By: Jesse C Cohoon
The P5: People, Places, Possessions, Powers, & Plot RPG engine is not meant to replace other roleplaying systems, but to help you by giving ideas as to what you might need and further define what is there providing the people, places, powers, possessions and plots for your game. It’s designed to streamline worldbuilding by helping to create vibrant locales, interesting characters, and complex, crazy plots for your games, both traditional and nontraditional. By using the P5 system, you’re able to take your world from concept to fully fleshed out form in five easy steps that should make world creation a breeze.
Possessions are the things that characters, towns, and companies own. Usually possessions don’t have a mind of their own, but they can, such things as animals, sentient monsters (think stuff like Digimon and Pokemon), and AIs/ robots in futuristic settings. If there are a class of beings who are enslaved, those would go in the “people” section, talked about last time, because while they’re technically “owned” no one really wants to be thought of as an item to be bought and sold. Possessions can be as large or as detailed as you want them to be. They can be individual or corporate as you want them to be. It’s everything from the pair of socks that’s has a hole in each toe the orc wears to the suit of armor that the party’s fighter wears. It’s the scrolls, rings, and wands the sorcerer has on their person. But equally, the wealth contained in safe that is behind the painting in the study (and if the players are ambitious enough, the safe itself!), the sculptures that decorate the garden, and the library of books of the sage. It’s also the items the secret organization owns, the beer mugs and tables and chairs in a bar, and the religious books and hymnals in the pews of the church’s sanctuary. The key point in remembering when making lists of items that the person or organization owns is to think of them of things that are:
- Important to the storyline: This can be anything from the lines of a clue which would lead to the ultimate antagonist, to a red herring to a piece of the puzzle that will be needed later on. Video games excel at these types of things. Truly excellent DMs are able to spin the most insignificant of items to become the clue that solves the whole mystery, the key to defeating the ultimate antagonist, or the missing piece that allows them entry into the treasure room.
- Interesting to note: this can be everything from the style of clothing the person or those in the organization wears to the type of books that they read to some personal effect they always have with them.
- Valuable: This would be where all the coins and gems, jewels and trappings of royalty, works of art and literature would end up. If armor or weaponry is more decorative or ceremonial than practical, it would fall into this category as well.
- Transportable: if it’s too big, most of the time the players aren’t going to bother with it. A single suit of masterwork armor is OK to take because someone can wear it out. An entire collection of empty suits of armor (unless one enchants them to follow the players along) is another matter entirely. And while the mad sorcerer might have a tower in the middle of nowhere that the PCs cleared out, no one’s going to shrink it down to take with them.
- Practical & useful: these would be things like items of everyday use: china, tea sets, rations, and any sort of kits, armor and weaponry the PCs can use.
- Magical: This would be the belts, rings, armor and weaponry of a magical nature. (the powers such items possess would go into the next section)
These categories are entirely artificial, and there are lots of overlap between them, but they are good for determining what types of things you might need to describe for your game.
One interesting thing might be to have there be too much stuff (possessions) to take with them, even if they have magic or technological devices that would normally allow them to do so, and have the stuff that the PCs chose not to take with them at a later point in the campaign.
Another thing one might do with possessions is somehow mark them as belonging to a specific person, either with magic, or a characteristic that is theirs alone, and anyone who knows who it belonged to would know it was stolen or that the party in question has been defeated.
More on the P5 worldbuilding system next time.