I'm working on the second string of Adventures for my home campaign.
Hurrah to all in my home group, after the grueling Veteran issue the game is back!
But this is leading me to alot of questions about what the Lair adventure game should be, as well as one big problem: Lair is not an RPG in the classic sense.
Lair of Sword & Sorcery is it's own game
As those who have bought the issues have seen Lair is it's own thing.It's not made for people who have been playing pen and paper RPG's for years, although they should like it as well.
It's for all fans of Fantasy, Adventure, Monsters, and Sorcery. The issues are written from a point of view that the people reading them may have never played an RPG before. It's made for all the people out there who have read fantasy novels, played video games, watched movies, or just thought an album cover with a dragon on it was cool.
It's for those people who have been playing a video game and thought "this is really cool, but what would be cooler would be if I could (insert random action here)".
It's for the people who have played a fantasy boardgame and thought, "that was fun, but what happens to all these people and places next?".
That's what Lair of Sword and Sorcery is.
It has a Demonboard (the playing surface) because regular folks want to see what's happening, because arguing about where a goblin was before they cast a fireball is lame, Because the Demonlord (game master) wants to play a game, not just run a game.
It has specific rules for what a scenario must have, the reward/punishment rules mean that it is clearly defined what the heroes will get and what will be lost if they choose not to enter the Lair. Because a real person gets to choose what they do.
The problem with a being something completely different...
How does this affect my home "campaign". I imagine the average group would be downloading, or buying scenarios, deciding which one they want to do and jumping straight in. That's the great thing about Lair, very little prep for a published scenario, just lay it out and go.
The problem I am reaching for my own campaign though is that I want a system for quick preparation of your own scenario.
I've rewritten the current group of scenarios 4 or 5 times already trying to come up with a system that works. But I was stuck with one big problem that still raises it's head with "traditional" rpg systems.
For those of you who aren't rpg people this means an adventure where the heroes aren't given a choice about what happens next. (essentially, I'm trying to keep this short).
The problem with Lair is that it is very, let's say boardgamey. It's built that way on purpose.
The problem is that after 5 or 6 scenarios, the heroes may feel a little constrained. There's a whole world out there, why wait till it's served up by the demonlord on a platter, they want to go to place x now. Or do x now.
Thats cool, I'm good with that, that's the way I like it too. That's what adventure is. Now how to do that in Lair...
The Story system of Lair...
Now I'm going to step into some territory that hasn't been published yet for Lair, it's in the next issue The Lair of the Blind Burrower.
Essentially what I am in the process of doing is Codifying (making rules up) the creation of Adventures and campaigns.What I've found is this:
At the bottom rung is the specific "Lair" the Heroes are in right now, the specific demonboard layout on the board.
The "Scenario" is the group of rules, enemies, objectives, rewards and punishments for that lair.
The "Story" is the plot that links "scenarios" together. The story also has the same things a scenario does, rules, objectives, rewards, and punisments, but they apply tot he whole string of scenarios. It also states the order in which the scenarios happen as well as other event triggered scenarios (if heores do A scenario B happens)
The "Campaign"This is the meaty goodness I've been working with recently.
Since I have players going from My First "Story" into the next this is the part I've been wrestling with. If this were a standard RPG that thing would be fired up and in the chute in a couple of days but blazing a trail takes a little longer. But I think I've found what I'm looking for in Lair.
Essentially I've written up rules for the Campaign to ensure that railroading can't happen.
It's a quick list of rules in the form of questions for the Demonlord.
It allows any place to become a setting for the heroes to range free in while still allowing adventure and excitement without the restrictions of a "scenario".
Nothing is in stone yet but it breaks down to.
Setting: where the heroes are now, Basic areas mapped out so that the Heros know where they can go. The Stroh-Branoch info in the Combat issue would be considered a "Setting"
Active adventure: this is the main story of the setting brewing at the time. It is codified like any other "Story"
Background: this is the background story of the setting. If the heroes dive straight into the active scenario then they may only encounter rumours or the odd "Encounter" with the background.
If they back away from the active adventure they will encouter more of the background.
Background will have certain encounters that engage when heroes do specific things or they may be time based, say on the second day the characters are in town.
Miscellaneous encounters: these are ones that have nothing to do with either the background story or the active adventure, they are just "things that happen". They may be triggered by going to a specific place (most often), seeking out a specific individual, or time based.
The setting map: each setting should have a map, even if only barely roughing in what area is where and a few interesting places. Some of these places may not have enough detail for a full encounter but if the Heroes go there the Demonlord can make up interactions between the people there and the Heroes.
These may lead to different stories and adventures down the road...
What this means
So we now have a main adventure going on, it's whats prepped and the biggest thing happening in the area, but if the heroes aren't interested in that at all, that's fine, they can see what's happening in the rest of town, see what else is brewing, get involved int he alternate story line that is running alongside the first.
Not interested in that either? Well there's a few sights to be seen in town and you can check that out, a few things are going to happen to you, they always seem to happen to heroes, and while that's going on you might have some plans of your own cooking.
A note for regular rpg folks
I also still dabble in "regular" rpgs, I am really digging what the newest edition of D&D is rolling out, still loving the OSR movement and all the great things it's throwing up, don't let all my talk of Lair fool you, I'm still down with RPG's.
The thing is everything I do in Lair in this airy "upper level design" kind of stuff really seems to strengthen the way I think about standard role playing now.My last OSR campaign was built using this kind of method that I'm using in Lair and frankly it worked great.
So even if you aren't thinking about trying Lair yet, maybe try to drag a bit of the thinking into your own adventure design.
Oh and build a Demonboard, I used that thing in D&D and it truly rocked there too.