Hi all! Mark from the Pathfinder Chronicles here to say today and tomorrow my Blog is being taken over by +Craig Judd who has supplied me with some of his material for his up and coming game called PowerFrame RPG after a discussion on one of my recent blogs. If you want to find out more about the game after reading this or either of the two follow ups then join the community at Google+. That link will take you straight there.
|Craig Judd, designer of PowerFrame RPG|
One simple way to plan scenarios is to build them around a goal. The PCs either decide on a goal they want to achieve, or a goal may be presented by an employer or other NPC. Once they agree on the objective, the PCs work towards and either achieve or fail to achieve their goal. Reaching the goal may be a simple process, or it might require several steps. Particularly complex goals may actually require other goals to be achieved first, thus creating a chain or network of goals culminating in a climactic finale.
For a simple goal-based scenario, regardless of whether the goal is defined by the players or the GM, you need to know of the PCs:
- What is their goal?
- What steps are required to achieve it?
- What stands in their way?
- What will happen if they succeed?
- What will happen if they fail?
Some events are necessary to the scenario; most notably, recruiting the PCs if the quest isn’t self-defined. However, most other scenes are optional or will depend on decisions made by the players.
You may have some good ideas about what’s likely to happen, so make a few notes and think about the directions the game could go. Don’t get caught up defining every contingency or writing down every little thing that’s going to happen, though; you’re setting up situations, but the outcomes will be determined during the game.
Many things can stand between the PCs and their goal. Opposition can take the form of physical enemies, political or social conflict, restricted locations, or hidden information.
- Write down any NPC and creature stats for easy reference.
- Note the initial numbers and locations of enemies.
- Think about the opposition’s attitude and approach. (relaxed, alert, on edge, preparing for battle).
- Sketch out maps for any vital locations, or at least have a good idea of their layout in mind.
- Think up around three ways any hidden information might be discovered; these become clues.
Some things in the game world may depend on the passage of time, or require a series of steps to complete.
- A goal may need to be achieved by a certain time.
- An event may be happening on a certain day.
- A series of events may culminate in something big.
- The opposition’s plans may be coming to fruition.
Make a note of any important time- or event-dependent situations.
Write down the individual steps required for larger plans or events. Mark off steps as they are completed, or reorganise the list if some steps are thwarted and the plan must be changed. If all the steps are completed, the plan or event comes to fruition.
If vital steps are thwarted, the dependent event may never come to pass. A plan may have to be discarded, forcing the NPC to withdraw, regroup, and reconsider.
For a near-future game featuring an elite SWAT unit, the GM creates the following goal-based scenario.
The goal is to bust an illegal arms deal and arrest the high-ranking criminals behind it.
The police have already discovered the time and location of the deal. To achieve their goal, the SWAT unit will have to stake out a warehouse, then plan and execute an assault to catch the criminals in the act.
Opposing them are two groups of heavily-armed criminals. The location is owned by the seller.
The GM writes up the major criminal NPCs and uses a simple Archetype for their goons, assigns equipment, notes how many members each side has, and lists the weaponry that’s being sold. Both groups will be on edge and wary of being discovered.
The GM writes a timetable detailing how the deal would play out if nothing goes wrong, and also considers how both sides might react if the deal goes bad (escape plans, double-crosses and so on).
Since the warehouse will probably see combat, it warrants a reasonably detailed map.
If they succeed, they’ll deal a significant blow to two crime organisations, reducing their resources and keeping weapons off the street.
If they fail, some of the criminals may escape with the merchandise, which would see a proliferation of arms on the street and possibly even violence against the police.