Wednesday, April 10, 2013

[Valanas] How Important is Story?

Over the course of the past 6+ years that I have been playing in my little sandbox world of Valanas, it has always come down to the players enjoying the strong amount of conflict between story elements than just down-right combat.

Even this past couple of play tests, players have been more interested in the story itself, the world, and how their character ties into it. Given how combat driven most Role Play Game systems are out there, why are people telling me that the story is important?

Sometimes a good story can start with a picture like this...
(Concept Art by Frank Hong)

During my time as an author for this system and an avid Role Player myself, it has often times been very difficult to put the stories I had to tell onto the tabletop. I could easily put together the most extravagant story plots that would take mere seconds before the players would slaughter them entirely. Though despite that fact, the players would still have fun.

Over the course of years of reading up on Game Mastering or Dungeon Mastering blogs, it became clear to me that often times all it takes to get the players hooked is simply to take a world that has some very strong elements that they learn immediately that give them something to hold onto, add in some elements of the world in which they can either explore or pursue, and then toss in a conflict into the world that completely changes things and puts the players in a position of either saving it or turning it into their own image.

Every single time I have implemented it, each time with more flavorful story and each time with increasing levels of drama, I had found the players would fall into character more and would want to explore other aspects of the world. As long as I was mindful of what goals I had intended in the game, this made for some easy ad-lib as the players would either fit the mold, or their own creative ideas would turn the world that helped the enjoyment for not only that player's character, but for other's as well.

"From the ashes of old, the saplings of our future grow..."

As I continue the development of Valanas, and put together what I hope to be a new style of having "Old Mysteries" that players could explore built right into the character, I begin to realize that sometimes getting the players really involved in a game is by giving the players the tools they need to really make the game enjoyable and rewarding.

These tools often include the player building a connection either immediately or over time with a character, and then providing a significant change to where those players then have to adapt, but still give them something to build upon down the road.

In this light, players are driven to continue to build relationships while still exploring the world itself, and all the game master has to do at that point is allow each of the players to really make the world their own, preferably without having to take that same enjoyment from others at the table!

What? Who said Game Mastering was completely easy? In the end though, I really do hope that Valanas provides both the tools and style needed to make any group of players happy. So far I feel that I have made significant progress, and it is just a matter of making sure those tools are fine tuned and made absolutely worth while for those using it.