I ran into an interesting phenomenon when running my bi-weekly Infinity: The Roleplaying Game. The game itself was a kickstarter and is currently shipping (check out the quickstart), though that’s not what this post is about.
By default, in the Infinity RPG, characters come from very different backgrounds, from the hyper-capitalist hyperpower PanOceania or the Neo-Anarchist megaships of the Nomad Nation to the rugged backwater nations of Ariadne or the cloning vats of Aleph, humanity’s sole AI. However, as per the standard design of the game, the characters will be working together in a supra-national team, usually dealing with crises that threaten the stability of humanity as a whole. This of course results in wildly different personalities and loyalties, something the game loves to play with. You see, there’s a layer placed on top of the normal special operations, diplomatic wrangling and rooting out alien infiltrators that the game usually deals with.
Every character has a handler (or more) that represents the interests of the nation state they ostensibly are loyal to. These handlers will provide side-missions to the character and that character alone. And that is where it gets interesting.
For many roleplayers and certainly many characters, treasure is one of the primary reasons for their adventures. Treasure is rarely the end goal (unless the characters are truly shallow) but fine quality loot is a mainstay of an adventurer’s diet.
So how do you make finding ever increasing sums of gold and piles of magic items interesting? Well, that’s what we’re here to talk about!
Names. Names are everything. Names are a part of your identity and with the right name you can compel a demon to do your bidding and in some settings reshape the world.
Names are also really hard! Giving a character or NPC a name is a very tricky task indeed and requires you to carefully consider just what that name means for a person in your world.
Names tend to have meanings attached to them, implied characteristics and cultural baggage and choosing the wrong name for an NPC is worse than not naming them at all.
Discussed here are a few examples of doing this right and doing it wrong. Of course these aren’t hard and fast rules but I hope I can teach you a thing or two with regards to naming.
Batman has the Batcave.
Superman has his fortress of solitude.
Deadpool has his appartment.
Wolverine has the X-men Mansion, despite roaming about and being a loner.
Robin hood has a glade in Sherwood forest.
Smaug ‘had’ Erebor. (Spoilers…)
Spawn has his alleyways.
Neo had that small ship in the first Matrix movie.
SG1 has the Cheyenne mountain complex.
The list goes on.
Regardless of your players wanting it or not (or even realize it), they will likely end up with a base of operations. A place to rest their heads and call home. To sell their loot and buy their gear. Where they can gather information for their next mission, and store their hard earned currency etc. If only temporarily, before moving on to the next.
This could be anything from your typical inn or tavern, a district or even an entire city. A flying airship, an airplane or a star ship. A mansion, a castle, the local YMCA or their employers Volcanic Lair. (See Evil villain, fire lord or Red Dragon)
Hell, it could even be the RV from Breaking Bad.