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​how do you introduce leads to the PCs for fighting the Wyrm

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  • ​how do you introduce leads to the PCs for fighting the Wyrm

    How do you introduce leads in your chronicles for the PCs to fight the Wyrm? I don't believe Garou fight the Wyrm and its minions all the time. There are other things PCs can do in a Garou chronicle. But it is clearly a big part of the game, and for some chronicles that may be all what the PCs do. I am looking for new and novel ways such leads can be given. I don't want to keep using the same old methods as overuse make them stale and sometimes lead to problems.

    Some PCs are actually active in looking for leads for their packs. This is very helpful as I can reward their efforts with leads, but I find this to be rare. I find most players and PCs to be passive and reactive - they are looking for the ST to make them aware of opportunities.

    Here are the general ways I currently use to provide a prompt for PCs to go out and start hunting or investigating the Wyrm.

    An authority figure tells them what to do.
    • Typically this is the sept leader, but could also be a pack totem, Mentor, or other authority figure in someone's tribe or sept. This is a classic ploy and can be used with many variations (an anruth pack can be given a different mission by each new sept/caern they visit).
    • Problem: I can't do this all the time. There is a lack of player agency when the ST simply tells them what to do. And sometimes it can make it seem that the NPC packs don't do anything, or that the people in authority are weak by always relying on them.
    Something happens to the PCs' Backgrounds
    • This is when the plot is created by someone's Allies, Contacts, Kinfolks, or something else (animals or spirits included as well as humans and kinfolk). Maybe they are being directly threatened and that forces the PCs to intervene, they request the PC's help which eventually becomes known as a Wyrm threat, or they simply pass on strange, cruious, or interesting information in common conversation that hopefully provokes a response.
    • Problem: This strains credibility if used too many times. PCs can also get hostage fatigue if they feel their Backgrounds and backstory always causes them trouble. And sometimes the PCs can simply fail to see the opportunity or Wyrm threat.
    There are ongoing issues or hazards that need to be periodically dealt with like mowing the lawn.
    • These are often low level threats that spawn in areas known to be "permanently" Wyrm tainted. This could be a superfund site that keeps attracting Banes or spawning fomori. Vampires in the nearby city is another classic example.
    • Problem: This can be easily overused, and can become old very quick. And while it may provide an easy way to introduce a combat or other struggle early on in the game; PCs generally like to achieve victory. So after a few fights, PCs generally want to resolve/eliminate/cure the long term problem. If they can't, they lose interest. If they do, then the ST just lost a way that could be used for future story seeds, or can be used to explain what the other NPC Garou of the sept are doing.
    Random things cross the PCs' paths
    • This is coincidence and sheer luck when the next Wyrm conspiracy/plot/monster just happens to be noticed by one of the PCs by being in the right place and the right time.
    • Problem: This can strain credibility especially when used more than once. And it can seem very forced if the PCs do not engage with the plot, as they could easily decide to ignore it.
    Known rumors
    • This is when the ST complies a list of "plot seeds" known to the sept in general, or just the PCs specifically, culled from a variety of sources. It can be known threats to the sept (while this seems equivalent to the ongoing threats point above, ongoing threats are generally meant to be low level, while in this case this would be a much more active and powerful menace, like the presence of a PENTEX operation that actively produces fomori and has a goal int he near area). It might also be interesting or strange information reported in the newspaper, local hospitals, or police stations - either publicly known or reported to the sept by helpful kinfolk. While nobody asks the PCs to do anything, that list is there for PCs to choose to investigate in a sandbox style game.
    • Problems: There are only going to be so many of these. They can get exhausted soon as PCs finish off each one. If the ST keeps repopulating the rumor list, it is still the other NPCs (the ST) doing the work while the PCs do nothing proactive.
      • And such a rumor list begs the question of why aren't the other Garou (NPC Packs) doing anything about the items on the list (are they just lazy, incompetent, or bad members of the nation)?
      • There is also the issue that sometimes PCs can outgrow the threat hidden in the rumor, and the ST either has to eliminate that lead, put in extra work to make it relevant/worthy of the current status of the PCs), or have a possible underwhelming encounter.
      • And not ever rumor should lead to an outright Wyrm encounter - some rumors should be false or dead ends to be realistic. Of course having dead ends and false leads are problematic on their own (waste people's time).
    By mixing these up (especially by using variations of each one), I'm usually able to keep things interesting and prevent them from being stale. But I am interested if there are other methods people use in generating leads for the PCs. (I want to repeat that this is specifically for Wyrm threats, not ongoing story drama based on normal character development and NPC interaction).

