Adventure Design for Legend

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Ynas Midgard
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Ynas Midgard » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:34 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:Getting back to the main topic of this thread, not only should pencil in two or three possible ways to resolve each challenge, but you should encourage the use of multiple skills to overcome the challenge. Always remember that Legend is a skill-based game rather than a class-based game. Don't ask players to make rolls just for the sake of rolling dice, but don't let them short-circuit challenges with a single skill roll. Don't let players analyse the deepest secrets of an NPC with a single Insight roll or resolve complex political intrigues with a single Influence roll. The number of skill checks required to resolve a challenge should be commensurate with the difficulty of the challenge.
Now this is an advice I like; concrete and practical. Could you give us a few examples? Say, how could the following situations be resolved (I'm mainly interested in how skill checks could be applied):
  • persuading the king to wage war on a neighbouring nation
  • persuading a captured enemy, whose every ally the party has just killed, to join them (or die)
  • travelling through a marsh (assume it takes a few days)
  • crossing a river without a bridge
  • haggling with a merchant over the price of a sword
  • haggling with a witch over the price of a MacGuffin
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Prime_Evil » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:08 am

These are good examples - but it might take a while to work through all of them ;)

Let's start with the first one - to keep things simple, I'm going to concentrate solely on the game mechanics and ignore modifiers that might be applied along the way for good roleplaying.

To keep things interesting, let's assume that the king is initially skeptical about the benefits of declaring war on the neighbouring realm. He covets the opportunity for territorial gains, but his advisors have convinced him that starting a war would be both costly and risky. Also, let's assume that there is a faction at court who oppose aggression the other kingdom - maybe their lands are located near the border or maybe they have commercial or family ties with people on the other side.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that one character in the party will do most of the talking (presumably the one with the best social skills), but other adventurers will speak up whenever they have something to contribute.

Start by calculating the average skill levels of the members of the group involved in the debate with the exception of the character doing most of the talking. Do this for skills such as Influence, Courtesy, Oratory, and Lore (Tactics). Using using the standard rules for Complementary Skills from the Core Rulebook, the average skill of the party will be used to help the character pleading the case before the king.

You can use this approach with almost any skill where multiple characters assist one who is doing most of the heavy lifting. I find this works better than the rules for assistance in the Legend rulebook, which gives the larger group a huge advantage in situations where an opposed skill roll occurs between two groups.

Now let's break the challenge down into into logical steps and associate skill rolls with each step.

Persuading the king to wage war on a neighbouring nation might involve the following tasks:
  • Obtain an audience with the king - win an opposed Courtesy roll against the Royal Chamberlain to gain access to the royal court, then win an opposed roll against Influence to be conducted into the royal presence.
  • Read the king's mood to pitch your arguments correctly - Make an Insight roll. On a success, lower the difficulty of subsequent rolls by one step. On a failure, raise them by one step. On a critical success or critical failure, adjust the difficulty modifier by two levels rather than one.
  • Address the King correctly - Make a Courtesy roll. No benefits for a success, but on a failure your lack of social graces is obvious and on a Critical Failure you insult the king badly.
  • Get the King's Attention - Present a rousing opening speech asking the king to listen to the arguments for war. Make an Oratory roll against the average Persistence of the court to determine how well the speech is received. Remember that it is hard for the king to argue against war if the bulk of the nobles and courtiers support military action. The king can resist the Oratory roll with either Persistence or Insight. If the characters win, the king agrees to listen further. If not, he ends the audience and dismisses the characters so that he can turn his attention to more pressing matters.
  • Demonstrate to the king that war could be won - Make a Lore (Tactics) to present a credible invasion plan to the king that plays up the potential victories and plays down the potential risks. This may be handled as an opposed roll against the king's own Lore (Tactics). If he asks one of his generals for their assessment of the plan, he can use their Lore (Tactics) as a complementary skill to his own roll. If the characters lose this roll, the king decides that their plan is weak and decides not to pursue it. If they proceed, they move to the next stage.
  • Counter the arguments of those opposed to war - As discussed above, make an opposed Influence roll against the leader of the faction opposed to war. He can use the average Influence skill of his followers at court to support his position. If the faction leader wins this contest, the king decides that a war would be too politically damaging on the domestic front and ends the discussion. Otherwise, proceed to the final step.
  • Convince the King - Finally, the king considers the arguments of both sides and makes a decision. The characters have made a convincing case so far, but this is crunch time. The characters must make a final opposed Influence roll against the king's Persistence. The faction opposed to war may have cast some doubts in the king's mind, so he can use their average Influence skill as a Complementary Skill to boost his Persistence. This will be a tough roll for the characters and if you want to eke out a bit more drama you could even use the extended task rules from Arms of Legend to play out the king's deliberations as he asks members of one group and then the other questions about their position. However, in the end the king will be convinced by the arguments of one side or another.
How does this sound so far :)
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby soltakss » Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:28 am

