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Heng benjamin
Heng benjamin's picture
Dramatic Sequence & Vilain Scheme


I went through the book cherry-picking what I needed to know to quench my curiosity, so Fluff wise, I didn't notice anything special (except that 5 out of 7 of eisen territory are rich?). However, I do found to things that bug me a little and I'd like to know if I miss something or not.

Dramatic Sequences:

Ok, it's like an action sequence. Except that when players are out of raise, what happens? It seems like you roll again and spend raise again, or that the sequence ends, with or without a satisfiying conclusion...


Vilain Scheme:

So the vilain can invest influence in scheme. If they are successfull, they succeed and gain more influence. If the players foils their plan, the influence is lost. The Scheme has to be something the player will notice so it creates confrontation and thus, stories to be told.

But when does this scheme succeed? How does it plays out mecanicaly? Since it is praticaly impossible for player to fail what they undertake and you have to "show" your players the scheme, do you throw too much scheme for them to thwarts them all?


Proposition/how I read this even if it's not written

I think a good way might be to create "vilain stories". You note the goal, create some steps and let it progress if the players don't act against it. A bit like an AW front or a Blade in the Dark "faction clock". 

Advancement on these Stories/Front/clock could also be consequences in action sequences.

And there, you can tie it with my problem with dramatic sequences: after each round*, the GM can advance a relevant step of a Vilain story.


I don't know if my point is clear, and maybe JWP has some ideas for this point, but I do find that a standard ruling is missing to convert these things from cool ideas to great mecanics.


*Note that other cool idea the books give me are :

-makes a hard move (AW style again).

-add X dice to the danger pool.

Not directly related, I think scene could apply pressure by themselves. Like if a Vilain fired on the explosives hidden in the ceiling, the colapsing building could pressure the hero to flee, by itself (spending X danger points instead of 1 danger point and 1 raise from a Vilain?).

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BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

On Dramatic Sequences: No, with a DS once you are out of raises you lose the ability to change the scene in favor of your character.  That doesn't mean you automatically fail at anything you want to do, but you don't get to avoid consequences.  Example: you are exploring the evil Count's house.  You are out of raises but want to pick the lock to get into a room.  Now, the GM could be a jerk and say, "no," or more likely "you are working with the lock when you hear someone behind you."

That said, nothing is said about chaining Dramatic Sequences together.  Conceivably, you could run a series of DSs, with each time calling for a new approach.  But can the players force such a thing?  Under the RAW, no.  But there isn't any guidance about when to end a DS (these are meant to be open sandboxes and not a series of challenges doesn't really cut it).  I put in a suggestion for a few words on that topic.

I also had a thought on how you might houserule a chance for the players to force a "Dramatic Break" in a sequence.  All players loses any remaining Raises and must spend a Hero Point and choose a new Approach.  But the GM gets to add a point to the Danger Pool for each player.  You want more raises to do stuff?  Ok, but it's gonna cost you.  Plus, everyone needs to be on the same page about doing it.

I like your idea of Villain stories.  Personally the whole Influence thing is a bit too close to AD&D Birthright's domain level metagame for my tastes.  So I would suggest that a scheme takes 1 game session and automatically succeeds UNLESS one of the heroes devotes a Story Step to discovering what it is.  Then, it can either become a GM story or a Personal story depending on what the group wants to do.

This way, I don't have to devote a lot of thought on what the villain is doing at the moment.  The HOW only matters if the players make an issue of it.  


Heng benjamin
Heng benjamin's picture

On Dramatic sequences: 

I haven't playtested it yet, but on a specific DS and some bad rolls, your players could be stuck with what... 2-3 raises? If your group is small, that's a collective 6-9 raises... not a lot of adventuring . That's why I immediatly though of how to "chain" them. But maybe I didn't understand how to use them. if so, JW&Al could give use more clues :)

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Yeah, that's why I suggested some guidance on the topic.  I'm not really sure how to chain them either.

To me, it would make sense to start a new sequence when something...DRAMATIC happens.  Let's say the heroes are exploring the Count's chateau and find their way into the dungeons below where they encounter a potential ally being held prisoner there (think Man in the Iron Mask).  Suddenly the goal changes from exploring the chateau to escaping with the prisoner without getting caught.  Viola!  Dramatic Break!  Everyone roll for a new Approach!  You lose any unspent raises and a new scene begins.

