*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 18, 2021, 10:46:21 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 197 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Designing Final Days at Skull Point  (Read 4936 times)
Peter Nordstrand
Member

Posts: 501


WWW
« on: June 21, 2004, 01:58:22 AM »

SPOILER WARNING FOR THIS ENTIRE THREAD! (Just in case.)

I've had the pleasure of reading Final Days at Skullpoint, by Ron Edwards, in Gathering Thunder. I am interested in various strategies for designing narrativist scenarios, and hope that Ron would like to anwer some questions. Actually, I have a list of things that I'd like to discuss regarding this scenario, but I'll start with a couple of broad questions. Let me know if you need me to be more specific, Ron.

    Scenario Summary: The heroes arrive at the Skullpoint Clan, forge relationships with some of the inhabitants. Soon, three simultaneous crises/conflicts occurs within the community, causing it to fall apart, eventually leading to full-blown kinstrife and chaos. A number of more or less predetermined events happen along the way, but with no predetermined outcome. It is up to the players to handle these events any way they like. Basically, the clan is fucked. What will the heroes do about it?[/list:u]

    Questions
    What were your goals with this scenario? What did you want to achieve? Why?

    To what degree were you successful? What, if anything, would you have done differently today? Why?

    Have you playtested it? How did it go? Why?

    Well, that ought to keep you occupied for a little while. Thanx for taking the time. ;-)

    All the best,

    /Peter Nordstrand
    Logged
    Ron Edwards
    Global Moderator
    Member
    *
    Posts: 16490


    WWW
    « Reply #1 on: June 23, 2004, 07:44:31 AM »

    Hi Pete,

    I'm pleased to be asked these things, and I can only hope it's because you liked at least something about the scenario. We'll find out ...

    Quote
    What were your goals with this scenario? What did you want to achieve? Why?


    As far as I can tell, your summary in your post answers the question of the goals. What you've said were the goals. I specifically wanted the outcomes for the player-characters' decisions to be utterly labile, and for all of the pre-planned events to be Bangs.

    In the original draft, I tried to have all the Bangs be utterly potential rather than fixed, and to arise mainly out of player-character interactions with one another or with NPCs, but that proved to be too difficult to write. It would have had the potential risks of the excellent Haunted Ruins scenario, in that there's a ton of family-related history and smoldering emotions, but minimal "oh shit, do something" quality.

    As for why, the whole point was to introduce player-authority over morality into role-playing in Glorantha. This is a big deal for me, and as I discovered to my great delight, for Greg Stafford as well. Yes, the various religions and cultures impose/define morality for their members (that's what they do, in Glorantha as well as in real life). But times change, and life changes - who's in charge of the new morality? Boink! You are.

    I've mentioned this recently in another thread: the cited passages from HeroQuest in my Narrativism essay were carefully chosen. Take a look at what I pegged as an extremely aggressive Setting-Premise statement in the text.

    Quote
    To what degree were you successful? What, if anything, would you have done differently today? Why?


    I was partly successful, as I think your summary shows - if you could parse out those points from what was written, then they were there well enough for me to be happy about.

    However, I'm not entirely pleased with the presentation of the end-stage of the scenario - all the stuff about Sheewog and so forth. Those would be the sort of thing I'd either have prepped in more detail for the game in general, to be used in a scenario if it seemed appropriate or abandoned without pain in this instance (saved for later), or suddenly prepped in a fit of creativity after the bulk of the Skullpoint relationships/politics had been under way.

    The real "threat" climax is composed of actual feud (no metaphysics needed), the return of the monster-father, and the disastrous wedding - and the latter two should still only be potential events, not written in stone.

    Ideally, the scenario should contain check-points for the GM to permit downplaying or up-playing different parts and potentials of the basic scenario, in response to what has happened already. Therefore three different groups playing the scenario might differ not only in whatever "choice turning points" the players took, but also in more fundamental aspects of what happens and when, especially late in the saga.

