Thursday, July 18, 2013

Using Bonds in "Hobomancer"

Hey, did you know the Hobomancer is up for an Ennie? It seems like I might have mentioned it a couple of times.

Anyway, I've been working on a follow-up for Hobomancer called (creatively) The Hobomancer's Companion which will have a bunch more powers, monsters, options, and an adventure. One of the things I want to introduce to Hobomancer and QAGS in general is the idea of using Hx/Bonds/Strings from Apocalypse World/ Dungeon World/ Monsterhearts to connect characters. Bonds are such a great idea and do soooo much to help connect characters and build history. I'm going to use them in all my QAGS games at Gencon this year to see how they work.

Anyhoo... here's what I have working for Hobomancer...

Hobomancer Bonds
What the heck is this?
Art by "Jumpin'" Jeffrey Johnson
These are Bonds, questions to ask Player Characters at the beginning of a Hobomancer game. They are especially useful for one-shots and convention games, but they are also good for long-term games where you want to spark ideas and riff on backstories and PC-to-PC relationships. By asking questions and following up with more questions, you’ll be stunned by how quickly a rich history develops between brand new characters.

This idea was totally stolen from Dungeon World by Sage Latroya and Adam Koebel, a hack of Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker, which also inspired Monsterhearts by Joe McDaldno, both of which have similar mechanisms. You should check out all three games. They’re awesome.

How do I use these?
Below you’ll see a bunch of leading and provocative questions, along with follow-up questions. Write a bunch of these questions (not the follow-ups) on slips of paper (later on, I’ll format these so you can print and cut them). Put the slips in a hat. Go around the table. Each player (not the GM) draws Bonds until they have a number of Bonds equal to the number of players plus a couple more.

Make sure every PC has introduced themselves. The players have to know who their fellows are before they can fill out the Bonds.

After introductions, each player chooses a few of their Bonds to complete. They don’t have to fill out all of them, but they should try to fill out at least one per fellow PC (especially if it’s a one shot). If they have left overs and they want to use a fellow PC a second or third time, that’s fine and dandy.

After all the bonds are filled out, each player takes turns reading what they filled out. This is the time for the GM and other players to ask follow-up questions and build upon the answers. Often times, something another player wrote will say something about your character. Go with it. It’s considered bad form to say “No I didn’t!” If, for instance, Jeff says you stole something from him, well then I guess you did. Why did you do that? I bet you had a good reason. Maybe it was a matter of life and death. It’s these kind of conflicts that build rich histories.

Example Hobomancer Bonds

__________ is my mentor. They’re teaching me the ins and outs of being a Hobomancer.
(How do you feel about your mentor? Other PC: How do you feel about your student?)

__________ and I knew each other in our old lives, before we became hobos.
(Really? How so?)

Everyone trusts __________, but I don’t.
(Why not?)

I stole something from __________.
(What was it? Do they know about it?)

I saved the life of __________, whether they know it or not.
(How did you do that? Other PC: Were you aware of this?)

There’s something I talk about with __________, that I don’t talk about with anyone else.
(What do you talk about? Other PC: How do you feel about that?)

The Kind Lady has told me to protect __________ at all costs.
(Do you know why? Are you following her request?)

I had a dream of __________ standing over my dead body.
(Wow! What do you think that means? Have you told them?)

__________ gave me their last bottle of hooch last week. I owe them.
(What was the circumstances behind that? Other PC: Why did you do that?)

__________ reminds me of someone I knew back in my old life.
(Who would that be? Have you told them?)

__________ is weak, and I’m the one to toughen them up.
(How do you plan on doing that?)

__________ told me a secret about __________.
(Ooh, what was it? Second PC: Is that secret true?)

__________ and I beat the hell out of a monster last month.
(What kind of monster? What happened?)

__________ saw me kill a man two towns ago.
(Holy katz! Why’d you do that? Other PC: Have you told anyone? Why or why not?)

__________ has something I need, but I haven’t had the nerve to ask yet.
(What is it? Why do you need it? Why so nervous?)

__________ doesn’t trust me, nor should they.
(Why is that?)

I’d heard stories about __________ long before I met them.
(What kind of stories? Other PC: Are these tales true?)

I’m putting together a song about __________.
(Why not sing a bit of that song for us, eh?)

__________ is in way over their head. I will help them before they become a liability to us all.
(How so? What do you plan on doing? What will you do if you fail?)

The Devil seems to be taking too much of an interest in __________.
(How so? How do you know this? Other PC: What’s your take on this?)

__________ made a deal with Granny Gallows. I hope it doesn't backfire on us all.
(How do you know this? Other PC: What kind of deal did you make?)

__________ has shown me what true courage is.
(How so? Other PC: Are you really brave or just lucky?)

I can trust __________ to have my back when things go sour.
(How so? How has this faith been tested?)

__________ and I have a long history of wacky schemes, none of which have worked.
(Oh fun! What kind of schemes? What do you have planned next?)

__________ once let me down when I really needed them.
(What happened? How do you feel about this? Other PC: What do you have to say for yourself?)

__________ is on a path of self destruction. I need to save them from themselves.
(How so? How far are you willing to go?)

__________ makes the best damn chili you’ve ever eaten.
(What makes it so good? Other PC: How did you learn to make chili like that? Was it the Devil? It was the Devil wasn't it?)

__________ is a good soul, and I trust them completely.
(How did they prove this to you? Other PC: Are you really that trustworthy?)

__________ got me out of a bad scrape. I owe them big time!
(What happened? How did they help you out?)

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant. I liked that part of the DW/AW/MH/whatever systems, though I have never played the game. I also have not read or played Hobomancer, though I did get to look over the QAGS quickstart, and that looked brilliant.