Posts Tagged ‘Fastaval’

Resources for Mountain Witch

I was first exposed to the wonder of Indie games at a presentation of indie games, hosted by Per Fischer at Fastaval in 2006. And as far as I recall, the first game I played at that presentation was Mountain Witch (the second was Dogs in the Vineyard).

For me, discovering the wonderful realm of indie games was quite a revelation. Luckily, it turned into a memorable occasion for someone else. The person running the game (I keep telling myself it was Per Fischer, but I may only have played Dogs with him; some research indicates that the GM may have been Peter Dyring-Olsen) posted an after-play report at The Forge, including the following paragraph:

But the best part of the day came, when one player asked if he could use his ”Unholy Lore” to test if he knew anything he could use against the tengu he was facing. We rolled dice and he got a success (I think it was a critical, but I’m not sure). He then looked at me, clearly expecting me to look up the monster in the book and tell him some details. But when I asked HIM to narrate, he got this weird expression – a mix between abject horror at not knowing what to say and pure bliss at the thought of the extreme freedom and co-authoring of The Mountain Witch. I could hardly keep my arms down. This was THE best moment playing tMW yet!

Yeah, that was me. I remember it distinctly. The confusion, the mixed horror and delight as I realized that it was up to me to describe what I figured out. I also remember not being satisfied with what I found out – I was still thinking so much in traditional RPG terms to tell a proper success. Besides, I think even today, a “knowledge roll” in an indie game is a tricky thing – because you’re basically throwing up the ball for future action, instead of narrating action. But I digress.

The result of that day was that I went home and ordered a bunch of games from Indie Press Revolution: With Great Power…, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Mountain Witch. Now, I’ve played a fair bit of Dogs (more, I think, than I’ve played of any other Indie game), I’ve played a few half-sessions of WGP… – but I only ever played half a session of Mountain Witch. But Tuesday, that’s going to change.

For my final game with my group at the Ungdomsskole, I’m going to run Mountain Witch with a small group of three of them. It’s a good group, all three having been part of my IaWA group. But still, I’m a little nervous. How is it going to go, I wonder? I’m far from certain I’ve got the feel for how a game of MW is supposed to go, and there will be many new techniques to try out, for me and for them. Also, I fear my players won’t properly grab on to the Dark Fates, thus leaving a tale of samurai trudging up a mountain to kill a demon, instead of a tale of treachery and tragedy, as the ideal MW I see in the text.

Alright, enough idle chatter. I told myself I’d write a brief post that would be mostly to myself, as a way to save the links to the resources for the game I’ve found around the web. Well, mission mostly failed as far as the brief is concerned, but I guess I can still gather the links I’ve found, sharing them with the world and my future self. Also, any additional links and pieces of advice you have will be greatly appreciated.

Taming the Tengu: a collection of helpful links

The official homepage of Mountain Witch: apparently, Timothy Kleinert has had some problems with hosting and suchlike for his homepage for timfire publishing. But this page contains what you might need in the way of character sheets, pre-made characters and a startup scenario, as well as printable zodiac and Dark Fate cards. There is also a text from Kleinert explaining techniques and tricks he uses when running the game.

A couple of threads from story-games.com contain useful advice:

Six questions, the answers to which were very helpful.

A long list of tips and tricks. Most are referenced at the top of the thread, but timfire gives  a lot of useful advice during the whole thread.

A number of resources on Japanese mythology

The Wikipedia article on Tengu: Apparently quite a versatile creature. I’m sure to be using it in my game.

The Wikipedia article on Aokigahara: There is apparently a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji which is a popular place to commit suicide. Mood evoking? Ooh, yeah!

An encyclopedia on Japanese mythology: Someone on a forum (Story Games, probably) recommended this. It doesn’t seem to be too visual, which would be nice, and many of the entries seem a bit brief. But, what the hell – if nothing else, it’s something to Google.

A collection of Japanese mythological beasts, with pictures. I don’t particularly like the style, but they’re something to work from. The page is not all that easy to navigate, but it’s got a “random” button, which I’m sure can come in handy if you need a beast in a hurry.

And that’s it for now. An unstable internet connection meant I had to recreate some of it, so some of it is a bit briefer than I’d have liked. Ah, well.

I may post my bangs later. I’m not quite sure how to do them – I always thought bangs were all about a “hard choice” (to save my brother, or to get my revenge), but in MW, it seems to be all sort of things the GM can introduce – including monsters and puzzles.

One thing I know: I’ll be adapting the fox and the badger from Neil Gaiman’s “Dreamhunters” to use as npc’s in the game.

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The obligatory post-Fastaval post

Everybody and their aunt seems to have made a post of their thoughts about what happened at Fastaval. Having been busy, I haven’t gotten around to it, till now.

The Empire 40k

This year marked my début as scenario-author, on a contribution for the anthology “The Empire 40k”: “Under My Hive.” So, I decided that this year’s GMing choice would be the anthology. It ran Thursday and Saturday at 9 o’clock (brrr!) and knowing that I have a tendency to get to bed later and later during a Fastaval, I chose to run it Thursday. As it turned out, I was one of two of the authors to run it that morning, and so, Kristo asked me to run the start-up for it that morning. I was more than a little surprised when I realised we’d be starting no less than 10 groups that morning (And, as I recall, we missed less than a handful of players).

I’d chosen to run The Interrogation, Space Hulk: Her Dark Beauty, and Under My Hive. In the end, I ran the first two (more on that later).

My group of players consisted of one author, and three young players. Two of the youngsters seemed like very decent players; the third had a tendency to dominate, and wasn’t the greatest player. In particular, I made the mistake of giving him exactly the character he wanted in The Interrogation: the violent one. I felt myself avoiding him, because he kept on leading the game on to a very bloody path, when the depravity of the Interrogation can take so many forms. I didn’t feel we really attained what had attracted me in The Interrogation; that multifaceted story of fall.

