martes, 20 de octubre de 2015

Icon Morality By Players' Point of View

The 13th Age RPG includes the concept of "Icons" of the campaign. An Icon is a NPC/Organization that has enough influence to define the setting. 13th Age includes a mechanic to make them influence the PCs abilities in the form of help and complications. Sometimes the relationship between a PC and an Icon's organization may be useful to the PC (help) and sometimes may get him/her into more problems than usual (complications)

13th Age considers three kinds of Icons:

  • Heroic Icons are the "good guys"
  • Villainous Icons are the "bad guys"
  • Ambiguous Icons are in the middle, sharing some traits with the Heroic and some with the Villainous.

13th's Age relationships between a PC and an Icon (more often, the Icon's organization) can be fleshed as desired, but mechanically it has a 1-3 points value. The relationship may be positive if the Icon/Organization opinion about the PC is good, negative if bad, conflicted if both.
In character creation there are some guidelines about limits for the relationship values that consider the PCs to be, at worst, not-bad-guys:

  • If the Icon is evil, the limit is 1 point to positive relationships, 2 to the others.
  • If the Icon is good, the limit is 1 to negative, 3 to the others
  • If the Icon is in the middle, the limit is 2 for negative, 3 to the others.

The "official" setting (and the books reminds a lot of times that it's only an example) sets the morality of the Icons and then limit the relationships, but maybe you find this idea interesting:
Make the characters with these relationship limits:

  • Negative relationship: 2 points limit
  • Other relationship: 3 points limit

Now you can use the relationships to define how the Icons are according to their PCs' perspectives.
If any PC has a 2-point negative relationship with an Icon, then the Icon is not completely good. It may be Villainous or Ambiguous.
If any PC has a 3-point conflicted or positive relationship with an Icon, then the Icon is not completely bad. It may be Villainous or Ambiguous.

lunes, 19 de octubre de 2015

Conflict with a god

This is the 31th Dramatic Situation of Polti. Elements

  • a Mortal
  • an Immortal

Plot: The Mortal and the Immortal enter a conflict
This “plot” is often not by itself, but a particular trait of a story: Rivalry between a Mortal and an Immortal, Conspiracy of Mortal against Immortal, etc. An Immortal may be in any Element the PCs are conflicted with and it qualifies for this Situation.
It could be “purely” Conflict with a God if the conflict is based in whatever the god’s morals or values are.


The Mortal is usually not against the Immortal per se, but against some particular goal, moral or whatever.

PCs as Mortal

As the Immortal is usually part of a status quo, the PCs are reacting to actions the Immortal did not target directly against the PCs and often nor even indirectly. That means your story is based in whatever way the PCs react against those actions and can not be really planned, but offered.


The Immortal does not need to be literally a god, the believers in that god fill that role perfectly and it is often the only way this plot can be in some settings (like realistic ones, in which faith is the only supporting “evidence” for the entities the faith is in)

PCs as Immortal

In this case the PCs may be the instruments of their god’s will - or believe to be so - and their actions are reacted against the Mortal.
Thus, you can’t plan this story unless you already know what the intentions of the PCs are.

domingo, 18 de octubre de 2015

Loss of loved ones

This is the Situation 36th of Polti. Elements

  • a Kinsman Slain
  • a Kinsman Spectator
  • an Executioner

Plot: The killing of the Kinsman Slain by the Executioner is witnessed by the Kinsman Spectator.
For the story to be something more that the start of something, there’s the need of anticipation, inability to save the Slain and spare of the Spectator.
Anticipation builds when the Spectator and/or the Slain fears the bring about the death and take steps to try to avoid it. This can be build as an Enigma, with death being the consequence if the Enigma is not solved.
The inability to save the Slain can be due to

  • the Spectator not being powerful enough to stop the Executioner: both because of rule-wise power, because of status differences, because the Executioner has law in its side...
  • the Spectator unable to intervene: it could be hiding in a closet, imprisoned - a werewolf chained for the full moon night that is unable to stop the Executioner of killing his wife, the one with the keys to the manacles.
  • the Spectator not actually present, seeing the killing through clairvoyance, dreams, cameras or something.
It doesn't really need to be death: a curse or madness works just the same, as long as there is loss by the hand/will of the Executioner Element.


The Loss of Loved Ones has strength only for the Spectator, so the PCs shouldn’t be the Executioner.
Had the Executioner legal rights to kill the Slain? Maybe it wasn’t only rights but duty.


The strength of the story is that, for what matters the Spectator, it doesn’t matter the rights the Executioner may have.

PCs as Spectator

The inability should never be due to literal cheating.
If the PCs were not powerful enough they could become so in the campaign, or they could conspire, look for allies or other methods to finally be able to take revenge.
If the PCs were not present or were present but unable to intervene there should be something for them to feel they failed instead of that they were robbed of their kin.
They don’t need to see the killing “live”, so to speak. Maybe they discover the corpse, assume it was an accident, or suicide or something and some days later they received a recording, showing it was a murder.
Probably the best way is it the result of bad luck. Let’s say the PCs are investigating a serial killer. In the course of the investigation the killer learns of them, spies one of them and discovers it is married. By failing in the detention - or in the trial, for lack of hard evidence - the killer has the chance to kill the Slain and does so. If it is one of those games the PCs are better than everyone else - like D6 Star Wars or Savage Worlds - a bomb set by the villain may kill the wife but not the PC, or the combat may leave the PC gravely wounded, the Executioner kills the Slain and, when it is going to kill the PC, it hears the police sirens and flees. The doctors have a hard time bringing the PC back, but manage to do so, and now he lives the feeling of loss.


The Spectator may feel like Falling Prey to Cruelty/Misfortune, but since they'd be the PCs is most probable they want to punish the Executioner (Ambition). That punishment may need something to be reached: Conspiracies, Supplication, Obtaining (the means), solving an Enigma if they need to prove who was it or that it didn't had the right. Everything to get their Vengeance.

sábado, 17 de octubre de 2015

Recovery of a lost one

This is the Situation 35th of Polti. Elements

  • a Seeker
  • the One Found

Plot: The Seeker finds the One Found.
A Recovery can be both a good story or a conflicted one. It can be the solution for an abduction story but that doesn’t pose a new story. What if the One Found behaves strangely and the Seeker suspects foul play? What if the One Found have legal rights over the Seeker’s possessions? Then there is a conflict between the happiness of the finding and whatever conflicted feelings appearing because of it.
The lost one maybe because of abduction, madness, curse, magic, apparent death... whatever. Even if it is an argument between brothers that gets solved in the deathbed of one of them.


The Seeker at least was looking for the One Found and may had still been doing that. Maybe it gave up and some time - days, months, years - after, the One Found appears and there’s the remorse of the Seeker, who now knows it could have done better; and maybe the disappointment of the One Found, who thought the Seeker shouldn’t have given up.

PCs as Seeker

For the Recovery to have meaning it should be a long and difficult investigation, probably extended so long that it started to seem more like a background than a story, like Mulder being “the FBI agent looking for her disappeared sister”.

The One Found

The One Found is usually what brings about new conflicts on those who find it. Mulder’s sister only brought more questions with her; the last member of a supposedly disappeared bloodline may bring about inheritance or succession issues; an abducted friend who appears to have lost all its memories may be a clue to mind-erasing aliens…
The finding may be the end of the investigation, but it can be the start of the new one.

PCs as the One Found

It could be difficult to put PCs in this role, but they could be involuntarily or unknowingly. Imagine that the wardrobe to Narnia changed the passage of time so that, when the children come back, they have been considered disappeared or dead, and their adoptive family have been detained as suspects of murdering them. Imagine that the time was stopped when they went away, so they actually grew up away and are not recognized when they come back. This last case is in several fey stories, in which the main character stays with the fey and when it comes back he is told not to do something and, when it does, it realizes that centuries have passed and becomes dust, as dead as it should have been.
In several settings PCs are lost to their families and actually avoiding being discovered. In the game Vampire it would be actually dangerous for their families to find again their now vampiric kin, because they can be killed just to avoid word getting around or be targeted by the PCs’ enemies. It is more or less the same with Werewolf or Mage, for that case.


A lot of things may be result of the apparition of someone.
The finding of a person with legal rights over lands or throne may be the start of Ambition, reignite a Rivalry, bring about the discovery of terrible things the lost one did (Discovery of Dishonor in a Loved One), opposition to a relationship established or otherwise (Obstacles to Love)
The Recovery by itself may be result of solving a Enigma, gathering help and support (Supplication), planning a Daring Enterprise or executing a Deliverance...

viernes, 16 de octubre de 2015


This is the 34th Situation of Polti. Elements:

  • a Culprit; 
  • a Victim OR the Sin; 
  • an Interrogator

Plot: The Culprit wrongs the Victim or commits the Sin, and is at odds with the Interrogator who seeks to understand the situation.
This is a difficult story to bring about in a RPG. The PCs are not going to be Interrogator - it would be then an Enigma story - or the Victim - they will become the Interrogator to make something about it - so they can only be the Culprit.
The story’s force is that the Culprit feels fear about being discovered and there is a real danger of the Interrogator doing just that.


In stories, often the Culprit feels remorse, but it is not needed. Sometimes it tries to hide the remorse and forget, but the Interrogator Element prevents that. The conflict is usually between what the Culprit needs to do to stay undiscovered, the fear of the consequences of being discovered and even the remorse it may feel, making it think it’s more dignified to surrender than to be discovered.

PCs as Culprit

You can’t plan to make the PCs feel remorse, but they can feel it by themselves - for instance, being the Mistaken One in a Erroneous Judgement, and then learn about the mistake, they could feel guilty about what they did to the victim.
What you can plan is for one of their kin to be the Culprit and share its feelings with them. In that case, though, it is more a Discovery of the Dishonour of a Loved One. Also, if they are guilty of something but don't care about the damage caused, the appearance of an Interrogator and the risk of being discovered and punished may provoke this story


If there is a Victim, PCs should not be it. If they are the Victim usually they want to do something about it and then they are also the Interrogator, being the Interrogator role what carries their weight.


Should the PCs were the Interrogator then this is not about Remorse or the fear to be discovered, but an Enigma.


The Culprit may conspire against the Interrogator or its investigation (Conspiracy), ask it for mercy or silence (Supplication), or do Daring Enterprises or Obtaining to eliminate evidences it may find
If the Interrogator discovers them, the story probably develops into Pursuit, Vengeance or Falling Prey to Cruelty/Misfortune. Remember the Interrogator needs not to denounce the Culprit, but it may blackmail it.

jueves, 15 de octubre de 2015

Erroneous judgment

This is the Situation 32th and 33th of Polti. The 32th is a special case of Erroneous judgment (mistaken jealousy). In that case, the victims of the mistake are the spouse and the supposed accomplice. Elements

  • a Mistaken One; 
  • a Victim of the Mistake; 
  • a Cause OR Author of the Mistake; 
  • (Optional) the Guilty One: the one the judgement should be passed against

Plot: The Mistaken One falls victim to the Cause or the Author of the Mistake and passes judgment against the Victim of the Mistake.

