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Narrativist Scenario Writing

Started by Peter Nordstrand, June 01, 2003, 07:30:56 AM

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Peter Nordstrand


I have a many questions, suggestions, and ideas, but let's take one small step at a time, and start with the characters.

NPCs in HeroQuest can be presented in a number of ways, ranging from just a keyword
    Western Knight 19 (lance +3)[/list:u]
    to a complete chart including the most important abilities of both the character and his followers (I'll put up an example of this on my homepage, but it must wait a couple of days).

    Perhaps it is too early to decide how to present the characters (edit: in terms of abilities and ratings, that is). It is largely dependant on other factors I believe. The abilities sound about right. I think they could use some tweaking, but that can wait. In my opinion, what matters most right now is the magic and relationships of the major players. Do you agree?

    Check this out:

Sir Eustef
Magic: Orderly of Saint Gerlant Flamesword.
Relationships: Banneret of Spring Fountain, Leader of Old Guard, Love Sons.

Magic: Common magic only.
Relationships: Loved by the People of Spring Fountain, Leader of Rowdy Idealistic Young Men, Love Father.

Magic: Liturgist of Saint Gerlant.
Relationships: Love the People of Spring Fountain, Love Father.[/list:u]

Eustef has access to a whole bunch of spells through the order of Saint Gerlant (a military order). Guilbert knows only common magic. This is normal, but common magic is frowned upon by the church. I suggest that Hugo is a clergyman, connected to the same military order that his father belongs to. As a liturgist, he knows no spells but many blessings that benefit his community.

Oh, yes, I made up a name for Sir Eustef's fief. Change it if you want.

Does this make sense?


/Peter N
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law

Peter Nordstrand


I had a few moments to spare. What about the following stats (says the guy who claimed this wasn't important)?

    Sir Eustef
    Keywords: Orderly of Saint Gerlant Flamesword 17W, Cavalry Soldier (Shock) 4W2.
    Significant Abilities: Intimidate 5W, Judge of Character 11W, Political Strategy 5W, Tough 19.
    Marks: Built like a blacksmith. Is in a coma. ;-)
    Relationships: Banneret of Spring Fountain 10W, Leader of Old Guard 10W, Love Sons 5W.

    Keywords: Petty Noble  4W.
    Significant Abilities: Charismatic 7W, Etiquette 1W, Hotheaded 1W, Overconfident 15, Political Strategy 15.
    Relationships: Energetic 16, Liked by the People of Spring Fountain 5W, Love Father 3W, Leader of Rowdy Idealistic Young Men 15.

    Keywords: Liturgist of Saint Gerlant 12W, Clergyman 3W.
    Significant Abilities: Assess Personality 5W, Perceptive 10 W, Political Strategy 3W, Sword Fighting 1W.
    Relationships: Love the People of the Spring Fountain 1W, Love Father 1W.[/list:u]

    /Peter N
    Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
         —Grey's Law

    Mike Holmes

    That makes a lot of sense. Basically I'd ensure that all keywords are listed, and a few more pertinent abilities at most. Actually I make up almost all Abilitys and scores as I need them, so I personally wouldn't have many at all. But that'll be a taste thing.

    OTOH, what I see as problematic, so far, is the classic scenario writing problem. The cool thing about HW is that you can potently link the characters to the scenario by looking at their abilities. Since you don't have the characters ahead of time, however in this case, you have to guess, or have this be the first scenario played, and give instructions in the scenario for guiding players to make characters that will hook.

    This is what Chris mentioned. The characters have to have some linkage to such a scenario to make it work.

    Assuming that this isn't neccessarily written as a first scenario, then we have a much harder job. We have to link to the obvious choices that all characters have. This works, but is less potent because it's a sorta obvious croc. I ran just such a scenario at DemonCon a couple of weeks back, and you can tell when the players sorta glaze over at the "oh, it's another save-the-tribe scenario."

    I use that example, because that's the commonality that one can usually assume. That enough of the characters can be assumed to have the cultural keyword, and be invested that way. Anything else is less likely to stick for random characters. And, in fact, we find that this is indeed yet another save-the-tribe scenario that's working up. But consider that it'll only be applicable for characters with the Seshnela keyword. Or who get linked to it artificially.

    I'm not sure what the solution is. I'm afraid that the only practical solution is not to write scenarios. It's a style of play that doesn't work well with Narrativism.

    Another way however is the generic scenario. That is, write up all the elements in a nondescript way. Instead of Sir Eustef have "Important Clan Member or Nobleman" as his title. Then have his magic listed as "Order of Warriors". Love Sons stays as is, but the Banneret of spring Mountain becomes "Relationship with fiefdom". Etc.

    This way the GM just renames the characters, and adjusts the desccription of the abilities to the locality of play, and more importantly to things that will hook the players by their characters' Abilities. For example, one PC has "Loyal to Lord Dortson". Then Important Clan Member or Nobleman becomes Lord Dortson.