Space Hulk went much more according to what I had hoped. We whispered and screamed, the players died in spades, and only won when the second to last player gave his life to help the last one escape with the Power Armour. Epic!

Paradoxically, while I enjoyed Space Hulk far more than The Interrogation, My players (who had all wanted to play the Interrogation, and were more ambivalent about the other two) had enjoyed The Interrogation more. This might have had something to do with the fact that I was measuring my experiences against the written texts.

And, by the end of the day, I hadn’t played my own scenario. I had chosen not to play it based on a number of very valid arguments, but part of it was, that I simply didn’t believe that what I’d written was playable.

Come Saturday, the, to my knowledge, only session of the game ran, led by Kristo and including one of my friends as player. And so it was that I was suddenly assaulted by an enthusiastic player, who assaulted me with a “I didn’t know you’d written anything,” and continuing to tell me how great their session had been. Later, Kristo came to tell me who well it had worked, and finally, the judges sought me out to tell me that they thought I’d really hit the “short story” form, and that they’d really enjoyed reading my scenario. Well, what do you know. I was pleasantly surprised, and have vowed to get around to running it myself.

I guess it’s kind of silly to write a scenario for Fastaval without running it yourself, but I’d signed up to do it about a year ago, and when the deadline rolled around, I barely had time to complete it in time.

Ah, well. At least, now I know it’s not an insurmountable task to write a scenario. Next time, I’ll write one in “feature length.”

Salvation

After taking a nap Thursday afternoon, I was ready for Salvation Thursday evening. I got in a really strong group, with Troels Rohde Hansen as GM. Troels had been a playtester under Simon (the author), and that helped a lot – he knew how it was supposed to go.

Salvation is very much a sandbox. But it is a sandbox that shows you a clear direction. And it worked splendidly. I got a character of a type I wouldn’t normally go for – which resulted in me grunting my way through most of the evening as the antisocial, rugged character of the bunch. It was so much fun. The scenario is about a gang of wild west bank robbers, each of which is somehow broken in the head. And, oh boy, did we do depravity. It got an Otto for best roles, and it had really deserved it. The characters were perfect for sparking some of the most meaningful acts of cruelty I’ve seen in a role-playing game.

Info

We had a pretty good team in the Info this year. A couple of old veterans had returned, and we scooped up three new recruits, but apart from that, it was mostly a bunch of old friends. The highlight of our convention was clearly our strike on Saturday. Usually, the Dirtbusters strike, giving the Bunker a number of demands which usually include at least one thing that we’re supposed to provide. This year, we decided to do a sympathy strike, not answering questions for a couple of hours.

Apart from that, a couple of very unappealing things came our way. First of all, somehow the game evaluation sheets had not been printed, and we had to deal with a lot of confused an annoyed people who couldn’t get an evaluation form, and couldn’t get a straight answer as to when they’d be there.

This year, as well as last year, I had the honour of being responsible for awarding the Golden Plunger. The Golden Plunger is the Info’s award for the participant who’ve made the greatest contribution to Fastaval. Some years, someone will have done something spectacular and noticeable, like when Daniel Benjamin Clausen ferried drunk people to bed when it suddenly started to snow in the middle of the night. But this year, the field consisted of a number of hard workers, who all qualified by having done a great job over the course of the con or, in one instance, over the cause of several Fastavals.

Hell/Heavenly Monday

When one is part of the organising team of Fastaval, the cleanup is always viewed with a certain anxiety. Last year, Hell Monday turned into Troublesome Tuesday. So this year, the school had given us a deadline at 4 o’clock. Which, along with a considerable effort on Sunday, must have been responsible for the relatively unproblematic day we had. The school was closed at 4 o’clock, with only a bit of transport left to do.

It wasn’t perfect, though. I was awoken by my mattress exploding at 8.30, and so, me and another Infonaut woke the organisers up gently and quietly. And I’m glad we did, because ten minutes later, two Dirtbusters came screaming into the room and started shouting orders, then leaving. When I went to the kitchen, shortly before nine, they were somewhat confused, and didn’t know what was expected of them. And, worst of all, no one was there in the kitchen to move people along and get them started on the cleanup. We have to work on that for next year.

Apart from that, I didn’t like the Sunday. Sunday wasn’t. There was a bit of roleplaying in the morning, then cleaning in the afternoon, then waiting for the banquet. Come on! We can do better than that! It must be possible to make a Sunday that doesn’t feel like the whole thing has ended. It certainly didn’t used to feel like that.

Next time…

is going to be grand! We have a great general, who has already started – and he’s started with the thing that most failed this time: the location. Between him and the amazing scenario crew, next year is sure to be something to look forward to.

Oh, and if you want to be part of it, come to the evaluation and startup meeting this weekend in Aarhus.

[Reading Group] Tropical Zombies

So, I finally got around to reviewing the scenario that I chose myself: Tropical Zombies!

I stumbled upon Tropical Zombies around a year ago, when I needed a scenario to play with the people in the Swansea Roleplaying Society. That required a scenario with few enough handouts that I could translate it in the minimal time I had available. And for that, Tropical Zombies is ideal. All the characters are one page – between them! Yep, that’s right, two rows of three characters, with a picture, basic stats like “Part,” “Sex,” and “Age,” a name, selected skills, selected weapons, background and a quote – and only the background is in Danish. Just what I needed.

But I didn’t just pick it for the easy translatable characters. I picked it – and opened it in the first place to look at the characters – because it looked fun. And guess what? It is.

Haff you met my gut Freund, Der Doktor?

Six American teenagers find themselves stuck in the Amazon jungle when their bus is pushed over a cliff. Luckily, a sleepy little town just happens to nearby. The townsfolk all praise Der Doktor, who lives nearby and is the great benefactor of the town. Soon, however, the peace is gone as zombies descend upon the unfortunate teens.