  • Maris Streck
    replied
    Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
    However, if a PC spends the XP to get a Gift like Sight From Beyond I tend to be OK with it because its paid for, and ultimately it gives me an easy way to introduce plots. I do put some thought on what kinds of things are revealed in Sight From Beyond, as not all plots should start that way or should be revealed by them.
    I could easily remove or forbid the gift if I wanted to, but visions and Umbral quests for guidance are a legitimate part of Garou animism and I don't want to cut that part aside. Ofc I still can make visions hard enough to break their brain and make them regret their choices. ; )

    My own chronicles typically have three major components in terms of plot. One is the main "chronicle mystery" that provides an overarching plot over the entire campaign. (In Chicago By Night, this would be the methusalehs' quarrel, in Rage Across New York this was intended to be the Seventh Generation.) Another are plots that result from individual back story and actions of the PCs themselves.
    In my current campaign I used part of a player's backstory to build the main antagonist and I tied another one's family to a secret their Sept is keeping. I like to keep things personal.

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  • Moirdryd
    replied
    I use a bit of all. Sept officers handing out quests and tasks (or Spirits), stuff a PC happens to stumble across, allies and friends coming to them with problems or discoveries and yes I use Visions and Dreams.

    My Chronicles tend to be built around a Theme which is hinted to in the Chronicle Title that everyone gets to put on the character sheets. Examples include: "Down with 'The Man' "- lots of Pentex involvement but also inter tribal power struggles and other aspects of institutional authority being abused and massive amounts of crisscrossing conspiracies and byzantine plots. "Hearth and Home" - The pack (gathered from whatever cubs could be sent from 5 different septs) is the last hope of a remote Sept that is down to three members, one in Harano, one trying to hide the fact her alpha and elder is in Harano and is a mix of deceit and rage and not wanting help, and one desperate to get the help to work but has massively high, vision led, expectations of them. "A Long Night in Westhaven"- Vampire Dark Ages where a coterie is increasingly stuck in the power struggles of elders that they cannot match, but they may be able to rise from the ashes of the conflict of if they can simply hold out long enough, learn enough and sow the seeds that may bloom into their own power in the long night. "Of Dreams and Crowns" - A Changeling game where the PC's will help determine the future fate of the Kingdoms across the isle of Britannia and maybe even find the new (or become) High King or Queen of the Isle of the Mighty.

    I like to have layers in my game, things for the characters to stumble across, ideas of other things happening so when they go looking for stuff or head in odd directions (as players will do) I have results for them handy. Soon they find themselves involved in a number of story lines and depending on what they do decides the outcomes. Sometimes the story line intersect, sometimes they don't, sometimes it doesn't appear like they do and then the characters discover otherwise later on. Of course I also listen to my players suppositions and nothing in my notebooks tends to remain intact session to session as I adjust, alter include and cut things.

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  • Black Fox
    replied
    Originally posted by Maris Streck View Post
    It basically depends on the situation, I like it to be fluid and coherent. When I'm the ST I usually begin with a basic theme for the campaign, then build a rough plot over it and lastly define the key NPCs that will lead the plot. And the NPCs are what I'm aiming to get with all this because they are going to be the plot. Basically, I plan a world that is going to move and act on its own; I use a timetable to define what will happen when and I leave the PCs around, free to mess with the stuff.
    My own chronicles typically have three major components in terms of plot. One is the main "chronicle mystery" that provides an overarching plot over the entire campaign. (In Chicago By Night, this would be the methusalehs' quarrel, in Rage Across New York this was intended to be the Seventh Generation.) Another are plots that result from individual back story and actions of the PCs themselves. The third component is the sandbox environment that should include a variety of Wyrm menaces as well as other conflicts or issues that are of other origins.

    It's usually the sandbox elements (which forms the basis of many single game sessions and fill up a lot of time of the players) that require a variety of leads to get the PCs involved.