But that's all conjecture on my part, based on 20+ years of GMing.  Not because of anything I read in the rules.  Frankly, while I think Action Sequences are pretty clear, I think the book needs to offer more guidance on when the GM should make something a Risk, or make something a Dramatic Sequence.  Because it really changes the dynamic of the game.  They love to use that example of escaping the burning room as an example of a Risk, but why couldn't that be part of Dramatic Sequence?

Star West
Star West's picture

There's a number of ways you could address it:

  1. Convert it into an action scene (for example, if they’re sneaking around, well their “sneakiness” is used up, so if they haven’t slipped back out you can easily decide they’ve been caught. This approach seems to match what was demonstrated in the QS.)

  2. Just end the scene. If they’ve accomplished what they needed to and it doesn’t make sense to driven an action scene to it, this is the signal to move on. (e.g. They’re collecting information at a party, well their “Convince” has run out, so they’re not going to get anything else out of anyone tonight. It’s time to close out the party and move to the next scene, which may just be a shift in the current scene and in which they may or may not get to roll new intents.)

  3. Have them roll new intents and get a new set of raises to work from.

  4. Play out the scene, but the players have NO narrative control, except what they can control with Hero Points. They should have been more careful about how they spent their raises.

Star West
Star West's picture

You can also seamlessly slide from a Dramatic Sequence into an Action Scene and back into the first Dramatic sequence. It all depends on the current conditions and what makes sense for the scene.

Salamanca's picture
OK, let's cover the plot thing. You have to let the players interact with the scheme but you do not have to tell them what the goals are. Let's say the heroes are approached by a stranger asking for help against a local warlord who is subjugating her town. The heroes go fight the bad guy and win and influence is reduced. WRONG! Turns out the warlord is not the bad guy, he's the bad guy's rival. Had the heroes asked around instead of charging in, they would have discovered this warlord has been protecting the village for months. Now that new influence will help the real problem set up shop in town and make matters worse for the good guys. You can also build schemes where the heroes can win with a heavy price that they may not be willing to pay. (Better to let the bad guy have his day and make sure he doesn't blow up the church as a distraction). The trick is to control the ebb and flow of wins during the story to get your bad guy at the level you want him for the finale. If you think in theatric acts, the heroes do well early, suffer set back, then roar to victory. How many of each depends on how long your story runs.
Alfredo Tarancón
Alfredo Tarancón's picture

I've just finished reading the Dramatic Sequence rules... (I Skipped the example, i've to admit) Boy, I wish I had them back when I played the Act II of the Quickstart. It's obvious now that it was the proper way to play it. I wasn't very happy with how it worked out just using risks...

The way I see it DS should probably finish the same way Action sequencies finish. When the characters have no Raises left, it's time to the GM to decide if the DS should go on, if it should become an action sequence or it's just time to wrap it, all of it depending on the story. Did they accomplish what they were meant to accomplish? Did their actions provoke some unexpected event or reaction that they no longer can avoid with raises?

I like the concept a lot. It makes the use of this kind of scenes way easier. You, as a GM, can plan ahead a little bit the kind of trouble the players are gonna meet, even use Time Limits to control the flow of the DS. 

Remember the Act II from the Quickstart? It would have go a lot smoother if the apparition of Zyta had had a Time Limit of 2-1 Raises, for example... The players could have been using their Raises to get Info on the Guest, and instead of learning True or False facts, maybe they would have needed to find out this facts asking around, and only being able to get their favors after getting a few Facts before. The True or False mechanic would have to be rewritten, but it's worth it for the sake of having a more fluid scene. 


Heng benjamin
Heng benjamin's picture

"The trick is to control the ebb and flow of wins during the story to get your bad guy at the level you want him for the finale."

If you're doing this, don't use the Scheme Mecanics. Just put the bad guy at the level you want. ;)

I'm aware of the option we have, and what you suggest is pretty cool. It was kinda what i have in mind exept that I "play to see what happens" (so I the vilain is too weak or to strong, I do not care. The players reap what they sow). But I'd like to know how JWP intend us to use this mecanic.

Bradley's picture
The whole scheme thing is a neat idea, and would be a fun mini game for the GM, but I will probably not use it.
Salamanca's picture
I like heroes running short. Imagine that scene if the heroes are trying to avoid recognition. Now the heroakes contact with a suspicious guard captain that can get them the audience they need but they have one raise left. You can declare it's a raise to get the audience with a consequence of being revealed. Now the player has to choose to remain unknown or get the goal (and which is most important)
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