The characters parody classic horror movie cliché as much as the plot does. We have Janet Goodgirl and Mary-Lou Bimbeau, as well as Jonathan Gheek and DUNC. They each fulfill a character cliché, such as the “token asian” and the “boorish quarterback,” and each character description contains an estimate of how long that character is likely to survive, based on their moral character and likeability. The skills further enforce the stereotypes, giving DUNC “Beer Drining 85 %” and “Cow  Tipping 75 %,” while Janet Goodgirl has “Moralize 70 %” and “Hysterical Screaming 45 %.”

The final part of the scenario is a few advices on how to enforce the movie cliché. In many ways, a very minimalist scenario without long preambles, gm instructions or NPC descriptions.

And yet, it works

The scenario, as written, is in many ways as the movies it emulates: very typical and without grand inventions in plot or production. Sure, the layout and drawings are quite good, and the whole thing is mercifully brief and easy to navigate. But the scenes are sketchy, and the plot is linear and railroading. As I said in the beginning of this review, I played this scenario with great success. So, what’s the secret to success in the zombie infested jungle?

To metaplay.

One game sidebar contains the advice to play the game as a B-movie. Not just to plot it as a B-movie, and to use as many clichés as possible. No, to actually pretend this is a cheap movie, and to describe how microphones enteres the picture frame, and how you can clearly see the cheap make-up on the zombies. The bus-driver and the shopkeeper are played by the same actor, and the scenery may fall down at any moment. The players are really actors, and the GM is the director – who may yell “cut!” and demand another take of the scene. It’s a brilliant idea, and one that can quickly take the scenario from the amusing to the absolutely hilarious.

When I played it, however, we took it one step further.

Anyone will have heard horrible tales of on-set drama. And honestly – who believe that Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson really are the heroes they portray?

With that in mind, we played a significant part of the game outside of the camera’s view, with the actors playing out their own personal intrigues and petty fights. And of course, the actors weren’t necessarily anything like their characters. “Michael Goodguy” was really a lecherous, stuck-up SOB, who was disliked by everyone – and so on. The result was absolutely, rolling-on-the floor hilarious. As a gm, I often didn’t get to say a word – but I didn’t mind, because I was in stitches by the players’ antics.

And so, that is the beauty of Tropical Zombies. It’s not what is in the text of the scenario that is so brilliant, but what it allows the players and the GM to do.

So if you want to have a night of fun without any pretensions to art or deep emotional development, Tropical Zombies is definitely worth a look.

So, my usual summaries:

What can we learn?

  • Sometimes, the brilliance is not was is in the scenario, but what isn’t (even if a scenario should always strive to guide the gm and players well).
  • A character doesn’t need to be long to be useful for great play.

Who should play this game?

  • Anyone can play this game.
  • The game game will benefit from players who are able to improvise to the benefit of the group. That means finding a tone and doing silly without it derailing the game completely, and without hogging the spotlight. Also, it requires players who can relax, and accept the silly – pretentious or artsy players may not find the game funny.
  • The gm should be equally comfortable railroading with extreme prejudice, guiding the players along the predetermined plotline, and sitting back and allow the players to take over the game with their riffing clichés and wackiness.

Written too hastily, and not penetrating as deeply as I had hoped when choosing the scenario. But, alas, my time is brief at the end of the year, and I’d rather get it done (like they do in Copenhagen (one may still hope in this 11th hour)) than have a perfect review stuck in my head.

[Reading Group] And the next piece is…

I have, by a unanimous vote (Johs was the man, and the vote was his) been chosen to select the next scenario for the reading group.
That left me to decide which criteria to use. One of the great things about the reading group has been getting to read many different and interesting shapes the genre “scenario” can take. So I could definitely choose something that I really want to read.
On the other hand, one of the main reasons for this whole endeavour is to highlight scenarios that have not received enough attention, scenarios that we think other people should read – and play, of course.

And so, these are the scenarios I considered, but didn’t choose (a list I provide as much for my own benefit, so that I may come back to it next time I have to choose):

  • Den Gale Kong George: I played this at my first Fastaval, and was very impressed with it. Besides, I would like to read one of Mikkel’s scenarios, but have never gotten around to it. HOWEVER: It’s not as if Mikkel needs advertising, being already one of the brightest stars in the Fastaval sky.
  • Dragens Dom: I’ve read, but not played this scenario. It looks neat – HOWEVER I have no personal experience with it, and since I’ve already read it, I would rather read something else.
  • Occulus Tertius: I played this a long, looong time ago – in fact, it may have been my first Fastaval scenario ever. HOWEVER: I have no idea about the qualities of it, and remember it as a rather conventional game – so I don’t really want to endorse it before I’ve read it.
  • Memoratoriet: I’ve always been curious about this game. Besides, it’s a larp, and I want to further larps as a scenario form. HOWEVER Morten was one of the writers on Memoratoriet, so it wouldn’t be proper for him to review it. Besides, I want to play it, not read it. And is it even available online?

This leaves this as my choice:

  • Nantunaku Manga, by Malik Hyltoft. This was the first scenario I played at Fastaval 2005, and I had the great privilege of having Malik as GM for it. It won the Audience Otto that year, something I thought was well deserved – it was the same year I played Den Gale Kong George, and while that was quite an experience, it was nowhere near as much fun as Nantunaku Manga. Since then, I have run it a couple of time, and I have a great fondness for it – for several reasons that I shall not gush about here, but wait until the proper review, so that a) you’ll have a reason to read that, and b) my co-reviewers won’t be influenced by me in their reading of the scenario.

And there you have it. I am anxious to know whether you will be as fond of it as I have been, and whether my recollection of it can stand up to scrutiny.

Reading Group: Unik

I had decided that I didn’t have time to do a reading group review this month – then I started reading the scenario, and decided I might not HAVE the time, but that I wanted to MAKE the time.