    Another idea that I had would be to have hooks for a scenario that players would have to buy into. That is, you'd advertise that you have an adventure that you can run, but only if the players get certain Abilities to certain levels (thus ensuring that the hooks are present). Seems weird, but it would probably work, I think.

    But in the end, a simple primer on how to build these yourself, seems to me to be far more effective than trying to make them up for consumption.

    Just a perspective.

    Member of Indie Netgaming
    -Get your indie game fix online.


    Hi Mike,

    I with you 100%.  Hence my columns over at  But for the sake of giving a practical excercise, I figured I run one through and show folks how its done.

    If you look at my first post, it gives conflict heavy potential, but the details are up to the person wanting to run with it.  For the more perceptive of you, you'll notice aside from the Coma/Soulsaving Hero Quest tip, this is pretty much the Godfather scenario.

    As far as linking player characters in, I'd go ahead, develop the NPCs, draw up a relationship map, and give a basic rundown of the people on the map.  Since we're talking a poltiical group, the PCs likely have a good feel for the major players.  I'd simply give some guidelines and tell players that they need to link their characters in at least 3 places, through blood, duty, friendship or romance.  There'd also be suggestions that folks can add further family members, servants, followers, or friends onto the map as appropriate.

    On note of the stats and such, again, if its not necessary at the moment, we can pretty much skip them for the sake of setting up the relationship map and the conflict.  On the other hand, Peter, if you want to go ahead and stat up characters as I go, that's fine by me as well.  I'll do some research into appropriate names and come up with some secondary characters to the conflict and set that forth later tonight.

    One of the best things about this sort of conflict is that you can choose to "web out" to encompass larger and larger groups, showing a ripple effect across tribes, fiefdoms, clans, kingdoms, or whatever based on the level of Stakes you're going to be running at.  Right now, folks are just worried about the family and the immediate fiefdom.  This gets nastier if Sir Eustef's family holds special responsibilities to those above them, or their power has some sort of greater effect than what is immediately seen("As long as the 8 Clans stay true, so lives the land.  So says the prophecy!")

    Anyhow, that's my thoughts for now.

    More later,



    Hi folks,

    I've come to this very interesting thread a little late, and seeing as MrWrong (Newt) has already mentioned my name I thought I'd better add a few comments.

    So here are a few thoughts, in no particular order.

    Generic/Specific Adventures

    The way I would write episodes is to keep them fairly generic, using descriptive titles for the main characters and locations. such as eldest son, rather than actual names. Then I'd place a box alongside the main text listing all the generic characters/locations with a space next to each for the narrator to fill in the actual names. This way he/she can quickly tailor to story to fit in with their own little bit of glorantha.

    Also if it left fairly generic the adventures would be equally valid set in an Orlanthi tribe that has hereditary chiefs as it is in a western fiefdom.

    Hooking the Heroes into the story.

    QuoteThe tribal chief is currently in a coma, and two sons are in line for succession. The eldest should have it by tradition, but is a brash, irresponsible leader, and other nearby tribes have become more agressive. The younger is an excellent leader and a pragmatist, and torn between his duty to his father and tradition, and the growing realization that his people might get smashed by outside forces if they're not unified quick. The people are split, factionalizing is happening, and time is running out.

    My first thoughts on reading Bankuei's outline is why is the leader in a coma. Could it be that in the first episode has the Heroes going on a Heroquest (possibly their first) to aid the community and they fail. When they return, they discover the result of their failure is the chief's coma.
    This gives them an intimate involvement in the story.

    My Three Choices Rule

    Nothing in Glorantha is ever totally black or white, right or wrong, its a subjective choice on the part of the heroes. With this in mind I always write my adventures so that there are always at least three choices to solve to a problem.

    If you know the characters beforehand you tailor the problems encountered so that different heroes prefer different solutions, giving rise to conflict and debate among the band. If you don't then these problems need to be fairly broad ranging so that with a little luck and a standard set of heroes this happens anyway, playtesting to see if the conflict situations work.

    With the three choices rule in mind I'd argue that you don't forget about the Old Guard, this is as equally valid a solution as choosing either of the sons.  

    Other options can emerge as the story develops, perhaps a foriegn power tries to take the throne, or ambitious heroes may try to take the throne themselves. you never know.
    Mythologising the Story.

    For me what makes glorantha special are the myths and so IMG heroes are little incarnations of the gods they worship. They repeat the actions of their gods and ancestors, either unintentionally through their wyrd or by actively recreating them via Heroquesting. Thus every action they do has already been done by the gods and so there is a myth somewhere out there that tells the story. All these myths may not necessarily be known to the heroes themselves, but when needed they can be found out to support their actions.

    Thus each faction will look to its mythic past to support its claims, but the ancestors and gods did so many things that their own myths sometimes seem to contradict each other. I suggest that each faction will try to find a valid myth prooving its path is just and lawful in the eyes of their god, probably trying to enlist the heroes aid to so.

