We finally played the Red Box Hack
. It was so fun!
First, I decided not to do any prep. I was confident that the game would work this way, and it totally does. While Phil and Tony made their characters, I drew a map of the world.
By the time I had finished the map, I'd come up the first adventure quest. I told the players that the shadowy band in the middle was the Nightlands. The Middle Sun vanished long ago, creating a region where it's always night. The various night peoples live there -- those who must avoid the sun... ghosts, vampires, etc. I told them they would be going to the Nightlands in this adventure.
Then I asked the players where their characters were from. Tony said his Bear, Siobhanaka (shi-vawn-aka
) , was from Tabat. "The blank land on the map," of course. Phil said his Magus, Ashur Rom, was from Ko. In fact, he was one of the People of the Lamp, the humans who choose to live in the Nightlands and consort with spirits.
(In case you didn't know, The Story Games Names Book
is the best thing ever.)
At this point Tony mentioned the Bear power to talk to the Sun, Moon, etc. "Maybe I can talk the Middle Sun into coming back," he said. Cool! "Are you taking that power?" I asked. "Nah," said Tony. "That can wait until level 2." Awesome. Future quests were already forming.
Phil gave Ashur Rom a magic lamp as his specialist gear, which ended up being hugely important to the story. It also fleshed out a culture from one sentence on the map to an integral part of the setting. Plus, Phil had a real sense of ownership of the People of the Lamp. This is a real strength of sketchy settings that get fleshed out as part of play.
The players decided that they had been working together for some time; the Bear traveling as bodyguard to the Magus. I told them that the Pasha of Háshul had sent his messenger hawks far and wide seeking the services of an expert sorcerer. His daughter, Aurya, had fallen into a strange fever, and her soul had slipped away into the Nightlands. He offered an award beyond price to any who would travel to the city of spirits in the land of Anu and retrieve his daughter's soul. Of course, Ashur Rom, Magus of the People of the Lamp, would take up the challenge and his mighty Bear companion would go with him.