Because Unik is rather quite unlike any of the other scenarios we’ve looked at in the Reading Group. Locked Doors may have left the resolution of the game firmly in the hands of the players, and the Mirrored Reality may have been purposefully unspecific in its instructions to the GM – but both are firmly in the business of telling a story – a specific story concerning some specific characters in a specific location.

Unik is also in the storytelling business – but it doesn’t tell a specific story, it contains no set locations, and its characters are archetypes and functions within a greater, archetypical story: the story of lovers that meet, fall in love, only to fall apart and start the cycle all over again (there, I gave the ending away). All the specifics are invented by the players during play.

In fact,Unik reminds me more of a storytelling Indie game than a scenario – a story game with individual characters and a firm framework to govern collective storytelling (I imagine Polaris or maybe Shock or In A Wicked Age to work like this).

Oh, I’d better remember to say that Unik was written by Klaus Meier Olsen, and won the Jury Special Price at Fastaval in 2005.

Unique Toolbox

Superficially, Unik contains at last some of the trappings we expect from a scenario: a number of scenes in order and a group of characters. But the characters rotate and mutate, and the players set the scenes rather than the GM or even the gamewright. In many ways, the “scenario” is more like a tool box that will allow players and GM to create a story of a certain kind

Characters are divided up in two parts that are brought together to form a starting point for what you are going to play. On one hand, each player has an archetype, defining an approach to love and relationships: the Hunter, the Beast, the Ascetic and the Profet. On the other hand, there are four Positions that move from player to player from scene to scene. The Positions define what function or role you will have in the scene – either Lover, Beloved, Friend or Enemy.

So, do the specific characters you make follow the Positions or stay with the archetypes? Funny you should ask – because it is not clearly stated in the game text. Two things are stated explicitly: First of all, the Positions remember what has happened to them earlier. This would indicate that the character follows the position. On the other hand, the text mentions that changing environment from scene to scene is entirely possible, having one scene in revolutionary America and the next in Ancient Greece.

I think it is done this way to allow the players to make the story they want to make, instead of a rigid game getting in the way of good storytelling. It is like a good writing prompt: it will provide structure to fuel your imagination, and not get in the way of it.

Alongside the characters, there are 13 scenes. Together, they form the story arc of a particular kind of love story, going from the initial meeting to the break and potential reconciliation. Each scene has a title that should be written on the blackboard in order to remind everyone what we are doing at the moment, a section that should be read aloud, a “GM only” section concerning the purpose of this scene and, finally, a number of suggestions about how this scene could look.

Finally, the text contains a section on three tools the GM can use to keep the game under control – he can Ask the players questions about the game world (“What does it look like?” “What is he doing now?” and so on and so forth); he can Instruct the players, thus dictating how the players should play things; finally, he can Narrate, taking active part in the storytelling and potentially creating a Narrator as a fifth (rather peculiar) character in the game.

Scene before?

The game is a very easy read, and enjoyable as well. It is built around a simple idea, using a great number of literary concepts without any remorse to create a potentially powerful tool for storytelling. I am particularly fond of the way the game is fixed very firmly around a number of archetypes and archetypical story structures.

There are issues with it as well, however. The number of scenes seems rather large, and they are very fixed in their place in the structure, without giving good guidance to the GM about making the scene do what it’s supposed to do. Several scenes underline the importance of the Lover and Beloved not breaking up yet – why not let them, skipping scenes if this would serve the story better.

Also, the game seems to have a very fixed idea about what a relationship is, and how they develop. It is not for me to say how accurate that idea is – but what if the players do not agree with this idea? A gamewright should of course be allowed to tell the story they want to tell – just as a writer, a painter or a movie director. And if you write a very specific game with fleshed out story, characters and location, you can allow yourself great control over the development of the story. However, the more of the story you want the players to provide, the more space you should provide for the players to shape the story after their own mind. Now, I can see how each scene in Unik has a function in the story arc – but it might have been a good idea to allow for some flexibility, in case a story develops in a very different way from the standard layed out by the game.

Arrogance and schoolmasters

As much as I enjoyed reading the game, there are a couple of places that made me wince. The worst is this:

“Desværre er spillere ofte forbløffende inkompetente, så de kan sandsynligvis ikke håndtere det ansvar, scenariet giver dem”

[“Unfortunately, players are often astoundingly incompetent, and so, they probably can’t handle the responsibility the scenario gives them”]

Now, I shall freely admit that I have often had the urge to yell loudly at players, at Fastaval or otherwise. But equally often, I have raged against gamewrights who believe that their text is blatantly simplistic and self-explanatory and that all the GM’s reading their game will think (and GM) like they do, when their text is really an obscure mess, understandable only by themselves and the close circle of their friends who think like they do.

In any case, no matter your feeling towards the people (“cretins”) who is going to play (“ruin”) your scenario (“masterpiece”), expressing such arrogance is not going to win you any friends. And it is NOT going to help your scenario being run smoothly if you start out predisposing your GM against your players. In fact, with all the focus this game gives to making the GM a facilitator of player creating, it seems downright counterproductive.

On that note, I’ll turn to the other quote I want to mention here:

“Så vær ikke bange for at irettesætte dine spillere, hvis de ikke udfører deres funktion [som dikteret af deres Position]  godt nok. I sidste ende er det til alles bedste.”

[“So don’t be afraid to reprimand your players if they don’t perform their function [as dictated by their Position] well enough. In the end, it is the best for everybody”]

NO, NO, NO! This is probably one of the worst pieces of advice I have heard concerning how to get people to contribute and open up to common storytelling. Kids, don’t do this at home. If you start rebuking your players you risk them being a) mad at you for challenging their ability to play their character (in particular if they feel superior/equal to you), b) sulky and uncooperative (if they feel almost equal to you), or c) afraid to contribute to the story (if they feel inexperienced or insecure in their own abilities). None of these are desireable in a game – especially not when you can’t play around a noncooperative player, as in this game, where everybody will be playing a main character approximately two scenes out of four.

