THE LOVE BALLOON

THE LOVE BALLOON

v.2

by Ray Chou & Vincenzo Ferriero

OH THE LOVE BALLOON –

ON THE SKIES YOU SOON WILL SWOON,

TALES OF HEART AND ROMANCE  LOOM

SO COME AND FLOAT ON THE LOVE BALLOON! 

LOVE, LOVE, BALLOON! 

 

PITCH 

Love balloons are airships whose primary purpose is leisure and entertainment. Players  take on the role of the crew of the cruise as well as  cast of guests on a massive ship dedicated to their entertainment. Love  balloons are  idioms for the heart. Guests go on love balloons to find romance, rekindle flames, or to find out what’s really important. We play to find out what those things are. 

You should play The Love Balloon if your group wants a more social, lighthearted game focused more on comedy, hijinks, and love. 

STYLE 

FANTASY – ROMANCE – QUIRKY – EPISODIC – SILLY – WHOLESOME – ENSEMBLE

RATING 

Love Balloon games are strictly PG-13 fantasies. The game is meant to invoke the wholesome yet innuendo-filled  tone of late 70’s- early 80’s network comedies like Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Three’s Company.

The game is about love – any character can fall in love with any other character. We as players have some say over who the characters fall in love with, but love cannot be denied if the dice deem it so. If a child falls for an adult, it’s an innocent type of adulation puppey love. If an adult falls for a child, it’s a platonic type of love fueled by admiration or sympathy. Otherwise, love in the game is romantic love. 

A kiss is the ultimate expression of love in the game. Anything further can only be implied. The Love Balloon is about matters of the heart. Hate has no place here. 

Remember that this is a collaborative story game. As with all roleplaying games, playing Love Balloon implies a social contract between all participants to respect each other and embody the principles and spirit of the game. You may want to implement some sort of safety system to abide by, especially when playing with strangers or acquaintances. 

LOCATIONS 

LOUNGE – CASINO – BAR – DANCE FLOOR – POOL – DECK – QUARTERS – DINING ROOM- BUFFET – STAGE – HANGAR – PLANE – GYM – LIBRARY – CABINS – HALLWAYS – STAIRS

THE ENSEMBLE

The Love Balloon  is a GMless roleplaying game best played with 3-6 players.  Each player will act as one or more of six distinct characters. 

THE CREW

One player controls a crew with a specific role on the ship:

  1. CAPTAIN – mentors others.

  2. BARTENDER – acts silly.  

  3. ENTERTAINER  – plays hard to get. 

  4. DIRECTOR – brings people together. 

  5. GOPHER – misreads situations. 

  6. MCLOVIN – shoots their shot. 

Players are free to fill in other details like name, age, look,  and gender preferences of their crewmember as they see fit. The crew introduces the guests onto the Balloon during Embarkment and greets them on the way out during Disembarkment. 

When playing as the Crew, try not to give the person an elaborate backstory. Instead, it’s better to go with a name and look and play into the role as much as possible. 

GUESTS

The rest of the players create Guests. Guests choose up to two Backgrounds and one Motivation. 

Two Guests must be in a relationship at the start of the game, and the other two meet during so their players craft their Guests together. Use the tables below to generate your Guests. Roll 2d6 up to  twice, or choose up to two tags. 

RELATIONSHIPS 

  1. COUPLE

  2. SIBLINGS

  3. RIVALS

  4. FRIENDS

  5. COLLEAGUES

  6. EXES

  1. REUNITED

  2. FORMER 

  3. HONEYMOONERS

  4. ACQUAINTANCES

  5. RETIREES

  6. UNHAPPY

  1. TEAMMATES

  2. RELIGIOUS

  3. CLUB

  4. CULTISTS

  5. CRIMINALS

  6. CODEPENDENTS

  1. BIG /  LITTLE

  2. BRASH / QUIET

  3. YOUNG / OLD

  4. BOLD / MEEK

  5. MENTOR / MENTEE

  6. INTERESTED / OBLIVIOUS

  1. BACHELORS

  2. SPRINGBREAKERS

  3. ANNIVERSARY

  4. REVOLUTIONARIES

  5. ESTRANGED

  6. LOVERS

  1. LIFELONG

  2. FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

  3. LONG DISTANCE

  4. SWINGERS

  5. TWINS

  6. ON A WHIM

BACKSTORY

 

  1. A SALESPERSON

  2. A STOWAWAY

  3. A CELEBRITY

  4. A JOKER

  5. A THIEF 

  6. A CHEERLEADER. 

  1. A CELEBRITY

  2. A CHILD

  3. A HOLY PERSON

  4. A GAZILLIONAIRE

  5. A DENTIST

  6. A DEBUTANTE

  1. A SOCIALITE 

  2. A WIDOWER

  3. A WRITER

  4. A DETECTIVE

  5. A MUSICIAN

  6. A BOMBSHELL

  1. A BOOKWORM

  2. A HITMAN

  3. A WORRYWART

  4. A BACHELOR

  5. A MATCHMAKER

  6. A PETOWNER

  1. A BUSINESS MOGUL

  2. A NERD

  3. A SLIMEBALL

  4. AN ATHLETE

  5. A PERFORMER

  6. A DIPLOMAT

  1. A SCION

  2. A NIGHTMARE

  3. HONEYMOONERS

  4. RECENTLY DIVORCED

  5. A CURMUDGEON

  6. AN ARTIST

MOTIVATIONS

One motivation is chosen for each Guest at the beginning of embarkment. Players can also spend Bennys to compel other characters to a second motivation that starts out secret at first. 

