Dynasties in Heirs

image from ArtBreeder

filed under actual play and game design on 22 May 2017
tagged heirs of sea and shadow, narrative, d10, gaith, trollbabe, theory, and rpglet

When I finished the first draft of Heirs of Sea and Shadow I was proud of myself, but I was also mad at myself over the title.

The sea is a fairly important aspect of the game (it’s on an island!), and shadows virtually define the setting, but why, brain, why, are you demanding “heirs”? Are you harkening back to the days of lyrical, golden fantasy, sent into a fit of nostalgia by all this talk of romantic fantasy? Are you just being pretentious?

Turns out, after some poking around and serendipitous discussion, my brain had a plan all along; to add a dynasty, domain, and inheritance system to Heirs.

Thanks, brain. You know I love that stuff.

So here’s how it handles in practice, at least in the first solid iteration.

There’s not much “play” here. In fact, there’s not a single roll against the Heirs mechanics. It’s entirely a run down on the dynastic rules (which have since been adjusted a bit based on this playtest). So probably a pretty dry read!

All in all, I was very pleased with how rapidly characters seem to develop and take on their own lives from so few rolls. I think this is my fourth or fifth hero made with Heirs and they’ve all been evocative and easy to enmesh in their world.

Part of it is keeping the principles in mind; motives are personal in particular.

Note, I’ve removed some of the extra stuff like picking hair color and eye color and edited for clarity.

The adventure begins...

Ok, first step is character generation. I'm using dynasty rules and I'm going to randomize everything I can.

So, first step, let's pick a descriptor phrase randomly from the three options.

Rolling 1d3 1 times.
[ 3 ] 3

I am a (blank), (blank) but (blank).

I could pick my five Tags, but instead I'll look at the three charts (they're kind of scattered) and roll on those. I'll do two from the short suggestions list with professions, two from the main chart of personality traits in the random charts section, and one from the "interesting inheritable flaws" chart in the dynasty section.

[Two Options] Honorable, Brave, Vengeful, Sullen, Greedy, Lustful, Demonspawn, Mage, Seer, Ranger, Silvertongue, Lover, Noble, Merchant, Royal, Doomed, Lucky, Gardener, Ex- plorer, Sailor, Spy, Brawler, Orator

[Choice] Demonspawn, Seer

Now it's a d66 chart; I like to see what both options are (first across, second down, and vice versa) and pick the one I like best.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 1 1 ] 2

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 4 1 ] 5

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 3 2 ] 5

wise, methodical.

... and bad eyesight.

I'm making the character as usual, then adding the dynasty stuff after.

So now scales; the usual method is to pick, but I'll use the method for creating heirs, which is to roll 1d10, and mark the left side on an even, the right side on an odd.

Rolling 1d10 1 times.
[ 3 ] 3

So that's Combat [3] Fight 3 Flee*. Explore next.

Rolling 1d10 3 times.
[ 2 ] 2
[ 5 ] 5
[ 6 ] 6

So my hero's shaping up to be very cautious, physically. Makes sense, what with the demonspawn thing and bad eyesight. Supernaturally and socially he's more balanced in his approach. Now Skill; I'll just use a few of the same options as earlier.

[Two Options] Mage, Seer, Ranger, Lover, Noble, Merchant, Royal, Lucky, Gardener, Explorer, Sailor, Spy,

[Choice] Lover, Sailor

Sure, why not.

Rolling 1d10 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

A one, which means it's my choice! I'll put it right near the middle.

And that's about it; I need a name and a second resource, and then I'll do the dynasty stuff.

I'll pick, hmm, supernatural ability. For no real reason; I'm thinking the "seer" thing gives him a bit of foresight.

[One Options] Of Place, AuBrinian, Myn Gaethytr, Traughn, Ar Hylirious, Rees, Brysterch, Lackland, Aleistr, Eloque, y parents name, Morgan, Lledric

[Choice] Morgan

[Gender Appearance] male

[One Options] Moah, Techam, Nolo, Arcan, Meylethafan, Elio, Caron, Eogath, Caredwyn, Nath, Isaph, Brandley, Olwed, Gaith, Bretri, Halan, March, Cadyr

[Choice] Gaith

So that's my hero, ready for adventure. Now the dynasty adjustments.