    Possible Myths for the factions include
    The Old Guard - The Awakening of XXXXX - where the king is fatally wounded and the hero quests for the herbs to restore his health.
    Eldest Son - The Crowning of YYYY - The traditional tale of the how the first king gave the crown to his eldest son
    Youngest Son - How ZZZZ became King - The story of how a younger son quested to proove that he should sit on the throne instead of his older brother.

    If all three factions find the appropriate myth, then they quest to proove the validity and superiority of their myth. To do this they must persuade the various undecided interest groups within the community that their cause is best, leading to all kinds of political intrigue, backstabbing and double dealing.
    Hope this makes sense and helps

    Mick Rowe

    Peter Nordstrand


    I will return to this exciting topic as soon as tomorrow's exam is behind me.


    /Peter N
    Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
         —Grey's Law


    Hi Mick,

    Excellent input.  My first post was basically that generic conflict, "Add spice and flavor appropriately" as you've mentioned.  I see the leader in a coma issue being a catalyst, rather than necessarily "the problem to be solved".  That is, the real problem is keeping the tribe, people, clan together in the face of adversity and not having them splinter and fall to their own infighting or get smashed by an outside group.

    Like I said, the coma issue could be as mundane as the Chief fell off his horse and landed on his head, to more interesting things such as he was cursed after pissing someone off, to an outside group deliberately attempting to cause dissension within the people.

    Bringing this to our chosen example, I'll detail some of the movers and shakers of the 3 major factions:

    Old Guard

    Sir Alfan

    Argubly the strongest, and most loyal supporter of Sir Eustef, Alfan owes his life to Eustef and will do anything for him.  Alfan is a stern traditional man, but not high on airs, rather very down to earth and practical.  He's been Eustef's "ear to the people" and his right hand man.  He's not the brightest, but no fool either.   Alfan will be the first to step up for the Heroquest to save his liege and soul-brother's spirit.  He has absolute faith that Eustef will pull through, and may have trouble dealing with the situationa if Eustef chooses to pass on.

    Lady Collette

    Sir Eustef's sister in law.  When her sister Aileen passed, Eustef had grown into a cold, unfeeling man.  Lady Collette eased him through his grieving and naturally an affair developed.  Collette is a still a spinster, and while its fairly "common knowledge" about the relationship between the two, it has surprisingly avoided serious gossip and scandal.  Collette has always been the pragmatist, able to cut to the heart of a situation and tell it like it is.  Sir Eustef's coma has her terribly depressed, because she is well aware of the politics of the situation.  She's willing to accept Guilbert as the heir, but will lobby to get Hugo as much power as possible to keep the people safe and things running smoothly.

    Serge of the Cresent Sword

    Loyal and competent as the rest, but Serge is much more pessimistic about the situation.  He has already started manuevering to put Guilbert in power, and is determined that he must have a strong hand to watch over him in his father's stead.  Serge's cut and dried, this-is-how-it-is attitude has helped Sir Eustef handle the ugly and rough portions of managing his fief, but also will cause conflict with Guilbert when it comes to deciding how the people are managed.  

    Guilbert's Supporters

    Etienne, his aide

    Guilbert's right hand man, a youthful 19 year old son of a merchant.  Etienne has proved to be an excellent orator and "hype man" for Guilbert in dealing with the people.  While Guilbert's interactions with the people haven't always been the most prudent or practical, with Etienne, they've always been popular.  When the sorta solutions fall apart, usually minor grumbling was passed onto Sir Eustef instead.  Etienne is a young man fond of the good life, and while he does care about Guilbert, he also sees him as his ticket there.  Etienne also tends to egg Guilbert into some hasty decisions based on the notion of "fun".

    Sister Josette

    Sister Josette is a young nun(or whatever is closest in religious terms), who has been a major part of reform and improvement in Spring Fountain.  She's helped restore churches, feed the homeless, and promote the church all around.  She's an excellent manager and has an eye for men with talent, able to assign the right person to the right job, and figure out what will help the people the most in a simple pragmantic way.  Josette is overflowing with energy and is just a notch short of hyperactive in her duty.  She also has a blazingly clear crush on Guilbert.   Pretty much everyone except Guilbert has noticed this.   She vehemently attacks anyone who has anything unpositive to say about him.

    Hugo's Supporters

    Sir Xavier, the man at arms, militia trainer

    Xavier is Hugo's swordmaster, who's trained him in both the art of the blade, as well as that of strategy and though.  Xavier is only 35, but has been through some of the worst battles and roughest situations.  Nonetheless, he is a collected, refined man, with a terrible insight into the realities of things.  He understands that the neighbors of Spring Fountain are going to make a move, politically, or forcefully, and take that which appears to be in chaos.  He doesn't intend for his star pupil to fall to the stupidity of others.

