relationship maps

Something I realized while tinkering on Monday (which is actually today — I’m writing this on Monday and scheduling it for later so it looks like I spread this shit out; sorry if your illusion is damaged) is that the BOND mechanism in Soft Horizon makes relationship maps.

So a BOND is a phrase describing a connection between your character and another entity. But it generalizes: the entity can also have a BOND with you, even if it’s not a character. So you can have a BOND with another character or with your organization or with a community. And conversely these things can all have BONDS with you.

Now in play you can bring out a BOND and add its die to your pool if it’s relevant. So if you can work the fact that you’re the navigator for your company (BOND: I’m the company’s navigator) then you get the die. But this is bi-directional, so if the company has a BOND with you, you can drag it in as a helping die.

So because it’s bi-directional we don’t need to show it with a source and a destination. We can in fact just use it to connect two entities. In other words, in a graph of entities, BONDS are the connecting arcs.

bonds as relationships
See, I told you so.

So does this actually do anything for you? Yes!

As a play aid this is actually pretty damned powerful. One problem with sticking aspects BONDS and SCARS on everything is it’s easy to lose track. You need to have everyone elses character sheet handy and you need a card or a doc entry for the community, your organization, and anything else that seems important enough to get representation. But surfing through these things is a pain in the ass and slows down conflict resolution.

But a map like this shows you at a glance who can help and how.

It also supplies cues for the story to bring it in! If you want to bring in a second order BOND (like, say a BOND that your organization has with another entity) it’s clear that your story needs to be about both of those entities. This opens up a good question–just how deep can you go? Third order BONDS? Fourth? Any? I’m inclined to say any just as long as you’re prepared to invent that story.

No, I haven’t dragged it into play so I’m being a bit of a hypocrite here. But I’m sure it’s useful. It’s a little suspicious that I have a good time drawing them. But no, that’s a distraction, it’s useful. Totally.

Is it? Play with it and tell me.


So an interesting problem now (to me) is where the commentary goes. There is commentary, but it’s generally not here, which is fine because this isn’t an open forum really. Even if I open up comments it doesn’t feel like one — it feels like someone elses space. But everything is crosslinked to whatever WordPress’s limited linking capabilities provides, so that’s G+, Twitter, and Facebook basically. Not linking G+ because it’s dying nor Facebook because I don’t check it often.

Anyway, that’s where the good commentary has been.

I’ve also manually linked to Reddit and Mastodon. That’s had good commentary too but I fear that manual linking isn’t something I’m likely to maintain. And Reddit doesn’t seem like a place that will tolerate a link a day unless they are crazy interesting. If you dig something and link it there, that’s cool of course. Same with, say, — doesn’t seem appropriate somehow to link my own stuff there.

Another possibility is the VSCA discord. That’s always on but I don’t know to what degree I’m interested in moderating it. I ban pretty reflexively anyone that aggravates and I probably aggravate too easily. If discord’s your bag, the RPG Talk discord is also pretty wonderful, packed with cool people.

So in the spirit of self-reflexivity, where would you most like to engage? I’ll hunt down comments in all these places, but if there’s one place that most people go, I’ll be there.

One thing I’m not interested in is any sort of tribalism. If you have a hard-on for some place, that’s awesome. But if it means you have a hate-on for some other place, I’m not interested.

So I guess the bottom line is that I’ll follow up wherever I know there’s discussion. If you start it, hook me up and I’ll participate. Hopefully something will shake out.