Now, I do admit that I am reading this advice like the devil reads the bible, and that it might be appropriate to point out if a player is not living up to the Position he’s playing – it is easy to being confused at the changing Positions, and start just playing your Archetype. My issue is simply with the tone of the advice – especially since some GM’s are blathering idiots who will take advice like that seriously.

Shall I compare thee to a Unik day

Arrogance aside, this game is, by the read of it, a gem. If nothing else, it’s worth reading through for inspiration, both for writers of Danish style scenarios and “Indie”-style gamewrights. Playing this would probably be a grand, if possibly a bit surreal, experience. It also exposes players to the important role played by archetypes and schematic stories in human thought.

It is also an interesting study in player-GM relationships, casting all the players as semi-GM’s, instead asking the GM to moderate this “GMs’ conference.” Not that it is unique – many other (newer) games, Indie games in particular, have a similar distribution of narrative power.

Unik may not be as unique as when it came out. But it is still solid craftsmanship, still well worth playing, or reading, for that matter. Besides, it is one of the relatively rare scenarios that can be replayed or even read, then played, without it taking anything away from the enjoyment

What can we learn?

  • Make sure the freedom of the players matches the expectations placed on the players.
  • Don’t predispose your GMs against their players – especially not when you need them to work together so closely.
  • Simplicity and brevity are no crimes, as long as you tell your players and GMs all they need.

Who should play this?

  • The players should not expect to be fed a great story. Rather, they should be keen on taking equal part in the storytelling, not being afraid to get in there and define the game we’re playing
  • As the players take more control over the story, so the GM retires. The GM who runs this should not be a control freak, yearning to perform and entertain the players. Rather, he should be content to oversee the players’ game, jumping in only when necessary.

Also read Morten’s, Johs,’ Thais’ and Simon’s reviews

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.

Reading Group: Den Spejlvendte Virkelighed (The Mirrored Reality)

The Mirrored Reality (Den Spejlvendte Virkelighed) is a scenario, written by Michael G. Schmidt for Fastaval in 1995. It was nominated for the Otto for “Best Scenario,” and has been chosen by Morten as the next scenario for the reading group.
Last time, I chose a very rigid structure for my review. Looking back, that turned out to be a bad decision – the review turned out in a very chopped up way, and I had a hard time drawing a coherent picture of the scenario. This time, I am reverting to a more free form (appropriate, since it is more freeform), though I am keeping two of the “boxes” from last time: “What can we learn?” and “Who should play this?”

The Mirrored Reality

Fear. It’s about as basic as it gets. Animal and man alike dance to its tune, playing the age old game of fight or flight. But for us, the primary fear is not the fear of being eaten. Rather, it is the fear that the world might not work – that the world we think we know is a lie; that we really live in a universe where we don’t know the rules.

Because fear is rooted so deeply within us, it also fascinates us more than anything else in the world. We seek it out, though preferably when it’s safe, in books and movies – and in role-playing games.

The mirrored reality is a game that wants to provoke fear in the player. It does this in two ways: by presenting you with a world that conforms to the norms of neither player nor character, and by evoking terrible images of violence and degradation far beyond the bounds of comfort.

The game is set in the universe of the role-playing game, Kult. In this universe, as in quite a few other (WoD and Unknown Armies spring to mind) the world we see is an illusion, enforced on us by some other entity. But this reality is beginning to fall apart – and the players are some of the unfortunate souls who happen to fall into the cracks.

The Mirrored Reality is set in a generic American city, with a rather generic set of characters, each with their own personal trauma – the Jock, the Beauty Queen, the Pizza Deliveryman, the Artist, the Religious Nut and the Average, Suburbian kid. All except the Pizza Deliveryman are college students. The game starts by showing the characters in their idyllic normalcy, on their way to a movie. But soon, they are thrown in the way of a strange, horrifying set of events, revealing secrets and tearing away the fundament of their life along the way.

Seen descriptions

The scenario is built up as a string of scenes. Each scene is described with a very lyrical version of how that scene might play out, plus a number of pointers as to npcs, subplots and so on in each scene. The pointers, when they are there, take up the bottom third of the page, the description of the scene taking up the rest.

There are many ways of describing scenes. Sometimes, you have a fairly thorough script, with bits to read out and “if the players do this, this happens” guides. Sometimes you have a very general set-up, and maybe a few pointers as to possible outcomes.

The Mirrored Reality takes a different approach – what we might call the “subjective description.” The scenario gives no precise, objective description of the events of the scene. It only hints at what the scene contains, instead giving a subjective portrayal, letting the GM share the experience she should attempt to convey.

This is an admirable attempt. It is not, however, one I’d be quick to copy. It leaves the GM with only a hazy idea of what should happen, and requires a large amount of preparation and improvisation from the GM to pull off. Most problematic is the fact that most of the scenes never tell you how to transition from one scene to the next. Why, for instance, do the characters suddenly decide to go visit the Deliveryman’s mother? The game just assumes that this is the natural thing to do at this particular point in the game.

No-choice adventure!

The lacking transitions is even more of a problem because the game is so highly linear. If this game had been a “Choose your own Adventure!”-book, most paragraphs would read something like: “Whatever you do, go to paragraph whichandwhatever.” A few of the scenes have subplots to spice things up, but they are mostly “scenes-in-the-scene” that the GM can apply to one or more of the characters. And none of them seem to lead towards the next scene.

In the beginning of the text, Michael G. Schmidt states that this scenario is for people who know the genre, and who therefore don’t need to be dragged around by the nose. That is an admirable sentiment. It just isn’t the kind of game I see when I read the text of “the Mirrored Reality.”