Mistaken One

The Mistaken One needs reasons to pass judgement upon the Victim of the Mistake.

PCs as Mistaken One

You can plan the Cause or Author of the Mistake to deceive the PCs, but for the story to have meaning, the PCs need to be able to error by themselves. In this case, you can use an Enigma the PCs interpreted incorrectly, for instance, or give them circumstantial evidence against the Victim - like it fleeing from the crime scene.

Victim of the Mistake

The persons the Mistaken One judges against.

PCs as Victim

The PCs need to be able to prove they are unjustly pursued, punished or whatever consequence the judgement is about. For that, they need to know or be able to learn about what the judgement was.

Cause or Author of the Mistake

If it is a Cause, then it is whatever reasons the Mistaken One have to think the Victim is guilty.

PCs as Author of the Mistake

It is an spontaneous action in part of the PCs, and as such you can only give them the chance to do it and be prepared both in case they do and in case they don’t.

Guilty One

Optional Element because the erroneous part in Erroneous Judgement may be the very existence of the crime. For instance, Peter arrives home early and hears a couple having sex’s sound upstairs. Sneaking there, he sees through an aperture in the bedroom’s door a redhead woman riding over a man and thinks she’s his wife, Betty. He flees, not knowing what to do. Some days after that, living whatever crazy adventures he live through, he confronts his wife and learns that woman was not Betty but her sister.

PCs as Guilty One

If PCs are the Guilty One Element this is surely going to develop as a case of Remorse.


As stated, if there is a Guilty One, you only need to add an Interrogator who doubts the judgement to develop this into a Remorse story.
If the error is known, the Mistaken One and the Author of Mistake can be considered Criminals and be pursued (Pursuit) or punished (Vengeance)
Usually the judgement provokes a Pursuit, Vengeance, Disaster or Falling Prey to Cruelty/Misfortune for the Victim of Mistake.

miércoles, 14 de octubre de 2015

Obstacles to love

This is the Situations 28th and 29th of Polti. In the 29th, the Obstacle is a Hater who hates one Lover and has a positive relationship with the other. Elements

  • two Lovers
  • an Obstacle

Plot: Two Lovers face an Obstacle to their love (possibly) together.


To the Lovers Element belong also all who help and support them.

PCs as Lovers

As stated, PCs don’t need to be the actual lovers, but helpers and supporters of the relationship. They may even do that for not-so-good reasons: take Romeo and Juliet and now create Betty, the little sister of Juliet. She knows about the love between Romeo and Juliet and the hate of their father against Romeo’s family. She thinks that, helping her sister run away with Romeo, their father will forsake her and Betty will inherit everything, so she helps the lovers in a way she can’t be blamed.


Anything can be an obstacle. It can be personal and indirect, like the hate between Montague and Capulet, personal and direct, like Juliet’s cousin hate for Romeo, but it need not be personal: a war, one of the lovers fighting in it, is an obstacle; another suitor taking advantage of the war to have a chance with one of the lovers is another part of that obstacle; poverty can be an obstacle; great differences in status, education… anything can be an obstacle to love.

PCs as Obstacle

They need a reason to oppose the relationship, either it affects them directly or indirectly. For instance, a knight PC is supposed to marry a Count’s daughter, but she loves a peasant boy. The marriage is important to the PC, not only because he loves the girl, but because that marriage means an army to pursue and defeat an enemy. Indirect consequences could be that, should the daughter run away with the boy, the Count will have nobody to inherit his lands, and then it will be his brother, a cruel person, who takes control of them.


This kind of story may easily mix with Ambition, Fatal Imprudence, Obtaining or Daring Enterprise.
Once it takes place, it can be the seed for Rivalry, Crimes of Love or Loss of Loved Ones.
As with Obtaining, solving the Obstacle may require a Sacrifice for at least one of the lovers. Romeo and Juliet were willing to leave their families because of their love.

martes, 13 de octubre de 2015

Discovery of the dishonour of a loved one

This is the 27th Dramatic Situation of Polti. Elements:

  • a Discoverer
  • the Guilty One

Plot: The Discoverer discovers the wrongdoing committed by the Guilty One.


The Discoverer can

  • keep the secret
  • reveal it
  • keep it secret but try to make the Guilty One undo the wrondoing
  • keep it secret but try to compensate the Guilty One wrongdoing

PCs as Discoverer

There’s need of a good relationship from PCs to Guilty for them to really doubt what to do.

Guilty One

There are several questions about it:

  • It is repentant?
  • It is willing to undo its wrongdoing?
  • It is willing to force silence upon the discoverer, for fear of the secret being revealed?

PCs as Guilty Ones

There should be a good relationship from the PCs to the Discoverer, so they don’t just kill it, but for the story to be interesting, they need to take action to ensure the Discoverer is not going to denounce them.


If the Discoverer denounces the crime the story mixes with Sacrifice (the relationship between Discoverer and Guilty One) and develops in Pursuit, Vengeance or Disaster for the Guilty One and Loss of Loved Ones for the Discoverer.
If the Guilty One asks the Discoverer's help or silence it could be a Supplication if the Discoverer has to face the Persecutor
If the Discoverer helps the Guilty One it can develop into a Conspiracy with them, against the Persecutor or Interrogator looking for the Guilty One.
If the Discoverer denounces itself as the guilty, the story mixes with Sacrifice and, besides developing into Vengeance or Falling Prey of Cruelty/Misfortune for the Discoverer, it becomes a Remorse story for the Guilty One.

lunes, 12 de octubre de 2015

Crimes of Love

This is the Situations 26th and 18th of Polti. The 18th adds only that the error is involuntary (result of error, deceive… whatever) Elements:
  • Lover
  • Beloved
  • (Optional) Revealer: something/someone that reveals the crime, betraying the trust of either the Lover or the Beloved
Plot: A Lover and the Beloved enter a conflict.
The crime is related to Lover and Beloved's relationship, most often infidelity in some form.
This is a story in which PCs may be distributed between the Elements, with a few as kinship of Lover, others as kinship of Beloved (or common kinship) even one of them as Revealer.


