DramaSystem is a new role-playing system designed by the inestimable Robin Laws. I’d followed his blog for a few years, and when he revealed this game I took special notice. He wanted something that focused more on character interactions, looking to emulate my favorite shows like Deadwood and Carnivale. When the game went to Kickstarter, I was quick to jump on board. Even better, he recruited a number of great writers to develop setting frameworks (called Series Pitches). Having access to early playtest material, I convinced my Friday-night group to give it a go.
Our group sat down for collaborative PC generation, something we don’t often do. We’ve talked in previous games about characters to make sure that character roles don’t overlap, but other than that we’re usually buried in rulebooks, developing our back stories in a vacuum. The group approach to character design proved to be as enjoyable as playing the game itself.
The series pitch is for Henchmen, by Gene Ha and Art Lyon. The characters are lackeys to an established super-villain by name of The Iron Mask. They know that the initial premise has their leader being removed from play, either by death or disappearance, and that they’ll need to find their way as things collapse around them.
Following the guidelines, I randomly determined a starting order for the players, and the first player chose what role they wanted their character to fulfill in the group. From there, the second player defines their role and their relationship to the first. As the characters were fleshed out, so were the relationships that tied the group together.
A.K.A., the Master of Disguise
The story of a man looking to define himself. AKA has changed his role, his skin, his life so much, that he’s lost track of who he is.
Desire: Reassurance from those and the world around him.
Dramatic Poles: Identity vs. Anonymity
Polly Anna, Destructive Scientist
The story of a lost girl looking for a reason to not destroy the world.
Desire: To be punished, acting out when this doesn’t happen
Dramatic Poles: Creation vs. Destruction
Mr. Killjoy, Muscle-bound Thug
The story of a man looking for a way to go on living.
Desire: To feel again
Dramatic Poles: Humanity vs. Callousness
Lefty, Aspiring Henchman
The story of a good man blinded by his desires.
Desire: To be respected and valued for his true worth.
Dramatic Poles: Ambition vs. Integrity
I have a relationship map that gives the basics for the four characters (click to enlarge).
Next post we’ll get to what characters want from the others and why they’re not getting it.