Abandon All Hope - Lord of the Dream Cages Auction
In Lords of the Dream Cages
, the latest adventure for Abandon All Hope
, there is an important auction that occurs, based on certain abstract qualities (ie nothing that can really be defined directly from the attributes of the characters with any great degree of success). Now there are normally two possible approaches to this auction - skip over the actual auction and discussion and have the gamemaster assign roles (which is quicker but somewhat less satisfying), or actually run the auction (which is likely to bore the players to tears and stress the gamemaster as he argues with his or herself).
However there is a possible metagame alternative, which is what I'll be using. Give each player and the gamemaster four tokens, one of each colour representing the four qualities.* I use poker chips (green for "Y," white for "I," blue for "B," and red for "Q"), but playing cards would also be quite usable. Play goes around the table, with each person taking a turn to swap a chip with another person, giving a reason (perhaps roleplayed) for why they are either giving away that colour of chip,or taking a chip of that colour. Of course, certain abilities will be chip attractors (for example Pretty Face
should attract blue chips quite well), but with a lot of the characters it won't be obvious which chip goes well. Although you might want to add some sort of no take-backs rule if your players aren't used to this sort of thing.
Players can pass if they can't think of a reason to give or take a chip. When all the players have passed, the gamemaster takes his or her chips and gives them to the players she thinks deserves them. The player with the most white chips is obvious the most "I" and goes with Blangis, the player with the most blue chips is the most "B," etc.
Done properly I think this will capture the feel of the auction while still heavily involving the players in the activity. At least I'm not abandoning any hope that it will. * Actually on thinking about it, players should be able to use their abilities to finagle extra tokens to start with (or even during play through role-play). So they start with the four basic tokens, but if they have the appropriate attribute they get an extra token of the appropriate colour. Thus the aforementioned character with Pretty Face gets two blue tokens to start.