Of course, there may be reasons why it’s written that way. In the beginning, Michael G. Schmidt also states that horror is a very personal thing, and that he expects the GM to choose a direction with the game that suits that particular GM. That might also mean that he expects the GM to fill out the gaps in the game. But he doesn’t say so specifically – and he doesn’t give helpful suggestions along the way, to help less experienced GM’s. The subjective scene description seems like a good idea, but it can’t stand on its own. That makes for confused GMs. There is even one scene, and a fairly important one at that, in which I simply don’t understand what is supposed to happen, at all (scene 8, for those who are reading along).

Laying it out

That is not to say that this game is bad. It contains many potentially powerful moments, and with the right group, it could probably make for a great evening of roleplaying.

The layout is also amongst the better. The text is nicely laid out, in decent fonts, and spiced up with evocative pencil sketches. Unfortunately, the text contains a lot of typos and spelling errors that add considerably to the obscurity of the text.

There are two aspects of the layout I am particularly pleased with.

The first is the small band that runs at the bottom of the pages, which I mentioned earlier. It contains little titbits of gamestuff relevant to what is going on on the rest of the page, and thus, it breaks up the very linear structure that many scenario-texts have. A scenario, by nature, contains a great deal of alinearity. But too many scenarios present their material in a mostly linear form, instead of breaking up the form to accommodate the content. The Mirrored Reality does this quite well.

The second thing is the players’ descriptions of the characters. They are made to be folded along the middle, and placed in front of the player (it doesn’t say so specifically, but this is how I read the layout). One side contains information to the player, the other contains the other characters’ views of that character. I like the idea that everyone 1) will have their character’s name and picture in front of them while playing, and 2) that everyone knows roughly what everyone thinks of the others. I can see how that might help the interaction between the players.

All’s well…

All in all, there is a potentially powerful story in play here, even if the presentation of it is less than perfect. The story presented contains both the hair-raising horror of the Lovecraftian, transcendent, unfathomable terrors from beyond, and the heart-pumping, stomach-churning fear of human atrocity.

But really, despite what the game may say, it is not the Lovecraftian, but the human side of it that will have players in its grip. We may be scared by beasts and terrified by the unknowable. But that which can really send send icy water down our spine is the malice that can hide in human hearts. Even in the Mirrored Reality.

What can we learn:

  • Layout is important – it can work with or against your text. Try to make the document support the nonlinear structure of your game.
  • Speaking of which, if you make linear games, make sure that your GM knows how to make the transition from one scene to another. And, of course, that the players will accept the railroading.
  • Subjective descriptions are an interesting concept to work with – but make sure you still tell the GM how to run the scene.

Who should play this game?

  • A group that can accept the premise of the game: that there is one, and only one, way through the game.
  • In Model terms, Immersionists are the most likely type of players to truly enjoy the game, I feel.
  • The GM should enjoy, or at least accept, fleshing out the game and setting the mood according to her style.

And there we have it. Done in far better time than last time, though I think I’ll let it mature a bit before posting it, so it will come out around the same time as the others’.

Just a historical note, towards the end: after my review of Laaste Døre, Kristoffer supplied some helpful info on the historical context of the game, something I am completely oblivious about – I started roleplaying around ’97-’98, and I didn’t participate in Fastaval until 2006. I had questioned why Thomas Munkholt had included such a loose system as he had in Laaste Døre. Apparently, the year from 1994 to 1995 would have made a world of difference, being the year when “system-less” (what is the proper English term? Someone told me that freeform is something different) roleplaying really came through in Denmark.

Reading this scenario, I can believe it. This game in about as “system-less” as they get, throwing flowcharts and structures to the wind to focus on the subjective experience of the players.

Reading Group: Laaste Døre (Locked Doors)

Johannes Busted has started a reading group with the purpose of reading and reviewing scenarios from the online repository, Projekt R’lyeh. To me, this is quite a brilliant endeavour, with both altruistic and selfish perspectives: the altruistic is that it will make accessible some of the scenarios of the somewhat unapproachable R’lyeh. Unapproachable, because if you don’t know the games, it can be hard to know which game will be interesting for you to read. Also, it may kickstart a discussion of what constitutes a good scenario, something that is always worthwhile. The selfish perspective is this: that I get an incentive to read some scenarios, and someone to point me towards interesting games to read. It is eeexcellent!

What follows, then, is my review of the first scenario, Laaste Døre (“Locked Doors”) by Thomas Munkholt Sørensen – an oldie from 1994, chosen by Johannes. According to its Alexandria page, it won an Otto for Best Handout.

I have considered how to review the games so that it will be easy for me to do, and be of some use to the reader. I have decided to do it very systematically, dividing it up into a number of questions: “What is it?” (a brief description of the game), “What are the aesthetical qualities of the game?” (a fluffy description of my thoughts on the game as art – pretentious? Moi?), “What can we learn from this?” (what should gamewrights, and maybe players/gms as well, learn from this scenario?), “Who should play this?” and “What issues could I foresee with this game?”

And so, without any more ado, i give you…

A review of “Laaste Døre”

What is it?

Laaste Døre is a game about a group of people who are being made into scapegoats by the byzantine goverment of “the State,” the country in which they live. They are locked inside “the Department” until one of them confess to having comitted the theft of a certain, classified document. The game consists of the players trying to unearth each other’s secrets and save their own hide. Meanwhile, strange things are going on inside the building. The game quotes Kafka as a major inspiration – and it shows! The dehumanizing workings of the government come across as as inhuman and horrifying as a good, lovecraftian terror.

What are its aesthetical qualities?

I find the game to be quite an interesting read. It dumps the players into a dilemma with neither an easy nor a desirable exit, and provides the GM with means to keep up and escalate the creepy feelings the scenario lives off.

Also, the many strange occurences and the circuitous logic of the “Government” provides a surreal experience. In spite of this, the game will still seem like a coherent narrative to the players.

