Top 5 Picks: Adventure Design Technology

edited August 2006 in Story Games
Ok, so my standing view on the universe of gaming is that adventure design is at least a decade or more behind where we are on rule and game design. Every now and again I stumble upon a product, like GWG's 50 Fathoms or Robin Laws' Rune, that does something really interesting or something like Dog's town creation that can be used to powerfully focused effect, but then I look around some more and am left with the sense that the overall level hasn't been brought up meaningfully.

So, my question is this: What is out there that proves me wrong? If I want to see really clever, interesting adventure design, what do I look at. Now, I'm pretty well indifferent to content. I'm all about the presentation and handling of information in a way that makes the transition from something written on the page into a badass game session. If I need to read about fluffy bunnies in technicolor tuxedos to do it, so be it.

Now, one qualifier - there are a lot of indie games out there that I've got a lot of love for that have other solutions to this problem, be it by empowering players to a point where "adventure design" is no longer even an appropriate term (Like PTA) or by making a game which is one adventure, like the Mountain Witch. That's not really the path I'm looking at - I'm in that space where D&D modules live, and I want to see what peopel have done to bring that format kicking and screaming into the present, or at least the late 90s.

Any thoughts?

-Rob D.

Comments

  • I had lots to say until I got to that third paragraph - in which you maybe answer your own question. Could it be that what you are looking for doesn't exist any more, like an evolutionary dead-end? I honestly don't know, but it's a thought.
  • Honestly, it's possible, but I don't entirely think so. 50 Fathoms, a campaign in a single book, sort of renewed my faith in the medium a few years back, but it may have just been an anomoly.

    That said, lemme step back a minute to my thinking. Adventures seem to be kind of a commercial dead end, but at the same time, the power of having an adventure come with a new game, if only to illustrate how the writers envision the game being played, is pretty mighty. However, most introductory adventures are magnificently mediocre, and that really seems like a tragedy.

    I used to tell myself that I didn't used canned adventures because they were less interesting (and less customized to my group) than what I could come up with myself. That's probably still true, but I've started to suspect this is because most adventures suck, not because canned adventures have to suck.

    So like I said, optimism. :)

    -Rob D.
  • If it's guidance and instruction that an adventure provides, I think one promising development (yet to make it across the Pacific) is the actual play comic in the back of the book.

    Another thought - maybe a "good canned adventure" is really just some loosely arranged setting elements ripe for exploitation, like Clinton's world of Near stuff in TSOY.
  • You interest me strangely. I've been thinking about the classic forms of (adventure) story - chase/race/race against time, quest, relationship/romance, political maneuvering, exploration, guarding/penetrating security, rebellion, escape, rescue...

    In line with the minigames thread we had a while back I'm slowly trying to come up with game structures that do for these scenarios what existing indy games do so well for character. So far I've started on the Quest one.

    Not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, Rob?
  • edited August 2006
    The game structures thing dovetails with some of my thinking, in a strange sort of way so thank you for the link! I have a sort of entirely corrolary project of attemting to abstract what I like in a larp into something that makes their creation a little less time consuming.

    I guess this points to a kind of split between two core ideas for adventures I'm looking at. The first is the adventure creation toolkit (which the structures play to well) and the second is the truly canned adventure. Both lines of thought are pretty interesting, and I honestly am not sure which interests me more.

    -Rob D.
  • To interject: I'm a consumer, not a designer, and for me, a game design is only innovative to the extent that it leads to improved adventure design. The only thing that matters is what happens at the table--i.e., the game session, which is a mixture of social stuff, imaginary stuff, and mechanical stuff.

    What made me a customer for these Forge games was that they generally managed to simplify or side-step the whole D&D adventure-creation paradigm. Dogs and TSOY do this very well, in my experience, and have helpful rules for this. PTA and Trollbabe manage to do it pretty well with very little formal support. Sorcerer isn't much easier than D&D in this respect, but at least it's looking in the right direction.