Is the Element that makes the error against its relationship with Beloved.

PCs as Lover

Not every PC would be the actual Lover, and often none of them will, but they can be the actual Lover's friends or family.


It is the person betrayed by Lover's crime.

PCs as Beloved

Again, the PCs may and probably will be the actual Beloved's friends or family.


Revealer may be because of jealousy. If Revealer is in love with Lover or Beloved it can reveal the crime to end the relationship and have its own chance.
Revealer may be common kinship of both Lover and Beloved, such as Lover's brother and Beloved's friend, and doubt between the loyalty to both, finally folding to the innocent Beloved and revealing the crime.
Revealer can do so without good intentions to anyone, just to take revenge upon either or both Lover and Beloved.

PCs as Revealer

As in other cases, this is something you can at most give the chance for, because you don't know what the PCs are going to do. Just take two NPCs of your campaign with good relationship to most or all PCs, introduce their own relationship slowly, like background story, and have them announce the PCs their will to get married and committed to one another.
Then, not too much time before the wedding, have a few PCs learn about the crime. If they learn about it in different ways - maybe one of them is witness, other is trusted by Lover with the story, etc - it can add an inner intrigue layer since each one that knows the secret may want to be the only one.
Do the PCs reveal the crime to protect the Beloved? Don't, to protect the Lover? Decide to forgive the Lover's crime and not to tell?


The crime itself may be a Conspiracy or a Fatal Imprudence.
When the crime is revealed, from the betrayed spouse it could be Discovery of Dishonor in a Loved One, provoke him Madness, and/or develop in Pursuit or Vengeance.
The Betrayed Spouse may also Sacrifice the relationship it had, his good name, etc leaving the adulterers be.
A divorce may be considered a Disaster from the left spouse. The very adultery may be a Disaster from the Betrayed Spouse perspective.
The crime may easily mix with or be the result of Rivalry

domingo, 11 de octubre de 2015


This is the 16th Dramatic Situation of Polti. Its Elements are
  • Madman
  • Victim
Plot: the Madman goes insane and wrongs the Victim
There is some relationship between Madman and Victim that prevents the Victim to react as it would in other case. The very "not responsibly" idea about madness could be what makes the Victim forgive the Madman.
The "madness" is whatever could alter the conscience of reality or right/wrong of Madman: actual madness, temporary derangement, berserk fury, magic enchantments, spirit possession...


Madman is victim of madness, its conscience and/or will is altered.

PCs as Madman

If PCs are the Madman they are victims of the story. For them to still feel like main characters, it has to be a way for them to realize they are crazy and do something to cure it while avoiding damage to their loved ones/innocents.
For that, the madness should be intermittent, such as a berserk fury in really stressful situations or a lycanthropy curse.


The Victim element can grow as the story develops, when more and more characters are wronged and become a new part of the Victim. It also may stay stable in number of characters, while the threat of new victims or new wrongs still exists.

PCs as Victim

The PCs need to know there is madness moving the madman or they will do as with any other offender. It is best if, besides the madness, there is some kind of relationship with the Madman that forces the PCs to look for a cure, to take care of the Madman, etc.
For the story to have a sense of victory, though, they need to reach a solution. Maybe they get a cure for the madness (or curse/enchantment) or even accept the need to sacrifice the Madman (by killing it as well as intern it into a mental hospital or whatever). These solutions, however, are not part of the Madness story but stories developed from it.


Easily the Victim may become the Unfortunate in a Falling Prey of Cruelty/Misfortune, with the Madman as the Master of Misfortune.
If it recovers, the Madman may develop the story in Erroneous Judgement.
If the Madness is long term, finding the cure could require a Daring Enterprise and when the cure is applied it could be Recovery of a lost one (the Madman)
If the Madness is permanent, this can be mixed with the effects of Loss of Loved Ones

sábado, 10 de octubre de 2015


This is combines the 14th and 24th Dramatic Situations of Polti, the 14th setting the rivals in a Superior/Inferior relationship and the 24th with a kinship relationship between them. Its Elements are
  • Preferred rival
  • Rejected rival
  • Object of rivalry
Plot: the Object of rivalry chooses the Preferred rival over the Rejected rival
Again, the Object may (and often) be a person.

Preferred Rival

The Preferred Rival may think:
  • That Object is definitely its, and that Rejected Rival rivalry has already disappeared: for a story to be it has to be wrong at least in one of those assumptions.
  • That Object is definitely its but that Rejected Rival is still trying to get it.
  • That its possession of Object is not that sure, but at least Rejected Rival thinks it is.
  • That its possession of Object is not that sure and that Rejected Rival knows it. Both Object and Rejected Rival may have provoked that situation.