And I've started a time tracker, which is just a list of months and the current year. I'll pick a family descriptor at random.

Rolling 1d2 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

I am of House family-name, and we are known for blank and blank.

So he's of an established House; perhaps a lesser noble? And now to roll a couple of d66s and get two more Tags from the family traits chart to fill those blanks.

Rolling 2d6 2 times.
[ 3 4 ] 7
[ 2 3 ] 5

curse, mismatched eyes. It's all about the eyes, I think, for this hero.

And a d10 for each Tag that can be inherited. This also helps me get a feel for the character.

Rolling 7d10 1 times.
[ 5 2 9 1 1 1 3 ] 22

Rolling 1d12 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

And, since I'm doing everything random and this is the first hero, an age, which I'll also use as the year in my tracker.

Rolling 1d10 1 times.
[ 4 ] 4

Rolling 1d10 1 times.
[ 2 ] 2

42; so he was born 42 years ago? But he seems younger because of the demonspawn heritage; I'm going to replace "methodical" with "youthful".

Finally, a domain.

My home is domain-name, a blank by a blank that is blank.

I'm getting a pirate vibe here for some reason. Is his home a ship?

[fifty-fifty, 17 ≤ 50] YES

I could roll up a starting hook, or define a full Status Quo scene using the instructions in the , but I think I'll start off with an heir-creating situation. What's the partner like?

Rolling 1d10 1 times.
[ 5 ] 5

Life’s short, so why start worrying now? Add “Libertine” or “Careless”. And I'll roll to see what month it is.

Rolling 1d12 1 times.
[ 8 ] 8

So it's late summer, my hero is on a ship he calls home but isn't captain of.

"Remind me again who captured who?" Gaith teased. It was a rare moment of levity for the usually serious sailor.

His companion, the Honorable Lady Captain Catris Arcan, smirked. "I captured you, you big buffoon," she said, but her tone was light enough to take any sting out of it. Well, that and her state of complete undress.

So I add this encounter to my tracker as a potential pregnancy; with her name and her Tag.

Is this a low risk event?

[0: 1 ] No, and...

Hmm. It's a high risk one; is she deliberately trying to get pregnant?

[0: 4 ] Yes.

Interesting. So I'll add a Status Effect to that effect.

Probably Ardent.

[New Thread] Y32, m8, Captain Catris Arcan | libertine | ardent [8]

They'd been holed up in her cabin for the better part of the week after the crew of the Kestrel, operating on the Queen's own orders, had captured the rogue ship he'd been traveling on.

He wasn't sure why the Queen herself had ordered one of her fastest and ablest ships to bring a minor pirate to heel, but he was grateful the accomodations -- and more importantly, the company -- had improved significantly.

The default rules assume you'll wait to roll until your hero would become aware of it, but there's no reason I couldn't roll for pregnancy now.

I think I'll leave it up in the air for now.

I'm thinking my hero's essentially blind; he's overwhelmed by visions when he uses his physical eyes but can see as well as anyone else with his seer abilities.

Are they approaching shore?

[0: 6 ] Yes, and...

She dressed quickly and vanished out onto deck; he didn't have to see to know that the ship was pulling into port. He heaved an almost silent sigh. Time to face the music, he thought glumly, and started casting around for his own clothes.

So, that's the status quo; a blind hero who can see thanks to his demon heritage, captured as a pirate, and sailing into port after a week in the bed of the pirate hunter's captain.

Now, here's where I'm going to stop his adventures and roll up an heir; there's still quite a bit of adventure to be had here but I want to test the dynasty system. Just a reminder; if you don't want to mess around with odds and such, you can always just ask an oracle. If someone's trying to get pregnant, aim for an ~85% chance of yes, if they're not, it's around 2%.

