Archive for the ‘Scenariowriting’ Category

Fictioval: For the safety of the state

11. September, 2012:

The five men in the room sit silently, unsure how to approach what they have just seen on the television. Finally, one of them – the leader – assumes his role of leadership. Luckily, that allows him to also use the leaders prerogative of delegation:

“So, gentlemen. Your analysis of the situation, if you please.”

The other look at each other. Then one of them clears his throat.

“Well, sir. I would say that the People’s Republic of Denmark has fallen to the pressure of its capitalist foes.”

“Ah. Indeed. And how does this affect our situation?”

“Well, the People have not always been supportive of our mission to protect the glorious People’s Republic. Without the benevolent guidance of the Party, they might decide to take action against us.”

As one, their eyes flew to the door to the next room. Over it was a sign.

“Archive”

In the fall of  2012, as the communist rule of the People’s Republic of Denmark falls, five men sit in the centre of the Ministry of State Security. As the protesters amass outside the Ministry, they try to rid themselves of the evidence of five decades of cruelty, committed  in pursuit of a “greater cause.” But none of them have survived their service of the country without scars on their souls. And as they start tearing apart the archives, they once more face the memories of what they have done for the safety of the state-

This idea originated as a scenario about agents in the Stasi of the GDR in the last hours before they were stormed by an angry mob who wanted to see the archives of the oppressive secretive police. But first of all, I feel like Stasi has been treated quite thoroughly – secondly, I doubt many players could actually imagine life in East Germany before the fall of the Wall. Instead, I figured this would work quite well as an alternate history story, where Denmark became part of an East Bloc that fell far later than it did. This would mean that the players would be reimagining their own childhoods as it would have been under a communist rule, like the one in GDR.

I imagine the scenario as falling in five parts, corresponding to the stages of the Kübler-Ross model of coping with the realization of your own death:

  • Denial: The agents try to belittle the importance of the revolution, arguing that they can cull the rebellion, or that there will still be a need for them in a new regime. Flashbacks will be to scenes of successful missions the team has undertaken.
  • Anger: The agents try to find someone to blame – the Party, the Politicians, the Damned Capitalist, but in the end, mostly each other. Flashbacks are to scenes of cowardly or traitorous activity they have engaged in.
  • Bargaining: The agents start to realise the seriousness of the situation, and start trying to come up with ways of getting out of the mess they’re in. They start destroying records. Flashbacks to missions that they did not feel comfortable with, and missions where they tried to show mercy.
  • Depression: Everything seems hopeless. The archives are massive, and every file condemns them as much as the next. A mob of revolutionaries has assembled outside. Flashbacks to scenes of failures, and scenes that show the futility of their whole project.
  • Acceptance: The Agents realise that they have lost. Some flee, some stay to welcome the masses who flow in and start going through the files. A final flashback to the proud day the five were first assembled as a team.

That’s the outline for the scenario. Characters should be presented as personnel files/ surveillance reports on the persons with grades from universities and reports on the dealings of their families. This might be a bit big, but I like the idea of leafing through a file on your character, trying to build an idea of who he is. The idea is also to not have a definitive answer to who each person is, but to allow the player to assemble his own version. I dislike long characters, but what I dislike most is a long character that you need to memorize – a long character where you are supposed to leaf through, just skimming each page is far more acceptable.

I actually like this idea. For one thing, I have a very clear idea of what goes in here. It is also a very different story than Antihero – rather than a comedy, this is a tragedy, which is something I wasn’t sure whether I could do.

The flashback scenes could be left to the players to decide, but I kinda like the idea of making it be casefiles as well, presenting them with a short summary of the scene, and then opening it up to reveal more about that scene.

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Fictioval: The Great Old Ones must DIE!

What is the main problem with H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction? All of his protagonists are such weaklings! Only pasty academic nancy boys flee at the sight of great, ugly critters like Cthulhu or Yog-Sothoth. Real heroes FIGHT! Real heroes KILL! Real heroes kick those nasty critters so hard, they won’t WANT to come back for untold eons, for fear that the heroes are still around to kick them some more.

Eat cultists for breakfast. Kill all thousand young, and then go deal with mummy goat. Make a R’lyeh special seafood pizza – the one with anchovies, extra cheese and Cthulhu! Call Hastur names – then go give Azathoth a rude awakening.
In this scenario we fix what has been wrong with all Cthulhu roleplaying ever: we get rid of all the boring investigation. Instead, you get to kill countless puny minions, then have an EPIC boss fight against some of the most badass enemies you could possibly imagine. We stock up on big guns and other powerful weaponry, find some great rides and then we go blow up stuff. Why is Cthulhu stories always about madness? Let’s talk more about GORE!