PCs as Preferred

You can plan what happens according to what the PCs do.
  • If the PCs trusts both the Object and the Rival, they are wrong in one or both those assumptions. They need to discover the situation and then choose how to take care of it.
  • If the PCs trust only the Object, they are probably already thinking about what to do with Rejected Rival. You can let them be right about Rejected Rival, surprise them if Rejected Rival is actually innocent or surprise them more if Object is what they should have been more vigilant with.
  • If the PCs trust only the Rival, then they need to think what they do with the Object. They may be right with Object and in that case it's not much different if they were wrong with Rejected Rival or if a new Rival has appeared. If they are wrong about Object the discovery should come after they already did something to spoil things.
  • If the PCs don't trust either, for each of those assumptions they are right they'll have to take care of it. If they are wrong on both, again the discovery should come after they screw things.

Rejected Rival

The Rejected Rival may have accepted the Object's choice or otherwise.

PCs as Rejected

Again, you planned depending on what they do
  • If they still try to get the Object, the Object may denounce them to the Preferred Rival and provoke a confrontation. The Object may remain silent, but the Preferred Rival realize it on its own. Finally, the PCs may have get the Object without letting react the Preferred Rival.
  • If they have accepted their loss, the Preferred Rival may think they haven't and act accordingly, so that PCs have to convince it. Other possibility is that the Object is unsure of its choice and lets the PCs think they can have it again. The PCs may start trying to get it again (like in the first possibility) or ignore it, in which case the Object may deceive the Preferred Rival into thinking they are acting against it.

Object of Rivalry

The Object of Rivalry may be whatever but an actual object. It may be the love of a woman, the loyalty of a servitor, the favor of a king, the trust of a mentor...
The Object has been given to the Preferred Rival, but as we already saw, it still has several possibilities:
  • It is sure of its choice, leaving the story to develop from the Rivals' actions.
  • It is unsure of its choice, trying to get the Rejected Rival to try to get the Object again.
  • It is unsure of its choice, and tried and fail getting the Rejected Rival against the Preferred Rival, so it is trying to manipulate the Preferred Rival into thinking it has something to worry about.

If the PCs are the Object

Again, you have to plan according with what they do.
  • If they do nothing, and the Preferred tries taking care of the Rejected, the may discover it and be against it, bringing the conflict, or let it. In that case, the Preferred may fail horribly (dying, for instance)
  • If they do nothing and the Rejected tries to get them, they may denounce it to the Preferred or try to take care of it themselves.
  • If they try to get again the attention of the Rejected they may be successful and getting the Preferred to fight the Rejected again, or they can fail. Then they can choose to deceive the Preferred or stay put. Or the Preferred may think they are not trustworthy and lose whatever they got by being the Object of the story


From the Rejected Rival the story may mix with Ambition. From the Preferred Rival it can mix with Enigma. In both cases it can be mixed with Conspiracy (with or without adultery if the Object is a spouse)
The Rejected Rival may Sacrifice something both if it tries to get the Object (sacrifices the relationship with the Preferred Rival) or doesn't (sacrifices his own desires)
If the Preferred Rival thinks the Rejected Rival is misbehaving it can develop the story in Pursuit, Vengeance or Madness, which in turn could result in Erroneous Judgement.
If the Object is a spouse the story can easily mix with Obstacles to Love or develop into Crimes of Love or Discovery of Dishonor of a Loved One.

viernes, 9 de octubre de 2015


Polti considers Vengeance to be two different situations (3th and 4th) depending on whether the Avenger and Criminal are kinship or are not. Its Elements are
  • Criminal
  • Avenger
Plot: the Avenger punishes the Criminal

What was the crime? Murder, injury, insult, property damage; attempt of one of the previous.
Was the crime real, perceived, accidental?

Upon who was committed the crime? In Polti's 4th Dramatic Situation the victim was a relative of both Elements, although it is not needed because the need to vengeance is complicated just by the kinship relationship between the Elements.
Upon who is the punishment going to be committed? If the Criminal is not within reach, the Avenger may destroy its properties or take revenge upon the Criminal's family or friends or even everyone in a group the Criminal belongs to, like a deceived woman taking revenge upon every men because of the betrayal of one.

This situation is too short and simple to be a story by itself, it's more probably to be the cause of an story or the culmination of one.


Is it the real culprit? 

PCs as Criminal

The PCs are punished in this story, so it is only a matter of seeing what the punishment is and what are the PCs going to react.


Remember that the Avenger needs not to move because of personal reasons, but dutiful or professional ones.

PCs as Avenger

What are going to be the consequences of whatever the PCs decide to do to the Criminal?


From the Avenger's point of view, this is often the end of a plot line, but it can develop into Erroneous Judgement if it realizes it was wrong. If then it does nothing to repair the damage, another investigator may appear and develop the story in a Remorse. Even if the Avenger don't realize the error, the new investigator poses the Enigma of whether the Criminal was really guilty.
From the Criminal's perspective, if it lives, this develops into Falling Prey of Cruelty/Misfortune.

jueves, 8 de octubre de 2015

Fatal Imprudence

Here I combine Polti’s dramatic situations 17th (Fatal Imprudence) and 19th (Slaying of Kin Unrecognized) because in the 19th’s case it’s usually an imprudence what brings about the death of kin. In other cases it’s ignorance or madness, and that would be in Madness stories.
  • Imprudent
  • Victim OR Object lost
  • (Optional) Counselor, who opposes the imprudence
  • (Optional) Instigator, who brings about the imprudence.
Plot: the Imprudent, by neglect or ignorance, loses the Object lost or wrongs the Victim
Imprudence can mix with a lot of other kind of stories to complicate the plot. For instance, in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio is a Counselor to Romeo, speaking against his love to Juliet, daughter of his family's enemies.
The force of the story is that the PCs can see the imprudence of the Imprudent. Since the Imprudent is unconscious, an imprudent PC would lose that impact, so PCs should not be part of the Imprudent.