    The real killer app for D&D, and I'm shocked WOTC hasn't done this yet, is to formalize the adventure design process, something along the way Dogs does. Something like this:

    * What do the players (not their characters) want to accomplish? (Hint: ask them.)
    * Who would oppose this? What resources can he/she/it bring to bear?
    * Name one other noteworthy person/group/thing that might have a separate interest.
    * Pick an exotic, high-fantasy location. Make it relevant.
    * Design a dungeon for that location, make it 2d6+6 rooms big. A solution to the problem lies here.
    * Do role-playing/story stuff before the dungeon, or after; adjust time ratios to taste.
    * Optional: figure out some zesty Middle Ages color, just for show.
    * Optional: figure out some fun magical D&D spell/monster jazz color, just for show.
  • Posted By: James_Nostack* Who would oppose this? What resources can he/she/it bring to bear?
    That one is, I think, the key. Most of the better dungeons I've seen written center around a single smart, well fleshed out NPC and treat the entire dungeon crawl as something of a dynamic contest wiht him, her or it. Owen K.C. Stephens' stuff jumps to mind as a good example of this, and I'd forgotten about that particular datapoint. good call.

    -Rob D.
  • I'm workin' on this, personally. I agree that situation design is far and away the neglected step-child of (say) character design in current Indie games. Either it's all this GM-less, player-driven hippy crap, or it's "Hey, you're the GM, so you don't need any help ... you've got to have all these skills already, punter!"

    I watch, for instance, Nathan Paoletta who is a pretty clever fellow, as he runs carry. In ten minutes his rules give everyone around the table an awesome character that will work wonders in pretty much any Vietnam situation they find themselves in. Then Nathan is left entirely on his lonesome to try to think up some situation that will get things going.

    Now why didn't he spend as much time creating tools that would let him generate an exciting, all-new situation as he did on tools to help the players create exciting, all-new characters? I ... do not know. But I fall into the same trap, so I'm trying to figure out how it works and how to disarm it.

  • <blockquote><cite>Posted By: TonyLB</cite>Then Nathan is left entirely on his lonesome to try to think up some situation that will get things going.... tools that would let him generate an exciting, all-new situation</blockquote>

    That right there is crucial, and one of the hardest parts of the process, if not the hardest, from a "trad GM" perspective. Coming up with a flat situation is incredibly easy; coming up with one that really sizzles is hard, and takes some creativity.

    The traditional way of doing it--one guy sitting by himself, trying to think of plot twists which may or may not work--is requires some pretty hard work and isn't guaranteed to succeed. I can see three different ways to help out with this work:

    * Encourage the players to screw up the situation, i.e., SOY and Donjon.

    * Group situation generation: PTA, AGG, Capes (I think, not sure)

    * Super narrow focus, which permits some formalization: Dogs, Trollbabe kinda, pure dungeon-crawl D&D
  • edited August 2006

    I don't know. I mean, it's always flattering to hear "Hey, this thing you, Tony, can do ... it's artistry! It can never be bottled, or formalized, except under the most limited of circumstances." I mean that seriously. It's flattering. But I'm not at all sure that it's true.

    The simple fact is, there as skills to creating sizzling situations. These skills are, by and large, not formalized. They are passed down, not even master to apprentice, but by each new GM laboriously reconstructing them from the ground up, using only the end products of other GM's labors.

    Other areas of RPGs used to be just like that. It used to be that there was a tremendous, ineffable voodoo to putting together a gaming group that could engage with the same things and enjoy playing together long-term. GMs (or other hosts) who could make that happen were regarded as high artists. But man, recent games and recent theory let you formalize that question so that you can address it in pretty much any way you choose. The skills are known, they are codified, people can access them.

    Now we just gotta move on to the wilds of skills that we have, but which we can't convey, and find a way to set them down in words, procedures and formulae.