    Brier, Hugo's servant

    When Brier's mother(Hugo's nanny) passed, Hugo took Brier in, so that she wouldn't be left starving.  In her mid teens, she's absolutely loves him, as a brother, perhaps as more, but the line has never been crosses.  She respects him for his upstanding morals, but sometimes wishes he would slide a little, at least for her.  She has no real illusions about her life or her future or of having anything more in her life, but she'll do anything she can to see him get ahead.  She's sort of living vicariously through his ups and downs in life.

    Old Maslin, the elder

    He's older than the Old Guard.  Maslin advised Eustef's father, and now is retired from the political management arena.  He pretty much just wants to die of old age, watching people live happy.  Maslin, unfortunately, has seen what is going down, and he wishes Hugo was the older brother.  Alas, he won't make any moves unless it seriously looks like its up in contest.  Nonetheless he'll give the best advice anyone could wish for(this guy might have a double mastery in practical advice type traits...).

    Third Parties

    Father Rance(priest, or appropriate title)

    Father Rance has been the spiritual advisor to the family line.  His primary concern is for Sir Eustef's soul, and the welfare of the people second.  He is very concerned that Sir Eustef's spirit either pass on safely or return safely.  He will also hope that Eustef's last wishes, if necessary, be carried out.

    Raoul de Nesle, merchant

    Rival to Etienne's father, Raoul wants either Hugo in charge or Etienne out of the picture.  He has been trying to get more trade with Eustef's family, and has only managed to make small sales with them.  He's hoping to get the monopoly and push Etienne and his family out of Spring Fountain.  He wouldn't murder, but he'd definitely lie and do a bit of underhanded work to make it happen.

    Father Ratier, organizer

    Father Ratier has been assigned to review the work Sister Josette has been undertaking.  She's requested additional resources, and Ratier is there to approve further funding or deny it.  A young priest of only 30, but strict in his views of the teachings.  He is immensely impressed with her work, but at the same time completely upset with her feelings for Guilbert.  Of course, he's also attracted to her, and not aware that he's "competing" with Guilbert in his head, but is extremely harsh with him, and doesn't want to see him succeed.  He considers Guilbert to be a hedonist and a bad influence on the people(notably Sister Jolette).

    Trencavel, head of the militia

    An older warrior, perhaps in his early 40's, strong, and a veteran of some rough times.  Trencavel has respect for Sir Eustef, but isn't sure about his sons, he gives respect only after people prove themselves.  Nonetheless, he is greatly concerned about the actions of some of the neighbors of Spring Fountain, and will try his best to get some action ASAP to prepare for what he feels will be trouble.

    Lady Noella, widower

    Wife of one of Sir Eustef's old Allies, she's here to decide who gets to marry her daughter, Aimee.  This marriage will give political clout to Noella's rule(until her son, now 5, is old enough to take control), and simultaneously link Spring Fountain to her land's greater resources.  She's traveled for almost a week via carriage with her daughter, and will arrive not long(a day or two) after Sir Eustef is incapcitated.   She is will be even more anxious to marry Aimee, and will be testing and eyeing whether Guilbert or Hugo will make a better match.  Who she picks is based on who she feels will better be able to take control and hold it safely with stability, although she will encourage that person to take more "active" measures to force the other to submit, not to mention that she is quite willing to spread some gold around to influence folks.

    Peter, any thoughts on these characters?  Or do you feel the sub conflicts need to get spiked more?



    Hi there,

    Its the weekend, and I've got some spare time so I thought I'd make a few more comments and ask a some questions.

    I'm a little confused about who this story is being targetted at and what type of story we are trying to tell. Being an analyst programmer in the RW I know from experience that it is vitally important to get the aims and objectives of a project clear and settled at the beginning, rather than let them evolve over time, as this leads to misinterpretations and confusion.

    I've made a few assumptions about the story we are trying to create, but as they are not explicitly written down they may be wrong. sorry if any of this goes over old ground, but i thought i'd ask for clarity's sake

    So here are my assumptions and some questions.

    Primary Objective of Project.
    To write a narrativist story for HeroQuest in a publishable form that can be used by other narrators.

    I've assumed by narrators we mean novice narrators and that the finished product will include lots of helpful tips on how to narrate the story, but will also act as a template to help them write their own adventures in the future. This means that some objective based or goal orientated structure must be written into the storyline, to show how the relationships between the various personalities can be used.
    Implicitly, this also means that the players may well be novices to role playing as well. so there should be help on how to help the players as well.    

    The Heroes
    Some discussion has taken place about this already, i.e. We don't want pregenerated characters, but i have a few more questions. If we're not using pregenerated characters then have to assume there will be a 'standard' group of heroes.

    So what does a standard group of heroes consist of?  

    How many heroes are expected to be in the group?

    What level of experience are we expecting from the heroes? Are they freshly written up beginning heroes at the start of their path to herodom or are they experienced veterans with multiple masteries? The competence of the heroes is important know beforehand as it has a bearing on how we expect the different levels of society and any particular NPC's to react to the heroes words and deeds.    

