Setting Building
Game Mastering
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September 7, 2010, 12:02 am

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Webs of Intrigue


Creating a specific Web of Intrigue for a social situation players will encounter can be a very strong aid towards immersing players in a social quagmire they will have to navigate. In this article I will articulate how I have created a web of intrigue for my current campaign, and how I plan to continue the trend.

In my campaign, players are attempting to stop a murder as their long-term goal. In essence, this makes the victim the central component of the web (or classically, as the central point in the web where all the spokes meet.)

That point in the center? Most important character to the web goes there.

From the center, work out the closest associates of that character. For this campaign, I start with Count Vilsador, the target of the murder. Immediately next to him in the web is Maxwell, his Brother, his Father, and his Steward. Directly after come business and political contacts. I then fleshed out my web by adding more contacts to the people the Count knew.

Look ma, It's a web!

The web needs more info than just a nice picture of who knows who, who wants to stab who with a pitchfork, and so on. Actually knowing the nature of the people involved, their goals, desires and ways of making money and methods is the brunt of the work. Staring at my web will not reveal that Drogon is an information broker, that Feldas is a sniveling coward, or that Reed is an upstanding honest man. It also does not fill in any player goals.

Woo! NPC details!


Web of Intrigue Advantages:

Easy to spot who is connected to whom.

Dynamic. Web can change as players affect the social situations they are in.

Documents relationships concretely.

Groups NPCs into factions fairly easily.


Web of Intrigue Disadvantages:


Hard to reference in game.

Larger webs get exponentially more complicated.

Players can be stranded without a good social contact.

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Comments ( 8 )
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Voted Cheka Man
September 7, 2010, 16:14
Useful. 3/5
Voted Pieh
September 9, 2010, 6:29
This certainly is food for thought, and I will be sure to consider it when planning my next adventure.
Voted axlerowes
September 10, 2010, 18:30
Running a cocktail party of NPCs can be hard on several levels, first it is often hard to get he PCs to interested in NPC details and furthermore you have to play each NPC with enough distinction so that the PCs can keep them straight, because after all it is only you at the end of the table. I had one GM that would put up pictures every time a NPC was around, and that was helpful, or he would hand outs of pictures when we were in place with a lot of NPCs.

I would try to go over Pwr Pnt presentation of the NPCs every couple of games, aided by pictures. I would also try and give all the NPCs a sharp (if not exaggerated physical trait) that the PCs could recall. But I have tried the web technique before to keep track of characters and it is helpful in the planning stage (you could also try a family tree type setup), but in actual game play it is not much use for referencing. I would like to very much to read more about this plot and how the implementation of this went in the game.

September 11, 2010, 0:31
I'll see about a summary of the campaign and how the web was used. See, next week they're going to get tasked with dismantling as much of that web as possible- since they hate the city and most of the people in it, they should approach it with glee.
Voted valadaar
September 10, 2010, 19:58
I like this - feels like it could stand expansion, but it is a neat article.

+.5 for pics :)
September 11, 2010, 0:32
I honestly wouldn't have posted this without the pics- there's no other way of capturing my manic attempts to map out social relationships.
July 17, 2011, 9:15

I just noticed the name Danamax on that paper, I will be revisiting the Danamax Rapiers shortly. 

This is still an interesting article. Food for thought, as I said before. And the pictures are a nice addition to this solid submission. 

July 27, 2011, 19:17
I'm currently running a campaign set in Danamar, which is taking the majority of my creative juices at the moment. I'm glad you guys are still enjoying what material has found its way here.

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