  1. …dealing with a divorce.

  2. … running away from problems at home.

  3. … out for a grand old time. 

  4. …. wants to be alone. 

  5. …madly in love with someone.

  6. …afraid of their true feelings. 

  1. …avoiding  commitment

  2. …not who they say they are

  3. …consumed by jealousy

  4. …with a heart of gold

  5. …looking for commitment

  6. …is  dying

  1. …a chronic liar

  2. … losing their memory

  3. …living a double life

  4. …looking for romance.

  5. …has an addiction

  6. …has a hard time remembering

  1. …holding on to old grudges

  2. …looking for revenge

  3. …infatuated with a member of the crew

  4. …secretly inspecting the ship

  5. …pretending to be someone else

  6. …invited on the ship by a member of the crew

  1. …has lost passion

  2. … just wants to be accepted for who they are

  3. …has no respect for their partner

  4. …is looking for someone on the ship

  5. …feels like no one understands

  6. …needs a break

  1. …has a hard time getting up

  2. …is oblivious to someone else’s affection

  3. …wants to break out of their shell

  4. …feels destined by fate

  5. …has a terrible secret

  6. …wants an open relationship

STORY BEATS

Beats are used as prompts for the early scenes. Roll randomly for them during Day in the Clouds and Port of Call to determine what the scene is about. 

  1. ROMANCE – one character woos another.

  2. CROSSING – two character’s come into conflict over motivation or backgrounds.

  3. HELPING –  one character tries to help another with romance or motivations. 

  4. MYSTERY –  something’s happened and two characters investigate.

  5. BACKGROUND – the backstory one of the characters guides the scene.

  6. MOTIVATION – one character’s motivation guides the scene. 

KARMA 

During a scene, select one character and choose whether the scene goes well or poorly for them. Use karma to help guide the scene to its conclusion. 

STRUCTURE

Each cruise of the Love Balloon follows the same structure: 

  1. CASTING – Players generate their characters prompted by the guidelines provided above. Give them a couple of minutes to come up with an interesting backstory. Only the Guests in a Relationship should craft their characters together. 

  1. EMBARKMENT – During Embarkment, each player introduces their characters by playing scenes that embodies their guest star and their motivation as they come onboard the ship. Embarkment has 3 scenes played a specific order:

    1. The Crew introduces one of the Guests to the ship. One has an interest in the other. 

    2. The Couples are introduced next. 

    3. The Strangers meet on the ship. 

  1. DAY IN THE CLOUDS – It’s time to float! The Day in Clouds consists of 3 scenes with 2 characters each: 

  1. The Benny is passed to ONE OF THE PLAYERS.. 

  2. That person PICKS ANOTHER CHARACTER to enact a scene with. 

  3. The picked  player CHOOSE THE  LOCATION. 

  4. The players ROLL FOR A STORY  BEAT. 

  5. The observers decide how to  APPLY KARMA.

  6. The players PLAY THE SCENE until it ends.  

  7. PASS THE BENNY to the next nearest player who wasn’t in the scene. 

  1. PORT OF CALL – The ship stops at a beautiful and exotic location as romantic intentions are made known while others come into conflict with their motivation. Some characters may choose to stay on their ship while others get off the ship.  

Port of Call consists of 3 Scenes with 2 characters each: 

  1. The Benny is  passed to ONE OF THE CHARACTERS who chose location last round. 

  2. That person  PICKS ANOTHER CHARACTER to enact a scene with. 

  3. The picked player will then CHOOSE THE LOCATION.

  4. The players ROLL FOR A STORY BEAT..

  5. The observers decide how to APPLY KARMA. 

  6. The players PLAY THE SCENE. until it ends. 

  7. PASS THE BENNY until 3 scenes are played. 

  1. NIGHT WITH THE STARS – The characters gather for one last soiree where they confront each and  make hard choices. This scene is the climax of the game and involves all characters. It is an additive scene, beginning with 2 players and eventually involving everyone. Everyone in the scene shares the same beat:: confront each other with ultimatums – make  hard choices and  face the consequences. 

The story should have enough momentum at this point for the group to come to satisfying outcomes. If you still need more prompting to decide what happens,  play the scene in twos and add a +/- modifier to a character for each pair. 

