Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Quest Begins

"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start"
- Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music

SPOILERS abound for those playing in my Christmas game.  You have been warned.  I've also been having issues with pictures.  The way I put them in last week isn't working this week.  Still need to figure that out.  I'll try and tweet the pics that I've wanted to use for this blog.
I believe that HOW you start an adventure is just as important as the specific adventure you play.  The beginning needs to give players a reason to dive into their characters and care about what is going on in the world around them.  In some cases, the characters need to be introduced to one another, while in others, they need to give each other some in-character interactions.

As I plan to run Evil Tide, I've started to figure out how this adventure will begin.  Here are the issues I've found myself with.
  1. Many of the players don't know each other in real life.
  2. Their characters don't know each other either.
  3. Somehow, they will all have to get on the same ship for the adventure.
So now I've found myself tackling these problems.

For issue number one, I've come to the conclusion that it will be impossible for everybody to meet one another before the game.  So, I've ignored that issue and decided to focus on issues number two and three.

For issue two, I've spent considerable time with various players exploring their characters backstories.  I'm going to give the examples on how everything has worked out so far.

The adventure will start off in the city of Genkar, specifically in the Docks area, in a bar named Sharleena's (my players name it this back in one of our adventures, and so I've kept it.)

My friend P@ is playing Niz, a pirate.  My other friend, Sara, is playing a human female pirate named Vivienne.  They two have never met in real life.  Niz is not aware of Vivienne.  Yet through my own questioning of Sara and figuring out her role in the game, the two characters already have a history.

Sara has informed me that Vivienne is from Genkar.  This already gives her involvement and an interest in the starting city.  As a pirate, she also has connections to Janubiz, one of the major power players in Genkar.  When Niz was last in my group, he had earned Janubiz's wrath by not paying to dock his ship at Genkar.  Niz came off as too arrogant, and has made himself an enemy.  Vivienne is ready to get the jump on Niz.

At this point in time, P@ has absolutely no idea what is being planned.  He, like Niz, has no idea about Vivienne or anything about what Janubiz has in store for him.  I did all this without giving away any secrets to Sara, or telling her, "hey you should do this".  It was all a matter of discussing character building with her, and the story grew from there.

The conversation went something like this (via texting).

Me: The story will start in Genkar.  There's a pirate guild of sorts.
Sara: Vivenne would definitely have connections there then.
Me: So she would know Janubiz, the head of all the privateer activities?
Sara: Definitely.  Would she know any other pirates?
Me: There are definitely those she would have heard of.  Would she know Nizumo Misoka?
Sara: Yes.  She's probably not his biggest fan.
Me: So she would eagerly report his whereabouts to Janubiz?
Sara: Yes

As you can see, the entire thing plays out pretty simply when all you have to do is prompt your players.

As for issue number three, I've pretty much told everybody that we need reasons for why their character would be boarding a ship.  Many have given solid answers.  With that, I will be ready to start.

With the various maps that I've been constructing, I also feel like I will have various breaks/pauses in my sessions.  For example, the players will start in Genkar, then we will have a break while I put together the map of them landing on Angler Isle and battling sahuagin.  I will have to make more maps for when they explore the caves, and once again for the deep waters where they face the Baron.  I think those breaks will help the players stay focused, as well as converse amongst themselves about the game.

As always, be sure to leave comments below, and follow me on Twitter @artificeralf

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