Michael Cavanaugh, one of the wealthiest men in Los Angeles, is celebrating his 70th birthday with a small dinner party for relatives and friends. Behind this scene of seeming domestic tranquility, however, lies a morass of secrets, politics, scandal, and intrigue. An important man in big business, finance, politics, society, and (some say) organized crime, Cavanaugh's associates are already maneuvering for position to inherit his wealth and power. Old scores will be settled, new desires will be kindled, alliances will be made, secrets will be revealed, others secrets will be buried, and the often shadowy connections of the figures surrounding Cavanaugh will never be the same!
Note that despite the similarity of names, this game has nothing in common with the TV show Family Affair, though I reserve the right to name the butler Mr. French!
While A Family Affair will be a "game", it will differ drastically from other games in one major detail: There will be no rules! That's right, no rules. No skills, no abilities, no game mechanics of any kind. Just a detailed background, some very detailed characters, and your own personal abilities. It's still a game because your character will have goals, but those goals can be achieved solely with the natural talents you bring to the game. As such, the game's plots will center on information, politics, and deal-making.
In many ways A Family Affair is at the extreme end of live-gaming that overlaps with improvisational theater, with complex characters in dramatic situations. While the characters may have any number of divergent goals, the real goal of each player should be to portray his or her character as well as possible--power gamers need not apply!
A Family Affair is an attempt to create true drama in role-playing. While that does not in any way preclude humor, characters should be designed with an eye toward enhancing the possibility of drama and emotional conflict. Ideally the final game will capture the essence of a dramatic theatrical play, one in which you can be both the cast and the audience!
Because of the experimental nature of this game, I've decided to keep it small. There will thus be at most a dozen player characters, probably less. I'm asking players to make a fairly serious "intellectual investment" in their characters. (Costuming, on the other hand, should be no problem; the game is set in contemporary Los Angeles.) For those who really want to participate but don't feel up to such a commitment, there will be three or four minor non-player-character slots to fill as the Cavanaugh house servants. In return for getting to watch the game, however, you will be required to actually cook and serve dinner!
updated 9/21/98 by Scott Martin