    That kind of flexibility is tremendously difficult to write in traditional RPG-scenario terms without falling into the Roads-to-Rome trap. I am dead certain that the scenario will be perceived as Roads-to-Rome by many readers, either with disappointment by the Narrativist-oriented or with familiarity and lack of noticing anything different by the Simulationist-oriented.

    Quote
    Have you playtested it? How did it go? Why?


    "Playtested" isn't really the right word. Most of the scenario components like the culture, the bloodlines and a great deal of the setting, including the map, are derived from my Hero Wars game. The whole incest issue as the weak link in hard-core Orlanthi culture was in there, in full. So yeah, a lot of it is baked in actual play. In our game, the generations were a little different (Markald and Mornha were already dead) and the lurking threat was not ogrish, but Broo-ish, via a Thed-demon named Eech'ya who specialized in subtle transgressive sexuality (incest, child abuse, or both).

    Best,
    Ron
    Logged
    Peter Nordstrand
    Member

    Posts: 501


    WWW
    « Reply #2 on: June 27, 2004, 03:20:11 AM »

    Hi Ron,

    Of course I like the scenario. Although I will know for certain only when Iíve played it. ;-)

    1.
    I find the presentation of Scene Three: Kith and Kin particularly interesting. I like the way you separate the Bangs into three categories, and I may very well use this idea myself someday. It is also interesting to see the Bangs organized almost as a chain of events. The only potential problem I see with this is that the Bangs may be perceived as a series of events that the heroes must be run through in order to complete the scenario.
      To what extent do you think over-adherence to the sequence of events is a potential problem?[/list:u] Perhaps the "stick to the plot" mentality isn't really that problematic with this scenario, as long as the Bangishness of the events remain unaltered.

      2.
      I cannot help comparing Final Days at Skullpoint to your scenarios in the
    Sorcerer supplements.
      What do you perceive as the most important differences between your published Sorcerer scenarios and Final Days at Skullpoint?
      -"- between writing scenarios for HeroQuest and Sorcerer in general?[/list:u]
      Oh, those are pretty wide questions. Sorry. Here's a more concrete one:
      What made you decide not to include a relationship map in Final Days at Skullpoint ?[/list:u]

      3.
      The actual text begins with an attempt to link the scenario to the overall "plot" of the book. This is essentially done by stating that the heroes are sent by Orngerin to try to win the Skullpointer over to the rebellion. But this is hardly what the scenario is about. The alternative suggestions seem much more appropriate: "a hero could have a relative who married into the Skullpoint community, or one who brought a Skullpoint wife into the heroes' clan. Such a hero will have local contacts, a good expectation of hospitality, and a reason to visit" (page 27). I suspect that the "recruiters for the rebellion" hook was added in the editing process.

      The denouement suffers from the same problem: "If they help defeat the forces of Chaos, not only have they proven themselves to be doughty champions of all that Orlanthi hold good, but they will also have won the remaining Skullpointers to their cause" (page 37).  This indicates that the scenario is about defeating chaos, a statement clearly at odds with the meat of the scenario text.

    Quote from: Ron Edwards
    I am dead certain that the scenario will be perceived as Roads-to-Rome by many readers, either with disappointment by the Narrativist-oriented or with familiarity and lack of noticing anything different by the Simulationist-oriented.


    I suspect that this is exactly what happened during editing, as I doubt that you wrote the denouement. Correct? Actually I perceived the final scenes as somewhat contrary to Narrativist priorities, but you've answered my questions about that already. :-)

    4.
    Quote from: Ron Edwards
    It would have had the potential risks of the excellent Haunted Ruins scenario, in that there's a ton of family-related history and smoldering emotions, but minimal "oh shit, do something" quality.

