Monday, November 12, 2012

Relationships with Absolutely "Everybody"

Okay, so I very occasionally check in at ChinaSmack for random odd news and information from China.  It's not a proper news site--more of a "weird stuff" collection.  Anyway, a recent item was about China's equivalent to Facebook called Renren (人人), which means "Everybody".  They had a bit of text about it which I found fascinating from a gaming perspective:

"...your love rival, your ex-partner, your current partner, your good friend, your ex-partner’s partner, your partner’s ex-partner, your good friend’s partner, your partner’s good friends, your love rival’s ex-partner, your ex-partner’s love rival, your love rival’s good friend, your good friend’s love rival, your love rival’s good friend’s ex-partner, your ex-partner’s good-friend’s love rival, your love rival’s ex-partner’s good friend, your good friend’s ex-partner’s love rival…"

Hmm, that would make a great web of relationships for a more social/politically oriented game, wouldn't it?  The players could come up with character backgrounds which include filling in identities for all the people above.  Or a GM could map out a complex web of NPCs whose interactions drive plot lines.  Some things which stood out for me were the constant references to rivals and the lack of specific mention of family members.  The latter is perhaps because this is marketing copy meant to appeal to a younger generation obsessed with partners and romance and looking for a medium to pursue such obsessions.

Breaking out the relationships in the quoted text in a neat list we get:
  • your love rival
  • your ex-partner
  • your current partner
  • your good friend
  • your ex-partner’s partner
  • your partner’s ex-partner
  • your good friend’s partner
  • your partner’s good friends
  • your love rival’s ex-partner
  • your ex-partner’s love rival
  • your love rival’s good friend
  • your good friend’s love rival
  • your love rival’s good friend’s ex-partner
  • your ex-partner’s good-friend’s love rival
  • your love rival’s ex-partner’s good friend
  • your good friend’s ex-partner’s love rival
At first glance this seems like a lot of people, but since a lot will overlap it's not too many to work with.  If you have a group of players keen on a socio-political game then filling out these slots will be a fun exercise all by itself.  It might help to do this as a cooperative exercise. The players will take turns filling one of their relationship slots with either another player's character, an existing NPC, or by creating a new NPC.  By the end there will be a deliciously complex web of relationships where almost everyone is the rival or partner or friend or ex-partner of somebody.

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