The above is my take on a grindnight scenario preview. The idea is to take three or so of the meanest baddies from the collective works of the Cthulhu mythos, glue them together with a trail of weak minions for the heroes to eradicate, and power it all with a system that emphasizes cinematic action over realism. I’m thinking that it should be set in a futuristic kind of setting with loads of high-tech weaponry and gizmos, allowing people to fire tiny nukes into Cthulhu’s gob, and other crazy things. All in all, this seems to swing well with grindnight’s theme of gore, badassery and slight political incorrectness (or less slight, as the case might be). It is not my favorite FictioVal preview, but I could definitely see the scenario work. It does, however, need a proper system to order the fighting so it is at the same time epic and neither too lethal nor too easy. The system should further the narration of the battle more than the tactical play – though some tactics might be nice in order to make the boss fights seem more awesome.

[Antihero] The Main Characters

I am slowly starting to write my scenario, currently named Antihero, which will be featured at next year’s Fastaval. It is very much a scenario which will revolve around the characters, and they are probably the part of the game I’ve gotten the furthest with.

There will be five characters. One of them is the clear central character, while the others represent poles around him. All of the pole characters want something with the central character – the (anti)hero, and that wish is in someway opposed to what at least one character wants with him. So, the five characters in short:

The (anti)hero: the protagonist of the story. A con man, who makes people believe in him, uses these trusting people, then leaves before they call his bluff. That is not to say he isn’t a capable character, nor that he is all evil – he probably does good things for many villages. But mostly, he does it to help himself. However, there is a part of him that longs for something more. A part of him that wants to settle down, to gain a true life, instead of living a comfortable lie.

Two of the pole characters represent the outer struggle, and two of them represent the inner struggle that the hero faces. So, first I will present the outer struggle, then the inner.

The Village Elder: On one side of the outer struggle is the Elder of the village. At the beginning of the scenario, he enlists the hero to help defend the village against the plans of the Villain. That is not to say that the Elder is a saint, quite the opposite: he is manipulative, a coward, and he wants everyone to dance to his pipe. He is a very conservative person, wanting the status quo to be maintained.

The Villain: Opposite the Elder is the Villain. The villain wants to do something to the village, making life difficult for the villagers. Please note that it is not simply a matter of wanting to destroy the village. In fact, I think it is important to make it so that is it possible for the villain’s plan to be at least partially achieved, while still counting as a victory for good. The Villain represents a dynamic force, a force for change, but also an arrogant force, who wants to change the world according to his whim.

And thus, the outer struggle is the struggle for the fate of the village. The probable outcome is probably that status quo is not upheld, but that the villain does not achieve his plan either.

Then, the inner struggle:

The Sidekick: Every hero must have his sidekick, every Don Quixote much have his Sancho Panza. Also in this tale. The Sidekick is manservant, manager, squire, spy and spin-doctor, all in one. He cooks for the Hero, looks after him and his equipment and runs his errands. At the same time, he’s in on the scam, and he finds out who’s not convinced, and tries to make sure they ARE convinced – or at least that they don’t say their suspicions out loud. He tries to make the Hero stay with the same lifestyle they’ve been living together, and to make him stay the same.

The Coveted: Just as Don Quixote has Sancho Panza, he’s got his Dulcinea: the girl he pines for, and the girl he wants to commit heroic acts for. The girl, of course, is hard to please: She alone in the city is not charmed by the Hero’s antics, and is not charmed by his advances. He will have to win her over, somehow, and the only way to do that seems to be to (gulp) reform. He’d better shape up… thus, she is a force for inner change, challenging him to either become a hero, or to admit that he is none. Of course, she also needs to change: she needs to accept that there might be room for a man in her heart after all.

She’s to a large extent inspired by the woman here, the first four minutes of which display my idea of the Hero’s first approach, and of her initial attitude to him. She’s also inspired by the character Bean from Rango, the film that inspired the scenario in the first place.

And thus, the inner struggle is, in many ways, the real struggle of the game, though it needs the outer struggle as its battleground: can the Hero find a true life for himself, or will he forever live a lie?

These are the main players. Next time, I’ll write something about the main secondary characters – cause each main character will be matched by a secondary character that will act as their mirror. Also, I am planning to give the whole thing a framework that will give the GM a) something to do and b) a way to prod the players in a direction if needed.


			

Imperiet 40k: What I want to write

I have cheated myself. That’s right, I’ve played a rather nasty trick on my own, sorry self.

See, I’ve been wanting to get into the scenario writing scene for quite a while. But writing a game for Fastaval is a daunting task, and even though I come up with many great ideas, I alway say to myself: “Next year! Next year, I’ll have better time be better prepared, the heavens will open, and an angel is going to come on floating down with the perfect scenario that I always wanted to write.”

