Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Situation Set Pieces (S.S.P.)

I’m trying to think of how the stories would get told in SKMAV. I see the game as treading on some ground that has already been laid by, The Mountain Witch. I really like running The Mountain Witch at cons, because it’s a railroad without rails. You know you’re going up the Mountain, and by design the game gets the players to agree they are going up the mountain in a very simple, but elegant manner. But that is it. There’s nothing else really known about what’s up that Mountain and what’s going to happen. It’s great for my style of having no idea what I’m doing when I sit down to gamemaster. If SKMAV is going to be a game I’m going to run, I really need this.

One of the things I will tend to do in The Mountain Witch is create a beginning scene to judge what the players are looking for. Many times this will be to have them on a somewhat treacherous path and to have little goblinie creatures with long arms and claws that let them traverse the terrain easier, run around taunting the characters. This is so I can see what the players are going to do. If they just attack, then I know to bring them fighting and that I need to find situations that will challenge their desire to use their sword versus some other desire of theirs. If they get all Chatty Kathy, then I know I need to try to find situations to try to pit their desire not to draw their sword versus some other desire of theirs. If they ignore them, then I have the Goblinie guys go away.

Anyway… I’m thinking of this as a situational set piece, it’s sort of a ill defined predone bang. The idea would be to take different emotions like we talked about earlier (Rage, Despair, etc.) and fashion them into a set piece that has no attachments to anything else, that can just be put in when needed. This is something I learned a long time ago from an Ars Magica 3rd Edition supplement called Mythic Places. Does anyone see problems with this idea?


November 9, 2007 - Posted by | Silence Keeps Me A Victim | , , ,


  1. Are you saying that every session would start with the same scene, and then they would individualize? I think that’s a good idea. It becomes a Roscharch test for the table.

    Comment by robertbohl | November 10, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hi Rob,

    No. That’s what I do with the Mountain Witch. I think setting up scenes is going to be more difficult with SKMAV than it is with the Mountain Witch due to trying to tie in emotional concepts. What I’m trying to think up is a way that I can teach players / GM’s a way to make some up pre banged situations. Think of Dogs in the Vineyard and the way you set up a town with issues, except in SKMAV the setting is more flexible in Dogs. This means I need a more flexible method than burning up a town. Situational Set Pieces is my first stab at that.

    Does that make more sense, and does that change your perception any?

    Comment by iamclyde | November 12, 2007 | Reply

  3. It does, and it does. If I understand you properly, I think you’ll want to check out how Quest creation works in Matt Wilson’s Galactic.

    For my captain, I choose the Quest Objective and the Quest Benefit. Then I take the stack of worlds (each player–including the GM–makes 3 worlds during the setup phase of the game) and choose a world for it to happen on. The person to my right chooses a faction (one is made up fully by each player including the GM, and each fully-made-up one can imply up to two new ones). The person on my left then chooses or creates a character central to the quest.

    This has a nice combination of structure and free-form which guides my scenario creation, giving me enough grabby stuff to work with but giving me the room to create.

    Does this–or something like it–address your concerns? If not, what am I missing?

    Comment by robertbohl | November 12, 2007 | Reply

  4. Clyde,

    What about the way Don’t Rest Your Head does it, with the “What just happened to you?” part of the questionnaire? Is that approach not detailed enough?

    Comment by ptevis | November 12, 2007 | Reply

  5. Hi Rob,

    I’m not getting what you are saying right off. Give me another day to soak and I should be able to answer better or ask you some questions.

    Hi Paul,

    The problem with the questionnaire is that it creates distinction and differences between the characters at the beginning. I don’t want that. Person-hood, and individuality is something that is denied the children. They have to earn the right to be protagonists, to be distinct, through play, by changing from victims to strong individuals. This is one of the reasons I believe I wanted the player characters to be prepubescent children, to limit even the overt physical distinctions of sex. Think Henry Darger, and In the Realms of the Unreal.

    Comment by iamclyde | November 12, 2007 | Reply

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