Apart from all that, the game document in itself is a very nice read. Nicely laid out, and with many apropriate pencil drawings, the language of the words themselves take you into their universe, making the GM feel it before even adding players. Very nice.

Who should play this?

Relatively experienced players and GMs are required for this game to succeed. The GM needs to be able to keep a very light grip on – or even let go of – the reins, and only intervene when the dynamics of the group require it. The players needs to be able to do intrigue, but should play, not to win, but to enjoy the bittersweet nectar of futility. If you’re playing this scenario, and your game has winners, you’re doing it wrong.

What issues do I see with the game?

  • The game has a very rudimentary system, with three numbered stats: the character’s loyalty to the state and their personal integrety are set on a scale, so that the sum of the two will always be 10. The character’s willpower represents their selfpreservation drive, and is supposed to be used by the GM as a way of forcing the players into gradual meltdown – a kind of safety valve against wrong players, I guess. However, the system doesn’t really explain what the effects of the system is supposed to be. How does one cave in? Why not just roleplay this – if you have a player who needs this to tell him his character is falling apart, can he play the meltdown anyway? And what are the effect of canges to your Loyalty/indviduality? The rules make no explicit explanation of this, and leaves you to work it out for yourself.
  • The game provides the Gm with inspiration for two kinds of little notes to slip the players – memories and suspicion. I guess it makes sense to ask the GM to write out suspicions themselves, as they can then take into consideration what has been going on in the particular instantiation of the scenario – but why not make preprinted handouts of memories that could just be cut out and handed out?
  • I’m not sure if the players will be able to figure out what the story of the game actually is. There is a detailed story in the GM section, which is the real story of what is going on. I don’t think the players will be able to piece this story together in play. If not, it’s a shame. I know that in some games, it’s best to keep players (and characters) somewhat in the dark, in order to rack up suspence. I just don’t think that is neccesary in this game.
  • The game asks the GM to set up the room as an imitation of the main location of the game, and encourages you to do things in semilive. It still has some scenes that are definitely to be done in a traditional P&P style, and it never discusses how, and when, best to go from one to the other. A luxury issue, I know – but still.
  • The game is apparently intended to run real time. But I think it may be stretching it a bit that this game is set to run for six hours. I’d say four to six. On the other hand, if the game is forcibly halted after six hours…

What can we learn from this?

Locked Doors can serve as example in a number of areas:

  • Write story text, even if it’s GM’s eyes only metatext, in a language appropriate to the feel of the scenario. This game is mostly written in a language that brings to mind the Kafkaesque universe we’re set in, and that makes it easy to get in the mood. Unfortunately, it breaks it a few times, and that also takes the top of the mood – but mostly, it’s good writing, and worth thinking about when you’re writing you own game.
  • Tell the GM how you imagine he should run the game. The game starts out with a relatively long description of the different roles of the GM – something I’ve sorely missed in many scenarios I’ve GM’ed at Fastaval. I wan’ you to hold my haaand. Very well done.
  • If you want a homebrewed system, fine – but remember to give us very specific instructions about what it should look like in action.

And so, this review is brought to a halt – finally! It’s been underway for many days now, and I’ve even recieved a very gentle prodding from Johannes as to the whereabouts of my review. Well, here it is. Now go play it – and tell me how it works in real life. The game certainly looks good enough to try.

Also read Morten Greis,’ Simon Pettitt’s and Frikard Ellemand’s – not to mention Johannes’ own. I’ve read none of them, as I believe reading other reviews would colour mine – and I want you to read my undiluted opinion. I might go back on it later, when I hear good arguments from the other readers, but for now, I stand by the above – even if it is, alas, not the best I feel I can do, but only the best I had time to do.

Allnighter: Imperiet

After our pizza dinner, I set down with four players to play Imnperiet. We agreed on two humerous games: “The Butter Forger” by Olle J0nsson and “Averland Averessen” by Johannes Busted.

Averland Abendessen

We started out with Johannes’ game. Quickly arranging a “kitchen” out of tables, we placed dice around the place to be readily available. The game is organised into four timed “courses,” each including a number of suggested scenes to play. I started each course by reading the menu, and asking them, what their characers were doing at that exact moment. Then I would count down, starting play. We did it “semi-larp”-style, playing out most things, but narrating a lot of things. I would tell them when things woould happen, then they would react. At a certain point they would roll the dice, attempting to vanquish the opposition.

The game was a big success. Most of the time, we had people running around, shouting, screaming, sweating. Pretty soon, they would start doing things when I was paying attention to someone else or the trying to decide what to do next, just as I soon lost all count of their dicerolling. In the end, we were tired, sweaty, and sore with laughter.

We did have some critiques, however – listed here, as far as I can remember them, along with other pieces of advice and shareworthy experience:

  • Johs suggests running several scenes at once – but playing semi-larp and with only one GM, that seemed almolst copmpletely impossible. I tried it in the beginning, but in the end, I had enough just trying to keep up with running one scene at a time. An assisting GM /NPC-player would have been ideal, freeing me to narrate and moderate the game, instead of jumping between playing and moderating.
  • We had saved a number of lids from pizza trays. These were priceless as “trays” for the players to imitate carrying things.
  • The characters were far too busy to ever develop their personal plots. They requested a bit of calm to enable them to talk a bit and to catch up to the pace.
  • Some suggested plots involving the character’s internal relationships might have been appropriate – maybe telling Rofus (the chef) “Geo (the cook) is cutting the carrots in uneven slices.”
  • The Skaven events were impersonal, and needed a bit of a twist. I liked how it (and most of the other plots) escalated during play – but you needed something that made a bit more sense, even if it was the “buffer plot,” being something you could always introduce several times in the same course.
  • The characters were not ideally suited to this kind of fast play. By the time Tomas von Grieg, the poetry lover, enters the kitchen, Geo’s player had completely forgotten that HE wrote those poems. Maybe characters written mostly in bullets, might have been better, pointing out very clearly which points were important. This would also help the GM to tailour plots to each character.