    Dogs, for instance, isn't as narrow as you might think. It establishes, basically, one technique ("Here is a recipe that will create an endless number of situations. In every one of these situations, you will find people who all believe that they are not the ones in the wrong, all at each other's throats.") That technique can be applied to just about anything, once you actually run through it often enough to understand its power.

  • I'm going to be terribly interested what folks' reaction is to what we put in the 10th chapter of Spirit of the Century, Rob. And, knowing that that's your springboard for further development, I'm fascinated as to what's going on in your devious little mind with this thread. :)
  • edited August 2006
    Posted By: James_Nostack
    The real killer app for D&D, and I'm shocked WOTC hasn't done this yet, is to formalize the adventure design process, something along the way Dogs does.
    They're doing this right now.

    I'm no expert on what sort of D&D adventures are out there, but I know of one that's innovative: In the Belly of the Beast. It's very, well, Mountain Witchy, long before Mountain Witch.
  • I actually feel that it's safe to say Dog's model is narrow, but sort of in the same way that, say, Sorcerer is, so perhaps "focused" would be a better word. If I were to imagine an XY grid of options, with the usual unfocused adventure creation model as a big old blob in the middle (It can be anything!), Dogs narrows down the X range, but gets even higher on th Y, so it looks more like a line. So I mean narrow as designed for a specific scope, but given that scope. got a huge range. "The Dungeon" is another such model, albeit a little less focused

    Not that I haven't dwelled on the portability of Dogs. It's all about the progression of sin, in my mind. Other elements (Closed environment, slow dynamic progression, PC Authority and PCs as prime motivator) are powerful too, but the progression of sin is what really does the heavy lifting. Its the key area where "It could be anything" is replaced with a fairly specific form, and without it, the GM would be stuck sittign down, drawing out R maps and building an amorphous sort of set of events and relationships which might be more complex than a series of progressions of sin, but it would also be much harder to actually _use_.

    That said, I am not yet certain how portable a model it is. I can see a progression of ambition working in certain sorts of games (say, games of political intrigue), and so far I'm pretty sure that most such idea will only work in a setting/game with a strong central theme. And that's not a bad thing, but it makes for some work.

    And yeah, Fred, I'm also chomping at the bit for Chapter 10 to get out there, but as is my habit, I want the next one to be even _better_. :)

    -Rob D.
  • Any situation design system has to take into account who the PC's are and what they want. The Dogs situation (town) creation system works because it knows that the PC's are Dogs.

    Dungeons and Dragons "dungeon creation" works because DnD PC's want to kill monsters and take their stuff.
  • Well, additionally, both create closed systems, and that's the real magic. You don't leave the dungeon and you don't leave the town, so the number of variables is strictly curtailed without it appearing to be an arbitrary restriction. As an example, I could probably run "Snake Oil Salesmen in the Vineyard" using Dogs creation process, and while it wouldn't be as good a thematic match, it would still be workable because I've still got everythign within th ebounds mapped out. By the same token, I can create a functional dungeon with a few other goals (Explore, rescue, whatever) and still have it work because it's a bounded environment.

    That suggests that the best solution is figuring out how to compartmentalize the setting in such a way that it doesn't feel like you're doing it, but I admit I kind of shy away from that. As the examples above illustrate, there's a lot that can be done that way, but something about that solution is frustrating to me.

    -Rob D.
  • I think The Great Impossible Thing shortcuts the design process. I certainly had that problem, before I discovered other techniques via the Forge. I would sit down with an interesting climax in mind, and given a few variables (NPC villain, setting, knowledge of PC's) I would try to figure out a path to that climax. I would try to introduce forks in the path, and flesh out the forks, then create more forks, but it always becomes cumbersome at some point. It's extremely difficult (if not impossible) to figure out what your players are going to do. So you spend a ton of time dreaming about possibilities, and then flesh out a bunch of encounters that will never be used.

