Friday, October 4, 2013

Finding the Hook

Every veteran Game Master has seen it before. You find a new RPG setting, which looks brilliant, and you decide that this is the new one that you absolutely have to run for your group. You devour the materials and then work hard to convince your players that they need to participate in this one. Character generation goes great, everyone comes up with fantastic ideas for new characters that explore completely different parts of the setting. As the Gamemaster, you're pumped up about finding places for these characters to go and worlds for them to explore.

Then, as you start to dig deeper into the setting, the wheels come off. Sometimes, it's because the setting is too vibrant and detailed. There are so many different elements in place already that you're frozen with paralysis about the possible repercussions from using any of it. Other times, you review the list of heroes and compare it to the setting, and you just can't find any common ground. The existing game material just doesn't work for the characters that your players have created. In a few cases, it can even be that you know your players well enough to guess that they're going to short circuit the adventure before it even gets started.

Those kinds of false starts aren't fun. They're frustrating for everyone involved and they usually leave folks turned off about the setting. We don't want groups to have a bad experience, so we want to do what we can to help. Part of that comes in creating a setting with lots of hooks built into it. We're working to make sure that happens, and that it presents different ways that the player characters can approach situations—in case a particular group of Accursed doesn't follow the archetypical path presented by the Order of the Penitent. Beyond that, we also want to make sure that Game Masters have plenty of different ideas for adventures. Monster of the week can be a fun approach, but we hope that the setting can be a bit deeper than that.

In addition to the adventures that are included in the core rulebook and those that we'll be publishing as supplements, we're going to introduce a variety of different hooks here on the AccursedRPG blog. Some of these may be more fleshed out than others, but hopefully all of them can inspire good game sessions. Here are a couple ideas for today:

  • The characters hear tell of an itinerant preacher who claims that he knows a way to remove a Witchmark. He even bears the scars of the one that transformed him during the Bane War upon his body. He is amicable and offers the information freely. Tragically, the seeming preacher is actually a traitor who serves one of the Witches. His directions lead the Accursed towards a trap that has already snared dozens of other Witchmarked. Can the characters avoid the trap? If not, can they escape imprisonment, possibly liberating other Accursed so that they can rejoin the fight against the tyrants?
  • Firearms from Manreia are among the most sophisticated in all of Morden. During the Bane War, these weapons gave a huge advantage to the Alliance. Now, the tyrants have control over the inventors and craftsmen that can create these. Many of these people are still sympathetic to the resistance movement, even as they create weapons that are used against them. The Order of the Penitent has received a request to help a Manreian inventor escape his servitude to the Lord Warlock, hopefully bringing the schematics for a new rifle design with him. The characters must aide his escape, while making certain that the design can reach the hands of those who might be able to exploit it for use against the Witches.

We're using this to article launch a challenge too. If we can get to 500 likes on Facebook by the time the Accursed Kickstarter closes on Sunday 10/13, we'll go a whole lot further. We'll post up at least three adventure hooks to the AccursedRPG blog each week for a full year.

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