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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 88 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [ORX] Creating Demo Scenarios  (Read 4892 times)
greyorm
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« on: March 30, 2006, 07:52:59 PM »

For a long time, I have wanted to create a demo scenario I (or more likely others) could whip off for convention play, and that could serve as little introductions to the game and how things should look in play, almost like hint-books for the GM, idea prompts that would let him grab material from somewhere rather than creating everything on the fly. That and little "adventure booklet" type deals for the game -- basically adventure modules showcasing some of the wild setting-situations that were cut from the game for the very reason they haven't appeared yet.

Partly, this was due to the nature of the game's mechanics, scene elements in Orx are NOT and can not be pre-statted. Dice are assigned to scene elements on the fly, as they are being interacted with, at the gamemaster's whim. This makes statting out the opposition, beyond mentioning them as color, a useless exercise but not insurmountable by any means.

Mainly, the problem arises because traditional, connected set-piece adventure locales don't seem to work too well with the loose, player-developed narrative structure of Orx. How can you state any facts about a location or the people in it when those facts can be superseded by the players at any point before those elements are verbally introduced to the group? Corridor A cannot connect to Chamber B because upon encountering Corridor A, the players might narrate how it leads to some chamber, maze, or passageway they themselves have decided upon in the course of creating their narrative. Character Y cannot desire Resolution Z because upon interacting with Character Y, the players may narrate his desire for some alternative series of events or resolution of events.

Facts, about people, locations, and items can only be retroactively enforced, not proactively.

Thus, you can see the problem; it is the same problem one encounters in gaming when there is metaplot present: divergency arises and the prepared material becomes increasingly useless to the gamemaster. In most cases there appear two choices: continue to utilize the material at an increasingly higher cost in effort -- in either improvisational alterations of the material (either on-the-fly or in pre-game prep) to include it, or the use of force to ensure the players remain on/return to the correct story-path (illusionism) -- or abandon the material altogether.

Given the wide-open narrative power in Orx for the players, the latter path is the only one a sane gamemaster would choose! If he chose either of the other two paths, the game would simply stop working. In the first because the material would become of absolutely no use to the gamemaster very quickly and require huge amounts on-the-fly rewriting, and it would simply be easier to improvise details. The latter because I can not see how it would be any fun when the main (and only) power of the players over the narrative would have to be superceeded at every turn by the gamemaster, or would have to be prefaced by "Can I..." every single instance. It would be like taking coin bidding away from players in Universalis and utilizing gamemaster fiat instead!

Alright, alright, shut-up already, Raven. How does this help us create demo scenarios for Orx?

It doesn't, I just wanted to string you along so I could theorize and pontificate. Haha. Ok, seriously, though, I had to figure out how I could possibly present set-piece material that isn't set-in-stone. I considered breaking it up into discrete, unconnected-except-thematically chunks -- a room here, a person there -- and let the gamemaster throw them together however it pans out in play.

That is more useful, certainly; it becomes a grab-bag of ideas for the gamemaster to utilize in play and drop on the unsuspecting green goobers -- I mean the orcs, not the players, though the description probably fits anyways -- but it doesn't help me with the creation of modularized adventure scenarios. BTW, first person to ask, "But, Raven, why do you need to have modularized adventure scenarios?" gets their shoes lit on fire. (Ron, I'm looking at you.) The answer is "Because I want to." End of story.

I'm also looking at Ron because I recall this bit about HeroWars he was going on about some years ago, specifically regarding how its metaplot wasn't a metaplot in part because it was right out there for the world to see, including the players. The point was for it to exist where everyone could see it, because that's where you set the stories -- not in a "you will discover me" sort of way, but as a foundational background to the events of the character's own lives as the mirror that would be help up to their own actions in its midst.

The answer was to do something similar: create adventure modules that were wide open to the group. Everyone has immediate and on-going access to a copy of the whole shebang: characters, locations, items, etc. This is not a problem because, while the gamemaster can frame the scene if he desires, his only real power in the game is setting pacing and difficulty levels during a scene using his dice, with the amount of dice available to him at any given time dependent upon the players. The gamemaster doesn't need to keep anything hidden -- it would be futile to do so anyways given the nature of the narrative in Orx -- and if he wants to introduce something new into the existing setting, there is nothing to stop him.

If you're paying attention, you'll note what this is doing is creating a shared set of facts for everyone before play begins. Isn't that a clever way around the problem of unstated facts? My plan is to write-up a sample scenario that has been crashing around inside my head -- "The Frost Giant's Hold" -- to see how it all works out. More on that soon.

However, if anyone has any pointers to similarly-styled products already on the market, I would love to hear about them so I can get an idea of how others have gone about creating and presenting the information for these sorts of things. Also, comments, questions, observations, etc. are also welcome.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2006, 02:41:04 AM »

I had an idea while reading your post, it does not match exactly to the end-conclusion, but it works ok.
Look at Burning Wheel's Rats demo-game. The game has a premise, you're presented with characters who have goals, and that's it.
You have no idea what will happen. Just have the characters be there, the premise is there(or there's no game) and it should work. While the players can rewrite characters' motives, if you present them with an interesting thing, they might not wish to.

I'm speaking from my thoughts here, due to having not read Orx, but I hope it'll point you in a viable direction!
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Guy Shalev.

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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2006, 10:33:59 AM »

Any progress, Raven? I'd like to see what you come up with for this.

Mike
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greyorm
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2006, 03:18:45 PM »

Any progress, Raven? I'd like to see what you come up with for this.

My energy has mostly been directed towards getting a solid set of playtest rules together for Expendable (and then playing it -- I have a couple of players set up who are willing to work the system over with a crowbar as soon as this week, if I'm ready, most likely next week). As such, very soon I'll be able to make some better progress with the above. However, look for my Actual Play write-up of the Orx session at Forge Midwest, because I learned a couple of things about demoing the game from that experience and anything I formally write up will be heavily influenced by that.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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