    What's my point? If you want to run a traditional canned adventure, everyone needs to know that beforehand. That way, you can anticipate that the players aren't going to try to derail your planning. As a player, I don't mind romping through a linear plot, as long as I know that's what's happening, and there's no illusionism involved. It's like a computer RPG...you know it's a linear plot, but don't care...it's still fun, because you get to uncover all the cool things the designer has created.

    This frees you up during adventure creation, so you aren't endlessly coming up with alternate paths. If the players come up with something new, you can say "Hey, I didn't anticipate this, how about taking a different route?" It's a humbling statement to have to make, but it might be better than winging it or having all your planning ruined in an instant.

    Let me illustrate: Paranoia's new line of products is almost entirely composed of adventure modules. How can they be profiting from that? They are fun to read, and even more fun to play. I think this is partly due to the nature of the game. Paranoia is all about GM coercive tactics. The players have no choice but to follow the railroad. If they stray from the mission, the GM can get them back on track via The Computer, Internal Security, Laser turrets, omnipresent security systems, and most importantly, the other players. All these tactics free the GM to work on a plotline that will thoroughly hose his players, and everyone knows it's happening, but they're still having fun. Lots of fun.

    To summarize: You need to establish the railroad, if that's what your adventure is. Otherwise, you need techniques for player buy-in, or a very small sandbox (Dogs towns).
  • Ah, but here's the very rub. Setting aside issues of pure theory where there may be some disagreement, I can point to actual published adventures which do none of the things you're talking about. No railroad. There's a linear plot of a take it or leave it variety, and the constraints are the entirety of the setting. 50 Fathoms has no such problems, at least at a high level.* The Hard & Soft Point model that AEG used for their 7th Sea adventures escape the trap you're talking about (well, mostly - they had some other flaws). Hell, even some of my _very_ old modules, like ones for MERP, are entirely situation and response rather than railroading.

    So I'm going to come right out and say that the railroad is not a necessity, and I've got enough things on my shelf to illustrate that point to my satisfaction.

    Now, their existence doesn't indicate that there's a way to consistently capture that, and you do very clearly illustrate one way to address the problem, as well as the key problem to avoid, but I'm going to suggest that the railroad is the easiest way to write an adventure. The ubiquity of railroad adventures seems (to me) to be more of a result of that fact than any necessity that a written adventure include railroading.

    -Rob D.

    * That's a whole other discussion.
  • Rob, your question recalled to mind some posts / threads on Vincent Baker's weblog, one called Creating Situation: a practical example, the other Afraid, about applying the principles of DitV to horror game design.

    I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how to use this for "general" gaming (one thing I've been using is Clinton's Oracle linked in the first article to help me generate ideas for my Fantasy Fate campaign).

  • You guys back slowly away from the AG&G situation generator - it's already been stolen for Grey Ranks.
  • Posted By: Clinton R. Nixon
    I'm no expert on what sort of D&D adventures are out there, but I know of one that's innovative:In the Belly of the Beast. It's very, well, Mountain Witchy, long before Mountain Witch.
    My love of Mearls know no limit, and it was back when my DM skillz were rusty... but I have to say that ItBotB read a lot better than it played. By far the simplest solution to the scneario is to kill everything. When I ran it, it was totally "delayed fight scene" play. Lots of hemming and hawing in a forced attempt at conspiracy and politics, followed by one big fight when it all fell to shite. The PCs mopped up everyone pretty easily.

    Now, if the setup invovled each player on a different side scheming against each other, say using BWr and some tasty DoW, it would have probably been really cool.
  • Posted By: Rob Donoghue
    So, my question is this: What is out there that proves me wrong? If I want to see really clever, interesting adventure design, what do I look at.
    I would suggest Spycraft 2.0. A rare beast among mainstream RPGs, it has a GM section that eschews general advice in favor of a not-unlike-DitV mission generation checklist, as well as d20's first easy scalable-NPC creation system. SC 2.0 is probably the most "just do what the book says" d20 game I've ever seen.