Ynas Midgard wrote:
Prime_Evil wrote:Getting back to the main topic of this thread, not only should pencil in two or three possible ways to resolve each challenge, but you should encourage the use of multiple skills to overcome the challenge. Always remember that Legend is a skill-based game rather than a class-based game. Don't ask players to make rolls just for the sake of rolling dice, but don't let them short-circuit challenges with a single skill roll. Don't let players analyse the deepest secrets of an NPC with a single Insight roll or resolve complex political intrigues with a single Influence roll. The number of skill checks required to resolve a challenge should be commensurate with the difficulty of the challenge.
Now this is an advice I like; concrete and practical. Could you give us a few examples? Say, how could the following situations be resolved (I'm mainly interested in how skill checks could be applied):
Don't forget there are many different ways of doing things. Encourage the players to be inventive and they will have fun getting out of tricky situations in cunning ways.
Ynas Midgard wrote:persuading a captured enemy, whose every ally the party has just killed, to join them (or die)
  • Culture (Specific Culture) to understand the enemy and what he wants
  • Brawn to intimidate the enemy
  • Insight to understand his particular motivation
  • Influence/Oratory to persuade him to join your side
Ynas Midgard wrote:travelling through a marsh (assume it takes a few days)
  • Lore (Marsh) to understand how a marsh works
  • Survival to survive happily in the marsh
  • Craft (Boatmaking)/Craft (Leather)/Craft (Woodworking) to make a boat
  • Boating to take a boat through the march
  • Craft (Drover) to take animals through the marsh
  • Lore (Navigation) to navigate through the marsh
  • Healing to prevent marsh fever, foot rot or other marsh-related illnesses
Ynas Midgard wrote:crossing a river without a bridge
  • Lore (Regional) to find a ford or safe place to cross
  • Engineering to build a temporary bridge
  • Swim/Boating to move across the water
  • Ride/Craft (Drover) to take animals across the river
  • Pact (River Goddess) and Influence to persuade the local river goddess to let you cross
  • Resilience to endure the chilly waters
  • Athletics to overcome the strength of the current
Ynas Midgard wrote:haggling with a merchant over the price of a sword
  • Commerce to work out the cost of the sword
  • Craft (Swordmaking) to determine the sword's quality
  • Culture(Own)/Courtesy to sweeten the deal
  • Insight to see what the merchant wants
  • Influence to talk him round
  • Brawn to intimidate him
Ynas Midgard wrote:haggling with a witch over the price of a MacGuffin
  • Lore (Witchery) to understand the witch
  • Culture(Own)/Courtesy to sweeten the deal
  • Insight to see what the witch wants
  • Influence to talk her round
  • Brawn to intimidate her
  • Seduction to sweet-talk her
  • Resilience to resist being turned into a toad
Last edited by soltakss on Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Prime_Evil » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:45 pm

You beat me to it ;)

Actually, one thing worth noting here is the use of bullet points to indicate potential skill checks. This is often the best way to write these things up during session prep. Don't waste time listing details, but have a list of potential skill checks for each location or event that you are designing.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby soltakss » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:03 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:You beat me to it ;)
Feel free to chip in with your version - there's more than one way to skin a cat, after all.
Prime_Evil wrote:Actually, one thing worth noting here is the use of bullet points to indicate potential skill checks. This is often the best way to write these things up during session prep. Don't waste time listing details, but have a list of potential skill checks for each location or event that you are designing.
I have never thought of that. It would make scenario design a lot simpler.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby pachristian » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:21 pm

These are some excellent examples.

One idea from 4th Editions D&D was the "skill challenge". Put simply, the characters attempt to roll on a number of different skills. The goal is to get a GM-set number of successes before there is an aggregate of 3 failures. Using the "crossing the marsh" example above, we have seven different skills listed. Others are certainly possible (Athletics, Swim, Knowledge (local), etc.) If the task is meant to be relatively easy, the GM might ask for 3 successes before 3 failures. Each failure is ad-libbed as a setback. The players try different skills, of course describing what they are doing and how this will help them cross the marsh.

This technique encourages a variety of skill uses, and prevents the dreaded "one failure - game over" syndrome.