    From experience I'd suggest the following:
    There are 6-8 heroes in a standard party, half of which are warriors/hunters, plus one knowledge guy, one trading guy, one specialist magic user and possibly a healer. The heroes will have a moderate amount of experience with their primary skills averaging around the 10-15W mark.

    The Story
    A number of factors come to mind when thinking about what type of story we are going to tell.

    How many sessions of play will it last as this will have a bearing on how complicated things can get.

    Is it going to be an encapsulated mini campaign where all the issues are resolved by the end of the game, part of an extended campaign where the narrator has the freedom to develop any loose ends, or the whole campaign story arc. If its within an extended campaign, is our story going to be the beginning adventure of the extended campaign or do we see our story as being integrated into a preexisting campaign.  To use a TV analogy is it an episode (one off/demo game), a mini series (encapulated campaign), a number of episodes within a series (part of an extended campaign), or the main story arc for a complete series (whole campaign).

    My assumption is that its going to be the basis of a number of episodes within the series, making up around a dozen or so episodes, and that the story will be designed to be easily integrated into an existing campaign.    

    The Origins of the Heroes
    It is important to know where the Heroes are likely to come from as this will affect their relationships with the community and important NPC personalities.

    Are they members, strangers or foreigners?
    Members = the Heroes are part of the community and so have preexisting ties to the holdings of Spring Fountain and its populace. This is easy to do if the its the beginning of a campaign where the heroes can write the relationships into their 100 words, but is dangerous as players, particularly novice players, find being given lots of handouts to read before the game daunting and off putting
    Strangers = The Heroes are part of the same culture and so may have general relationships in common with the people of Spring Fountain, such as to the church and/or to king and country; but they don't have any relationships to particular people. This is the most likely situation to arise if the story is placed into a pre-existing extended campaign.    
    Foreigners = Heroes from a different culture completely, with no obvious relationships to anyone at Spring Fountain. this is another possibility with a pre-existing campaign and adds an extra layer of interaction with a few well placed traits among the NPC's stats such as Distrust/Hate Foriegners.

    One solution to the Strangers and Foriegners lack of traits is for the first two or three sessions to be pre-coma where Heroes go to Spring Fountain for a completely a different reason and are then slowly introduced to all the main personilities, gaining friends and enemies along the way, before the crunch time comes.    

    Player Handouts
    As I've mentioned before giving players stuff to read can be dangerous. In my experience players want to come round, drink a few beers, eat some munchies, have a laugh, and play a game. They don't want to read reams and reams of background. Reading stuff, that's what they do at work all day. Even those that are keen and do read background info can't assimilate too much of it at once, so it becomes self defeating as they constantly drop out of character to check the name of this bloke and that geezer. So I would recommend that the adventure is written with absolutely no player handouts, all the information should be conveyed verbally during the story. I find players take in a lot more detail by listening than they do by reading.

    To Summarise
    Ok, that's it for now, I can't think of anything else to say other than to coalesce all my thoughts into a couple of paragraghs, written as if they were the blurb for the published document or a short taster I use at to get people into my games at a con. I've embellished the basic plot a bit.

    Spring Fountain Manor
    "Welcome, Stranger, to Spring Fountain Manor, in the beautiful land of Seshnela, famous for its eponymous magical fountain that heals the sick and cleanses the soul. The good folk of this land are a paragon of virtue and order, following the wise Sir Eustef, the brave and caring banneret of this fiefdom.

    Wait, what's that, the fountain is no longer flowing and the banneret in a coma. This is dire news, What shall we do, who will lead and protect us."

    The disability of the Banneret, and the failing of the fountain leave a power vacuum in the fiefdom of the Spring Fountain. The once orderly lands of Sir Eustef begin to disintergrate into quarreling factions. As Eustef most loyal followers seek to restore the king to health his sons start arguing over their claims to the throne. And watching from across the borders the neighbouring lords begin to muster their knights to take Spring Fountain for themselves.

    Amidst all the politics and double dealing stand the heroes. Why has the fountain dried up? By whose side will they stand in the troubles ahead or have they a cunning plan of their own?  

    Spring Fountain Manor is a HeroQuest game set in the magical world of Glorantha. A ready to play story for 6-8 aspiring heroes whose primary skills are around 10-15W mark. It can be played as a stand alone mini campaign or easily intergrated into any existing Seshnelen Homeland Campaign. The story arc and episodes are designed especially for novice narrators and players, including helpful hints and tips on how to run a Gloranthan HeroQuest Campaign.  

    Mick Rowe

    Peter Nordstrand


    A lot of catching up to do. I'll begin with Chris's post.

    Chris, I like this. Despite the fact that there are thirteen different characters described, I have no problem (I think) remembering the motivations and goals of each and every one of them. Maybe that is because you focus on the important stuff, motivations and relationships and, well, ignore the unimportant things. The characters are put right in the conflict, and we don't have to read tons of meaningless psychologizing.

