Event design philosophy

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NOTE: this is a historical document, it was our first stab at a format and set of goals for events. We need to modernize and archive this.

Poetics for the Emancipation of Events

This document exists to obfuscate simple ideas with intentionally extravagant and self-conscious language.

When I say this is a “Poetics for the Emancipation of Events,” I mean only that it is a set of self-prescribed guidelines or—in some cases—bold claims for how I am going to maintain a process of creating fun events that engage with the user and create a desire more than a responsibility to read and interact meaningfully with game text.


An event is emancipated by:

1) Presenting meaningful choices: Any text that hits the player as direct narrative ought to serve the purpose of offering her choices. We don’t need the player to be told what she is doing, we want the her to be involved in doing. Events should present choices that provide paths of truly variable flavor and result.

2) Including the characters it directs: Events should feel particular to who is involved in them, and should serve the purpose of emphasizing ongoing personalities. Story roles will serve to place characters in position to make in-character statements and choices within events. In-event dialogue is vital, and our [feature] comic book paneling could prove really effective for bringing the characters visual into frame.

3) Conjuring vivid atmosphere: Event language ought to be clear and concrete, while injecting the proceedings with significant strangeness, and perfuming the world in its own mystery and disaster. Language should not be flowery, but should have imagistic character.

4) Imposing context: Shortly upon encountering the text of an event, the player should know where she is, who is involved, and what implications this event has for the immediate elements such as place, character, advancement, danger, remote story, etc.

5) Assuming a mantle of momentous brevity: It will be vital to accomplish as much as possible in as little words as possible, in order to maximize a player’s ability to quickly absorb the text and generate intelligent, informed action. While storytelling through text is an essential component of the game at this point, much of the success of the text component will be in how it accomplishes succinctness in a way that doesn’t lose scope on the moment or the power of a personal story.

STYLE CHOICE!: Let’s think about tense and POV, while we have the freedom to make a cheap choice. --> Present tense offers good immediacy and promises a bit more sensation; --> Past tense might serve an epic-storytelling atmosphere surprisingly well (?); --> Is the company of heroes “WE/US,” or is it “YOU/YOU” or is it “THEY/THEM”?

EXAMPLE EVENT This event should exemplify the above goals, in order to present a feel for how event-poetics become realized. The event I’m working with is one that has been implemented. This version is slimmed, trimmed, and equipped for the current game direction.  

CONDITION: <Party Assaulting Site> NAME: Witchstone ROLES: <coward> = [Coward]; <leader> = [Leader]; <snark> = [snark]

DESCRIPTION: A tall black rock stands on the verge of <Site>, points to a pale bloated moon. <Coward> shivers and hugs <coward.mf:himself/herself>.\n\n<Leader> nods to the rock. "Witchtooth, they call it: flinty and jealous, and ever-hungry. It’s said if you don’t offer it a good memory, it will lay a curse on your back."

CHOICES: [romantic] Sacrifice a romantic memory. (MUST Choose a Hero – HOOK=Flirt,Brokenheart) [family] Sacrifice a familial memory. (MUST Choose a Hero – HOOK=Loyal,Nostalgic) [proud] Sacrifice a memory of achievement. (MUST Choose a Hero – HOOK=Proud,Integrity) [nothing] Let’s keep going. (Dismiss)

OUTCOMES: [romantic] BRANCH 1 [family] BRANCH 1 [proud] BRANCH 1 [nothing] “If I made a sacrifice to every spooky-looking rock I encountered in the Yondering…” <Snark> laughs. “Let’s go.”\n\nShaking <leader.mf:his,her> head, <Leader> accepts this decision.\n\nSoon, you are entering <Site>... only <coward> falters, frowns, and beats <hero.mf:his/her> chest. \n\n "I don't know why or what, or how, I..." In <coward.mf:his/her> eyes a black flame flickers. "Nothing. It's nothing." --> [Coward Gain History Line: "For refusing to sacrifice a happy memory to the Witchstone of <Site>, <name> became the home of a tortured black spirit, clamoring for control."] [Coward Gain Hook <Inhabited>] [Begin Mission - Night]

BRANCH CONDITIONS: <choice> <volunteer> (choose a hero)

OUTCOMES: [romantic] "...I held <volunteer.awm:her/him> to me,” <volunteer> recalls, “cheek to cheek. Our tears mingled, and as the sunset faded, we knew no matter what the world took from us, we’d remain whole while we remained together."\n\n<volunteer.mf:He/She> pauses, and <volunteer.mf:his,her> smile gives way to a muddled frown. "Hm? What was I saying?”\n\n The stone is black to its core, sated. --> [volunteer Gain History Line: "In order that <mf: his/her> friends might pass safely to <Site>, <name> relinquished a memory of young romance to the Witchstone there, and lost it forever."] [volunteer Buff: Attunement +5 - Permanent] [volunteer Role: Loner +10] [ Begin Mission - Night]

[family] "...on the rocks above the river,” <volunteer> remembers, “father played his flute, while mother was threading lines to our fishing poles. And I can still feel the fish tugging… how the…" \n\n<volunteer.mf:His/Her> smile, by twitches and twists, gives way to a frown of confusion. "Wait, what was I saying?”\n\nThe stone is black to its core, sated. --> [volunteer Gain History Line: "In order that <mf:his/her> friends might pass safely to <Site>, <name> relinquished a memory of <mf:his/her> parents to the Witchstone there, and lost it forever."] [volunteer Buff: Focus +5 - Permanent] [volunteer Role: Hothead +10] [Begin Mission - Night]

[proud] "...and the truth floored me,” <volunteer> admits. “A hammer blow to the heart. Staying there with old <volunteer.mf:Stellad,Stella> I would have to feed <volunteer.mf:him,her>, clean <volunteer.mf:him,her>, and watch <volunteer.mf:him,her> die. But I did it. I did it anyway, I…"\n\n<volunteer.mf:His/Her> smile falters. "What did I do?”\n\n The stone is black to its core, sated. --> [volunteer Gain History Line: "In order that <mf:his/her> friends might pass safely to <Site>, <name> relinquished a memory of <mf:his/her> proudest moment to the Witchstone there, and lost it forever."] [volunteer Buff: Vitality +5 - Permanent] [volunteer Role: Coward +10] [ [Begin Mission - Night]