First, I move to Downtime; I should roll up a dynasty event but since I'm handing off to a new heir I'll wait until I establish the details. And I'll ask the oracle things I would otherwise have determined through play.

Does Catris stay near him for at least a couple of months?

[0: 2 ] Yes, but...

She's not friendly with him once she has what she was ordered to get, which is a seer heir. Essentially securing the bloodline. So that's a month at an 8, pushed up to 9 by her ardent Tag. About an 81% chance.

Rolling 2d10 1 times.
[ 6 6 ] 12

A 6 to test and a 6 to confirm. So she's definitely pregnant. Does the child end up raised by him?

[0: 3 ] No.

So that's a secret heir if he remains the hero, but let's assume he goes missing at some point, and we advance the story until his heir is ready to play, eighteen years later.

First, a birth event.

Rolling 1d10 1 times.
[ 3 ] 3

A deformity. Add a Tag like “Lisp”, “Bad Arm”, or “Limp”.

I'll use "mismatched eyes", one of the family traits.

[Gender Appearance] male

And a couple of relationship Tags. Father (Gaith Morgan), Mother (Catris Arcan).

And rolling to see what Tags are inherited.

Rolling 7d10 1 times.
[ 9 5 5 3 3 5 8 ] 38

Not many; demonspawn (at a 9), curse (at a 5). And mismatched eyes was already added.

Rolling 1d10 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

And libertine (1) from his mother.

[One Options] auburn, glossy black

[Choice] auburn

And he inherits his mother's hair color, too.

So now I roll for his upbringing.

Rolling 1d10 1 times.
[ 7 ] 7

Raised by someone who was abusive and cruel. Add “Abused” and a Tag to reflect the status of upbringing.

So his mother gave him up to someone she trusted, then was lost at sea or whatever adventure, maybe even the one that took Gaith out of the picture. The person was not happy to be saddled with a kid, and a demonspawn one at that.

I could roll up a name at random, but I think his mother named him Morgan, after his father, and his last name would be hers.

So his tags are mismatched eyes 3, father (Gaith Morgan), mother (Catris Arcan), demonspawn 9, curse 5, libertine 1, abused, and noble (as in "aristocrat", for his upbringing tag). Now I get to put those into a descriptor, however I choose. I adjust "abused" a little so it will fit.

I am a demonspawn, libertine but emotionally distant. I am of House Morgan, and we are known for mismatched eyes and a curse.

By putting the demonspawn Tag into his first blank, I'm saying I want that to be a strong factor in his life, both in play and in his story up until now. And by putting libertine and emotionally distant (abused, essentially) into his descriptor, I'm going to ensure they come up a lot too.

I could put father (unknown), if I preferred, or pick a different house or start a new lineage; that's up to me. But I think I'll keep House Morgan.

He'll keep the Kestrel; it's been waiting for his majority. But I won't add it to his descriptor until he's actually calling it home -- which might be the next scene or not for a while.

Now I roll up stats, just as I rolled up Gaith's.

Rolling 1d10 5 times.
[ 4 ] 4
[ 7 ] 7
[ 1 ] 1
[ 3 ] 3
[ 3 ] 3

Combat [4] Fight* 4 Flee

Explore [7] Bold 7 Cautious*

Social [5] Aggressive 5 Empathetic*

Weird [3] Demanding 3 Sensitive*

Skill [3] Duelist 3 Lover*

The Tags that didn't pass down might still be latent if I purchase them later with xp.

If I were playing this hero, I'd likely have his curse be uncontrolled visions, maybe accidentally affecting those who meet his gaze. And his story arc is to learn control and forge real emotional connections, and figure out why his birth was arranged, and by who.

And, finally, I roll up a dynasty event as a "coming of age" event. If I like it, it will kick off the story, if not, it will be an episode from his past.

Rolling 1d10 1 times.
[ 8 ] 8

Bandits have struck at your holdings, disappearing into the forest with a vital item.