The imprudent somehow ignores the bad consequences its actions could have, not because he wouldn't care for the consequences, but because it doesn't believe there is a real risk.
Another trait of the imprudent is that it is unconscious of its own imprudence, so the PCs are not being in this Element in a Imprudence story, although their imprudence may be the reason of other kind of stories.

Victim or Object Lost

The Object can be whatever, as always: person, feelings, actual objects.

PCs as Victim

The PCs should have time to see the imprudence and react in whatever way they want to feel there was something the could have done.


A Counselor is an optional Element which tries to avoid the imprudence.

PCs as Counselor

PCs need to worry about the possible consequences of carry on the imprudence, maybe because they worry about the damage, maybe because they worry about the imprudent. If the imprudent is challenging a power above its own they should be worried about the imprudent's health; if the Imprudent is playing with the darkest magic, they may worry about what summoned demons could do to town.
The PCs need not know who is the Imprudent. While the Imprudence story is happening it can mix with an Enigma in which the PCs need to learn who the Imprudent is to stop it.


The Instigator is another optional Element which tries to being about the imprudence

PCs as Instigator

The instigator is active, not reactive, so you can't plan for that. The most you can do is to introduce the PCs to a NPC easy to manipulate, and let the PCs imagine how to use it to their ends.


A Fatal Imprudence against somebody may develop into a Pursuit, Vengeance.
If another one is blamed, then it can develop into a Remorse story.
The consequences of the Imprudence may bring Remorse or require Sacrifice to atone for.

martes, 6 de octubre de 2015


This is the 2nd Dramatic Situation of Polti. Its Elements are
  • Unfortunate
  • Threatener
  • Rescuer
Plot: Threatener is going to damage Unfortunate but an unexpected Rescuer saves the Unfortunate.
The Threatener has more power than the Unfortunate but either less than Rescuer OR less than Rescuer and Unfortunate together. Otherwise, the Rescue won't take place.


Does the unfortunate deserves the deliverance?

PCs as Unfortunate

If PCs are the Unfortunate then the Rescuer needs their help to stop the Threatener. Otherwise, they would only be witnesses and no player likes that.


Is the Threatener in his right?

PCs as Threatener

By rescuing the Unfortunate, the Rescuer thwarts the PCs plans and will probably become their enemy, so it's a way of revealing to them a new recurring enemy.
If the Rescuer has a strong positive bond with the PCs - a relative, a mentor - it can be a complication. Maybe the PCs need to prove the Unfortunates guilty to the Rescue, etc (thus becoming a Supplication)


The Rescuer needs to know about the Threatener's plans and want to stop them.
Also, it needs to be able to stop them, either by itself or with the Unfortunate's help.

PCs as Rescuer

The point of Rescue is that Rescuer acts spontaneously. If it needs to be asked, then it is the Power in a Supplication story.
If the PCs needs the Unfortunate's help to defeat the Threatener, how are they going to get it?


A would-be Rescuer that fails may bring Disaster upon both the Unfortunate and/or itself.
The very rescue may be a Daring Enterprise.
The Threatener may pursue the Rescuer from now on (Pursuit), ask others for help against it (Supplication) or conspire against it (Conspiracy)
The Rescue may be mixed with Sacrifice if there's some price to be paid.
If a Supplication's Intercessor doesn't get the Power's help, it can become a Rescuer despite the negative decision.

lunes, 5 de octubre de 2015


This is the 1st Dramatic Situation of Polti. Its Elements are
  • A Persecutor: somebody who wants to damage the Suppliant
  • A Suppliant asking for help
  • a Power in authority whose decision is doubtful
Plot: the Persecutor accuses the suppliant of wrongdoing, the Suppliant asks the Power for help, and the Power has to choose.
The point of this kind of story is that no one knows who the Power is going to help.
The Suppliant may deserve what the Persecutor wants to do to it.


The Persecutor is at least as powerful as the Suppliant, and wants to inflict some kind of damage on it.
If the Persecutor is more or less as powerful as the Suppliant, it needs the Power's help too.
If the Persecutor is more powerful than the Suppliant, but less than Suppliant and Power together, it needs the Power's inaction or to inflict the damage before the Power chooses.
If the Persecutor were more powerful than Suppliant and Power together, it doesn't need to worry about Power's choice.
What is going to do the Persecutor to get the Power's favor? Is it going to wait for the Power's decision? For how long?

PCs as Persecutor

Plan what will happen if the PCs inflict the damage upon the Suppliant before the Power can choose. Some Powers can be relieved they didn't need to choose, some may be offended that their authority was ignored, some may be secretly relieved but publicly offended.


The Suppliant needs the Power's help to avoid the damage the Persecutor wants to inflict to it.
The Suppliant needs the Power's help because it is less powerful than the Persecutor, but the Power and the Suppliant together (or the Power by itself) are more powerful.
The Suppliant may be divided between the Persecuted - the actual Persecutor's target - and the Intercessor - the one that asks the Power for help.
What is going to do the Suppliant to get the Power's favor? Is it putting together a B plan?

PCs as Suppliant

Often, the PCs try to solve their problems by themselves, specially in RPGs with balanced combats, since they get use to get only what they can manage. For they to want to ask for help
  • They need to know they need help
  • They need to know who to ask for help, and to trust they'll get it
  • They need to want to ask for help
If they don't know they need help or who to ask to, this story won't happen and it will become a Disaster, Vengeance or whatever it was supposed to be avoided.
If they don't want to ask for help, either you get an Intercessor to ask for help for them, or you acknowledge their will and let this become a Sacrifice, in which they sacrifice themselves for the ideal of self-reliance.

