Personalities and Drama

Krendel is not just an action engine. It also stresses the importance of a character's personality and her relationships, balancing story and mechanics. If a character acts in accordance with her nature, then the universe smiles upon her. If not, then the character gains no blessing in her struggles.

Shortly after conjuring your character concept, you are asked to choose your character's motivation and temptation. The former is what the character claims she is all about, while the latter is what she is really all about, even if she doesn't realize it herself. They can be the same, or they can be different. Together they define your overall attitude. Those familiar with Vampire: The Masquerade may find the concept very similar to nature and demeanor.

For example, Robin Hood probably has compassion for his motivation with the whole rob from the rich, give to the poor thing he's got going on. But his temptation may actually be fame (he loves to hear everyone say his name) or wrath (he wants vengeance).

When a character pursues her motivation or temptation to her detriment, she gains karma. Motivation and temptation can also be used to resolve disputes between player characters, awarding the one that backs down with karma. Motivation and temptation also get leveraged by various actions and powers that may grant insight into a character's heart, leverage it, or change it.

Of course, running into danger to feed your motivation and temptation is an inherently selfish act. That happens whenever you offer a cookie for particular behavior. Thus relationships are introduced to curtail negative behavior. Each relationship has a rule, and violating the rule prevents you from spending or earning karma. Players are encouraged to form ally and/or friend relationships between their characters to help glue them together. Of course, forming these relationships, and thus binding yourself to others, rewards you with karma.

How do you form relationships? Do you just walk up and say "friends?" Well, not quite. At creation, take a 3x5 card and write down the first half of a historical event that started the relationship. Then pass it to another player, who finishes the relationships. Repeat this for everyone. Here's a couple examples from playtests:

  • Three words - One Night Stand. / Now both our exes want us dead.
  • We first met when he got in a tavern brawl, and his attacker spilled my drink. / You clocked him good, and we've had each other's backs ever since.
  • We grew up together. / Where we've always looked out for each other, we tend to try to one up each other.
  • Our parents were killed in a tragic "accident". / And we swore we'd get revenge on whoever was responsible.

They are short and simple, yet they also provide great background for the characters that the players can elaborate on. Of course, these events also give the Game Master ideas that she can work into the game.

You can form relationships after character creation too, but you may need an event to give the characters a reason to form a bond with one another.

There are three optional building blocks that you can leverage to further flesh out a character's dramatic aspects. Characters can adopt personal goals, start with keepsakes, or formalize their company with a structure and theme. None of these are required, but they can offer greater depth to the character and direction for the Game Master.

In addition to the story lent by each of these dramatic aspects, there is also a karma economy that players can leverage. Karma is the heroic edge player characters (and some NPCs) possess. Its a measure of how well the universe smiles upon their endeavors. Karma may be spent to do things like canceling an action, re-rolling an action, or even adjusting the target number of an action. Gaining karma is difficult if characters don't act according to their nature, and all characters have a maximum amount, encouraging them to spend it.

In this way, the role-play of a character takes on both story and mechanical  importance as the characters are encouraged to work within the theme of the game everyone agrees upon. Of course, all of those dramatic aspects can change over time, allowing a character to pursue new paths in life after learning her lesson.