The Elsir Project
Types of Stories
Directors may make any sort of story in any setting provided they are related in some way. The reason for the relationship is to allow players to use a greater number of characters and foes in the story.
For example, if your story takes place in the Astral Sea, it would require to be established a connection between this story and the other stories that have been told. The plan for the final story of Redhand is to provide the story seed to allow planar connections more readily to challenge paragon level characters.
Directors may place stories in any time, place, or existence. You can run a story in the past or future. You can run a story in another country, on another plane or in another dimension. Stories can run before, after, in parallel, or alternative to existing storylines. Stories can even be ran during events from another point of view, for example, the Battle to Save Brindol from a dwarven mercenaries point of view.
The smaller the story, the richer the detail: at times it may be better to run a small story or in small part of the world in order to allow greater and richer detail. For example, you might have a story that takes place in a neighborhood in the city of Brindol or simply basic dungeon crawl in a unexplored section of the land.
How to Start a story
If you plan on directing the story, you should have a rough idea on what kind of story you want to tell.
Setting: The most important aspect the director must do is to create the setting. Where will this adventure/story take places. Set the date, the time and the location for the adventure (I,e. One year after the Battle of Brindol.) You need to know where and when the story takes place. The director must set this at the start of the game. The betas will choose their characters accordingly. If you don’t have an idea of what setting you want, solicit help from the Betas.
Set the Level: The director chooses the level he wishes to play, usually based on the characters he plans to play. The other Betas will choose accordingly. Typically, higher level adventures/stories yield greater risk and greater consequences than low level adventures and stories. The expectation is that higher level characters are more capable and more concerned about important matters than lower level characters.
Theme or Troupe: You may decide you want to run something specific in the story. Examples; solving a mystery, exploring a dungeon, finding a treasure, discovering the lost city, rescuing a damsel in distress, break up a thieves guild, prevent an assassination, etc. You need not always provide the theme or troupe, as it may well develop through the Beta’s or evolve as the game session progresses.
A title says it all: You may forgo any real idea of the story and instead evoke a title that gives the players an idea of what the story is about. For example “The Misadventures of Lady Shasta” would indicate that the story involves the character Lady Shasta and has a whimsical idea behind it while “Greenwhich Horror” evokes a horror-like scenario. Some other titles may evoke a kind of theme that is played out by the players yet is not necessarily essential to the actual story such as “All that Glitters” or “No honor among thieves”. Still the title can be very explicit; “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks” is pretty straight forward unless the players manage to create another approach such as the story evolving around a failed expedition and sole survivor in town.
Other titles can be used to evoke a particular type of setting or idea that can advance the story (i.e. “Survivor”, “Gilligan’s Island”, “Waking Dead”, “The Village”, etc). The evocation of titles and ideas should be familiar with all the players, for example, players may be a bit confused if you say “Turandot” and they never heard of the opera or familiar with the story plot.
Telling the story: Techniques on telling the story
This is a game, so there is a gaming element involved in this process. Rolling dice to determine direction is utilized throughout the process to allow random and spontaneous elements to emerge. At times, the use of dice will seem arbitrary until a mini-game is utilize. If that is the style the Alpha director wishes to choose, they have that right.
Beta storytellers should support the Alpha’s story with their characters. Betas may also utilize their dice to make decisions on what things happen, for example rolling a d20 and looking at the result as favorable or unfavorable. When the Alpha and Betas work together, they weave a comprehensive story that is exciting, enjoyable, and unique. Everyone is actively involved in the process.
The DC of such rolls is usually determined by the Game Engine (The Engineer) but a good rule of thumb is that the DC should be on average 10+1/2 level of the average party level.
Using Literary and Comic book/Television/movie techniques: Alpha Directors may use any of the techniques used in their favorite stories or shows as they tell the story. They might include flashbacks, teasers, segues, and cut always, etc. For example, you might start the story with a teaser; describing some sort of incident or character who sets the mood, but may not appear till later in the story (for example the murder of a city guard by a strange creature). You might utilize flashbacks to tell a story (Lady Shasta recalls and reenacts her first meting with the Old Black Smith Kelore who has been recently been found dead in order to advance the mystery or help solve it.)
It is recommended that Betas use these techniques sparingly when supporting the story as it may distract from the Alphas story. But in many cases, such techniques useful in developing back-story, motivation, and character.
For example, The Duke of Wellington has commanded the player’s character, Edmond Seely to come to his estate. Edmond relates a tale of how he first met the Duke while hunting a wild boar they both claimed as a kill. A role play session could be done in flashback (if they wish) with the Duke, Edmond, and with other players taking on new roles at the scene (that they later can use.) However, the flashback would need to “flash forward” to the actual story. But now we have established the relationship Edmond and Duke have which effects the next scene.
Using Modules Modules are handy for finding story material and possible encounter ideas but should not be used straight as written. The Betas story tellers will have different interpretations of the scenes that the Alpha can recreate through a module. Instead, take the basic premise of the adventure and take three memorable encounters from the module.
For example, you might take the story of Ravenloft and take the Gypsy camp, The Guardian Portrait the Chapel, and the Tomb of Strahda as the three main combat and skill challenges for the adventure, leaving the rest the part of the Betas imagination.
Length of the story: The scenes developed by the Alpha are as long as the Alpha wishes to continue the story. The story is continuous but Alphas may be inclined to work in arcs of the story, major events that are introduced, worked out and resolved in certain time frame. They may be disjointed over a long period, in between other Alpha stories or completed in one session.
For example, exploring a five section/room dungeon may be the whole arc for one Alpha, while various jumps between conversations with high officials of the city could be another. The Alpha controls the style of the game they wish to play.
Ending an arc: Alphas may want to end the session they run with a conclusion. Ending an arc allows for another Alpha to take over and tell their story.
Types of conclusions:
- The End: That’s the end of the story. Nothing is expected to continue the story. Alphas may do this to free characters to move on to other stories. This does not prohibit the same characters from working together in new story later but all the plot lines been resolved. A dungeon crawl is an example.
- The Story Continues: Not all plots are resolved or subplots in the other story now taken on. The same Alpha or another may take on those plot lines. For example, Aaron Arrowswift, the wanted rogue for murder in the previous story now has to a lead on who is responsible for framing him.
- Cliffhanger: The story is left with a major plot still in progress. In some cases, it simply the lack of time to resolve. Players have the option of having the Alpha continue in the next session or moving to a new Alpha and story. It is not recommend to have an arc end on a cliffhanger for this reason: new players in the game could be artificially inserted into the story or major characters absent may jeopardize cohesion of the story.