The Asylum of Ravenmire
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Do you play to win?
a) Yes, you totally play to win! The win conditions are…
b) Good play isn’t a win/lose kind of thing
B). Playing for fun, excitement, drama and overall player enjoyment in exploring a world/story/events is the focus of the game. A dramatic failure is better than a boring victory.
Player characters are:
a) expected to work together; conflicts between them are mostly for show
b) expected to work together; but major conflicts might erupt but you’ll patch them up given some time
c) expected to work together; major conflicts might erupt and never see reconciliation
d) pursuing their own agendas – they might work together, they might work against each other
e) expected to work against each other, alliances are temporary at best
A). This is absolutely a co-operative game. Arguments and rivalries are purely for show; pranks and joke PvP are allowed(encouraged, even) if it's done in jest and the other player(s) is/are okay with it.
The GM’s role is:
a) The GM preps a set of events – linear or branching; players run their characters through these events. The GM gives hints to provide direction.
b) The GM preps a map with NPCs and/or monsters. The players have their characters travel anywhere they can reach on the map, according to their own goals.
c) The GM has no plan – the GM simply plays the NPCs and has them act or react based on their motivations
d) There’s no GM. Everyone works together to make the story through freeform.
e) There’s no GM. The rules and the system coordinate it all.
Mostly B) with a smidge of A) and C). The Asylum that has appeared is the main focus of the campaign, but the party are more than welcome to roam and find quests in any places they can reach. Several areas will be detailed for the party to explore if they wish; some small elements might have planned events or be completely improv depending on player actions.
The players’ roles are…
a) …to follow the GM’s lead to fit the story
b) …to set goals for their characters, and pursue them proactively
c) …to fling their characters into tough situations and make hard, sometimes, unwise choices
B), with a smidge of C) if it fits their character and personality. Ultimately it's up to the players to decide what they want to do and how; paths and lures might be put into play by the GM, but the players choose what their goal is, and how to achieve. Sometimes that involves throwing the halfling at a dragon.
Doing the smartest thing for your character’s survival…
a) …is what a good player does.
b) …sometimes isn’t as important as other choices
c) …isn’t even a concern or focus for this game.
B), though leaning towards A) rather than C) for party cohesion. A paladin that An Heros to save the party can be a thousand times more epic than a paladin that chooses tactical retreat. A level one paladin deciding to wrestle a Demogorgon however…
The GM’s role to the rules is…
a) …follow them, come what may. (including following house rules)
b) …ignore them when they conflict with what would be good for the story
c) …ignore them when they conflict with what “should” happen, based either on realism, the setting, or the genre
A mix of B) and C). The rules are ultimately to accommodate and provide a framework for the fun of the players. If they stop being fun, then there's no point following them. The GM has the final say on rules, whether to follow or change them, but he also listens to player feedback and input. The GM rarely(if ever) say "No."; he will say "Yes, but…".
After many sessions of play, during one session, a player decides to have her character side with an enemy. This is…
a) …something that shouldn’t even happen. This is someone being a jerk.
b) …where the character becomes an NPC, right away or fairly soon.
c) …something the player and the GM should have set up ahead of time.
d) …only going to last until the other player characters find out and do something about it.
e) …a meaningful moment, powerful and an example of excellent play.
A), B), C) and possibly E) if it's done really well. Ideally the party should always be working together; a betrayal can be dramatic but it can also destroy the party and ruin peoples fun if done badly. This sort of thing should be arranged ahead of time, and usually on the condition that that character is not going to stick around much longer with the party!
A fistfight breaks out in a bar! The details of where everything is – tables, chairs, where everyone is standing is something that…
a) …is important and will be displayed on a map or grid, perhaps using miniature figures.
b) …is something the GM will describe and you should ask questions to get more information.
c) …you can decide on the spot using specific game rules (rolling dice, spending points, whatever)
d) …isn’t really that important other than it makes for an interesting scene- pretty much anyone can come up with details.
Mostly B), with some A) for combat/terrain. Descriptions are key and players should feel free to interact or ask for details on what's around them in whatever way they can think up. For combat things will usuall be a little more solid with walls/difficult terrain/positions being set when combat starts. Marching order in a dungeon or where everyone is when a trap goes off are also somewhat required.
In order to really have fun with this game, the rulebook is something that…
a) …everyone playing needs to have read and understood before play, because the rules and setting are both very important.
b) …everyone should know the rules very well.
c) …everyone should know the setting very well.
d) …everyone at least should know the basics of the rules.
e) …everyone at least should know the genre the game pulls from
f) …Only one person needs to really know the rules and it can be explained in 10 minutes or less to everyone else.
F), progressing towards D) as people get more comfortable with the rules. As everyone is relatively new in this campaign, I as the GM take responsibility for all rules headaches. We have no time limit on sessions so taking time for people to understand their abilities is A-OK. Ideally as we play more, people will get more comfortable with their own characters and what they can do(spells, abilities, items, etc), but to stress, this will be a totally 100% newbie friendly game, and we go can through stuff as it comes up.
Instead of “choose one” think of this as a checklist – pick which options apply, leave the ones that don’t.
This game runs best when the players take time to create characters that are…
a) …built to face challenges using the mechanics and stats.
b) …written with extensive backstories or histories
c) …given strong motivations and an immediate problem or crisis
d) …tied into the other characters as (allies) (enemies) (as either)
e) …written with some knowledge, research or reading up on the game setting, real history or an actual culture
This one is tricky, as really it's all of the above. Players should feel proud and fun about how their character handles and how they solve problems with a combination of their cool abilities, good play and clever ingenuinity (A). Backstories, histories, personalities, friendships and rivalries all give richness to the roleplaying of your character in a campaign, especially when you connect and develop these with other players(B and D). Pulling lore and background(either from the Pathfinder setting itself or fitting in concepts from other media) can make a character feel more grounded(E). Adventurers need a reason to go on adventures, what ever the cause may be or whatever drives them. How did they get to where they are now? ©.
What kind of conflicts make sense for this game?
Exploration and the continual scratching at a deeper mystery and story. The strange abandoned asylum is not the only strange thing to happen to the sleepy town of Ravenmire. Perhaps there's something lurking in the forest, or bandits terrorising the road. Maybe the adventuring guild in a nearby city needs extra hands to clear its bounty board. Maybe the local townsfolk need a favour of peculiar skills or seasoned adventurers, one that they're willing to repay in kind.
What kind of protagonists make sense for this game?
Good or Neutral characters are prefered, or Evil who know how to get along with the party; a ragtag bunch of mercenaries who got roped into something potentially way over their heads…
What kind of outcomes make sense for this game?
Player fun, ultimately. Whether it be the Fighter slaying a dragon and living by the skin of her teeth, the Bard roleplaying a diplomatic solution and parleying with the dragon, the Rogue using his smarts and sneaks to steal the treasure without needing a fight or the Wizard, out of spells and 1 HP, landing a critical hit with his staff and dealing the killing blow to the dragon on the luck of the dice.