    I am most amazed that you have managed to avoid making a bad guy out of any of the characters. Most seem to be driven by quite noble passions, such as loyalty or love, rather than vengeance or hatred. Of course, once things start heating up love can easily turn into jealousy, and jealousy into hatred. This is so cool. Had I made up the NPCs they would have started off with much baser emotions.

    On magic and religion

    In HeroQuest magic and religion is present at all times. In a sense, exploration of magic is part of what the game is about.

      "They were incapable of isolating secular affairs from their supernatural context. To men who saw behind such natural events as storms, famines and eclipses the direct workings of divine providence, any attempt to do so would indeed have seemed the opposite of realistic. Religious belief conditioned their attitude to the whole social framework of their lives, permeating the texture of every institution" (
    The Penguin History of Medieval Europe).[/list:u]

    You may want to consider the following.

    Every successful community has a supernatural guardian of some kind. It provides blessings to its members, and protects them from harm. HeroQuest has rules for guardians, but for now all we need to know is that without its guardian the community will suffer, cease to exist even, for in a sense the guardian is the community.

    What about this:

      The Well (Guardian)
      The guardian of Spring Fountain is the actual fountain itself, a sacred well where Saint Gerlant forced a wicked serpent being into hiding. The Well has no personality, no identity of its own, it is just a very useful sacred well. Unfortunately, only the lord of the fief can tell it what to do, and now that he is in a coma, no-one can contact it, and the people of Spring Fountain cannot benefit from its blessings. Should a foe choose to attack the fief now, it would mean disaster, for without its guardian the community cannot defend itself properly.[/list:u]

      Quote from: BankueiLike I said, the coma issue could be as mundane as the Chief fell off his horse and landed on his head, to more interesting things such as he was cursed after pissing someone off, to an outside group deliberately attempting to cause dissension within the people.

      I think we need a magical reason, a curse or something which has put Sir Eustef in this unnatural state between life and death. Also this magic, this curse, must manifest physically in the world. Perhaps Sir Eustef's pale apparition can be seen in one of the manor's mirrors, or maybe his image has inexplicably appeared in that old tapestry depicting St. Gerlant and the Fountainhead Worm. Something that tells us that the event is out of the ordinary, that we have left the world of everyday conflict and entered the realm of magic and wonder.

      Quote from: BankueiBringing this to our chosen example, I'll detail some of the movers and shakers of the 3 major factions:

      Would you draw a relationship map of this, or is the text in itself enough?

      Quote from: BankueiEtienne, his aide
      When the sorta solutions fall apart, usually minor grumbling was passed onto Sir Eustef instead.

      This sentence has no meaning to me. The sorta solutions? No I don't get it.

      Raoul de Nesle, merchant

      Idea: Spring Fountain is the producer, or source, of something special or unusual. Something that a merchant like Raoul would really want to trade in. I don't know. Perhaps it is only color, but I like specifics.

      Trencavel, head of the militia

      His loyalty lies first and foremost with the people, right? Does he even care who becomes lord of the manor as long as the common man is doing fine? What do you think?

      Lady Noella, widower

      Her daughter Aimee is hardly described at all. Hm... I think I see why. She has no connection to any other character except her mother. Yes, that makes sense. She is in fact her mother's follower.

      Slightly mad greetings,

      /Peter N
      Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
           —Grey's Law


      Hi Peter,

      QuoteI am most amazed that you have managed to avoid making a bad guy out of any of the characters. Most seem to be driven by quite noble passions, such as loyalty or love, rather than vengeance or hatred. Of course, once things start heating up love can easily turn into jealousy, and jealousy into hatred. This is so cool. Had I made up the NPCs they would have started off with much baser emotions.

      Part of what makes this kind of conflict work is that the players can choose what role they want to take in the conflict, and by doing so, by choosing sides, etc.  make a thematic statement.  For this to happen, you can't load one side to be "all good" or "all bad".   Naturally, if we're talking like a crime drama, then probably all the characters would be pretty dirty with minor redeeming qualities.  

      As it stands, I'm going to assume that Sir Eustef was rather competent and good at managing Spring Fountain, and choosing fairly good people to work with.  This is really the tragic part of Sir Eustef's condition, he's a good ruler, and now he's being replaced.  The tough choice is who, how, and why?

      As an aside note, you could also play up the less noble traits of the characters if you want.  I usually leave a lot of room for that in my own scenarios, because I may find it more fun to spike certain characters in certain ways.  Serge could take extreme actions in belief of what he thinks is right, Etienne could run Guilbert down the path of empty hedonism, Sir Xavier could push Hugo to actions he normally wouldn't take, Brier could poison folks or cut dirty deals, Raoul can easily contribute to the mess, and Lady Noella is can range from honest woman to evil bitch.  In other words, most of these characters could be played nasty, or turn that way based on the GM's interpretation.

