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Author Topic: [Avalanche] part I - with unprepared players (very long post)  (Read 2501 times)
pells
Member

Posts: 192


« on: December 13, 2005, 01:10:22 PM »

This is my first post in atual play, so I hope I get it right. I've introduced a theory about how I write, you can find here : http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17553.0
I call this thread for unprepared players, because they didn't know they were going to play a multiplot adventures. I didn't brief them neither. They usually play linear scenario where most of the adventure is already predefined. So they got a little bit disoriented. I'll come back to that.
I'd like to present, in another thread, the same experience with players who had been playing my scenario for over 40 hours and how they managed it, knowing what they're up to. I'll do it later.

I hope I won't be too exhaustive about the story, but I think I need to present it, at least a little, since I wish to show how my writing affects play.

The story, my choices
Since my campaign is quite slow at the beginning, I chose to put them right into the action for the two sessions. I had prepared a two weeks agenda. So I skipped something like 75 hours of play. I'll take about that later.
Well, this is kind of complicated for me now. I think I need to present some parts of the story, but no too much nor too less, to show you how it actually works. I'm not sure I'm doing an actual play post the right way, but you tell me !! Anyway, people at the forge does not seem shy for that kind of comments.
I chose to began them in the south, where the real action was. They were located east of the capital, at two days walk from it.
Context : civil war has begun. The capital is on fire. That city is separated in two by a river, most bridges were destroyed. In the city, there is a stronghold where the power used to rule the kingdom. A powerful newborn necromancer is roaming the city outside the stronghold. The rebels (I don't like the term, but hey...) are fighting the military. An unknown group is in the stronghold, preventing anyone from entering. A powerful demon is inhabiting a tower, 40 km west of the capital and is building an undead army. The next main city is 150 km north of the capital.
Events :
Week 1 :
[beginning]the populace is fleeing the capital, toward north, east and west. Refugees are counted by thousands.
[beginning]some knights are helping the populace outside the capital
[beginning]a obscure cloud is forming over the capital, rains is pouring down
[beginning]undead, very weak, are roaming the capital
[beginning]the civil war continues outside the city as the poor are murdering families of their former masters
[mid]the dark side of nature is emerging, the forests are no longer safe. Wolves are not longer afraid of men and eat corpes (which are quite easy to find...)
[mid]the weak undeads take refuge in houses, assembling themselves
[mid]words of the misfortune of the capital has reached the other main cities. Armies are mustered.
[mid]those in the stronghold oppose anyone who dares to come close, especially wardering undead
[mid]outside the stronghold, inside the capital, the necromancer is fighting different groups, never revealing himself. Those who send men around him see them raised as powerful undead
[mid]many battles occurs between rebels and regular militaries. Rebels are losing most of them.
[mid]a group, who used to be thieves, do not oppose the militaries nor the rebels, as they suspect the presence of an evil presence in the city.
[mid]an elite group of militaries try, without sucess, each and every night night, to penetrate the stronghold
[end]the cloud is now obscursing all the capital, prolonging itself toward the tower. Days and nights seems almost the same
[end]the elite of militaries offer a truce to everyone, trying to confederate them to try to break the defense of the stronghold
[end]refugees reach the main city in the north

As a preparation, I reread 10 or so main characters they might encounter and all locations around the capital. I didn't prepare any secondary characters.

Premise
I have been living oversea for four years, and as I come back 'home' I usually meet a couple of friends and play in their running campaign. As it happens, they had just finished one, so they offer me to run a two sessions game.
I did know personnaly all of them, but I didn't play much in the past with most of them. There was five players, who had been playing together for years, so there was  already a strong group dymanic. It was my first time being a DM with them. We were playing face to face around a table. The first session lasts 5 hours.

