Thursday, January 20, 2011

Styles of adventures - weird fantasy style, and others

There lot of different kinds of adventures you can design, and play. I think not all of them have been analyzed or talked about as much as they deserve. Last night I played in an online game with Jim Raggi, and the kind of adventure we played just one of those.

The kind of adventure that most people think about when they hear "old school" is probably the location, or site based, adventure. It sits there, and you can come and go as you like while exploring it. Another adventure is the one where you have a string of occurrences, a time line, and you can interfere with it as you like. Naturally there are more than those two. I think it would be interesting to have a conversation about styles of adventures. Their strengths and oddities, and pitfalls to look out for both when designing and running them.

Imagine this.

You have an interesting location, and some people there. Something then happens that upset the status quo, and everyone of those people there have an interest in using the change to their own advantage. Let's say the player characters wont be happy with most of those developments, but find themselves in a position to have to be the arbitrators between all the different wills pushing and shoving.

Is that old school? When is it not? How do you create such a game if you suck at developing NPCs (Like I do)? How would an expert game master handle a situation like that, to make it smooth to run and enjoyable to play?

I'd love to see more talk like that in the blogosphere.

6 comments:

  1. One really elegant example of the type of adventure scenario you outline, which I might generically label "solving a mystery" (or maybe "responding to an event") comes (unsurprisingly) from Raggi himself: part one of NO DIGNITY IN DEATH: THE THREE BRIDES. I will be reviewing that module on my own blog soon.

    I agree that that event-based type of adventure would be difficult to design and challenging to DM. I tried a murder mystery in one of my earliest campaigns in the 1990s, and it failed miserably because the PCs became convinced that a certain false lead was the real solution, and could not be dissuaded. Impasse!

    ReplyDelete
  2. > You have an interesting location, and some people there. Something then happens that upset the status quo, and everyone of those people there have an interest in using the change to their own advantage. Let's say the player characters wont be happy with most of those developments, but find themselves in a position to have to be the arbitrators between all the different wills pushing and shoving.

    That sounds a lot like the setup for a Trollbabe adventure: the player picks a location on the map where her character is headed, and the GM follows a sequence of steps to flesh out the setting, the characters who live there, and the big conflict that is shaking things up there. The full prep takes about 45 minutes or so, and that can include players making characters.

    In Trollbabe its astonishingly easy to bring NPCs to life because of the nature of the rules. Most of the time, all it takes is a sudden need for a new NPC and a glance down at the list of names you made during your prep.

    I've never played Dogs In The Vinyard, but I've seen that it has a more involved sequence of steps to prepare location-based adventures. It might be worth appropriating these as exercises if you'd like to run this kind of adventure and don't know where to start.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Carter,

    Mysteries are notoriously hard. There are good reasons Robin Laws invented Gumshoe. There should always be more than one clue, three preferably, and dead simple. Red Herrings are a total waste in my experience. Those will show up by themselves!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gaptooth,

    Considering those kind of games you mention, Forge style New School, are very much about something it makes sense they have a focused procedure for generating adventures I guess.

    I wonder if there's a lesson to be learned there for a more general case. Maybe, like you say, Dogs can be mined for a conflict based adventure generating procedure. That game is awesome at what it does, and maybe I've not seen how it can do more than that. Interesting idea.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think it's probably worthwhile for referees of other games to steal a few ideas and/or tables from games like DitV, even if they don't take the rest of the game.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh yeah. DitV is a game filled with steal worthy stuff!

    ReplyDelete

Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 Andreas Davour. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Blogger.