Friday, September 27, 2013

Scenes and nuggets - the DGP way

Anyone remember the DGP "nuggets" system? It was back when GDW had handed over most of the development of their Traveller game to Joe Fugate and crew of DGP. They had been thinking on adventure design a bit. The result was that they designed adventures in the format of "nuggest", which were self contained scenes. I wrote about them once before in relation to campaign play of Battletech. Now I'm thinking of them again, for organizing your scenario in a more general sense.

Each nugget had some thing that would happen, some NPC you could talk to and a place to visit. The new thing was that DGP had sorted these in order, and told you which nugget had to go after the other. It was kind of like the solos, where you had forks in the road where you had to choose were to take the plot. I always thought these nuggets were a sweet idea, but I also never felt they worked as promised.

In Trail of Cthulhu the authors write about how to structure your adventure along a "spine" and then have branches off that tree. Core clues, those that are crucial for the mystery, are forming the spine of the adventure. I have not yet played much ToC, so I have no  solid opinion on how well that works. It doesn't read like it would work that well, but maybe it just puts into words what we have been doing all along. The thing is, this is what the nuggets DGP used reminds me of. I guess nobody is surprised that this idea was old.

Now I feel like pulling out some of those old Traveller books and taking a look at them with ToC in the back of my mind. For those who are interested in adventure design, it might be something worth studying. Identifying where you have choke points is very crucial if you want to make sure you don't limit your players, and maybe structuring your scenario in nuggets like that is a good way to find out the logical structure of your design? If you do that, you can then design where to break up the rails, and where to leave them in. I for one am going to take a look at those old nuggets again.

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