The game
I asked the players to create their characters without me and choose themselves their strength. They decided to be, let's say, 'upper mid' levels. They use a whitewolf like system with some house rules (honestly, I can't tell which). They created mostly good characters ; knights, priests, former blacksmith...
As a DM, I try to roll as less dices as possible and when I do, I do it in front of the players. I did played with white wolf like rules (that was years ago !!) and had never DMed any game using it before. Whenever I needed to refer to rules, the players were there to gladly help me. That seems to suit everyone. So the game itself.
As to show how it works, I have to resume the session. As you'll see, it is based on a calendar.
Day 1 :
as they walk toward the capital, they encounter refugees (which I created 'on the spot') who seeks their protection. Chaos seems to rule, so they decide to help them and organise different camps. At night, they hear the wolves nearby.
Day 2 :
They encounter knights (which I created 'on the spot') who also were helping the refugees. They hear news about the capital, but very vague. They are to arbitrate as a slaugthered rich family is found. It seems the ones they are protecting are not so defendless. They begin to wander 'we could do this for the rest of our life'. After a discussion, they decide to travel to the capital, where they might really change something. Before departure, they name some responsables.
Day 3 and 4 :
they walk toward the capital, encountering refugees (which I created 'on the spot'). They only hear vague news, but it seems fierce battles are fougth over there. They see the desolation around them. As they approach the capital, they see an imposing clouds that seems to stay over it. At night, they see the city burning.
Day 5 :
They reach the city by day. As they walk thru desolate streets, walking away from the stronghold, they hear noises of battles. They rush toward it to see militaries fighting over some townfolk (rebels). Militaries, without any doubt, have the upper hand. They join the battle, and as they defeat the militaries, they see the rebels fighting back fiercely the militaries. The battle is won, but the players are doubtfull. The rebels treat them as heroes and offer them to join their cause against the militaries. The group decline. At night, they hide in a abnadonned house, observing the stronghold. They see that some undead are being killed by the ones inside.
Day 6 :
They seek undead in the part of the city where they are. They find some (weak) in a house (which I created 'on the spot') and kill them all. Another night observing the stronghold. The cloud over the city is even darker than before.
Day 7 :
They reach parts of the city they didn't explore yet. They encounter some 'thieves' (which I created 'on the spot') who lead them to their leader. They finally meet a main character !! As they encounter him, he had just received a letter from the officer who leads the elite militaries, an offer to assault the stronghold in two nights. The players are surprised that the thieves refuse the offer : "We're facing a greater danger, here, oustside of the stronghold..."
End of session.

Wrap Up
Well, the players seem to have enjoyed themselves as they found that 5 hours was too short and we did continue the next for a 8 hours session...
Althougth they seem a little bit disoriented. The first question they asked me was : "Hey, what was our story ?". I tried to explain them, that was just what we had played... "No, no, we mean, what were we supposed to do ? what did you plan ?". And also, many "But, what if we had chosen..."
Overall, they liked very much the impression that they were the real master of their destiny, that at no point I tried to direct them.
I also think they had the impression they changed things. They helped refugees, defeat the militaries, kill a hundred of undeads... they even told me, "hey, you didn't plan on seeing them die, don't you"...
Also, one main reaction, was that they were disappointed somehow not to have played what was before... they regretted to be put too much directly into the action. Well, I didn't have much choice about that and I'm glad I found a way to use my scenario in a 'short' session point of view.

From a DM point of view : I really enjoyed the game. One player was a real gamist, but I was glad I succeeded in making him happy too for that evening. Also, I really had the feeling I was playing with them, as I had to create a lot of characters, places, many details. I also like to tease them, treat them as heroes ("please, help us"... choose this story path !!!). And I really get the feeling I can play it again and generate a whole different story. In fact, I get the feeling the players are conducting the story, that they lead me thru it.
Note that the above only covers one of the five stories going on the same timescale...

Final words
I hope I got it right for an actual play post and that you can more clearly see how my writing affects play and game preparation.
Feel free to ask any questions, make any comments.
Do you think that kind of writing/playing is enjoyable ?
Do you think it is clear enough ?
Would you enjoy to play that type of game ?
Do you feel a difference between chapter based and events based on a timeline ?
Do you feel this less directive, less linear ?
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pells
Member

Posts: 192


« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2005, 10:48:04 AM »

Seems I'll respond to my own post as to extend some ideas.

This is about the players
I think this example shows how a game can be played with a prewritten scenario, but still be about the players. As the adventurers don't follow a given path, what happens during a game, what a DM has to manage, is definitly what the players choose to do. They have to be proactive.

Mid scenario and mid background
The more I work around it, the more I think the scenario in itself constitues the background. For one thing, The DM has to create many characters and places of his own, but also, he can easily add his own ideas, adventures. Reading the scenario, one comes up with a great idea about his a rich daugther taken hostage in the ruined city, he can easily adds it.

Daily pace
This type of game is quite different since it follows a day-to-day schedule. I think it's more easier for the players to immerse in the world following a calendar. Of course, sometime, they'll end up doing the same thing for many days, but they'll build up their own knowledge of the world. I have a group with whom I played 95 days so far. Relating their story make sense as they can follow it thru time.

