A couple of days ago I wrote briefly about the 7th Sea Second Edition’s story mechanic for character advancement. I know I didn’t cover it in much depth then, but now I want to spend some time examining more closely how it could be used in Savage Worlds and this time provide an example of how it might work, including some alternate ideas as to how this could be used. First off though the basic idea behind the mechanic in the 7th Sea is that each characterduring creation defines a story with a concept and a goal, and the goal includes the reward for completing the story. Then you add the first step, and after you complete the step, you add another one until you have completed the number of steps required to cover the point cost for your reward. As an example if you reward costs three points, your story will end up with three steps. Note, you do not create all of the steps up front, just the one that you need to complete next.
My original thought about this was that you would always create five point stories at least until you reach legendary rank then you would create ten point stories. The more I think about this though the less sure I am about it. The alternative idea is that you make stories of any length, and the number of steps is the number of experience points you get towards your next advance. Now the problem with this idea is that part of what I liked was the reward that you got for completing these stories was defined up front, and if you no longer make the stories equal to the cost of the advance how do you manage this? My first thought is to remove the reward, but then I thought why not keep the reward and collect stories until you hit the five or ten steps (experience) needed for the advance. So now you might have a three step story and a two step story both with a reward of increasing your agility, so you turn that in for your advance. The other thing to add to this is that the game master stories do not have a predefined reward, so you could take your two step (experience) story with a reward of an agility increase and use the game master’s three step (experience) story that has no reward to get the advance. Now this idea means also would seem to encourage the use of tokens (index cards) to track your various story rewards which I kind of like at least in a theoretical way, and when you get enough steps for the advance, you turn in the cards with the stories.
So for my example I will use the following ideas.
- After character creation and whenever a story is completed, the player will write on a note card a story concept, a goal including a reward, and the first step to complete the goal.
- The game master also creates a story which will work out to be the adventure with some idea of the number of steps.
- The game master would collect all the note cards with the current stories and the steps that everyone is working on at the end of each session so that they can use those to plan for the following session, and work towards ensuring that everyone’s stories get at least a little bit of time in the spot light each session or two depending on how many players you have and how long each session lasts.
- When a character story is complete, the Game Master gives that card to the player. When a player completes a step, the Game Master gives the card to the player to add the next step and then takes it back.
- When the Player has enough steps for their next advance, they turn the story card(s) used for the advance back to the Game Master.
So know that all of that is done, on to the example, and I am going to keep it simple with only two characters, but the principles would be the same for more characters. The characters are based off of ones from the show El Hipnotizador and would be suitable for a Deadlands Noir game.
Our two characters are Arenas, who has an enemy, but doesn’t know who it is or why they want him dead. He makes a living as a stage hypnotist and for his first story he wants to discover who his enemy is. The second character is Zoraide. She performs as a fortune teller on stage doing predictions for volunteers in the crowd. She has also had a vision that something bad is going to happen to one of the other performers at the theater and wants to stop whatever it is that is going to happen.
|Character||Story||Goal and Reward|
|Arenas||Discover who wants me dead.||The name of my enemy is? Connections edge|
|Zoraide||Prevent the future I foresaw from coming to pass.||And Margarita lived. Skill increase Persuasion and Stealth|
|Game Master||Discover who the “Bird headed” man is and why they are haunting Lucia.||Lucia is being haunted by?|
Each player now identifies the first step to resolving their story and the Game Master creates a rough outline of how his story is going to be resolved with the first step being fairly concrete and the following steps becoming increasingly vague until we resolve the story.
Arenas’ first step is to discover that he is being followed by someone.
Zoraide’s first step is to find out more about how Margarita is supposed to die.
Game Master steps:
- Have the character’s meet Lucia and agree to find out who the Bird man is.
- Bring up the memory that is causing the nightmares of the Bird man.
- Get the story of what actually happened and give it to Lucia.
Based on this, during the first session, I as the Game Master would include several chances for Arenas to spot someone following him and when/if he does, give Arenas a chance to confront this person and pick up some clues. I would also give Zoraide some opportunities to observe the people that Margarita interacted with and chances to pick up psychic impressions from Margarita about how she is going to die this would also provide clues as to how her story would move forward. Finally I would move the characters through the steps of the story from meeting and accepting Lucia’s case, doing the research, and confronting the source of the memory that lead to these nightmares.