Thursday, July 7, 2011

Concept for a Convention Game

In reading chapter 5 of Shared Fantasy, he has an interesting anecdote about a con game.  The point of the anecdote is demonstrating what happens when intraparty cooperation breaks down.  But, I think it could also just be a neat idea.

Short description: The young baroness has been kidnapped by bandits. You have been hired to rescue her. But, are your companions what they appear to be?

Background of the Story

The baron has lost his two sons to war with his neighbor count, and his only surviving child is his daughter.  Not only does he love her dearly, but she stands to inherit everything.  One of the local bandit tribes knows this, and has managed to capture her for ransom.  Being more clever than they look, they are currently camped in a canyon on the far side of the count's territory.  Sending in official troops to take back his daughter would trigger another war.

As such, the baron has hired a group of deniable mercenaries to perform the task.  That's you lot.  There is a sack of gold for each of you if you bring her back, in addition to whatever loot you recover from the bandits.

The Characters

In fairly standard con game tradition, I would have about a dozen pre-gens of various types made up.  These would be strictly mechanical builds, with no personality imposed (not even a gender).  Probably four different fighter types, four different sneaky/skill monkey types, four different magic types, and a couple wild cards.  The exact classes would, of course, depend on the system involved.  Each player would pick one.

The Twist

Once the players have picked their characters, each player gets a random sealed envelope.  This reveals a secret motivation/goal of the character.  These motivations are not exactly designed to promote harmony in the party.
  1. You are actually the son of a duke, and the betrothed of the baroness.  Your father has forbidden you from riding to her rescue, but your love was too strong.  You must maintain your secret identity.
  2. You actually work for the enemy count.  You are here to sabotage the effort or, if possible, kidnap the baroness yourself after she's been rescued.  Of course, you are severely outnumbered, so you will need to be subtle.
  3. You grew up in the baron's house with the baroness.  You are also secretly in love with her.  As a commoner, you know that that love can never be requited.  But, your love cannot allow you to sit idly by while she is in danger.
  4. You are an assassin.  You have received information that the son of a duke is hiding among these mercenaries.  You have been hired to make sure that son does not come back alive.  Unfortunately, you have no idea what the son looks like.
  5. You were accused of treason against the baron in the recent war.  A death sentence hangs over your head, if anyone tumbles to your true identity.  However, if you return his daughter, the baron will likely grant you a pardon instead of the reward.  There's just one hitch: you must be the hero.  Simply being one of the troops is not enough to make the kind of impression you need.
  6. You don't care about the baroness, or the gold.  These bandits, though, raped your sister and murdered her children.  Your motivation is, quite simply, to make them all pay, whatever the cost.
  7. You are a veteran of the war, desperately running from the horrors you saw there.  You are out of money and out of options, and the only thing you have to offer this world is your sword arm.  But, when the din of battle begins, will you be able to cope?
  8. You are actually exactly what you appear to be: a professional sword-for-hire.  You are here to perform a job and get paid.  Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.
Of course, every player knows that every other player has a secret.   And, looking at the secret you received, you can be fairly sure that the other players don't exactly have the best interests of the group at the top of their priority list.  But, of course, everyone needs to keep the group on task, to maintain cover if nothing else.

It's a little bit Fiasco.  Or maybe a little bit Paranoia.  The question is, would it actually be a fun con game?  I might actually try to write it up for the next DC Game Day.

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