10-year-old-gamer uses my Conflict Diagrams

DeeM is using our kitchen table to prep an adventure while Kurtzhau finishes off some homework. (He started GMing Maelstrom Doomsday after his excellent experience at Conpulsion, but has being the running red box D&D for nearly a year now.)

As I wait for the kettle to boil, I say, “Can I show you a trick?”

I’m the only adult gamer DeeM knows, so he tends to pick my brains about the hobby (sending me to my more experienced friends for answers). “OK,” he says.

I grab a scrap of paper. “Look. When I have lots of people to keep track of, I draw a diagram like this. ” I sketch out  one of my conflict diagrams. “Say the lord is fighting the other lord over some land, and the peasants want the land, and one peasant wants to marry the other’s daughter.”

DeeM nodds.

“It’s easier than writing down lots of notes then having to look it up,” I say, worried that I have intruded on his hobby. He’s much more understated than Kurtzhau, a quietly effective manager in the making – something I see when he DMs, which is another story – so it’s not always clear what he’s thinking.

“Thankyou,” says DeeM and goes back to his prepping.

As I make my cup of tea I worry that I have intruded, or worse, made things too complicated.

A week later and DeeM is setting up to referee for Kurtzhau and a novice friend and I help build a GM’s screen out of cookery book stands. “What’s this?” I ask.

“I did a diagram like you showed me,” says DeeM.

So this is how he keeps track of his worlds! I am both relieved and slightly smug. “Can I scan that and put it on my blog?”

And here it is:

(Posted with DeeM's permission)

(Posted with DeeM’s permission)

It’s not quite how I do it. Rather than Bones of Contention, he just marks up the arrows. And sometimes he just uses arrows to show relationships, for example that married couple off left.

However, all that matters is he has a system that makes sense to him. It only has to work when he looks at it. And work it did! The novice gamer went from “”I’m not sure, I’ve never done ‘roleplaying’…” to “Shoot him! Shoot him!” to “I rolled 16! Wooo!…” to “That was amazing let’s do it again next week!”)

My work is done.


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Posted in Geek Parenting, Outlining, Roleplaying, Storyteller Tools, Writing Tips
4 comments on “10-year-old-gamer uses my Conflict Diagrams
  1. Tiggs Cunningham says:

    Yup. There’s a great amount of satisfaction in sharing a skill or passing on an idea like that. You are a damn effective teacher.

  2. Phil Daniels says:

    Always knew you had a talent for making complicated stuff look easy 🙂

  3. Sarah Avery says:

    Delightful diagram! And maybe it’s an astute observation about complex family relationships that he used conflict arrows to mark spouses and siblings. If his players are going to spend any amount of time with those NPC’s, the NPC’s ought to have some conflict within their families.

  4. mharoldpage says:

    Ah, I told him nothing in the game exists unless it’s in conflict. Perhaps I warped his young mind.

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