Sometimes Con game prep is all about the scenario. However, let’s not forget that the scenario is only half the game at best. It’s the characters that really drive the game. As it’s a Con game, you have enormous power when you’re putting together your pregens. A great way of getting a coherent group is to think about the relationships they have with each other. I’ve pulled together some thoughts from other GMs who tried this, and am blatantly passing it off as my own work. See what you think.
It’s something some of the hippy games can do well, because they hardwire relationships into the game, but even for more trad plots, if you include things that are going to cause tension or a difference of opinion then its worth putting something on the character sheet. Many games have advantages/disadvantages that use connections to drive campaign play. In a one shot, you can still use them, just link them to the other PCs. ‘Lost love’? make it one of the party. ‘Business rival’? the same. ‘Loyal’? why not to the person sitting next to you?
Less is more when it comes to info for players, so with the background you can just have a couple of relationships, rather than expansive detail on the whole group. A positive and negative works well, especially if they conflict a bit.
e.g. Character A loves B and pines after him/her, he wishes player C would stop grandstanding and taking all the limelight.
Character B is well impressed with C and wants to emulate them. Also wishes A would stop hanging round with puppy dog eyes.
Character C hates the way B treats A and show B lots of leading from the front to bring B out of his shell.
It’s worth pointing out that you don’t want to go overboard with pre-existing relationships (although it’s possible to spin an entire session out of them with the right players). Try not to waste your efforts. A couple of simple relationships is better than loads of tenuous ones. Similarly, don’t be tempted to make the links all about conflict. Any sign of that and you know it will escalate into PvP violence, not always what you want! Some conflict is wanted though, otherwise the relationship might not come up in play, and if it doesn’t then it’s just fluff at the end of the day.
One of the benefits of these relationships is that it gives the players a reason to interact with each other, not just with you and your scenario. Imagine the GM as the hub of a wheel with all the players being attached by spokes. If the communication only ever goes up and down those lines, the game won’t reach it’s full potential. Now imagine that the relationships provide the rim of the wheel, allowing players to go ‘sideways’ with their actions. More potential for story, more potential for immersion.
As always, let’s hear your ideas, thoughts and comments.