  1. UNDER THE MOONLIGHT – Characters confess their feelings to one another or kiss under the moonlight. The scene and character pairings should be a foregone conclusion by now. 

  1. DISEMBARKMENT – Before Disembarkment, the players vote on who wins  the Benny?

The game ends with the characters leaving the love balloon and saying goodbye to member of the Crew. When the last Guest leaves, we fade to black as the player who won  the Benny?codifies the lesson for the episode and sings us out!  

ACTING & STORY CONVERSATION

The game is a mix between acting and story conversation. Players might want to take a minute to discuss how they are going to play out the scene based on the prompts. Everyone can discuss and pitch in ideas but it’s up to the players acting in the scene to determine what happens. 

Sometimes it will make sense to bring in a third character, either in a Love Triangle or just as someone present but not actively participating in the scene. It’s okay to bring in characters like this, but try to key the scene around two characters for best results. 

At a certain point it should become obvious to the players where the story is going and what happens next. When this happens don’t fight it! The rules are designed to help you generate a fun story filled with shenanigans. If that has happened, the rules have done their job. If you know how to bring it home, just bring it home. Pause and pitch your solution to others when appropriate. 

If you still need more prompting to decide what happens,  use the scene beat: confront each other with ultimatums – make hard choices and face the consequences as a guide. If the group is still stumped on what to come up with, play the scene in pairs and apply karma to the scene to help. If the group still doesn’t know what to do with the scene it’s time to use a Shark Jumper. 

HIJINKS

Hijinks are ways to mix up the game. Triangles and Secrets are best applied before Night with the Stars.

  1. TRIANGLE – Uh oh, it’s a love triangle!

  2. SECRET –  Compel a character to roll or pick a secret motivation. 

  3. INEBRIATED  – One or more of the characters feels looser than normal. 

  4. SONG – The scene must feature song.

  5. DANCE – The scene must feature dance. 

  6. FIGHT – The scene has to have a fight. 

  1. MISTAKEN IDENTITY – the scene must have a case of mistaken identity.

  2. ACCIDENT – the scene features an accident

  3. BOTTLE – two characters get stranded with only a bottle between them. 

  4. CELEBRITY – invoke a real life celebrity to guest star in your episode. 

  5. CLIPS – the characters all know each other and every scene invokes a flashback.  

  6. ABED – one of the players plays themselves and provides metacommentary. 

  1. CRIMINALS – bad guys come on board the ship.

  2. CASTAWAY – a castaway with a secret motivation is found. 

  3. MURDER – someone on board is murdered and everyone is a suspect.

  4. DISASTER – an iceberg appears in the clouds.

  5. OVERBOARD – one of the characters gets amnesia. 

  6. SUPERNATURAL – something weird happens on the ship.

  1. BABY – a baby must be handed off between characters at the beginning or end of each scene. 

  2. MASKS – one of the characters decides to don a mask to express themselves.

  3. FREAKY FRIDAY – two of the characters swap bodies!

  4. STARKILLER- one of the characters reveals they are secret relatives to another. 

  5. HALLUCINATIONS – one of the characters starts seeing things. 

  6. PRINCELY PAUPERS – one of the characters is mistaken for a lookalike.

  1. GENIE – someone finds a strange bottle.

  2. MONKEY PAW – a wish is twisted into something dark.

  3. DREAM – one of the characters is convinced they’re in a dream. 

  4. UNDERCOVER – one of the characters has actually been undercover this whole time. 

  5. EXOTIC ANIMAL – use it like a prop darling. 

  6. JADE SCORPION- a mesmer on board hypnotizes the guests.  

  1. MIRROR – the ship enters a strange cloud that reflects all of the character’s personalities, darkly.

  2. LIAR LIAR – a character is compelled to tell the truth 

  3. MIMES – the scene features mimes played by the observing players. 

  4. SPIN THE BOTTLE – the cast of characters reverts to teenagers.

  5. GROUNDHOG DAY – the day repeats itself for one character. 

  6. CHEKOV’S GUN – plant a weapon in the scene. 

PORT OF CALL

  1. WONDER 

  2. PLANE RIDE

  3. WATER

  4. MOUNTAINS

  5. SKY 

  6. CITY

  1. BAZAAR

  2. SOUVENIR SHOP

  3. EXPENSIVE 

  4. LEISURE 

  5. FESTIVAL

  6. CULTURAL

  1. BEACH

  2. SNOW

  3. DESERT

  4. FOREST

  5. VALLEY

  6. CAVE 

  1. MUSEUM

  2. MAIN STREET

  3. BOARDWALK

  4. PARK

  5. CAFE

  6. RESTAURANT

  1. CONCERT

  2. MARKET

  3. SPORT

  4. TEMPLE

  5. CASTLE

  6. DUNGEON

  1. ANIMALS

  2. RUINS

  3. OASIS

  4. JUNGLE

  5. GEYSER

  6. GLACIER

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