    (So much so that I asked the creators if they were hip to Forge theory. They were not, but did say that SC2.0 grew out of lots of observation of Living Spycraft games. In essence, they wanted to build a tight system that could be run with near-zero fudge factor in order to insure consistency in Living Spycraft play. I consider it parallel evolution.)
  • Man, SC2 just keeps coming up as a game I need to pick up. I may just yield to the pressure after Gencon.

    -Rob D.
  • As soon as I have a game idea the next question is "what is the structure?" This may come from my music background as I look for a suitable form as soon as I have a theme (song, symphony, noisescape, etc.) In any form you can find an infinite variety of variables and once the players are on board with you and know what the game will contain they can mine for the great little details in that space. The small sandbox.

    When GTA3 hit the video game market people were astounded at the freedom the game allowed. "I can just explore the city for hours!" But if you want the game to advance (open the other island) then you need to ride the rails. Give people a small amount of freedom they were lacking before and they'll revel in it.

    Too much freedom is paralyzing. If I can do anything, what is there to do? If a game can go anywhere it will take the GM an eternity to prepare.

    Once you have a form it must be presented to the players so that they can buy in to it. If they aren't part of it, they will feel out of place. Like that one player who says "Dungeons are boring. Let's head over to the next kingdom and scope out some wenches in the new tavern!"
  • Posted By: Clinton R. Nixon
    They're doing this right now.
    I wanted to read that series of articles and they killed it for me in the 4th paragraph. The party won't gain levels from resolving an encounter without combat. Fuck them.
  • I find the "Preparing SituationS" claim odd.

    I prepare one Situation, but there are infinite roads going from it, how can I prepare more than one Situation, unless I drive players towards them?

    So, it doesn't matter what you do, you do get to the Situation premade, it's rails, just with more distance between them.
  • I wanted to read that series of articles and they killed it for me in the 4th paragraph. The party won't gain levels from resolving an encounter without combat. Fuck them.
    1. I'm not seeing where it says that.

    2. Dude, it's D&D.
  • Posted By: Rob DonoghueMan, SC2 just keeps coming up as a game I need to pick up. I may just yield to the pressure after Gencon.
    FYI, the current PDF version has corrected errata, some layout adjustments, and a reorganized Gear chapter. They were going to have a second pritning ready for GenCon, but it got pushed back. Ergo, I'd keep an eye out for that second printing, or go with the PDF.
  • Posted By: buzzFYI, the current PDF version has corrected errata, some layout adjustments, and a reorganized Gear chapter. They were going to have a second pritning ready for GenCon, but it got pushed back. Ergo, I'd keep an eye out for that second printing, or go with the PDF.
    Cool, thanks for the heads up!

    -Rob D.
  • buzz-

    Sorry, 5th para.

    "At the same time, just because you map an encounter doesn't mean that it will be played. Some areas are never explored, after all, and not every encounter leads to combat (some are resolved or defeated through stealth, magic, bribery, or roleplaying). So if you do want the PCs to level up after your adventure then you'll need more than 13 party-level encounters to provide enough options and fallbacks if the party doesn't follow the expected path."

    Expected path? As in the mystery path the GM has invented and hidden from the players?

    Double fuck them.
  • It's especially funny considering that challenges overcome by stealth, magic, bribery or RP are supposed to be given full XP.
  • Posted By: VaxalonIt's especially funny considering that challenges overcome by stealth, magic, bribery or RP are supposed to be given full XP.
    Don't these means offer differing XP awards, though, depending? Assuming Baur isn't just forgetting, maybe the implication is just that you can't depend on the standard 13 enoucnters = one level.
  • edited August 2006
    I think that paragraph is just very poorly written. It suggests (correctly) that encounters can be "defeated" through alternate means, which implies that the party will get XP. But then the overall logic of the paragraph seems to imply that doing so will somehow not count towards the total encounters -- when in fact what I think they are trying to say is that even if you prepare an encounter as a fight, the PCs might circumvent the fighting part.