What if ?
What if the players had helped the military ? Maybe they would have been sent to the thieves to deliver a message ? What if they had chosen to figth the military ? They would have met different people. What if they had chosen to try to enter the stronghold ? They would have found mysteries. What if they had chosen to go north ? I would have been a whole different story. Then again, it's about them.

A tool to manage storyline
Of course, what I'm proposing is not a tool not manage conflit resolution. I won't help you to know wich dices to throw when. But it will help to manage a story in time, to manage what happens when, where and who was involved.
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Storn
Member

Posts: 228


« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2005, 06:35:22 AM »

Pells, its sounds like a fascinating time.... I, too, like starting a game off with a real bang, sometimes in in media res.

I'm not quite sure what you want for comments.

My only thought is sometimes I have to overstate a scene in the metagame conversation to my players.  "I'm doing this scene to let you guys react and figure out WHERE you wanna go."  In other words, give them permission to dictate the campaign's direction.  I've been doing this for awhile and I still have players go "really?  You don't mind if we don't do your pre-planned section?"

Really.

If the player's choices are interesting and they are proactive... I don't mind.  If they stall out, I can always come back and suggest IN PLAY a gentle return to a pertinent bit of info or a scene (or simply move the scene's setting).  But the players still need to be reminded that its OKAY for them to wander where they want to.

It sounds like your players really responded to various stimuli wonderfully... made some hard choices... got a bit of action sequences under their belts and had a good time. 


Now... I went and read the other thread you linked to.  It is a very interesting theory, but sounds like a lot of work.   I don't write my eps that way.  The way I write them is this way:

From the Villain's POV  (villain can be nature like a hurricane, can be an organization, doesn't have to be the bwahahaha mastermind trope).
1.  Need to have villain's personality and motivations.
2.  Villain has a goal and obstacles to clear.
3  Villain has resources. (agents, monies, political will, land)
4.  Villain has a timetable.  (goals are time sensitive).

A.  Write the plan, like your Unit Time sections, under Best Case Scenario FOR the Villain.  This is key.  If all goes perfectly according to plan, how does the Villains achieve their goal?
B. Think of a couple of places that the PCs can intersect with that perfect plan.  Granted, this is much easier to key in on when you know the PC's backgrounds, personalities and can plug them directly in the path of the Villain.  Probably harder, but not impossible to do for that "generic" audience.  Often, in play, Players come up with all kinds of intersections that I hadn't even thought of.  Cool.


C. In play,  PCs, being who they are, are going to disrupt SOMETHING.... many times, disrupting the timetable without even realizing it.  Stopping that handoff of info, killing the arrogant bastard in a duel who was the right hand man.  This is Hitchcock's favored "the hero is at the wrong place at the right time" as in Notorious or Man who knew too much.  Sometimes, PCs are REALLY proactive and know enough of the villain that they are actively trying to counter the Villain.

D.  This hasn't been written out, this in play, Villain reacts to disruption of hte PCs through the lens of what resources are left, what personality of the villain and what the PCs have done.  Players react back.  Story ensues.

So... I don't need a timetable of events... I don't know WHEN or HOW things are going to unfold... but I do have a framework of reacting to player actions that is very flexible... and sometimes, from my Villain's POV, very inflexible.  I find desperate bad guys do wonderfully stupid things and drive drama nicely for the players to react to stuff.

Drawbacks:  I have a tough time doing EVIL.  Hey, I understand the Antagonists.  They cease to be evil to me... disfunctional, sure.... but evil... nope.  Sometimes victory for the PC comes to them and they are not quite sure why... a cascade of events can hamstring the villain's plans so badly and the Players only see some of it.  Cheap victories are not fun most of the time.


I'm not saying what you are doing is wrong... just that I've found a slightly different take...  For your complicated event driven storyline about this all out civil war, I would have had multiple villain plans going.  I DO know that I would have loved to been at that table playing in that strife and civil war.  It sounds like a very cool scenario with a lot of player empowerment.
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pells
Member

Posts: 192


« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2006, 04:34:53 AM »

Hi Stron. Glad it seems to you like a great scenario. I'll jump on the occasion to present the similarities and differences about what we're doing. Maybe I got somethings wrong, don't hesitate to tell me.

