COMPATIBILITY: This plug-in is compatible with any game that has spendable resources (usually, but not always, ones that can be regained).
WHAT IS IT?
So, you’re playing your character to the hilt, in ways that entertain the group, and the machinery of the game doesn’t care? Maybe it should. Drives are motivations that a character possesses, which have been codified into being ‘rules bits’, so that players can gain resources simply by playing to the motivations of their characters. The drives listed below are ‘generalized’ ones taken from Hoard, which in it’s turn had that component inspired by an awesome game called The Shadow Of Yesterday.
PLUGGING IT IN
To plug drives into a game, you’ll want to read over the list of drives, likely make up a few new ones, strip out a few that would be problematic at your table, and then make some decisions. Here are the decisions you’ll need to make:
- How do characters get them? The simplest answer to this is for each character to automatically have 1-3 drives (depending how central you want them to be). It may also be possible to price them out as purchases in a point-buy game, but there’s something very odd about different players gaining different levels of rewards for their play.
- What happens when they’re triggered? As written, when you do whatever it is, a drive ‘triggers’. Which is a way of saying, the player gets something (not necessarily right at that instant, mind you). You’ll need to decide what that is; it might be points of some kind (willpower, action, drama, experience), or it might be a really nice hat. The choice of reward shapes how drives will affect your game significantly.
- Who judges, and when? The drive doesn’t do things at a game session; players and GMs do. Someone has to note the triggering of a drive, and reward it. So, decide who gives out the reward (and letting players take rewards on their own, to the surprise of many, often works fairly well, especially if the rewards are visibly and physically represented with tokens or the like). Also, and interval of time is needed: Once triggered, does a drive reward the player immediately and on the spot, or does the group check their drives at the end of each scene, or at the end of each game session?
- Are they dynamic, and how? Can a player get more drives, or swap one drive for another? People do change their views on the world over time, especially when thrown into the kinds of thorny thickets that PCs get shot through. A simple answer is to let a player swap one of their drives once per session, either at the end or at “dramatic moments”. Sometimes, there are even better answers, but one swap per session is a solid baseline.
A DRIVE LIST
The list below is built to show drives as motivations, and assumes a campaign with fairly involved social activity. It may need to be adjusted (possibly significantly) for games and styles where conditions differ from the ones implied - in different styles, different drives are easier or harder to hit; tinker accordingly.
- Defiant: This drive triggers when you respond to social pressure, threats, or manipulation with sneering disdain or instant and vigorous opposition.
- Dissonant: This drive triggers when you question a plan or the stated intentions of another character, pointing out potential problems that might need solving and showing ways that they might be resolved.
- Hierophant: This drive triggers when you strike a lasting bargain with, or provide unpaid aid or assistance of some real substance to a member of [a named organization].
- Radiant: This drive triggers when you pay off an obligation, reduce the number (though not necessarily the value) of your possessions, consolidate your holdings or territories, or in some other way simplify your affairs.
- Rampant: This drive triggers when you make your intentions with regard to another named character or a group as plain as possible in advance, or cut through offered distractions to get straight to the point. This can include threats (but never hollow ones), open offers to deal, or the like.
- Regnant: This drive triggers when you make use of followers, underlings, familiars, or summoned assistants in a way that assists your group, but not when acting through your followers makes action by the players character irrelevant or unnecessary.
- Resplendent: This drive triggers when you acquire an item of significant value for yourself, or when your group as a whole acquires such an item, and the item is carried and displayed openly, with pride.
- Savant: This drive triggers when you create and explain a plan of action to overcome some challenge that faces your group, and which each of them has a part to play in.
- Siblant: This drive triggers whenever you manage to convince (or apparently convince) someone that helping you is in their interests, where it first appeared that it was not.
- Valiant: This drive triggers when you knowingly and deliberately commit to actions that will provoke a conflict between yourself and others, of a sort that will probably not be “done with” in a single engagement.