But in the end, we really enjoyed Averland Averessen. Props to Johs.

The Butter Forger

The next game didn’t quite live up to the first. We set up a courtroom and went through a number of witnesses, but when one player had to leave after 45 minutes, we decided to stop. We just weren’t having a lot of fun, though were were laughing a bit.

On one hand, this surprised me – I thought the buzz was, that the Butter Forger was one of the games that people had really liked from Imperiet. On the other hand, I didn’t find it the least bit odd – when I read the scenario, I could never envision how the game could really work.

One part of the problem was of course, that the prosecuter and the defence attourney didn’t really get into the characters, not even once shouting “objection!” And their questioning of the witnesses weren’t the sharpest I’ve seen. On the other hand, I think Ole very firmly put his finger on the problem when he said: “What’s the point? The game clearly states that he’s guilty – so why are we doing this? There is nothing to help us achive a curve of intensity, no guide to what we should attempt to play for.” The point of the game seems to be in the comedy of the witnesses – but comedy with out direction and purpose has about as much bite as butter dentures – forged or not.

[Lumberjack Academy] On the eve of the workshop

So, I’m sitting here, at a quarter to twelve, the night before I’m doing my first workshop in Larpwrighting, and I’m not exactly feeling ready for it. Not that I’m unprepared – I have a bunch of excercises and good points for the budding lumberjacks I’ll be meeting tomorrow, and I have a good idea of the flow of the two weekends. I just don’t know if I’m setting the level right – I might be setting it too low, and they’ll be bored, or I might be setting it too high, and they won’t understand a thing. Ah, well – I’m good at improvising, and if I need a think, I have bundles of little excercises to throw at them while I go off to a corner to have a serious chat with my brain.

At the very least, I feel I have a set of points to go over that will enable them to make simple larps very easily. There may be other ways, there may be better ways, and this way of doing things certainly has a few weaknesses if you want to use it for groups of players over 10-20 people.

Posed as questions, the points are (only in very rough order):

  • Who are the players? This question is one of the two most important questions – obiously, as this is what determines the “roles” of the “role-play.” The first answer to this should most often be a group – “a clique of high school bullies” or “a squad of police(wo)men,” and then elaborated later into the individual members – the point being that a larp works better for the individual player if he feels like he has a strong belonging to a certain group, but if you determine individual members first and try to make them into a coherent whole afterwards, you run the risk of making a group that doesn’t have any real connection to each other. Of course, this way, you risk having someone there because “they have to be in the group” – something you have to watch out for. Note, that external people that are important to the group should be considered as well. Maybe the nerdy boy the clique’s picking on, or the police seargent’s wife. And how are we going to see that? In other words, what kind of props or costume will identify the players as belonging to the group, and comunicate who the individual members of the group are?
  • Where are we? In many cases, the excact location of the characters can be changed while retaining many of the dynamics of the play. But it must still be though of with care, as it gives colour and has great effect on the point below. Of course, sometimes, the location dictate the characters, instead of the other way around, as with the game “Boxen” (“the Box”), from this years Fastaval, the premise of which was (as far as I heard) sticking four people in a blocked elevator, and seeing what happened. And how are we going to see that? As with characters, one must give careful consideration to how to communicate what kind of a place the characters are in. A sofa and a coffee table makes a living room, while you need some sort of workdesk for an office.
  • What will make the players move? This may seem an odd point, but it is important nonetheless. One of my philosophy professors once told us that “every difference must make a diffference” – and if the characters are just sitting or standing around a table and talking, why is it different from a tabletop game? I made this mistake with my game, Karma Airlines from Hyggecon 2007, and it was clearly inhibiting the players that they were stuck just looking at each other over the table. Also, you can’t, as with one game I was in recently, just plant leads and expect the players to find them – they will only find it if they have a reason to go there. We did all right with the Bute Will, in which we had three different rooms and was serving dinner in one, tea in another, plus the characters would want to speak privately with one another. Also, there were plenty of props, inviting exploration. In other words, you must make sure there’s a reason to utilize the room as a room, and not just as a place to contain your discussion.
  • What is the conflict? Here, we get to the “play” part of “role-play.” Each player should have something that makes it important to him to go up against one or more of the other players. Sometimes, you can have one conflict that everyone has an interest in, but often it will make sense to have individual ones as well, to improve the odds that everyone has something to do. And why do the players care? Another pitfall is making conflicts that the players just ignore. Each conflict must feel pressing and important – preferably with both NPCs and other players pressing the conflict if the player himself doesn’t get around to it. And what will the pacing be like? If there is one thing that can kill an otherwise good story, it is slowing it down. The players should feel the need to press on with the conflict, rather than waiting around for the perfect way to strike. Of course, the prescence of the other players’ characters  can create some pacing – but only if they are making a grab for the Golden McGuffin. In the Bute Will, we had the solicitor announce that the police was on their way, thus demanding immediate action. In Karma Airlines, I hade a (in my oppinion) a stroke of genious: the players were placed outside the normal timestream and told they had “one minute” to come up with a solution – thus giving them a time frame they weren’t sure of, yet with a feeling of urgency – plus, it allowed me to yell out “30 seconds have passed” when I felt they needed a little prodding.
  • How are the game masters going to interact with play, including starting and (especially) ending it? This question is more of a practical meta-question than the kind of scripting question the others are. It is still important to consider, however. At least in Denmark, the concensus is, that when play is started, the GM shouldn’t interfere. That means that the GM’s primary way of both observing and interacting with the story is through npc’s (even if many Danes seem to be experimenting with webcams). These must be thought up in advance. The GM should also know in advance how to start the game, and preferably have an idea about how to end the game.

These are the words for now. I must to bed, having spent far too long writing this. But, ah well, it’ll be good. I’ll give a status update, maybe tomorrow, but definitely when the whole thing is over.