I was very graciously asked to contribute to a project currently funding through Kickstarter. It’s called The Queen’s Cavaliers and is by Caoimhe Snow. I have been asked to create an adventure for the game if they make $9000.00. Since Kicktraq projects for it to trend much higher than that, I have already started thinking about what I am going to do in anticipation of the stretch goal getting fulfilled.
When I create adventures for my own purposes, I start with a brainstorm and generate a list of elements that I want to try and work in the story. I create a sandbox environment in which the story takes root. The underpinnings of this environment are important, and consist (for me) of factions and the interplay between them. Factions create important characters; characters supply motivation and ambition, and the conflicts between them create drama. Once I have an inkling of the central conflicts, I can start to envision the physical settings. I start to decide the power differentials: Who’s on top now? Who was recently but not any more? Who’s star is on the rise? Who had a tragedy? Who had a triumph?
The Curtain Rises
Once I have created this background I start thinking about how my players will start to interact with the setting. How will they get involved with this mess? Who in the setting will gain or lose from their involvement? This is the origin of the story for the player characters.
My task here is to provide you, a game master running The Queen’s Cavaliers, with enough prep so that you can pick up the adventure and start running it within a reasonably small amount of time.
This is where my style of GMing comes in. I cannot write an adventure that doesn’t have my style stamped on it in some way. I do not like to put the players “on rails”; in other words to create and maintain a linear plot. I want them to feel free to follow their own priorities.
Little Gold Stars
Still, there are little gold stars in my setting that I really want to show off: there are scenes that I really want to execute, characters I would like the players to meet, items I’d like them to find and use. There are talents and abilities I wish to bestow upon them, there are lessons I wish for them to learn.
But I am not going to drag the characters around by their noses!
So I just have to be patient, because all will be revealed in time – my fears in the past of “wasted” setting material have always been proven baseless. Nothing is ever wasted.
A spotlight of attention follows the characters, which means where they are not, there is shadow. And the clock is ticking. And other non player characters are pushing their agendas. This is not a failure, this is a functional story. The important thing is to keep track of these things and move those plots forward. This can be done with notes in the margin of the game, with overviews, with flow charts, and with special “meters” that fill up slowly to indicate the progression of events.
A good story for the characters has a beginning, middle and end. They must have a satisfying challenge and resolution before the end of the game session. They also need something to look forward to next time. In addition, the first adventure you run in a new game is critical, it will make or break the game with your group.
All of these things will need to be taken into account when I go to create the adventure for The Queen’s Cavaliers.
Next time I will give you a chance to see the new background starting to form as I establish the parts of TQCs setting I’ll be using. There won’t be a need for spoiler warnings because the critical path of the story you run will be your own. But you will get a chance to learn what benefit the adventure will be to you, the newest Queen’s Cavalier player.
Question for the audience:
Do you enjoy a sense of control as you where your story goes or are you OK with being in a linear story?