General Cluster Creation
In a sidebar of Diaspora, the authors identified several different kinds of clusters that could be created. Unfortunately, that sidebar is not in Diaspora's Standard Reference Document. However, the concepts are fairly straight forward.
First, define the attributes you want to focus on. These attributes should be significant to your campaign as well as the defined entities (i.e. the systems). You may wish to define what each rank (-4 to 4) means for each attribute. I also believe that these attributes should be more concrete in definition: Warfare is more descriptive than Might.
Second, define the entities that you are going to flesh out. These could be people, universities, city states, schools of thought, clans, or even rival railroad companies.
Third, for each entity, generate it's attributes. Grab your 4dF (4 Fudge Dice) and start rolling.
Fourth, give each entity two or three Aspects. These aspects should be inspired by the entity's attribute ranks, but certainly not limited by them.
Fifth, using Diaspora's Linking Systems algorithm, connect the entities. I recommend that the entities be randomly placed in a line, as the linking algorithm will never connect the first and last node of a 4+ cluster system.
The generated graph should highlight some interesting relationships to explore. In the case of Diaspora's Technology, Resources, and Environment, the authors’ propose the Slipstream Guarantee in which two systems (those with the highest and lowest sum of attributes) be given a Rank 2 in Technology. This is to ensure that the systems can interact. If you identify an attribute that needs to have at least a specific rank, then I would take the Diaspora crews advice and invoke the Guarantee.
Other Cluster Suggestions
- Life, Liberty, Happiness - The all-American (Yee-Haw!)
- Visibility, Size, Influence - Useful perhaps in the case of a conspiracy game.
- Hope, Resources, Strength - After the Apocalypse, how might these various people/gangs interact?
- Hate-Mongering, Obfuscation, Corruption - Certainly a horrific game concerning media, propaganda, and an all-around terrible place to be.
- Sugar, Spice, Nice - My Little Pony the RPG?
- Espionage, Military, Diplomacy - How do each of the nations interact?
Defining the attributes is rather easy. Pushing the scale requires a bit more work. What does a -4 really mean? How does that compare to a -3? Especially when dealing with abstract concepts (i.e. Obfuscation). I believe the best way to define those is to identify the attributes, and as a group work through what each step might represent. But only fill out the attribute ranks that exist in your graph. Make sure to leave room for those in between ranks. No sense doing work for things that may not exist.