Power in authority

If it is less powerful than the Persecutor, the Power can be susceptible to threats or fear from it.
What can influence the Power’s decision?
Is the Power partial to either side or is it really neutral?

The Power and the Persecutor can be in the same element: As Persecutor, it has trapped the Suppliant and can finally have its way with it, but then the Suppliant asks for mercy, tries to deceive it, to convince the Persecutor it doesn’t deserve the punishment. The Persecutor has trapped the Suppliant, its father's murderer, and it's going to finally take revenge, but then the Suppliant claims to have been framed, and now the Persecutor doubts
If the Suppliant is divided, the Intercessor is who asks the Persecutor to stop its hand. The Persecutor has trapped the Suppliant, its father's murderer, and it's going to finally take revenge, but then the Suppliant's own children try to stop it.

PCs as Power

You need to make the PCs worry about the decision and making them doubt. Whose right? What are the consequences of helping either?
They need to be able to stop the Persecutor if they want to (either by themselves or with the Suppliant's help)
They need to doubt about the Suppliant.


Both the Persecutor and the Suppliant may be getting what they need to escape/punish in case the Power decides against them or while it doubts (Daring Enterprise)
A turned down Persecutor may start a Conspiracy against the Power.
If the Power denies its help to the Suppliant, this story develops into Vengeance, Disaster or Falling Prey to Cruelty/Misfortune. Actually, if the Power decides against the Persecutor and this is more powerful, it may develop into a Disaster when the Persecutor turns its armies against Power and Suppliant.
If the Suppliant is denied by the Power, it may start a new Pursuit.
There may be a Sacrifice required should the Power help the Suppliant.
If the Persecutor is too powerful, the decision can mix with a Fatal Imprudence should the Power be partial to the Suppliant.

domingo, 4 de octubre de 2015


This is the 6th Dramatic Situation of Polti.

  • Vanquished power
  • Victorious enemy OR Messenger

Plot: Vanquished power falls from its place after being defeated by Victorious enemy OR being informed of such defeat by Messenger.
The point of Disaster is that it changes the world of the Elements. It can be big scale, like the fall of a kingdom, or small like a divorce.
The intensity increases when the disaster in unexpected: the kingdom seemed to be winning the war, the enemies seemed weaker, the spouses seem to be all right.

Vanquished Power

The Vanquished Power has to adapt its life to its new circumstances. It's a reactive element.

PCs as Vanquished Power

If the PCs couldn't avoid the Disaster, this story is going to make them feel desire of revenge, and that means they need somebody to take revenge upon. In literature is all right to get an earthquake or a volcano eruption, destroy a city and show what the characters feel and do while mourning their loss. In an RPG, though, is better to have a NPC to blame - otherwise, the players could blame it on the GM - so the disaster should be an unexpected defeat.
The PCs need not to have being fighting against the Enemy. While the party was recovering an ancient artifact, their recurring enemy attacked the town they grew up and torched it. When the players return, they see a few survivors, mostly children or old people, and adult dead bodies. They cry, speaking about the forces of their enemy. The PCs need first to take care of their people, and then track their enemy and take revenge for its actions.

If the PCs could have avoided the Disaster, this story is of the consequences of their failure. In that case the try to avoid the disaster was in the past sessions. Maybe the first sessions were clues for them to start preparing action and they didn't or didn't get them, but they need to had chances to avoid the damage to not feel unjustly beaten.

Victorious Enemy

In some disasters you can have a Victorious Enemy, somebody to blame, to take revenge on, to hate, all that.

PCs as Victorious Enemy

The point of Disaster is that the PCs care for the people affected by the disaster, so how are you going to make them care about the negative consequences they brought while winning, without making them feel remorse? Maybe if those consequences are not purely because of the PCs. The PCs are mercenaries hired by a count in a war against a neighbor. After the main battle, the army marches over the loser's lands, pillaging, butchering and raping civilians. The PCs are horrified they brought this upon innocents and try for it not to happen, but there are too many cases for them to stop them all.
In any case, the Victorious Enemy is who brings the great damage over others, and not many players will feel right doing that.


Both a defeat and a natural disaster may need a messenger to really get the Disaster feeling, although both may be their own messenger. 
The Messenger talks about the Disaster, but with it comes the chance to avoid a greater damage. If a city has fallen or an army has been defeated, the Messenger can alert home and let them evacuate before the Victorious Enemy arrives.
If it was a natural disaster, then the loss needs to affect the people the Messenger talks to. A king sent his army to a quick campaign. However, a plague killed most of it, only a few soldiers (Messenger) were not affected, able to return and tell about the loss of almost all the army. Now that the king has no army, neighboring kingdoms may attack them. Maybe the king just came back from a negotiation with one of those kingdoms. A negotiation that wasn't good and that only the implicit threat of the king's army stopped the ambition of the neighboring king.


A Disaster naturally develops into a Falling Prey of Cruelty/Misfortune story, with the Vanquished Power being the Unfortunate and, if there is a Victorious Power, it becomes the Master.
If the PCs are in the losing end, maybe there's no need to play such story if they want to go straight to Ambition, Obtaining, Daring Enterprise or Conspiracy.
Maybe a Sacrifice is required for the situation not to worsen. For instance, a enemy army may have taken the PCs fortress, but they are willing to forgive the PCs' subjects if they surrender and publicly give up any right they had to it.

sábado, 3 de octubre de 2015


This is based on the 5th Dramatic Situation of Polti, but he considered the elements to be Fugitive and Punishment.
  • Fugitive
  • Persecutor
Plot: The Fugitive flees the Persecutor

What was the crime? Murder, injury, insult, property damage; attempt of any of those.
Was it real, perceived, accidental, erroneous…?
It doesn't needs to be perceived as crime by the Persecutor, but by the Fugitive. A teen has gotten pregnant and rides from home, thinking her father is going to make her abort, the father pursues her, not because he intends to force her one way or the other, but because he loves her.

