep; NPC sheets, maps, cool/evocative props, etc etc etc.  I don't have enough time to do as much prep as I would LIKE to do, and r-maps have never made the cut.

Sometimes, NOTHING makes the cut -- I run the game off of what is in the back of my head.  I have found the "nothing but what's in my head" games can be just as strong as the lots-of-stuff-on-paper games... which honestly doesn't encourage me to go deeper into my "game-prep to-do" stack.

 

Thanks, very useful.

I would agree on the nothing model in some cases. I am currently running an Unknown Armies 3e game where most of my prep is clipping articles from Wikipedia that might provide inspiration in play.

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On 7/31/2017 at 7:40 AM, Ian Cooper said:

Thanks, very useful.

I would agree on the nothing model in some cases. I am currently running an Unknown Armies 3e game where most of my prep is clipping articles from Wikipedia that might provide inspiration in play.

I ran a campaign that fell apart only because of move-aways & player-illness'es, with literally zero "external" prep of notes/etc.

(Wait ...  I take that back:  I looked up the Kathmandu/Everest region to get the layout clear in my mind for when the lightning struck down the PC's steamtech airship...  Oh, and I recorded the aircaptain's name, Tiberius James.)

Other than that, I just jotted down (on-the-fly as I made them up) any possibly-repeating names, per-encounter NPCs' relevant stats for interaction/conflict/etc, injuries incurred in ongoing combats, etc.  Plus (again, on-the-fly / as-needed) maps/sketches/etc of anything needed to help the players visualize whatever needed-to-be-envisioned.

 

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