This refers to the first episode of Agora Core:
It is a conundrum, because however original your plot may
seem, you need to contrive a reason for a group to form. How should they begin? Perhaps there is a backstory connecting some
or all of the players. An example of
this approach is in Will Wheton’s Titans Grave where character backstories are
discussed and secret bonds are disclosed to the Games Master.
Another simpler approach is a reason that attracts the
players to one spot, such as a call for adventures and the promise of riches
for successfully completing a mission. I
decided to loosely follow this second approach, bringing the group together at
the docks of the town of Nis-Ton. Their
reasons for being there were their own, but each was looking for an
opportunity; perhaps to earn more money, perhaps for adventuring, perhaps they
hoped to escape the land of DaNis altogether.
In much the same way as Character Creation, I left the
players to choose their reasons for being there. This has both advantages and
disadvantages. The main advantage, as I
see it, is that they are in total control of their characters and can develop
them organically. I can then suggest
paths for them to follow during the roleplay but they can choose where they go
from there. The main disadvantage is
that they are complete strangers and they have no bonds to each other or to a
central plot. The introduction of Long
mid-way through this episode highlights the loose bonds between the characters.
What worked really well at the docks was that the players
grasped the situation quickly and decided that there was an opportunity worth
exploring. They then advanced the plot
with their actions and dice rolling.
The finding of a horse and cart was a single line plot
that developed because Hector did not roll well when perceiving where to look
for a horse and did not ask anyone. So
rather than go straight to the transportation store, they successfully deceived
a resident and took their horse. Then
they had to deal with the transportation store for the cart. In this case, the characters of Nomo and
Hector started out being civil and ran an errand for the store owner; collecting
flowers that grew on the cliffs ledges, but when that didn’t work out they
resorted to tossing him over the side of the cliff. Hector is definitely a bad influence on
Nomo! The interesting part is that they
had already secured a horse and cart but decided that they needed an extra
horse! The poor store owner needn’t have
been so roughly discarded! But this is
what makes roleplays so interesting – you never know how players and plot will
A lovely moment was when Orix decided to pay special
attention to the horse they commandeered and named it Loki. I liked that personal touch, which he also
displayed when creating the Weasel familiar.
Another character-driven bonus was the strange friction between
man-of-the-wilds Long and the dry-witted drow Hector. Long simply didn’t trust Hector. To be fair to Hector, if someone threw a warhammer at me I would not warm to them either!
Still, it is moments such as these that make each party unique, for
which I am very grateful.