Upon who was committed the crime?
Upon who is the punishment going to be committed? For the Fugitive to flee, the Persecutor must want to punish the Fugitive, but it may decide after some time that it will take revenge upon others, giving the story a time limit.


Since it flees, it doesn't want to face the Persecutor. This could be because of fear (the Persecutor is more powerful), embarrassment (the Persecutor is the Fugitive's own father, pursuing by duty) or whatever reason.
The Fugitive does not need to know personally who is pursuing, only to believe that somebody is.

PCs as Fugitive

If the PCs are fleeing, you know it because that's what they did the last session. What I mean is that, in a conflict between PCs and NPCs, you never know if the PCs are going to flee or to fight, and often what you can foresee is the fighting, so in last session the PCs found they bit more than they could chew, and chose the best part of valor.
Now you can plan a pursuit story, probably using it for them to look for a conclusion.


The Persecutor is not only pursuing, but probably mixing other plots, like Enigma, to track the Fugitive.

PCs as Persecutor

Besides the PCs needing a reason to pursue the Fugitive, this case doesn't need much more work.


If the Fugitive is caught, the story develops into Vengeance or maybe Supplication if the Fugitive asks the Persecutor for mercy.
The Fugitive may be fleeing to gain time and solve an Enigma, like who was the real culprit, or getting what he needs to definitely escape the Persecutor (Daring Enterprise, Obtaining or Conspiracy).

viernes, 2 de octubre de 2015


This combines the 8th Dramatic Situation of Polti (that includes Power and Conspirator) and situations 15th and 25th (Adultery and Adultery with murderous intentions) The case of adultery is that the conspirators are the adulterers and the role of "Power" is the deceived spouse. To keep things generic, though, we state the elements as
  • Power
  • Conspirator
Plot: the Power is plotted against by the Conspirator

Polti's 13th Dramatic Situation (Enmity of Kin) includes conspiracy and mutual conspiracy. The conspiracy of one Hating element against the Hated element is just this case. Several elements conspiring one against each other is a conspiracy in which the PCs are going to be simultaneously as Power and Conspirators.


The Power is mostly ignorant of what the Conspirator does until real damage starts happening. Then it is a race against time, trying to find and end the conspiracy before the Power is vanquished.

PCs as Power

The effects of the conspiracy have to begin slowly. At first only a few things seem to be against them, but there have to be enough clues for them to think those "accidents" are connected.
Even in that case the plot becomes more of an Enigma than a Conspiracy.


The Conspirator believes the Power is to be defeated. To keep secrecy, to know who to trust and who not to are the main points for its point of view in the story.
The damage made needs to have a further goal, like preparing the Power for a deposition or maybe to convince it that it's best for it to go away.

PCs as Conspirator

The PCs need to want to oppose the Power but must not be powerful enough to do it in the open.


The result of a Conspiracy may be a Disaster for the unsuccessful part, develop into Pursuit or Vengeance

jueves, 1 de octubre de 2015


This is the 11th Dramatic Situation of Polti. Elements:
  • Interrogator
  • Seeker
Plot: the Interrogator poses a problem to the Seeker

The 8th and 13th Dramatic Situations of Polti include this element when they're developed. 8th is Conspiracy, and from the point of view of the element conspired against, there is the Enigma of who is trying to make it suffer.
The 13th (Enmity of Kin) can be either a conspiracy from one kinsman to another or several reciprocal conspiracies. In the first case, the conspired against is living an Enigma as well as the Conspiracy of its own.


The Interrogator does not need to be known and often isn't. In crime investigations, the Interrogator is the culprit. In cases like that, the Interrogator's identity, motives, etc are the very enigma.
If the Interrogator is known then either it doesn't know the solution or it can't be forced to reveal it. If the sphinx poses a problem to the PCs, they need reasons not to beat the sphinx until it says the answer. If the woman a PC loves poses a riddle as condition to marry him, they won't force her, although the PC could get frustrated with her and stop wooing her. 

PCs as Interrogator

The Enigma story is about solving the enigma, so PCs are in the receiving end. Written from the point of view of the NPCs, the PCs actions could be an enigma, but the PCs are not the ones living it, so it's not a RPG story.

Seeker, PCs as Seeker

Since PCs shouldn't be the Interrogator, this is all about the PCs.
The Seeker needs access to clues to solve the enigma. In a lot of classical games this was linked to roll successes and/or correct interpretations, which often ended in PCs unable to solve the case. To avoid this, consider first several ways to get to the same discovery, to minimize the probability of PCs losing it completely. Second, consider what 13th Age calls "Fail Forward"; that means that a failed roll doesn't mean nothing happens, but
  • The PCs get the information, but there are additional complications: the adversaries know of them, takes measures to learn their strength and make resolution or combat more likely or dangerous
  • The PCs get three facts about the information, one of them is true, the other two are false.


The solution of the Enigma may reveal the culprit of some crime, developing into a Pursuit or a Vengeance.
If the Enigma consisted in where is something the PCs are looking form, it had an underlying Ambition that now can really take place.