Quote
I've been doing this for awhile and I still have players go "really?  You don't mind if we don't do your pre-planned section?"
That's very interesting. Players are not used to have choices. But I think it generates better game play that way.
Quote
Now... I went and read the other thread you linked to.  It is a very interesting theory, but sounds like a lot of work.
Well, I intend to publish my scenario (whatever how, but that's another story), so yes, for me it's a lot of work. But the way I'm writing, what I'm proposing doesn't need more work than normal scenario. I'll show why.

Similarities
Your description of the vilain is exactly what I do. One question thought, why do you separate description of places ? From my point of view, they all (places, organisation, races, characters) constitute the essence. Meaning things that will be used in the story,  described outside of it (but for it), before it occurs.

Your description of the vilain's plan seems to fit perfectly into event based story. Note that I use a timeline based events structure, but my theory supports more than that. You could use scenario/chapters/acts (or scenes) as unit times. So, the exact 'when' would not be revelant. That said the most important things about events (apart from segmenting what happens where invloving who) is that they influence each others. So you know that events A occurs before B and B before C and D.
Quote
If all goes perfectly according to plan, how does the Villains achieve their goal?
Obviously your vilain has his own agenda, a plan that could be segmented. There you have your events. But you don't have the use of a strict calendar ? Use the scene scheme I proposed above. Also, you vilain's plan will occur in different places, so it might very useful to segment them.
Quote
a cascade of events can hamstring the villain's plans so badly and the Players only see some of it.
There you use the relationship between events to know the exact impact of your players. You know your player will disrupt things. Using events (you may only wish to use titles if you want), in a glance you know exactly their impact, what other events (or part of the vilain's plot) you will have to change, or manage with special care.
You don't seem to want to go into too many details as for the how things happen. I also want that, answering the how when playing with my players. Still, I need to know what for when it constitues the past.

Differences
For one thing, you seem to take for granted that your players oppose the villain. I don't. Maybe my players will choose to help him (it, them, whatever).
Also, as I see it, there's a hole in the plot meant to be filled by your players, as no one seems to oppose the villain in what you describe. For myself, I prepare some oppositions. In the end (best case scenario, before interaction with the players), those opposing the vilains will succeed or not, it's not very important. That might almost look as what you plan your players will do, but without directive, because, maybe they won't choose that path. When it comes to play, I have two options, either my players help them, or I remove them from the story, replacing them with my players.
Maybe I'm wrong, but you seem to presume your players will interact with each part of the villain's plot. I wish to be able to say 'sorry guys, you were too late, part A already occured, you missed it, you're too late'. That's the main reason I use the time based segmentation. In the above example, if my players go to the city on week two, all that is described is now part of the past, they can no longer interact with it. But even if I'm wong, if your players don't interact with each part of the plot, you'll find it very useful to use events to know what constitues the past and its consequences on the world, the story.

What I do
Quote
I'm not saying what you are doing is wrong... just that I've found a slightly different take...  For your complicated event driven storyline about this all out civil war, I would have had multiple villain plans going.
Honestly, I don't think it is my 'event driven storyline' that is complicated, just my story. Remember, I'm telling a multi plot storyline, thu, the above example only presents 20 % of the events occuring on that week. But it was quite easy for me to extract the events that concerned the part of the world I knew I was playing it.
So trust me, it will be very, very, hard to manage this kind of story based on villain's plot. You'd come with pages of plot. And good luck extracting what you need !
I'm not saying we want to do different things, I'm just saying we do it differently in the way we write, or prepare games.
I hope I could have shown you how to use events based for your purpose. It really changes things in the form. But, for my personal purposes, it really provides me with a great tool.
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Storn
Member

Posts: 228


« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2006, 07:12:09 AM »

Quote
One question thought, why do you separate description of places ?

Hmmmm.... not sure what you mean by this.  Sorry, being a bit thickheaded.  Let me take a stab.  Some "contact pts" float independently from actually setting/place.  Does it matter if the PCs meet Trugor the henchman at the bakery or at a roadside fixing a wagon wheel?  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.  The important role of Trugor is to let slip that he is working for the villain... allowing hte PCs to question, assault or ignore.

Quote
But you don't have the use of a strict calendar ?.......So you know that events A occurs before B and B before C and D.

Often, my 'floating" events can occur in any number of timings.... so B can happen before A.   When I work out my scenarios, it is obvious to me which are floating... and can be plugged in at an appropriate moment... including never being used.... and which are linear sensative.  Obviously, it would be odd to start the murder investigation of a prominent NPC before the NPC is murdered.  But the PCs dictate whether or nor they interview NPC 1 at location A or NPC 2 at location B first.

