A DramaSystem Series Brief

For years the Ashton family has enriched itself on the record-breaking sales of their pharmaceutical company’s supposedly safe and effective opioid. Now the pain is coming for them.


Encourage players to create characters from the Ashton clan, majority shareholders of the BinghamHealth pharma corporation. With a larger group you might permit one or two of them to portray unrelated denizens of the BinghamHealth boardroom. Likely characters include:

  • the faltering company founder, promoted upstairs to an emeritus position but still expecting to receive his due respect as family patriarch
  • his tough as nails wife (or widow) who acts as uncompromising family consigliere
  • the current CEO, child of the founder, determined to outperform the father in every metric
  • second child of the founder, rival and self-appointed successor to the CEO
  • third child of the founder, who oversees the family’s charitable foundation and worries about its image
  • the CEO’s spouse, who surveys the family with a wary semi-outsider’s eye
  • first child of the CEO, overly loyal heir apparent
  • second child of the CEO, a cynical weasel secretly high on the company merchandise
  • third child of the CEO, rebel and idealistic potential whistleblower
  • head of Bingham Legal, more protective of the family than its actual members, has or had long-running affair with the founder or CEO

Supporting Cast

Athena Mayne, investigative journalist whose desire to expose the Ashtons is complicated by her mutual attraction with a member of the main cast.

Lynette Hall, state Attorney General determined to bring justice to the Ashtons, and polish to her political resume.

Hank Curlin, friendly Senator, ready to help the Ashtons out of jams, for a price.

Lea Ortega, promising new hire at BinghamHealth and key ally to one of the family members. Her secret: her brother died of an overdose after becoming hooked on its pain medication.

Billie Gayheart, largest shareholder outside the family and bearer of an epic grudge against the founder. If she can peel off a couple of lesser Ashton family shareholders she’ll mount a hostile takeover bid.


For years BinghamHealth claimed that its breakthrough medication, Libertadol, effectively treated severe pain without risk of addiction. For years it has been causing an epidemic of addiction wherever it is prescribed. The more obvious this becomes, the greater the pressure to take Libertadol off the market, and to strip the family of its ill-gained wealth. Fortunately for the Ashtons, this is still America, and their money affords them every possible shield against this. Provided they stick together.

Tightening the Screws

As Ashton misdeeds become more widely known, calls for criminal and civil penalties mount.

A prominent celebrity launches a campaign to have the Ashton name stripped from the many museums and foundations it has cloaked itself in.

The family controls the company if they vote its shares together but BinghamHealth remains a public company, subject to shareholder pressure. If family members break with one another, the threat of a takeover looms.

Hillfolk is a game of high-stakes interpersonal conflict by acclaimed designer Robin D. Laws. Using its DramaSystem rules, you and your friends can weave enthralling sagas of Iron Age tribes, Regency socialites, border town drug kingpins, a troubled crime family, posthuman cyberpunks and more. Purchase Hillfolk and its companion Blood in the Snow in the Pelgrane Shop.

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