    Gotta love the list, though: stealth, magic, bribery, or roleplaying.

    Player 1: "It resisted my fireball!"
    Player 2: "It's AC is way too high, I can't hit it at all!"
    Player 3: "I tried offering it gold, but it said no!"
    Player 4: "There's only one thing to do, guys... we're going to have to roleplay it to death."
    All Players: *groans and gasps of horror*
  • This is one of those annoying times where somebody asks a question and I want to just point at Full Light, Full Steam but it's no longer in playtest and it's not yet published.

    FLFS includes a situation-creation system that takes some cues from Dogs but is considerably more open-ended. It also always fundamentally starts with player-flagged interests; you cannot make a situation that isn't based off of the characters. It's a step-by-step procedure that creates a situation that involves all the players, engages the characters, challenges beliefs, and threatens the things they hold dear with consequences. You end up with a nice tangled mess of characters and sets and props, and your job as GM is to smile and hand that over to the players and let them figure it out. I've created and played through dozens of situations, and it seems pretty damn robust.

    One thing that I really think needs pointing out, though, is that it still doesn't create an adventure. It creates no plot twists. It outlines no ways to kill the final big bad. It dictates no act or scene structure. Which is not to say that there are no plot twists or clever ways to take down the antagonist or acts or scenes in a game of FLFS; all of those things are developed in play, at the table, by the players (GM included). In fact, I am highly skeptical that you can pre-plan plot twists or clever answers to puzzles without dabbling in a little illusionism or participationism at the table.

    So Rob, are you looking for an adventure creation system that outlines plot twists and has "correct" answers to problems and puzzles? Or are you looking for a flexible situation creation system that creates a problematic tangle of characters that the PCs can then attack/unravel/cut apart?
  • Posted By: Ice Cream Emperor
    Player 4: "There's only one thing to do, guys... we're going to have toroleplay it to death."
    That's my Champions group in a nutshell.
  • A metaphor. You need both muscles and a skeleton.

    If you only have a skeleton, it just sits there (unless it's animated by an evil cleric, of course).

    If you only have muscles, they just thrash around.

    The muscles are the character rules (the flexors being the rules on the character affecting the environment, and the extensors the rules on the environment affecting the character, if you like). The skeleton is the plot.

    What we're asking here is, "Can we write rules for skeletons that are as effective as our rules for muscles?" And put like that, the answer is "yes".

    Different way of looking at it: Any popular book on chaos theory will tell you that the place where interesting stuff happens is along the boundary between chaos and order.

    If you have all chaos, all choices are equal, and are equally meaningless. This is the extreme version of the hippy GM-less game where the designer hasn't included any rules which do what the GM would otherwise be doing.

    If you have all order, there is only one choice. This is the railroad.

    What Rob is talking about, I think, is searching for the sweet spot in between order and chaos where we can have meaningful player choice which can take the story in a number of different directions, but which still produces a coherent and satisfying outcome.

    I suspect this might also be at least part of what Fred was getting at with the Vaxalon Principle.
  • Posted By: Joshua BishopRobySo Rob, are you looking for anadventure creationsystem that outlines plot twists and has "correct" answers to problems and puzzles? Or are you looking for a flexiblesituation creationsystem that creates a problematic tangle of characters that the PCs can then attack/unravel/cut apart?
    Well, either, both or neither. My goal is an end product: an adventure which is flexible enought o be playable, but structured enough to maintain some sort of cohesion. Whether that end product comes from a generator or is written up as is is almost secondary to me. (And that said, Mike's metaphor seems fairly apt).

    But let me ramp the nerdism up a little further - I'm also dwelling on how to _present_ this in a manner that is both clear and useful and keeps the GM from just needing to keep it all scrabbled together on half a dozen pages of notes.

