Saturday, August 10, 2013

Social Obligations and Your Character

Social Obligations

Social Obligations really help you think about how your protagonists might better integrate with the world around them.  Such obligations aren’t necessarily entirely negative and instead deal with issues you might need to balance.  Even the most helpful and willing children require attention and assistance, after all.  Also ensure that you work with your Storyteller to set up arrangements so that your character can still get involved.  Perhaps a kindly neighbor looks after your children when you need to investigate serial killers or chase down Things That Should Not Be.
        Consider whether a few of your own PC's obligations might cover the same NPC (a housewife could take both Married and Adult Caregiver) or, better yet, ask whether another player might like to share a social obligation.  Perhaps your protagonist is Married to a team members’ Needy Sibling.  This helps the Storyteller narrow down the focus to a few key NPCs and ensures that your NPCs are not only more often in the limelight but also gives you the chance to share the plot / burden / fun with another player. 

Your protagonist has a husband or a wife who needs care and attention.  Even if your spouse isn’t with you (perhaps they’re overseas), others will still have expectations of you and you may be the subject of vicious rumour and gossip if you are seen to be too friendly with members of the opposite gender.

Adult Caregiver
Your protagonist has to spend time providing care and support to another adult and this takes up much of your spare time.  Perhaps you are a housewife or the child of a frail person or the parent of a shell shocked son.  While you can still find time to get involved in the plot, you will need to put some thought into keeping your loved one well cared for or deal with the consequences.

Problematic Relative
Perhaps your wife likes to wear bikinis while out shopping and swears like a sailor.  Perhaps your eldest daughter is an alchoholic. Perhaps your father flirts with both men and women and wears a bright yellow fedora.  Perhaps a vicious relative says such unkind things to you in public that people start to avoid you so they don’t have to deal with a scene.  Or maybe you have a mother-in-law who is smothering in her devotion.  Either way, you have a problem relative who causes you much dismay and leads others to snub you.

You are underage (see Youth) and therefore have a Parent who is looking after you.  The particular rules of the household may vary but in general your parents will expect you to obey their word more than most parents these days though be aware you may well be allowed to roam quite a bit until sunset.

Whether foster parent, birth parent, or surrogate parent, you have a child that relies on you to be there for them, to provide them emotional connection, and ensure that there is food on the table.  Ignoring or mistreating your children is likely to lead to problems of their own as children have minds of their own and may act up to catch your attention. 

Needy Relative / Friend
Your protagonist has to deal with someone who needs a lot of support.  Perhaps they suffer from anxiety or are simply very clingy.  Either way, you will often have to deal with their problems or, at the very least, listen to them talk about those problems.  On the plus side, they really are loyal to you and will help you out occasionally.  It might be a sibling, friend, or mother-in-law.

Close Family
Perhaps you and your sisters always spend Sundays together gossiping about each other and the world around you.  Perhaps your parents are used to long conversations after work.  Perhaps you all live on the same street and know each other quite well.  This one can impact quite a bit on a roleplaying game when it comes to NPC spotlight so if you’re considering this one than it’s worthwhile talking to other players to see if they might also like to be a member of your family so that the spotlight is shared around.

Gossipy Neighbourhood
The curtains always twitch whenever anyone walks down the street as high-minded individuals peer down at interlopers.  Children play on the streets and are sure to tell their friends and families all about what that package the man living in No. 20 received.  The Neighbourhood may be quite close and therefore safer than usual, or it might just be more watchful and judgemental, but whatever the reason, the protagonist who selects this social obligation should avoid bringing business back home.

Room & Board
Rather than having a home of your own to stash weaponry and invite friends over, you have taken room and board and that means your landlord lives downstairs and to get to your room you’re well within sight.  If you make odd noises, they’ll know as well.  They might not even allow ladyfolk upstairs (or menfolk) so you might need to curtail your activities.  This one requires a nosy landlord – whether kindly or strict.

You’re well known about town and this can cause you a fair bit of bother as you not only have to deal with tiresome fans demanding your attention but you also need to carefully manage your public image and aim to avoid fans or reporters at compromising moments.  You could also develop a particularly strident fan who you most often need to deal with who can symbolise the negative side of your fame.

Criminal Entanglement
There’s a criminal who has taken an unhealthy interest in you which is causing trouble in your life.  Perhaps a blackmarketeer has come to expect you to provide him with dodgy passports or an extortionist is demanding you pay ‘protection’ money or else.

Police Interest
You have a criminal history that is known about town and therefore whenever crimes or strange happenings occur, the police tend to come and talk to you.  Whenever you go to talk to them, they always take an extra interest in what you have to say and a report can quickly become an interrogation. Create a police officer or other individual (health inspector, tax man, etc.) who is keeping a sharp eye on you and looking for any signs of misbehavior.


  1. So I stole your idea again...

    I blame you for having good ideas.

    1. Good on you for including the link. I am all for having relevant links in my Comments section. It's good for readers and it's good for me.