member, 1842 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Wed 1 Dec 2021
at 21:54
3 P's - A Guide to Quickly Tying Players to the Setting
A traditional instrument during character creation has been the 3x3 NPC Grid: x3 Allies, x3 Neturals, x3 Enemies but I have found that tends to both end up typically being a lot of work that doesn't pay off on the player's part and is kind of creatively stifling.

As an alternative I propose the 3 P's method: A Pal, A Pet, and A Problem

A Pal: A Pal (or a Peer if you want) is someone roughly as capable as the players but with a job that ties them to the setting and prevents them from adventuring. A town guard, a retired bartender, a childhood friend etc. This NPC should have some obviously useful talents that the players can use to quickly establish them as likeable. The guard gets the players out of jail after a bar fight, the bartender gives them free drinks, the hacker internet pal can be used to deliver plot and exposition or "crack" the macguffin etc.

The Key is they can help out the players but in a very narrow circumstance. This endears them to the players without threatening to overwhelm them or steal the spotlight.

A Pet: This could be a literal pet but in general the idea is someone vastly weaker then the player that the PC would be inclined to protect. An orphan they toss some coins to, a significant other or family member who is otherwise mundane, an apprentice or assistant etc.

This is the opposite of the pal where instead of the NPC protecting the PCs the PCs are given the opportunity to help out an NPC. This helps establish a hierarchy in the player's minds so they don't feel like they're at the bottom of the heap. Good players get the rush of getting to save a child's life or protect their sibling from danger creating a very quick and tangible sense of being a hero. Even villainous PCs can be given slave or minion that they can flex over by having the minion struggle with some danger that the villainous PC can quickly smite.

A Problem: In the 3x3 this would typically be the rival or villain for the PC but that is a limiting factor. The PRoblem could be a drug addicted family member or a spouse cursed to transform into a bloodthirsty monster. The problem's purpose isn't to make the PCs hate them, but as a tool the GM can use to hook the player further into the story. Maybe their evil rival is the head of the demonic cult or maybe the PC's gullible nephew or niece has gotten themselves kidinapped or been pursuaded to join the cult as a foot soldier.

Finally the way that I have been using the 3 P's is that I, the GM, give them to the player based on their backstory. If they talk about a family member pluck a few of those out and fit them into one of the P's. If nothing jumps out roll on some random charts or just think about their story a bit or work with the player to incorporate them.

If they don't have them at character creation I look at the early adventure as a way to try and fit NPCs they meet into one (or more) of their categories. A truly well written NPC could easily fit into all three categories (A city watch Pal that can shield them from minor offenses but who also has to be rescued when they face much harder monsters but also has some kind of vice or addiction or curse that drives the players into conflict)

The reason I like this over  the 3x3 is A) it is more streamlined and B) the category helps clue you in to how to effectively use them in a story so they are "just there".

Anyway thoughts? Suggestions? Questions?
Jewwk of Shuu
 member, 47 posts
 "I cast: Pro: Sandwich"
 GM: "But WHY?!"
Wed 1 Dec 2021
at 23:05
3 P's - A Guide to Quickly Tying Players to the Setting
I love the idea. Thank you for sharing!
 member, 175 posts
Wed 1 Dec 2021
at 23:50
Re: 3 P's - A Guide to Quickly Tying Players to the Setting
I think it's certainly a refinement on the initial grid, and it does a good job of encouraging players to think of surrounding NPCs or things which can nicely bind them to a particular setting and which might actually be useful for a GM.

The characters created should be appropriate to the setting, which might be better than a player randomly creating something out of thin air to fill in a 3 X 3 which can't actually be implemented into a game.

For something like a relatively classic DnD-esque style of game (i.e. party of adventurers in a city meeting up for the first time in a tavern) or a freeform slice of life game, I could see myself using it to set a good standard for either myself or other players to work from at the start of a game.

My only concern is less with the idea per se, and more with how it's applied by a GM running a game. I can certainly imagine situations where it might not be appropriate to recommend that every character needs to have all three in every circumstance. I'd certainly be a little careful about assigning a pal or a pet if a player was resistant to it, especially if they've got a clear idea of the direction that they want their character to take.

If nothing else, you'd perhaps want to have at least one of each shared across a whole group, so even if an individual player might not have an attachment to the pet, there's enough peer pressure from their links to the rest of the group to get them to tag along in their rescue.
 member, 459 posts
Thu 2 Dec 2021
at 00:10
Re: 3 P's - A Guide to Quickly Tying Players to the Setting
One of the things I'm fond of in a similar vein is Two Truths and a Lie. Three rumors about a PC that the other PCs and NPCs may have heard. Two of which are true, one of which is not. There are obvious variations, but the core idea that the world is filled with rumors, and it's a two-way street.

It also has the side-effect of communicating to the GM some of the things a player might consider to be important in the nature of the rumors, but that they may not have thought to talk about otherwise.
 member, 1054 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 2 Dec 2021
at 00:47
3 P's - A Guide to Quickly Tying Players to the Setting
In reply to praguepride (msg # 1):

Very interesting.  Almost sounds too simple. ;)
 member, 1075 posts
Thu 2 Dec 2021
at 02:44
3 P's - A Guide to Quickly Tying Players to the Setting
An interesting thought is a combination of all three. Say, the 3 Allies, the 3 neutrals, and the 3 Enemies each contain  Peer, a Pet, and a Problem.  For example, amongst your Enemies, the Peer would be your Nemesis, the Pet his/her sidekick or henchmen, and the Problem could be that one of the Enemies is related to your character or a former friend or lover with whom you still have some attachment.
And, of course, Two Truths and A Lie can be tied all into this.
 member, 868 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Thu 2 Dec 2021
at 18:44
3 P's - A Guide to Quickly Tying Players to the Setting
I try to do something similar. What I want from players in general is a reason for their characters to be where the adventure is set and to care what happens to that location. I also want them to have a goal that they can accomplish even at the cost of their own death.
 member, 1064 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 16 Dec 2021
at 20:24
3 P's - A Guide to Quickly Tying Players to the Setting
Doesn't the various "*** World" games do this as part of their normal setup?

I know that "Beyond the Wall ..." links the players together as they are being created and there are direct skills and bonuses given based on it.