    Now, -that- said, I'm running Dogs for the very first time tomorrow, and I'm about to sit down and generate the town, which is going to be an interestign exercise in moving fromt heory to practice, so I may have a slightly different perspective by tomorrow. :)

    -Rob D.
  • Ah. Yeah, Rob, make the town and run it and come back to the question. ;)

    For added kicks, don't name any of your proto-NPCs until somebody calls for a conflict, and when you do, just go straight down the list. Whoever is the NPC you need, they get the next open space.
  • I've written up some stuff on adventure design in each ASMP product, as well as a substantial chapter of the Gamma World Game Master's Guide on such.

    Then, there's my adventure from Weep for UA, "The Green Glass Grail" -- which is a design I can really get back to.

    I have some suggestions in the upcoming Sekrit Projekt Z (which some of you are in the peer review for), but no formal system. I think I'll add trying to come up with such an explicit tool for the reworking of the long-in-abeyance Sekrit Projekt 7 (which some of you playtestedm, what, 2 or 3 years ago, now? Sheesh!) that I've just started.

    CU
  • Mike, it's what I meant generally, without being what I meant specifically, even in part... if that makes any sense.

    If it doesn't, then never mind.
  • It does, I think.

    This is an example of your principle, while being totally not what you had in mind when you articulated it?
  • You're probably all off at GenCon now, but I wanted to say I very much agree with the opening post of this thread. I'm thinking about this a lot, and I'm really interested to see where we can take the technology of adventure design.

    Where is the system for creating crazy modular mystery-conspiracies?
    Where is the great indie horror game that actually scares its players?
    Where is the middle ground between GM-as-auteur and everybody-gets-to-say group story creation?

    (Those aren't necessarily rhetorical questions - if you have a game that answers one of them, I'm all ears.)
  • Rob, Vincent's new Afraid design might fulfill your #2. I wouldn't know personally, having zero interest in the horror genre. But it's got a little situation/monster creation system.
  • My current approach (in Errantry) to Rob's third question is to shift a lot of what the GM does into the system, which basically means a situation/opponent creator with a bit of intelligence built in, that still leaves some significant decisions to the players.

    For example, what or who you encounter will vary based on whether you're in cultivated land, forest or wilderness, and whether you're in an unsettled area or in a town or at a castle. The players get to decide that they've come to a castle in the forest; the randomizer then cuts in and says "And in this castle you will find a sorceress, with these stats, these abilities, and this agenda, and if you beat her you'll get this thing which helps you, and if she beats you this is what you'll have to do."

    Still in development, so a lot of this is theoretical right now.
  • This thread is seven years old, and I'm wondering what you would all say when revisiting it. Has anything changed? I think it has.
  • All kind of the same thing:
    • Monsters and Other Childish Things': Secrets of Candlewick Manor one-roll plot generation
    • Technoir's transmissions & conspiracy map
    • Fiasco playsets
    Create useful plot elements (NOT a full plot, just people, mcguffins, and story bits) and stick em in a table or other organized format. To play, randomly pick a few to start with, and when things drag or you need more content, roll up another one and incorporate it into the plot.
  • edited July 2013
    I've been analysing the suggested adventure models that are provided in roleplaying games, and I've come up with four different styles.

    Railroads. Pretty much everything made by Robin D Laws. Most dungeons are rails.

    Sandbox. Deadlands uses sandboxes and so does D&D, to name a few examples.

    Fishtank. Where the relations creates consequences. You can find this model in games such as Spirit of the Century, In A Wicked Age and Unknown Armies.

    Collaborative storytelling. InSpectres, Fiasco, Spirit of the Century (yep, they got several models), Lady Blackbird and so on.

    Notice that you can rail in a fishtank, fishtank in a sandbox, or combine these in any way. Without having to read the game, I would say that Apocalypse World is a combination of the last three. Funny thing is, I also noticed that the collaborative storytelling models are rather short - perhaps 3-5 points in a list - compared to the other models that suggest at least twice amount of phases to go through. I'm not really sure where I should put bangs, or if it should be in a category of its own.
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