Monday 30 March 2015


Rhadamanthes, a Muvian.
No one exists in a vacuum, fictional or not; even the most convinced loner has people he or she communes with in some way (consider the hermit in Maine, who, although he lived utterly alone for 27 years, still depended on locals whom he could burgle to survive).

Chariot is a game themed on the lives of others. Player characters in Chariot have in common the revelation that the catastrophe is coming, and that they're going to die in it, and not before. If you know that whatever the consequences of your actions, you will live to see the final end, wouldn't that change the way you faced the world?

But whatever you do, it can't happen outside of the context of people. Who will escape? Who will you save? Who will you drag screaming into the ocean depths with you?

Because people matter in the world of the game characters, I wanted to model relationships with a sort of system. Not a complex one.

The Court Cards of the Tarot seem like a useful step, since traditionally they have been used to signify people as they exist in your context. That is, these Kings, Queens, Knights and Pages don't denote the people themselves, they denote what these people are to you.

Before I start, here's another character I made earlier, Rhadamanthes the Pacifist. He has travelled far from home. He's our example today.
Culture: Muvian // Station: Citizen // Fate: Lover of the World (The Lovers, the Moon)
Suits: Cups 6, Pentacles 5, Swords 6, Wands 3
Attributes: Animal 1, Body 0, City 3, Hands 1, Machines 0, People 6, Psychic 3, Wilds 1, Will 6
Relationships: Page of Cups (his daughter, Althese), King of Swords, Page of Pentacles (undefined)
When you make a character, you extract the sixteen Courts from the pack and, having shuffled them, deal yourself three.

These are three people, three of the most important relationships your character has. You don't have to say who they are immediately, but sometimes they can suggest backstory and history.

I've made a more detailed list of what each of the Courts is, but for now, just bear in mind that the Courts don't have to be gendered one way or another (Queens don't have to be female, Kings don't have to be male).

Cups denote friends, family and lovers; Swords are enemies; Wands are entanglements and complications; Pentacles are colleagues, people who owe you and people you can do business with.

Kings are people who are, socially, familially or generationally older than you, whether a mentor, an employer, an archenemy or the head of a group whose interests clash with yours. Queens are people with whom you are strongly linked: lovers, enemies, traitors. People with whom the link is more than just busines. Knights are people who you consider equals, counterparts, whether they're on your side or not. And Pages are people younger than you or junior to you. Proteges, children, pupils, employees.

This is how you use them:

If you have any unclaimed court cards on your character sheet, then you can, when the GM names an NPC, go, "I know this person!" and explain what they are to you, and which Court they take up.

Rhadamanthes, for example, has named his Page of Cups "Althese", and has said she's his daughter. The other two he hasn't named. in a scene, GM introduces the Provost-Adept of Hollowbridge, a corrupt and powerful Atlantean god-ruler, Rhadamanthes says, "I know her, she was responsible for the deaths of many of my kin..." and writes her in as his King of Swords. The GM honours that and plays their interactions accordingly.

Playing Court Cards
If (in a contest) you play a Court card that isn't named on your sheet, you can either: use it to name an NPC present (or not present) as a new relationship defined by that Court card, make up someone entirely new who isn't there or mark it on your sheet as an unclaimed relationship, which you can name later (as above).

So Rhadamanthes, later on, plays the Queen of Wands in a contest with Bridd, a local satrap while trying to get him not to execute some slaves. The satrap, although an honourable man, remembers Rhadamanthes, and not in a good way. Bridd will become a recurring part of Rhadamanthes' life, considering him a nuisance. They will be mutual thorns in each other's sides.

If you play a Court you don't have outside of a conflict, you can use it to name an NPC present as a new relationship, but you can't play it to get a new unclaimed relationship.

If you play an unclaimed Court, you can use it to name a relationship, regardless of whether the NPC is there or not (as Makarakan did).

If you use a Court card in a contest and use it to define a relationship or bring in a relationship, add a point to the suit that corresponds to the Court card you've just played.

Bringing existing relationships into play
If you play a Court card that corresponds to a relationship with a name attached (like when Rhadamanthes names his daughter, for instance), you have either to come up with a reason why that person, in their absence, is influencing events (for example, later on, Rhadamanthes is trying to escape a group of Atlantean slavers; he draws, during the conflict, the King of Swords, and says, they're in the pay of the Provost-Adept of Hollowbridge), or you bring that person into the action (he could say that the slavers are in the pay of the Provost-Adept, and then have her appear in order to take command of his enemies).

Losing relationships
You have the option of removing a relationship from your sheet at any time, but you need to have a reason.

Having the person with whom your character has a relationship die isn't necessarily a reason: it's often the people we've lost who influence us the most. But if the person doesn't matter to your character, or you don't see them for ages, it's reasonable to cross them off your sheet.

Multiple characters, the same relationship
One person's lover can be another's enemy: having more than one character having differing relationships with the same person can create all sorts of  fun drama.

I'm sure this could do with more in the way of examples and explanation, but this is the skeleton of it.