      The Well concept works fine for me.  As far as Sir Eustef's situation, there's some pretty obvious cliches that could be pulled into play:

      -Neighbooring group wants to take over, inflicts magical attack(I'd assume that Eustef was competent enough to thake precautions against this)
      -Sir Eustef stepped on someone's ego(possible)
      -Someone unintentionally created the curse(One son offhandedly says, "I wish he would die!", the other says, "I hope he lives forever!", oops)

      I'm not too high on what idea, or if another works for me.  I'll leave that in your hands, Peter.  Just be aware that if the coma is inflicted by another party intentionally, then it becomes the classic rpg, clue to a clue to a clue to find the "big bad guy behind all this" in a Scooby chase.  If it's internal, and intentional, well, its uglier, but can easily slide into the Scooby chase again.  Finally, if its unintentional, well, that's when justice is the trickiest, and things get interesting.

      QuoteWould you draw a relationship map of this, or is the text in itself enough?

      I would draw an R-map, although given Ron's strict definition of Sex and Blood, it wouldn't be an R-map proper.  It would be an affiliation of strong ties of loyalty, duty, love, rivalries and hate.    But yeah, that's already what was in my head.  Notice that I started with 3 parties, and just expanded and webbed out conflict based on that.

      QuoteThis sentence has no meaning to me. The sorta solutions? No I don't get it.

      Sorry, Etienne suggests popular short term solutions that aren't really anything more than stopgap measures.  Guilbert receives the praise for "helping the people" and when the solution falls apart, his father Eustef takes the blame.

      Yep, anything is fine.  I'll leave the details as to what Spring Fountain produces in your hands.  Maybe a specific dye color, or a certain wine that the King favors, you decide.

      Right on the mark.  He only cares about the people, hence his unsureity about supporting either son.  He is looking to see who is capable of filling their father's shoes.

      I was tired, and wrote up a lot of NPCs.  Right now as it stands, Aimee could either be simply a follower, or if you want to complicate things even more, make her unhappy about the prospect of marriage, or some other form of troublemaker.  Of course, if that's the case, neither son is probably going to really go for this marriage.  It was Sir Eustef's pragmatism that pushed for the marriage, and if there seems to be too much trouble, probably neither one will go for it.

      Anyhow, hopefully this covers a good set of folks for conflict.  I'll go into some possible bangs or story twists later.



      Hi Mick,

      I think you and I are coming from very different camps of "how this works" in regards to scenario design(which isn't to say either is better, just very different).  The goal of this thread is to write an example of a Narrativist Scenario.  This is not designed for beginnner or novice GMs, at this point, although if someone really digs this and decides to reformat it as such, that's cool by me.

      I suspect that much of your confusion is related to the fact that this is designed to be a Narrativist Scenario.  The generic example given in my first post is what I consider "sufficient" skeleton to build or run on.  That is, a conflict is established, and enough bones exist to make it run.  Everything past that is showing what this kind of thing looks like with the whole regalia added.

      The Heroes

      The only requirements for the Heroes are thus:

      -They must have a vested interest in the outcome of the situation
      -They must be tied into 1 or more NPCs as listed above.  I'd prefer 3 connections.
      -They must not be able to "solve" the conflict easily("I'm a demi-god, I grab his soul, and everything is ok")

      Pretty much if the PCs fit those 3 requirements, plausibly, they can fit.  This scenario is heavily biased towards characters who are already part of Spring Fountain, or very familiar with it, by virtue of the first two requirements.  Hence, the classic, "Wandering heroes come save the day" cliche doesn't fit in with this at all.

      Second, aside from the last restriction, the actual stats don't matter that much.  The nice thing about HW is that you can scale stats to fit your needs, so if you really need to make things tougher, just give someone an extra +10 or Mastery to their stat.

      Third, if you look down my NPC list, we've got everything from fighting men to nuns, maids, merchants and the elderly.  All of these folks are capable of changing the outcome.  The expectation that you'd need fighting guys, magic guys, or healing guys is unnecessary.  Consider if you simply had a mild mannered scribe who was obsessively in love with Brier.  He may not be the best fighter, but then again, he can definitely shift the scenario based on his actions. PCs, again, are only restricted by the 3 requirements I've stated.

      Finally, if you are suggesting that there "should be" 6-8 players, or PCs+followers, adding up to that many heroes, again, completely unnecessary.  I would dread running this scenario as written with more than 4 players, and I'd probably cap it at 3.  With the serious amount of drama and subconflict I've set up, there'd be way too much going on to worry about 6-8 players.  Hell, at that point, I'd just have like 3 NPCs and let the game be about the conflicts between the PCs.

      The Story

      How Long?

      Earlier in this thread, I suggested to Peter, that at its simplest, we could simply have a one-shot with just the Heroquest.  Which would, of course, mean all these nifty NPCs and subconflicts wouldn't even get any screentime.  My suggestion is that this scenario could be run in as few as 4-6 sessions(of a standard 4 hours) if the GM and the group drives hard at pushing things along, and keeps the focus narrow("Who will rule Spring Fountain?/What happens to Sir Eustef's Soul?"), without resolving all the subconflicts.  

