Roleplaying Games Should Be Fun

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Realpolitick and How to Use Your Job in Game

Posted by Brett on May 3, 2009

In fighting, realpolitik, war as a natural extension of diplomacy. Its there, we deal with every single day in one way or another. Many of us have the problem of dealing with it at work, I know that I have to at work, and I’m just a lowly peon on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. If I wanted a promotion at work I need to fight and claw against everybody else to get one, and that is against my coworkers who may be as qualified as I am, and against those that I know are not but are just ambitious and talk a big game.

For a bit of background. I worked at a call centre, until my recent layoff and its generally pretty crappy, the only light is that I worked with my fiance so she makes me smile all of the time. Writing about her now is making me smile, so I have that going for me. In my position I have to deal with customers of a major telecommunications company in the United States, for whom I provide tech support to PDA devices. That makes me wonder about how I can use that experience in a game. I could as a GM create NPC caricatures of my managers for the PCs to beat the living snot out of, butthat’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how to turn a job, sometimes a crappy job, into exciting games and adventures. My experience that I’m a specialist, I deal with only certain situations. I don’t answer general billing questions, I don’t deal with most standard phone type devices, I do however deal with some of the most difficult and confusing technical issues for devices thatrenowned for confusing technical issues, I have specialized tools and training to do what I need to do, I am the call centre equivalent of an adventurer. So how does this working game? Read on and I shall explain.

The easiest way work this into a game is as a game of intrigue, at least for those of us with office jobs. Think of how you would integrate the idea of office politics, which can be just as vicious as any those in any royal court and you have a good idea about the challenges the PCs should be facing. If we take my layoff for example that can lead to lots of adventure ideas. In my case I worked for my previous employer for just shy of five years and the only reason myself and several of my coworkers were let go is because of our tenure and associated costs of being kept employed in favour of somebody who gets less pay. Maybe your group’s services are no longer needed by their previous patron, they are forced to find their own work, which isn’t hard for a group of adventurers. If terms of costs to a patron why not set up a group that is doing the same work with same level of skill of a lower cost. You have a rival group that isn’t outright antagonistic to the PCs and that give a nice bit of drama to any series of adventures. The intrigue option is always valid. I’m sure that you’ve encountered that one person that is always riding on your coat tails or those of your coworkers. That one person that tangently attaches themselves to a project and somehow manages to get most of the credit through smooth talking and nobody else wanting to be seen as a jerk. This makes a good NPC for a game, that oneperson that manages to convince the king or your patron that it was their invaluable help that saved the day, despite only being tangently involved with the whole adventure. This also means this person maybe getting promotions or rewards beyond their station, or may even have a more sinister motive for their lies beyond just mere ambition.

Something else to consider is why that event has occurred even if the players never find out that why. A GM knowing why something happens can lead to more adventures by having the players getting to the root of a problem. Maybe the PCs have become an unfavourable group to have around after a shift in the power structure, and in an effort to cut ‘costs’ or clear detritus from the organization’s structure the PCs are cut loose. Maybe they are too powerful, or viewed as having too much power, maybe the royal vizier sees the bard has having too much of an influence on the king, so the vizier engineers a reason to unceremoniously dump the characters in the nearest gutter and have the king agree to do so.

Once more to my lay off for inspiration. Imagine the following scene. Local heroes who have been protecting the local townships from goblins, brigands and their ilk for nigh on five years are called before the local magistrate on behalf of the king. They are informed that their status of goblin and brigand hunters is revoked, they are to leave the kingdom due to the king wanting to have more royal support in the area. He’s sending out his own soldier under his own payroll because they cost less, even after taking into account the loss of funds due to goblin raids. Never mind the loss of morale of thefarmers , the heroes services just aren’t needed any more. But, they are told, if a dragon shows up the king will happily accept their help, at a greatly reduced rate. There are apologies all around, but really there’s nothing the magistrate can do, because of the king you see. So what are the heroes to do? Do they go to the king and appeal their case? Is what the magistrate says all there is to the king’s request? Is the king’s request genuine? Are the soldiers coming for the reason stated, are they there to quash afomenting rebellion, or is there something more sinister at work? All excellent questions and each one of them can lead to a whole series of new adventures.

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