Monday, June 23, 2014

[Let's Make A Cryptworld Module] Part 1: Hammering Out Our Villain, His Plot, And Our Players' Motivation

[[This is the first in a series of blog posts where I plan to take The Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook for a spin. Over the coming months, I'll be generating an adventure module for the Pacesetter horror RPG Cryptworld using the book's Adventure Creator. And you can follow along with the creation process...]]

To start our horror RPG adventure creation process, we need to first establish our plot points for the adventure. The first thing we'll establish is our Story Plot, i.e., "What's going on?" and "Who or What is behind it all?" Using the Adventure Creator Plot sheet, we will first fill in the Story Plot section using random table-generated rolls. And here we go...
Adventure Type: Recover the Powerful Artifact
Opposition: Unnatural Creature
Motivation: Creativity
Theme: Vulnerability
Plot Device: Secrets of the Pharaohs
Plot Device: Malevolent Lands
Action+Thing: Fire Party
Action+Thing: Excite Strange Artifact

As we brainstorm, we're encouraged to use as little or as much of these prompts as we wish. (So if I ignore a result in any of random charts as we progress, it's because it didn't "ring" for me in this exercise.)

Right off the bat, I want the game to take place in the Present Day. I see that the adventure will revolve around some powerful magical "whatzit" that the party will need to recover from our Bad Guy. I also see that, if this powerful/strange artifact is "excited," and that could lead to a Bad Thing. Magical bauble aside, I see that his motivation along with a plot device are "Creativity" and "Malevolent Lands." Our Bad Guy might be trying to transform an area into someplace different...someplace evil. Our Bad Guy is an Unnatural Creature, but I don't know what yet. But the Secrets of the Pharaohs interest me. What if I make this literally Egyptian? I don't want my Bad Guy to be a Mummy (too cliched), but I do know he's trying to create a new Ancient Egyptian Empire in the here-and-now, using the magical whatzit somehow. But I still don't know Who (or What) our Bad Guy is, nor have I decided upon our powerful artifact...

While I ponder those questions, we'll move onto establishing our Story Background. This will be where our PCs come in. What do they know? Why are they here? The information we generate will give the party a starting point, as well as potentially giving us some insight into our Bad Guy above. Let's see what's going on when the players show up...
Complication: Extra Support
Complication: Doubt
Plot Device: Isolation at its Worse
Plot Device: Odd Newcomer
Action+Thing: Inquire Plotters
Action+Thing: Decrease Werewolf/Lycans
Action+Thing: Abuse Clowns
Location: Assembly Hall
Location: Seedy Part of Town
Location: Estate Grounds

Just looking at the results above has filled in a LOT of blanks for me. (Although "Abuse Clowns" -- although hysterical -- will not be appearing in this module. Sorry!)

The PCs have come to the town because they've heard of a werewolf crisis that's struck the town. Perhaps one or two of the slathering beasts have been spotted or may have even killed a victim or two. Let's assume they're here to offer "Extra Support" to a previous Monster Hunter who arrived earlier. That person sent for them. Although the PCs think this is a straight Werewolf hunt, our NPC may have discovered our Bad Guy's true intentions. (And our NPC may not be there to meet the PCs, having fallen prey to our Bad Guy, perhaps?) The PCs will need to nose around upon arrival.

The townsfolk will not be friendly to the PCs as they "Inquire Plotters", i.e., stick their nose into this small town's affairs. They'll be viewed as "Odd Newcomers", shunned and left without support. ("Isolation at its Worse"). Though, it's actually fear of our Bad Guy that keeps everyone distant...but our PCs don't know that yet! I like "Seedy Part of Town," so as we move into the opening act, we'll make that our arrival point for the PCs as well as the primary focus of the initial investigation. And the "Assembly Hall" gives me an eerie Masonic Hall/Social Organization vibe, as if there is a evil brotherhood working out in the open, appearing as a benevolent social club. Perhaps it's this location where my Bad Guy is based, manipulating things as the "cult leader".

Back to my Bad Guy: The werewolves angle has sparked something. What if these are misidentified as "werewolves", but are in fact "were-jackals"? The lycanthropic curse is being spread by a modern-day Egyptian god Anubis. "Anubis" plans to spread his curse to the town, converting the people into half-dog creatures that will obey him blindly. The town will be converted into his own personal empire with him leading as their "Pharaoh." Currently he's the town's sheriff, so the PCs will get no help from the law (and it's also why the townsfolk refuse to get involved).

And that magical whatzit? It's an ancient "Eye of Anubis" medallion our Bad Guy acquired (or killed someone for). When he wears it, he has total control over all other lycans in the area, and he is able to see through their eyes. He can control his were-jackal minions as his own personal army. If the PCs are able to get control of the Eye, they would be able to turn the tables on our modern-day Egyptian "god" quite nicely...
And there you have it. We've established our Villain's identity and motivation. We've given our PCs some starting information as well as motivation for the initial investigation into the situation. And we have a town slowly being transformed into mindless animalistic minions at the behest of a cult leader who sees himself as a modern god. Not a bad start for a series of random rolls!

When we next pick this up, we'll begin fleshing out Act I, when our PCs arrive on the scene and begin their investigation. And the local sheriff will be watching them from the shadows as he touches the odd medallion hanging from his neck...

No comments:

Post a Comment