Now, if I was concocting a scenario where there is a time sensative issue... like the Festival is 3 days away.  The assassination attempt of the Duke is going to be at the most inoppropriate time for political impact.  Stop the assassination.... then, yeah, I would have a calendar of sorts...

Quote
For one thing, you seem to take for granted that your players oppose the villain. I don't. Maybe my players will choose to help him (it, them, whatever).
Also, as I see it, there's a hole in the plot meant to be filled by your players, as no one seems to oppose the villain in what you describe. For myself, I prepare some oppositions. In the end (best case scenario, before interaction with the players), those opposing the vilains will succeed or not, it's not very important. That might almost look as what you plan your players will do, but without directive, because, maybe they won't choose that path. When it comes to play, I have two options, either my players help them, or I remove them from the story, replacing them with my players.

Actually... I have had the players help the villains.  But it has been rare.  I've had the players not lift a finger... but that too, has been rare.  And that has always had consequences, the villain's plan goes off perfectly.  That is usually a pretty interesting situation and drama ensues quite naturally.  The most amazing examples is that I had a total party kill once... the players were really trying to oppose the villains.  Those villains then went on to conquer 4 countries in rapid succession because of the failure of the quest.  THAT event has driven more cool stories than I could have possibly imagined.

The reason it rarely happens is that I spend a lot of time plugging villains (and probably the better word is antagonists or opposition) into what motivations my players have provided me with.  A cast of PCs who are law enforcement are not going to get long, epic quests to destroy the hoozziwhatsits and defeat the grand poohpah.  They will get someone trying to smuggling illegal sorcerous substances into the parties of swanky noble mages.



My concern about your approach:  I don't want to lock myself or my players down to a hierarchy of timed events MOST of the time.  LIke most things in roleplaying (and life), it is balance.  Occasionally, locking them down to "the ticking time bomb" is perfect and is CONTRASTING to normal way I usually operate at the table.  I would certainly NOT plug in "My NPCs" to cover their lack of particpation in the scheduled events.  As long as the players are having fun, and the PCs are doing things interesting... I really don't care if they don't stop the Opposition plot... because if they don't... cool, interesting chain of events will happen anyway.  If they do "buy in" and try and stop the plot, cool, interesting chain of events will happen.  Either way, the table should be engaged and lively and happy... best case of course... we all have off nights.

HOWEVER.  You are writing for publishing.  And you need to cover the "average" gaming group.  Which I don't believe exists.  But, from a marketing POV, your product should appeal and be useful to has many gaming groups as possible.  A very HARD task.  Certainly, your idea is superior (in my judgement) to the countless dungeon crawl adventures I've seen since 1978.  So my advice is to have as much "plug in and/or modify" elements as possible.  A calendar of strict time schedule may or may not work for many groups.  One single decision made at the table can skew your calendar of events for the rest of time, diverging it from the published material irrevocably.

For example, in your mid schedule, you have your necromancer dictating probes against various factions, from the shadows... never revealing himself.  Group Ypsi has a mage who gathers a bone from a particularly nasty minion, and rolls out the ying yang on a his Scry Spell/Ability.  Necromancer is exposed.  Due to a common target, great coalition building, rebels and offical forces call a truce and combine their forces on the Necromancer.  They party convinces the coalition that Macarthur's "island hopping' (bypass the strongpoints and choke them off) is the best policy and the stronghold ceases to be a contention point.  Then the cloud is not of concern in terms of the overall war effort.  And the refugees might scatter into the country side.  The whole end game has shifted... as it usually does.

One single event MAY shatter all the scheduling.  So, by putting it in terms of the Antagonists hopes and plans;  The Stronghold wants to hold out.  The elite Military want in.  Here are the plans these two opposing forces are putting into action.  Its war and the plans are not likely going to stand as totally recognizable in hind sight.  But by the shift in focus, I believe you've given the GM and her group a psychological enabling.  It is up to that group's play what they emphasis.  You've given more permission to those who read your work, to take it and make it their own.

So the more "floating" structure/schedule , the more "plug in where YOU want to" in both schedule, in revelation, in emphasis, you can give your consumers... while retaining a cohesive whole... the better the product.  Which,from where I stand, ain't easy. 