      I'd also say this could easily blow up into its own campaign, given the amount of subconflicts that can expand in this game.  If you choose to start involving neighboring fiefdoms, the King, the Church, or whatever, then it can just keep going and going.  You could also do this if you expand the number of NPCs involved, which isn't hard, if you simply remember that most of  these folks have friends, family, superiors, coworkers, subordinates, love interests, rivals, etc.  

      In other words, the "time" of this scenario is dependant on what the group wants and how they push it.

      It is also not designed to be integrated within an existing campaign, unless the Heroes happen to be very involved with Spring Fountain.  Again, wandering heroes doesn't work too well here.

      Player Handouts-

      Here's where HW and Sorcerer meet, I'd give the standard HW 2 page culture summary, and the R-map(with very basic info about the NPCS given).  Then I'd say, here's the situation: Sir Eustef is in a coma. Make a character connected to some of these NPCs, preferably 3.   Players would then make characters as a group, launching suggestions, advice, perhaps coordinating("Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we were brothers, after the same girl?" "Yeah!")

      The Sales Pitch-

      Again, this thread is more of a "here's how I did it, and you can do it too!" example, rather than a scenario that need be sold. Hell, if I was going to sell this, it'd go something like this:

      The Well of Souls-

      A father lay dying, his soul trapped between worlds.  His sons fight for power, while their land is threatened by the power hungry and ambitious.  What drives brothers to fight?  What holds them apart?  When the lives of the many are in the hands of the few, peace is rarely an option...

      The Well of Souls is a Heroquest scenario of passion, drama, and intrigue that asks the question:  When a man's soul is at stake, when the people are at risk, when the fate of hearts lay on the line:  What will you do?

      Anyhow, Mick, perhaps I'm misreading you here, but a lot of what you've posted appears to be based on some assumptions about play that aren't in operation here("What play is about, how many players, what kind of characters, etc.").  If what I've written here raises more questions than answers, I'd be happy to discuss it with you via PM or on another thread.  If not, I'll just chalk it up to random misreading on my part. :)


      Peter Nordstrand

      Editing in: And I deserve to be shot for not reading Chris' post before posting my own. I beg your forgivness.

      Dear fellow inmates,

      Several of you have raised the concern that we don't know what characters the players are going to create. Boy, do I have news for you.

      We do know!

      They are going to create heroes that are compatible with this scenario. 'All' we need to do is tell them what that is. Chris actually addressed this in his first post:
      QuoteSpecific to this scenario, each PC must have one or more ties to all of the factions, Eldest Son, Younger Son, and the Old Guard (staying true to the Chief). PCs also start with some form of status/position gain/loss to risk based on who is in charge.
      If a PC doesn't have this established pre-game, it should quickly be established in game.

      I do acknowledge the problem, but it is in no way specific to narrativist gaming. In this case, I suggest that we assume that the heroes are created specifically for this scenario. We write a section about this, and leave it at that.


      /Peter Nordstrand
      Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
           —Grey's Law

      Peter Nordstrand


      Most welcome to our little party! Please stay with us. Chris answers your concerns so much better than I ever could. Mike Holmes' first post in this very thread (Mon June 02) is also very good and useful. And by all means, don't forget Chris' amazing column:

      All the best,

      /Peter N
      Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
           —Grey's Law

      Peter Nordstrand

      Hi Chris,

      The precise reason for Sir Eustef's coma needs some consideration, I guess. We don't want the Scooby chase. Ideas anyone?

      QuoteI'll go into some possible bangs or story twists later.

      This is one thing I am really looking forward to.


      /Peter N[/quote]
      Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
           —Grey's Law


      Hi folks,

      to reiterate Peter's point, this excercise is open for other people to drop suggestions or contribute, so don't feel shy!


      On further consideration, I've thought more about Sir Eustef's coma, and here's what I think would be cool:

      On the day of the Blood Moon Eclipse(or whatever culturally appropriate nifty "oooh-its so magical" day name fits), one of the sons had a falling out with Sir Eustef.  Brooding about the Well, he wished his father would die, in the usual, "I hate you" phase that folks have when they're angry.  Later that day, the other son was exceptionally pleased with his father, and wished he would live forever, whist milling about the Well.  Neither would know the power of their words, or the terrible consequences...


      -Who said what, and why?  I leave that in the hands of the GM to decide.  Both will feel incredibly guilty and screwed up about it once they make the connection.
      -Mythology-wise, it makes sense.  A wish spoken without thought that leads to disaster is pretty cliche, the twist being that its two wishes, both of which lead to Eustef's inability to pass into the afterlife, nor return to his body.
      -Plus, instead of making one nasty bad guy, now we have this messy moral dilemma, which makes the decisions and influences of the PCs even more important.
      -Finally, it leaves lots of Bangs to be produced on the Heroquest itself, as the various spirits of the Godplane explain what the actual reasons are that they can't let Sir Eustef go one way or another.  Plus it puts both of the sons in a position of extreme responsibilty, guilt, and desperation...good stuff for drama.

      More later,