    Leave a comment:


  • Black Fox
    replied
    Originally posted by Maris Streck View Post
    I usually NEVER use visions to show a problem since it either feels spoonfeeding to me (if they're self-evident) or takes up too much of my time to figure out how to put that in riddles or symbols. Sadly, my player's Theurge just got Sight from Beyond so I'll have to deal with it somehow.
    Ah, yes. These kind of deus-ex-machina leads via oracular visions or dreams is another way. I am with you in preferring not to normally use them. However, if a PC spends the XP to get a Gift like Sight From Beyond I tend to be OK with it because its paid for, and ultimately it gives me an easy way to introduce plots. I do put some thought on what kinds of things are revealed in Sight From Beyond, as not all plots should start that way or should be revealed by them. The greatest challenge I tend to have is coming up with good omens that provide direction to the PCs, but which don't outright reveal things.

    But certainly supernatural omens and portents are an option, and sufficient differently from the other kinds that they deserve their own category as opposed to being a variation of. And of course, not all such omens need to come to the PCs themselves, but might occur to NPCs (and not always Garou) and reach the PCs indirectly.

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  • Eldagusto
    replied
    Through kinfolk neighbors, septmates and most importantly their own investigations, maybe some work as counselors or even mailmen or Bartenders. They keep their eyes open. I remember the revised Bonegnawer book or book of the City had a story about a Bonegnawer hobo who would beg for change to buy O’Tolleys but he was really scoping out the place. They should have connections to the world around them.

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  • Maris Streck
    replied
    It basically depends on the situation, I like it to be fluid and coherent. When I'm the ST I usually begin with a basic theme for the campaign, then build a rough plot over it and lastly define the key NPCs that will lead the plot. And the NPCs are what I'm aiming to get with all this because they are going to be the plot. Basically, I plan a world that is going to move and act on its own; I use a timetable to define what will happen when and I leave the PCs around, free to mess with the stuff.

    "How do you introduce the leads then?" well, as I said it depends:
    - When the local Pentex branch decides to pollute the water supplies the PCs won't know anything.
    - Some news might report that some water company bought the right for the local city water supplies. It won't feel suspicious at first, but proper investigations will reveal it to be a Pentex subsidiary. PCs might manage to start with a sizable advantage if they discover the problem at this point.
    - As soon as the city water is polluted the PCs might feel that something is wrong if they're in the city when this happens, maybe by sipping or using Sense Wyrm for unrelated matters.
    - If no one notices it, after a while the inhabitants will start to stink of Wyrm-taint and the number of banes will increase in the Umbrascape. If the players are visiting the city at that point they'll probably notice that something is wrong; if they aren't, any werewolf NPC living or visiting the city will notice it and report to the Sept, where the leaders will tell the PCs to investigate.
    - If no Garou moves through the city during all that time, the news or the local kinfolk will probably talk of a raise of violent crimes, of police investigations on a serial killer or mass hospitalizations due to escherichia coli infections. At this point the news is big enough to sound alarming, still not screaming "Wyrm" but might lead someone to investigate.
    - if no one still noticed anything at this point then some accident will happen to some Garou relative due to the new situation. Maybe a kinfolk was murdered by a newly created Fomori, maybe the kinfolk himself is now possessed. That news WILL attract the Elders' attention and demand action, but the town is now heavily corrupted and will take a LOT of resources to clean up all this mess...

    I usually NEVER use visions to show a problem since it either feels spoonfeeding to me (if they're self-evident) or takes up too much of my time to figure out how to put that in riddles or symbols. Sadly, my player's Theurge just got Sight from Beyond so I'll have to deal with it somehow.

    I like to keep my characters busy, with two or three problems happening simultaneously and a lot of red herrings that might waste their time. The NPCs will also work on the same stuff, each taking care of the part that better fits their personalities (and so, maybe, the Uktena elder might end up misled because in all her wisdom she followed her biases against the Wyrmcomers instead of scouting the local Umbra). I like to give them choices and consequences - will they partecipate in the great battle with all the Sept against a powerful foe that will turn out being just a distraction, or ignore the promise of glory and investigate a different lead on a local BSD pack to foil their plans? The second choice might prevent an attack on the Caern, but the first one could save the life of an Adren that will instead surely die without the PC pack there to assist.

    Once every main NPC is set with a goal and a personality the story will basically write itself, you just need to evaluate what just happened and move each of them accordingly to their background - the quest will be discovered by the more appropriate way depending on the situation and the plot will adjust and evolve continuously. I even prepare some key NPC with long-term goals that are unlikely to impact the current adventure just to have something to develop in a potential follow-up, just to keep causality straight.

    I hope I somewhat answered to your starting question?

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