Scum and Villainy starts again tonight. It’s been 3 weeks since we played, and there’s really no better way to get my head back in the game than to review the old notes and set up ye olde situation map. Or…smap for those in the know.
I took some pictures to help explain what I did along the way.
1 is my blank piece of butcher paper. I prefer butcher paper because it’s wax-backed and that helps keep my nice table from getting marked up with my colored Sharpies.
The blank sheet is also my first challenge: how will I organize the situation anyway? I’m borrowing from my experience with Space Wurm vs Moonicorn here, which similarly has lots of farflung locations and competing factions. So I’ve decided to set up a physical map of the Procyon Sector in the middle, and surround it with factions pointed into the physical location space.
2 is the map of the Procyon sector. I’ve also gone with black because it’s really not gonna change, you know? And green for planets because why not? I designed a simple iconography to indicate jump gates as well.
3 is where I needed to slow down and really think about merging S&V’s canonical faction stuff with our own game. I had the hardcover out and my notes, and lightly jotted around the edge where my most active factions were mostly clustered. It worked out that this was pretty easy for the most part. Also, I’m only using maybe a quarter of the factions available in the game? Not so many. I drew hexes in red around the factions, and drew red lines from the faction into the physical space map to note their influence in places. If they have a clock running, I wrote the clock down. I’m okay with the players seeing the clocks even if it’s stuff their character’s “wouldn’t” know. It’s fine.
Oh, I also drew pink lines to indicate established ally and enemy relationships.
4 is where I added NPCs and their last known locations. I drew blue triangles for them, and noted their faction underneath. That’s my least favorite part of this first design attempt, and the one I’m most likely to change with next week’s revision.
Normally I have spots on a smap for individual player characters, but since the crew-ness of the crew is so central to S&V (kind of like the Fellowship in The One Ring), I’m instead going to use a moveable marker to show where the Stardancer is in the physical map space. I think this will interact nicely with the sector sheets they have on hand as well.
So that’s basically my smap. It’s a sliver in time and it took maybe an hour the first time? And I will mark the shit out of it as things change this upcoming session tonight.
How is this not a relationship map, you dumbass?
That’s a great question. I’m glad you asked.
It basically is, if you consider literally any connection between anything and anyone a “relationship.” I’ve modified that idea a bit to emphasize instead that there are situations in motion in the game. A “situation” being, for my purposes, a magnet for interesting unanswered questions. If I’m not asking myself WTF is up with a faction or a PC or an NPC, then there’s no situation and it doesn’t make it on the map. The net result is gonna look a lot like a traditional relationship map, I’ll grant you, but this lets me see clocks and alliances and the actual space where play is taking place.
Now that you have this ugly thing, what will you do with it?
I will mark it up like crazy. If the ship moves or they run into an NPC, that stuff shows up on the map. If their connection to a faction changes, ditto. It’s not a piece of art for my wall, it’s a working document and it will be destroyed by the work.
Then, I will take all the changes, compare them to my written notes, and do it all over again for the next session. Since I’ve done the heavy logistical lifting of where and how to organize information, I won’t need to do that again. Next one might take 20 minutes instead of the hour.
Ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer.