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Greetings, hive-mind. I am curious if anyone has come across, or created, a BRP scenario outline? I do not have many BRP scenarios that I've bought, so I was wondering if anyone could point me toward a nuts and bolts adventure outline?Does Chaosium use a standard format, or is it pretty much individualized by each author? Is CoC the gold standard, or is it different for each world (Stormbringer vs. Pendragon vs. 7th Sea, etc.)? 

Thanks in advance.

 

GothmogIV

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What do you mean by "outline"?
Is it a publishing thing, "layout," the look/style of the page?
Or a "formula" for how much mystery vs combat vs puzzle, etc etc etc?

... or ... ?

CoC and RQG are both glorious, each in their own way; and (if you don't trust my word) award-winning!

Edited by g33k
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I think that every scenario is different, but many follow the Hero's Path. 

Something happens, you investigate, you find some stuff, you go somewhere, things happen and you come back.

However, that isn't really helpful.

A good scenario, in my opinion, is open-ended with lots of options. It sets a scene rather than tells a story. The story happens when people play the scenario, so each time a scenario is played it tells a different story.

Having NPCs in scenarios is good, as it fleshes the scenario out. having NPCs stats in a scenario is of limited use, as it restricts the scenario to PCs of certain ability levels. 

Having maps in scenarios is a good idea, but I am torn on them. Having really good scenarios makes me think that my maps are rubbish, but having rubbish maps isn't that useful. But, having sketch maps is OK for some areas.

Scenarios that say "The adventurers need to do this now" are, for me, not that good, as that is generally not how I do things. I prefer to set a scene and let the Players work out how they do things. Those are the scenarios that I prefer. Needing the Adventurers to speak to someone or do something causes massive problems when they don;t do it and can derail a poorly-written scenario.

The best scenarios, for me, are those that set scenes and get the Players to go with the scenes and the Adventurers can do things. The GM then just tells the Players what happens when they do those things.

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2 hours ago, soltakss said:

Scenarios that say "The adventurers need to do this now" are, for me, not that good, as that is generally not how I do things. I prefer to set a scene and let the Players work out how they do things.

This may drive straight to the heart of most published scenario problems -- an adventure being either written or perceived by the GM as a linear progression of contingencies.  You know:

A --> B --> C --> D --> Conclusion

...with no deviation from the path.  Can't get to D without going through C, and can't get to C without going through B, etc.  Continuing the analogy with a linear path, what you describe as a "scene" is a landscape or environment in which B, C, and D can be encountered in a variety of places and not necessarily in ordered succession.  And where sub-plot X --> Y --> Z may occur, but not necessarily affect A-B-C-D.

Getting back to the OP, where we ask where an all-purpose adventure outline can be found, I think we're going off into a branch of literary theory that relies more on a flowchart approach that may fan out and reiterate through characters, places, and events before arriving at an endpoint, rather than a traditional Three-Act Structure.

!i!

[Edit:  So, yeah, maybe the OP was looking for examples or explanation of the traditional Three-Act Structure.  I apologise for including an advertisement for the MasterClass series, but most of the relevant information for this topic is available online for free through the link.]

Edited by Ian Absentia
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Regarding Flowchart Structure, here's the sort of RPG adventure I've wanted to write for some time (and tried once!)...

Image

Point being, I don't think there's just one way or a best way to write a RPG adventure.  I do think there's a better way to actually play them, though.  And a very good way to write them is to not provide too many (or any!) dead-ends that obstruct play.  Always provide an exit strategy, a Plan B.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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2 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

Regarding Flowchart Structure, here's the sort of RPG adventure I've wanted to write for some time (and tried once!)...

Image

Point being, I don't think there's just one way or a best way to write a RPG adventure.  I do think there's a better way to actually play them, though.  And a very good way to write them is to not provide too many (or any!) dead-ends that obstruct play.  Always provide an exit strategy, a Plan B.

!i!

Uhhh... Ian?
I'm seeing a slight "survivability" problem with your style of GM'ing, if that's your preferred/ideal model...

 

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3 minutes ago, g33k said:

Uhhh... Ian?
I'm seeing a slight "survivability" problem with your style of GM'ing, if that's your preferred/ideal model...

Such delicate flowers we have to play with these days...

This is for general reference, of course.  And very, very Medieval Irish.  Start at "Did you break your gease?" and replace events, options, and outcomes with substitutions of your choice.  Ending with "DIE" might very well be "ICE CREAM" if that's what your players need.

A version of this that I tried once was to create a cast of about 10 NPCs, grouped into overlapping subsets of 3 or 4.  Each NPC had a short list of motivations and goals, and each subset of NPCs had a short list of interpersonal dynamics among them.  As the player characters entered into the orbit of any subset of NPCs their actions would activate those goals and dynamics; moving into the orbit of another NPC subset would activate those characters, including any influence carried over from previous interactions.  It worked great as a GM, but was much more difficult to write as a publishable script for someone else to play.  On paper, though, the flowchart was not unlike the once above.

!i!

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1 minute ago, Ian Absentia said:

Such delicate flowers we have to play with these days...

This is for general reference, of course.  And very, very Medieval Irish.  Start at "Did you break your gease?" and replace events, options, and outcomes with substitutions of your choice.  Ending with "DIE" might very well be "ICE CREAM" if that's what your players need.

Actually, I was picturing pretty much this identical flow-chart, but for CoC.  Text would be stuff like "Is the librarian nervously redirecting your search to resources outside the Local History room?" and replacing "Die" & skull with "Gibbering Madness" & straightjacket...

But ice cream works too.

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17 hours ago, g33k said:

Actually, I was picturing pretty much this identical flow-chart, but for CoC.  Text would be stuff like "Is the librarian nervously redirecting your search to resources outside the Local History room?" and replacing "Die" & skull with "Gibbering Madness" & straightjacket...

But ice cream works too.

For CoC I could see something like an eight pointed start of Chaos with every option pointing to death.

Maybe Ian should run a campaign where all the PCs start off dead and are trying to become alive. Just to break up the monotony.

 

BTW, is the flowchart what the designed & intented path of the story should be, or should it include all the detours, sidetracks and dead ends the PCs add to the adventure? For instance I recently had a player who decided to play tag with a polar bear. That wasn't something I had planned on when I wrote the adventure.

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On 9/8/2020 at 8:04 PM, GothmogIV said:

Greetings, hive-mind. I am curious if anyone has come across, or created, a BRP scenario outline?

Kinda. Most sceanios tend to have a short synopsis of the adventure that functions similarly to a outline. 

On 9/8/2020 at 8:04 PM, GothmogIV said:

Does Chaosium use a standard format, or is it pretty much individualized by each author?''

Mostly individualized, although as adventures are a form of story telling, each typically has themese common to all stories, such as a introduction and ending. But since not all stories are the same, all outlines cannot be. If fact, I'd say that if two adventures had the same outline they'd pretty much be the same adventure.

That said, certian styles and layouts were common to several adventures written for a particular game during a particula era. RQ2 stuff has it's own "flavor", as does early Stormbinger and CoC. Yes, some BRP games use one or more story formats at times, and do reuse the same story ideas and swap out different elements to keep it fresh.Prince Valiant in particular probably comes the closes to having a standardized outline, followed by Pendragon, but in both cases the advture outlines are really just frameworks that a GM can start with to help create their own adventures, and both play upon common tropes of their setting: damosel in distress; challenge knight at a bridge; a evil knight who mistreats his serfs; a monster terrifying the land; the quest. 

On 9/8/2020 at 8:04 PM, GothmogIV said:

Is CoC the gold standard, or is it different for each world (Stormbringer vs. Pendragon vs. 7th Sea, etc.)? 

Very different for each game and setting. Pendragon, for instance, is very different form CoC, in almost every aspect. Mechanically it wouldn't be hard to cross pollinate stuff from one RPG to the other, as all BRP games share many common characteristics,  (although Pendragon uses very different game mechanics that most other versions of BRP), but thematically CoC would radically alter (some would say ruin) Pendragon. 

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Thanks, fellow travelers of the multiverse. I was thinking more like: Introduction, Game Master's Information, Location 1, Important NPCs, Scene 1. Like that. 

I am well versed in game design (rail road vs. sandbox, linear vs. non-linear). I meant the actual headings for parts of an adventure. 

Ian, dude? That flow chart is just mean. Epic, but mean.

 

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16 minutes ago, GothmogIV said:

... I was thinking more like: Introduction, Game Master's Information, Location 1, Important NPCs, Scene 1. Like that. 

I don't think there's anything exactly like that.

Different products are too differently-oriented.

But I'm not a Chaosium author, so if such an "Outline" doc were being given to the authors, I wouldn't know it.

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37 minutes ago, GothmogIV said:

Ian, dude? That flow chart is just mean. Epic, but mean.

I blame the Irish.  For so many, many things.

But with regard to style guides, check out the Chaosium website (linked through the banner up top), if you haven't already.  Their site features submission guidelines for all of the active publications, though I don't recall off hand how specific they are regarding structure.  There's generally wide berth for how you present your personal work, but I recall suggestions for common elements to include.

My suggestion, for what it's worth, is to take a survey of your favorite published adventures, make note of what worked (not necessarily why), and find the commonalities in structure and presentation.  What's worked for you consistently is probably the best guideline for communicating your adventures to others.

!i!

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7 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

I recently had a player who decided to play tag with a polar bear

I'm interested to know what happened?

I had a Polar Bear running around in my vikings campaign.. it had escaped and killed the hunters that had captured it to present to the Jarl. It swam around Sognefjord making a nuisance of itself every now and then by attacking fishing boats, trailing bigger ships etc. The players were convinced it was a dísir or a sjóvættir. Some of the locals started a 'cult' and provided it with food as a propitiation 

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1 hour ago, Nozbat said:

You can't do that!! We Irish didn't do anything to get blamed for... apart from giving the world U2.. actually yes you can blame the Irish

It's mostly genetic memory, so I'm on the hook, too.  Don't even ask me about the Dutch.

!i!

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3 hours ago, Nozbat said:

I'm interested to know what happened?

Okay. THe PCs were agents sent to Novaya Zemlya to make contact with a Russian major who crashed there during a storm after alerting MI6 that something was going on and he had to come in right away.  The PCs got dropped on on the iland and reached the crashed site, where the airplane was half buried in a ravine. One of the PCs climbed down to the door and got inside, only to find said polar bear already inside, siffing around the cockpit, where the body of the Russian Major was. The player hoped to get the bear to chase him outside the airplane, and literally poked the bear before jumping out the door to grab onto the rope he climbed down on. 

Meanwhile, one of the other PCs went around to the opposite site of the airplane and found the cargo door came open during the crash (which was how the bear got inside). Sadly for the bear, one of the agents shot it in order to get access to the (unknown to them) dead Major. 

3 hours ago, Nozbat said:

I had a Polar Bear running around in my vikings campaign.. it had escaped and killed the hunters that had captured it to present to the Jarl. It swam around Sognefjord making a nuisance of itself every now and then by attacking fishing boats, trailing bigger ships etc. The players were convinced it was a dísir or a sjóvættir. Some of the locals started a 'cult' and provided it with food as a propitiation 

LOL! Sounds like a classic B monster movie. Ursula, Terror of the North. The Hunters caught more than they bargained for. Un-bearable carnage, un-bearable tradegy, un-bearable puns. 

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2 hours ago, g33k said:

^points upthread, at the Polar-Bear adventures^    There's yer outline, right there!

 

 

if you can bear to do it

My polar bear was known as Asgeir's Bane... It's true name was Fluffy however but luckily no-one ever learnt that

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