Monday, April 28, 2014

What Building a Player Character Association Tells the GM!

Friday night, our nascent On Her Majesty's Arcane Service IRC game kicked off with a Session Zero Association Building session. Really interesting results ensued:

1: They decided to make the Association as "Courtier's Henchmen". In the Elizabethan model, courtiers were generally given enough rope to hang themselves, and several did. The courtier in question may very well end up being a player character, as we have not yet created Player Characters.

2: They located their HQ in a manor house and fishing village near Gravesend on the Thames estuary. This is an odd location, but there were reasons for it, as we shall see.

3: For security, the opted for a platoon of Elite Musketeers. An early indication of the way this game will go...

4: They built Standard Spy Rings in France, Spain, Portugal, and The Netherlands, and recruited 4 Poor Double Agents. They will have political information flowing from each of the queen's enemies and friends, obviously, but the double agents are interesting. Poor Double Agents are minor functionaries, junior officers, and the like. they have not named them, so any time one of these types turns up in play, they may name that character as a double agent. This is a moderate espionage capability, so espionage will be in a supporting role rather than front and center in this game.

5: They purchased a squadron of six armed pinnaces - in Elizabethan times, a pinnace was a small ship, not a boat, about 100 feet long and with two or three masts. It could be lateen or square rigged, with between 8 and 12 guns. This is some serious muscle. Pinaces are sturdy anough to cross the Atlantic, but of relatively shallow draft. This shows they are thinking of private armed forces as a measure of how they will go. Fascinating!

6: For their Arcane Library, they purchased a series of books aimed at covering the most anticipated situations - Common and Rare Bestiaries, Folk Tales, and Mythologies. This is moderate for moster hunting - enough to cover their asses but not really specialized. They also hired a Master Librarian and purchased some common Grimoires - these are spell books covering moderately powerful charms that affect the power or size of various things. Again, covering basics, and useful, but not very specialized.

7: They purchased a common Portolan covering the Channel, and 4 unnamed Uncommon Portolans. They obviously anticipate going to interesting places on their missions! Perhaps the coast of Virginia, or Africa, or maybe even Asia!

8: They hired a company of Elite Mercenary Infantry. This not only is a lot of people, but very expensive, and Elite Mercs are extremely loyal for mercs. It's a small  private army - or, given their squadron of pinnaces, Marines. They obviously expect the type of trouble where having a powerful but compact armed force will be really handy!

9: They purchased or hired everything possible for item creation! A Master Artificer and four journeymen, An Artificer Laboratory, A Forge and Fountry, a Glass Blower, and a Precious Metalsmith. Their bling with have zing! I expect Bond-esque hardware coming out of these experts, as well as their own cannon for their Pinnaces! Anything that was possible to build in the Elizabethan era can be built on premises!

A wide ranging expeditionary force, with a powerful but small military - think Special Forces - and the finest and most modern equipment, supported by magic, espionage, and knowledge. What we have here is a late Tudor Seal team Six!


  1. It will be interesting to read how it goes Clash. Somehow it doesn't surprise me that it will be Seal Team Six -- Tudor style. I think they were right trying to spread out their resources like that. I remember when we tried to do an association and soon found out that it would be best if we had a little bit of a lot so we could cover more instances.,

  2. Hi Bon-bon! I always play to what the players want, treating the way they build their association like flags - and they knew it. This way, if the players build an association heavy on espionage, I give them a game heavy on the espionage. If the GM does the reverse, attacking the weaknesses of the Association, then it can easily go as you said. Different GMing styles.

  3. Your way is the best way to do it (there, I said it). :) We tried different ways of building it when testing the system and it does work best if you only give them a little guidance/suggestions when building an association. Plus if you are quiet when they build it, it gives you time to think of what to have for encounters (not all encounters are bad) or how to set up your adventure.

  4. Exactly, Bonni! My role in the Association setup is to guide the process to make sure that all the aspects are considered. :D