It may sound like I'm disagreeing with you a lot.  But I suspect it really is a matter of degrees.  I really like what you are attempting.
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pells
Member

Posts: 192


« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2006, 12:30:47 PM »

Quote
Hmmmm.... not sure what you mean by this.  Sorry, being a bit thickheaded.  Let me take a stab.  Some "contact pts" float independently from actually setting/place.  Does it matter if the PCs meet Trugor the henchman at the bakery or at a roadside fixing a wagon wheel?  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.  The important role of Trugor is to let slip that he is working for the villain... allowing hte PCs to question, assault or ignore.
I'm not taking about floating points but instead about major locations, like cities or regions. You're right about what you described. This information concerns the character, not the location.

Quote
Often, my 'floating" events can occur in any number of timings.... so B can happen before A.   When I work out my scenarios, it is obvious to me which are floating... and can be plugged in at an appropriate moment... including never being used.... and which are linear sensative.
I don't see no problem with floating events. And obviously the most common link between events are independants. But I don't see any problem with writing a chapter, let's called it 'finding information', and have event A and B in there. You just have to say what information is retrieved on each event. I think the use of event could still help. For what I do, I design some events that happens for a given time, let's say a NPC investigates on something. It could be seen as floating. I thougth for a long time about the concept of floating event, or recurring event, which might happen for any given time. But I'd have to repeat them for each week. Althougth might seem like a good idea to have a separate part describing them. I like this idea.

Quote
For example, in your mid schedule, you have your necromancer dictating probes against various factions, from the shadows... never revealing himself.  Group Ypsi has a mage who gathers a bone from a particularly nasty minion, and rolls out the ying yang on a his Scry Spell/Ability.  Necromancer is exposed.  Due to a common target, great coalition building, rebels and offical forces call a truce and combine their forces on the Necromancer.  They party convinces the coalition that Macarthur's "island hopping' (bypass the strongpoints and choke them off) is the best policy and the stronghold ceases to be a contention point.  Then the cloud is not of concern in terms of the overall war effort.  And the refugees might scatter into the country side.  The whole end game has shifted... as it usually does.
One single event MAY shatter all the scheduling.  So, by putting it in terms of the Antagonists hopes and plans;
You're right about that, but I'll show how I do present things. It's really almost the same. I'll explain based on your example.
One the main idea I exploit as that from reading the scenario (the events and essence), you get hopes and plans. One problem is that my example presents only one week. But if I had presented the whole season, here's what you would have known.
- The people in the stronghold are in fact in league with the necromancers. They await him as the new king of the city.
- The necromancer would be discovered during week three and enters the city on week four.
- those who would try to oppose him when he's discovered would be too weak after a failed attempt to enter the stronghold.

So let's take your example of a group who discovers the necromancer on week one. What will happen, I think, really depends on the DM. Will the players be able to regroup every protagonists around this quest (note that the military are blind with lust for power and think, wrongly, that the stronghlod is the key). Suppose they do. Will the necromancer enters the stronghold sooner ? Will the people inside come to his help ?
Wathever happens, if the necromancer ends up in the stronghold, well protected with forces too weak to take him out of there, you've got your scenario almost right.
The tricky thing comes if the necromancer dies. Let's suppose that happened. So what's next ?
Obviously the whole plot concerning the ruined city is gone, crumbled on itself. But, remember, I'm presenting a five stories scenario. In the north, many groups are fighting. The men have difficulties because the northest city can't be help by the one in the south, as their forces will be gone to confront the necromancer. Obviously, those ressources would be affected to the war in the north, thus greatly helping the men there.
So even in that case, you still use most of the pre written scenario. And I think it's great your players affected the world.

Quote
So the more "floating" structure/schedule , the more "plug in where YOU want to" in both schedule, in revelation, in emphasis, you can give your consumers... while retaining a cohesive whole... the better the product.  Which,from where I stand, ain't easy.
I hope I can still provide that while providing a tool. If I didn't offer enough information as to manage 'distortion' of the game, then I guess I have a BIG problem with my product.
That said I really understand your concern are they are mine too !!! And I belive it's very HARD to design a non linear, non directive story usable by others that allowed players' interaction.
One final note for the use of the time line. Events happening in [mid] can happen everywhere during the week (given they don't have precedent events that didn't occur), [beginning] can happen till mid and [end] can start from mid. The idea is to give opportunities for the DM to use them as he needs them. Something like bangs.
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