It is not, of course, a be-all, end-all, of Legend skills, but it can work in some cases.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Prime_Evil » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:14 pm

The concept of skill challenges is good, but the implementation in 4e wasn't the greatest. However, if you want to use this mechanic in Legend, don't be dogmatic about requiring three successes before three failures - the number of successes required can be used to adjust the difficulty of the task. Also, try to select the skills used in the challenge in such a way that multiple players get a chance to do something - don't let one character hog the limelight. Different characters specialise in different areas and players will always want the character with the highest rating in the group to make the roll, so use this to your advantage - ensure each character gets a chance to contribute to the overall success or failure of the challenge.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Prime_Evil » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:56 pm

Here's a thought - would people be interested in a book of patrons and encounters similar to those produced for Traveller? The adventure hooks could be broken up into different categories such as Sword & Sorcery, High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Gothic Horror, etc. And each hook would come with a list of possible outcomes, some suggestions regarding the skills that would be useful, and maybe a new piece of game mechanics (a new magic item, an NPC statblock, a new monster, a new spell, etc).
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby warlock1971 » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:55 am

Prime_Evil wrote:Here's a thought - would people be interested in a book of patrons and encounters similar to those produced for Traveller? The adventure hooks could be broken up into different categories such as Sword & Sorcery, High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Gothic Horror, etc. And each hook would come with a list of possible outcomes, some suggestions regarding the skills that would be useful, and maybe a new piece of game mechanics (a new magic item, an NPC statblock, a new monster, a new spell, etc).
Absolutely we would be! :D
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Prime_Evil » Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:21 am

It's interesting that nobody the approach pioneered by classic Traveller in 76 Patrons has never been applied to the fantasy genre. It could easily be combined with a hexcrawl-style sandbox to give you a semi-enclosed region with a variety of different adventure locales and potential patrons that can be used in different ways by different GMs...
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby soltakss » Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:21 am

pachristian wrote:One idea from 4th Editions D&D was the "skill challenge". Put simply, the characters attempt to roll on a number of different skills. The goal is to get a GM-set number of successes before there is an aggregate of 3 failures. Using the "crossing the marsh" example above, we have seven different skills listed. Others are certainly possible (Athletics, Swim, Knowledge (local), etc.) If the task is meant to be relatively easy, the GM might ask for 3 successes before 3 failures. Each failure is ad-libbed as a setback. The players try different skills, of course describing what they are doing and how this will help them cross the marsh.

This technique encourages a variety of skill uses, and prevents the dreaded "one failure - game over" syndrome.
That could work. I'd give +1 for a normal success, +2 for a critical success, -1 for a fumble and have a target score that the party should meet. That gets rid of the 3 successes/3 failures issues and means that each PC can attempt to try something to help out.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Prime_Evil » Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:53 am

Hmmmm.....so rather than having a standard target of three successes, have a variable number that reflects the difficulty of the task? That's similar to what I suggested earlier, but you've just turned it into an generic mechanic for extended tasks - possibly more elegant than the one provided in Arms of Legend!
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Ynas Midgard » Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:03 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:Hmmmm.....so rather than having a standard target of three successes, have a variable number that reflects the difficulty of the task? That's similar to what I suggested earlier, but you've just turned it into an generic mechanic for extended tasks - possibly more elegant than the one provided in Arms of Legend!
Such extended task mechanics are rarely interesting unless each and every roll has meaningful consequences, which are triggered by choices made by the players. In 4E, for instance, there was no other consequence than adding one success or failure to the total, which reduced skill challenges to a mere series of rolls with only two real outcomes.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby soltakss » Sat Oct 19, 2013 6:33 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:Hmmmm.....so rather than having a standard target of three successes, have a variable number that reflects the difficulty of the task?
In essence, yes.
Prime_Evil wrote:That's similar to what I suggested earlier, but you've just turned it into an generic mechanic for extended tasks - possibly more elegant than the one provided in Arms of Legend!
Sorry about that!
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Prime_Evil » Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:57 pm

soltakss wrote:
Prime_Evil wrote:That's similar to what I suggested earlier, but you've just turned it into an generic mechanic for extended tasks - possibly more elegant than the one provided in Arms of Legend!
Sorry about that!
No problems - you improved on it!
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby pachristian » Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:55 pm

Ummm -

Actually the mechanic is to set the number of required successes before three failures based on the difficulty of the task, and the number of different skills that can be applied to it.

I just used a 3/3 as an example. An easy task for beginners might require only one success before three failures. A challenging task for experts might require 10 successes before three failures.

The numbers can be anything.