Well, this year, I have trapped myself. I am now comitted in a way that will actually lose face if I don’t deliver. I, in a moment of optimism and bravado, said I’d contribute to the anthology, “The Empire 40k” – a continuation of last years success, “The Empire,” an anthology of small scenarios, based on the world of Warhammer. This year, the masterminds behind the project have decided to follow it up with a game set in the sci-fi version of that world, Warhammer 40k.

So, there is nothing for it. In a month, I must hand in something that is, at least at first glance, a playable scenario. Good thing I know what I want to write, huh?

Sigh – if only! I know what story I want to tell, I have the general run of the thing – the problem is that it’ll require a load of mechanics that I don’t know how will work. So, I will post my thoughts here, and hope someone can help me make sense of this mess. But first – the concept:

Necromundian Roulette

In the filthy Underhive, the strong rule. Rival gangs fight each other with decrepit weaponry over everything with any value, with desparate Ratskin tribes defend their territories against the enchroaching overlings. Meanwhile, rabid zealots hunt anything with even the slightest resemblance to anything that is not in strict accord with the Emperor’s law, while well-equipped noblemen just hunt anything, without discrimination.

In this mess lies a little pearl. A small, filthy piece of heaven. A settlement of some prosperity, that has not yet been torn apart by warring gangs, greedily trying to extract anything of value from them.

This place has been frequented by two gangs. Living an uneasy truce, they have kept other, greedier gangs at bay.

Now, the truce is off. Something has happened, and the town is not big enough for the two of them any more.

But because they are surrounded on all sides, and hate the outsiders more than they hate each other, they have decided to settle the matter with a minimum of bloodshed. They will decide the matter through a game of Russian Roulette.

The feel of the game

In the game, the players take on the role of two members from each gang, taking turns biting the barrel, and pressing. In between, they recall memories of the settlement, reaffirming their commitment to driving out the filthy scum at the table with them, and calm their nerves with copious amounts of synthetic whisky.

The GM’s role will be as an umpire, both in and outside the game. Ingame, he’ll play the role of an innkeep, official, or other figure of authority who has been asked to ensure that everything happens according to the accord set out by the gangs in advance. Outside of the game, he’ll be helping the players navigate the rules, so that they can use as much focus as possible on telling their character’s story.

Right, so what are the rules?

Ideally, there should be a toy gun at the table. The players should pass this around and act out the pressing of the trigger when their character does likewise.

Every time a player receives the gun, he sets a flashback scene of something in the character’s past in the settlement. The other other players add to this story, the enemies by trying to ruin the picture the player is trying to paint, the ally by supplementing/supporting it. I have three types of scenes in mind:

  1. Cherised memories/reasons to live: The character remembers something that ties him to the place, positive images that makes it important for him to live on in the city. The opposing players try to add elements to the scene that destroy the idyllic image the character is trying to paint, thus eroding his will to live, but also tarnishing the city, spoiling it for them as well. Mechanically, the character is trying to make it less likely for him to get the bullet, while the opponents try to make it more likely.
  2. Grudges/ reasons to hate: The character remembers something the opponents have done that makes it important for him to see them defeated. This should of course be done in a way that doesn’t violate the concept of the other character – one of the tasks of the GM will be to help make this work. The opponents try to erode the grudge, showing how their character is really totally innocent of any crime. Mechanically, this makes the character better able to defend against the opponents (I think).
  3. Sins / Crimes commited / reasons to repent: The character remembers some crime he has commited against the settlement. The character has commited the place he loves, whether by foolishness, pride, neglect, malice, or in pursuit of personal goals. I think the opponents may be trying to show how the settlement defeated the threat to it, or to put an emphasis on how great the character’s guilt in this is. Mechanically, this kind of scene will give the character more ammunition to use against the opponents.

The idea here is that the players should have an incentive to choose 2 and 3 often, thus ruining the very prize they are trying to win.

After a scene, a character may choose to take a glass of whisky to wash away the memories. This will prevent some of the bad consequences. However, this will also affect his mind, making the bad memories line up, and lower his ability to resist the opponent’s attempts at spoiling his memories. Drinking may work now, but there’s a price to pay.

Note that there should be a reward for failure, at least for the active character, so that a player will never be thrown out of the game. When your cherised memory turns foul, you will have more power to do likewise to your opponent.

After the player has played his scene and drunk his fill, he’ll put the gun in his mouth, the GM will secretly roll the dice, the player presses the trigger, and the GM announces “click” or “bang.” When someone is shot, the game ends.