    Yes, Haunted Ruins is one of my favourites. Another good RuneQuest product with a lot of (unrealized) nar potential is Griffin Mountain. Have you seen it? It has a lot of built in conflicts, and interesting relationships. The actual scenario ideas are more "explore the wilderness/guard the caravan/steal the treasure"-kind of adventures, but I think the background can be used to build a powerful Narrativist campaign.

    5.
    Quote from: Ron Edwards
    As for why, the whole point was to introduce player-authority over morality into role-playing in Glorantha. This is a big deal for me, and as I discovered to my great delight, for Greg Stafford as well. Yes, the various religions and cultures impose/define morality for their members (that's what they do, in Glorantha as well as in real life). But times change, and life changes - who's in charge of the new morality? Boink! You are.

    What can I say? This is so cool.


    I hope at least some of the above made sense ...

    All the best,
    Logged
    Ron Edwards
    Global Moderator
    Member
    *
    Posts: 16490


    WWW
    « Reply #3 on: June 27, 2004, 02:12:25 PM »

    Hi Peter,

    You are dead on target throughout. Let's see ...

    1. The Bang-sequence is only problematic, as you say, if they aren't played as Bangs. They do escalate in intensity, so that if one were to skip to the later ones right off the bat, it would seem a little whacked to me. That was on purpose, as I realized that I'd have to present them in linear sequence to give the scenario some textual structure.

    That said, however, I do think that the GM should not feel constrained to play all of them in full - the whole idea is that all should be on the boil to whatever extent, and then at least one explodes.

    2. There is indeed a relationship map in the scenario. Markald and Mornha (and Unwod) are its surviving members. Draw it and you'll see.

    3. The introduction and denouement were added by the editors in order to fit the scenario with the arc of the supplement as a whole.

    4. I like the Griffin Mountain stuff too, and I used its cities and maps for various Far Point communities in our game.

    Best,
    Ron
    Logged
    Ian Cooper
    Member

    Posts: 126


    « Reply #4 on: June 28, 2004, 01:25:11 PM »

    Quote from: Ron Edwards
    Hi Pete,
    Ideally, the scenario should contain check-points for the GM to permit downplaying or up-playing different parts and potentials of the basic scenario, in response to what has happened already. Therefore three different groups playing the scenario might differ not only in whatever "choice turning points" the players took, but also in more fundamental aspects of what happens and when, especially late in the saga.


    We played it and had a great series of sessions - about 4 if I recall correctly.

    One thing I would be aware of is that players may want to save the day (mine did). Heortling characters have some powerful relationship based magic (one plus point for me was that players in this game really began to see those relationship magics for their worth). Some of them may help them attempt a damage limitation exercise.  I was pleasently suprised at the role of a Humakti in our game who used his 'Sever Relationship' offensively and to dramatic effect in our game.
    Logged
    Ron Edwards
    Global Moderator
    Member
    *
    Posts: 16490


    WWW
    « Reply #5 on: June 29, 2004, 04:57:17 AM »

    Hiya,

    Ian, it is a source of great pride to me that you guys used my work in your game. Thank you.

    The Sever Relationship sounds like it would have been awesome at Skullpoint - "Oh, get over it!"

    That leads to all sorts of discussions about how Humakti are often positive characters instead of merely brooding Glorantha goths, but never mind that for now.

    Saving the day at Skullpoint ... h'mmm. I would not go so far as to say the Clan Is Doomed, although I did explicitly write the scenario to provide no canonical method of saving it. If I were to run it as written, and if indeed somehow the feud were averted ... well, I guess that's what would happen.

    But more likely and more importantly, as you guys all know, the "death" of the clan isn't the same as the death of all its members. OK, so the wyter's destroyed. A few, or most, or (barely conceivable) all of the Skullpointers can disperse and re-integrate into other communities. It's likely that whatever opportunities were afforded by the culturally-rich player-characters would be at the top of the list for some of them.

    Best,
    Ron
    Logged
    Pages: [1]
    Print
    Jump to:  

    Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
    Oxygen design by Bloc
    Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!