And yes, you want to know your player-character's skills, so that you can make sure that every player has a chance to contribute. You also want to be prepared to give bonuses and penalties for good role-playing.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Tias » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:24 pm

I'm starting my Legend campaign again, and could really use some feedback on the adventure I've designed:

Concept: A lesser daemonic servant of Kharé, god of tyrants (a brutal diety that could be described as lawful evil) has been released from its material prison and has possessed the lord of Hearthtree. The adventurers enter the city, quickly learn that something is FUBAR from the many atrocities they witness, and confront and banish the abominable god-servant.

Hook: Having been in the employ of the benevolent lord of the entire realm, with success, for the prior session, he entrusts them with entering the city incognito and working out why the city reports all is well but refuses to send levies to the war on the east, and why they request paying halved taxes. His own men are away in the war, and he doesn't realize the extent of the problem.

Execution: I'd like to make a map of the city Hearthtree, and make events of bypassing or negotiating entry with fearful militiamen in the demons employ, finding resistance groups who realize something was amiss when the ruler suddenly started executing lawful citizens, confiscating relic weapons from the city churches and armory(items that could harm or expel it) and otherwise terrorizing the good people of the town - eventually culminating in a confrontation with the possessed lord, and the victory or desperate flight of the characters.

I just can't seem to make the events come together to make a compelling narrative. Any ideas for events, event structure and cool ideas for atmosphere or creative challenges are all welcome.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby RangerDan » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:46 pm

@ Tias, some ideas off the top of my head:

Perhaps the PCs are supposed to meet a local noble personally known to the benevolent lord of the realm as a trustworthy and honorable person. When they arrive at city the local militia is not welcoming but not openly hostile yet. The PCs find that the noble they're supposed to meet has been arrested together with most of his servants for undisclosed treasonous crimes. This is suspicious and gives the PCs some hooks to work with.
* If they try to arrange to see the arrested lord they are constantly refused, but learn that one servant evaded arrest. Can the PCs find him/her first?
* If they try to find out what the lord was up to, it turns out one of his crimes was "theft of priceless religious artifacts" which are still missing. What did he want them for? Perhaps they're still hidden somewhere in his mansion?
* The PCs notice they're being followed by the local "secret police." Do they act on this?
* The "resistance" figure out who the PCs are and want their help in freeing one of their own from the dungeons who might know more about what's going on.
* The PCs and the resistance need help from unsavoury types like the criminal element/renegade mages/anarchists to succeed, but these factions want something in return. How far are the PCs willing to go?

PS: Yes, I know some of these are a little cliched :D I prefer to think of them as tropes of this kind of story 8)
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby pachristian » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:20 pm

Tias -

I'd start by backing up a step. You say the players are in employ of the overlord of the realm. Give them a mission to go to Hearthtree before the lord gets possessed. Have them meet the lord of Hearthtree (perhaps they are part of a diplomatic party). Give them reasons to like them. He goes hunting with them. They play sports. He introduces them to his friends. Perhaps he has a beautiful daughter. Give them things to like in Hearthree; a tarvern that brews great ale. A retired adventurer who can teach them some skill or ability they really want to learn. Arrange there to be a threat to Hearthtree. The players take the lead in combatting the threat, fighting alongside the lord. Also have them fight alongside Rival Adventuring Party. Make the threat something straightforward - a band of mercenaries turned bandit, a swarm of raptors-lemmings. You get the idea.

When the players leave Hearthtree, they should be looking forward to returning.

Then run an adventure where the players find a treasure map. The treasure is near Hearthree. Perhaps the players visit their friends while on the quest. The treasure is guarded by magic seals that threaten that a dire curse will occur if the treasure is disturbed, If the players leave the treasure behind, they are shortly followed by Rival Adventuring Party, who does take the treasure. In either case, the "dire curse" does not affect the players (they should be left standing around saying "was that it?"); instead, it is the release of the lesser demonic servant. This servant goes to Hearthtree to possess the lord.

Then run a couple of adventures where the players are sent to the east; to scout for the war effort, or on other diplomatic missions.

NOW you've set up the storyline you want to do here: The players have an emotional investment in Hearthtree, and they know the lord. They've participated in the war to the east, and they know how badly their lord needs troops and money. When they are sent to Hearthtree, it should be with the expectation that they will visit old friends. When they get close to Hearthree, then they start finding that something is wrong; burned farms, executed peasants, fear and distrust.
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Re: Adventure Design for Legend

Postby Ynas Midgard » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:27 pm

@ pachristian
It is generally good advice. However, building up this storyline may take many gaming sessions, which may not be available for everyone. Second, the "dire curse" seems to be taking effect no matter what the players do, which I think is not fair; they seemingly have control over whether the curse is released or not, but then their choice is invalidated by the rival party.

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