Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Myth Story Quests rendered into Chapter Quests: The Stone Of Life

These cards are based on the Myth Story Quest "The Stone Of Life". I broke that quest out into Chapters, worked up necessary clarifications and revisions for things that didn't work so well in the original, and altered the flavor text to better match the "Adventurers telling a story of their exploits at a tavern" theme. I used Tom Howard's card template to make these, and went with his "S" designation so they'd match the remixes he'd done of my cards from The Mad King. I think from a rules perspective they'd be clearer with a big "C" in the corner instead, but this is one case where consistency is at least as important as accuracy.

That said, I moved the rules and rewards for success down into the resolution area where the flavor text for success lived. Likewise, I moved the rules and consequences for failure down to where the flavor text for failure resides. All of it's below the "Resolution" label. I've found that when we complete a quest, we immediately read the reward section, and then get distracted by whatever decks or tokens that involves, and often forget to return to the bottom of the card to read the color narration of what just happened. My hope is that consolidating all of this into one area will make it harder to forget.

To use these new cards you would shuffle "Arrival At River Falls" and "By Emberweave's Campfire" into your Quest Deck. Between the various forums where I posted my earlier work, I've had a number of questions about how to use these cards, so this time I was very precise on the card itself about where each Chain gets put in the deck.

The original "The Stone Of Life" quest has a weird disjointed structure. The second act is confusing, and feels like it's almost a different story. I had to read it all a couple times to figure out what the heck was actually going on.  To address that, I broke that second Act out as its own unit, a single Chapter Quest that can be played on its own. That meant the main line of the quest was now about 50% shorter. To compensate, I added a few extra monsters and some sterner pass/fail conditions to the chapters, plus a mandatory Quest Deck shuffle in the middle. Essentially, it will play out as 3 Chapter Quest chains rather than a single Story, and you can only get the Title by completing the first and third Chain series.

I might still revise this campfire quest a little. For one thing, I was uncertain whether I should give it a "C" or "S" designator. More importantly, I think the second reward line as written is more complicated than it needs to be. It'd be better if it was "search the Quest Deck for any Quest Card and put it on top of the deck", and if I struck the River Falls reference entirely. The result would be a stand-alone Chapter that lets you hunt for any Story or Chain you wanted, which would actually be pretty cool.

Jewel In The Water is extrapolated from the 1st Act of the original, but adds 4 extra Crawlers. It's a speed bump, mainly here to make sure the Heroes encounter enough Tiles to really earn the Title at the end of the Story.

I moved the two "Remove a White Token from the Treasure Bag" rewards of this Act ahead to this and the Arrival quest, so you'll still feel some small benefit if you call it a night in the middle of the chain.

Pete's Cell is as faithful an adaptation as I could make of the original without dictating a specific Tile.  It's  possible to recreate the original with terrain bits where the doors had been, or you can let your creativity go wild and create a unique makeshift prison for Pete.

The Resolution flavor text here is heavily influenced by the weird Act Two of the original, which I removed to be it's own sidequest (see "By Emberweave's Campfire", above). I nearly just cut that Act out entirely, but decided that made the story too short, and thus the Title too easy to acquire. While it's still a little short now, the mandatory shuffle on this card prevents you from just blitzing through the Quest. Chances are you'll have to accomplish it in non-consecutive segments.

After the shuffle, you'll probably encounter plenty of other quests before ending up back in the River Fall vicinity. This card is basically picking back up with what had been Act Three of the original.

In the rulebook, Yardu's plan is a terribly unclear, and is the only hint in the core game that the the various Darkness villains may sometimes have competing agendas. That ambiguity, plus Emberweave's obvious efforts against the cult (see next card) provoked the idea that maybe he's just an illusion of Yardu.

There was a chance that you'd get this card as the first draw of a new adventure, with very little equipment and thus no real shot at winning. So I built in a safety valve to compensate. If Yardu clobbers you, you don't actually suffer any consequences other than having this specific Quest Chain be further delayed.  "By Emberweave's Campfire" is also shuffled back in to further reinforce the notion that he's meddling in your lives, and that "all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again." Frakkin' toaster. :)

This and the next few Tiles were very tricky to convert into Chapter Quests, because there's a number of complicated rules that apply to all of them and they have very precise placement in the original. To save space, I presented the rules only where needed instead of laying out the big picture on every card.

Failure on this card doesn't stop you from completing the main quest, but does raise the difficulty. In the original you technically couldn't fail and could take all the time you wanted, so when I added a failure condition I slipped in a bonus treasure drop to compensate.

Failure here can shut you down completely, so I included a "save point". :) That is to say, if fail here you can eventually pick it back up here and not have to backtrack to previous cards. Hard to say if that's actually beneficial to the Heroes or not.

You'll see on the final card that I also made some minor changes to how the Triggers and Runes work for the sake of brevity and clarity, but the end result has exactly the same completion odds as the original, provided you place exactly two lairs on the "Fire-Weaver's Beacons" Tile and concentrate your Triggers on a single character.  I built in mechanisms to allow players to customize that experience, and thereby make the scenario a little easier or harder as they see fit.

The last card can give you the Title while the T1kL is still on the map, which is a strong advantage to the players. To keep that "on the level", I tied the Trigger Tokens to each Hero's personal inventory. The challenge level of the quest itself has overall gone up slightly, but then adjusts itself down to below the original's level of complexity if Heroes start falling in battle. I'm pretty pleased with the elegant way that works here.

I added a couple serendipity to the success entry, so that if the Players press on after the big fight is over they'll be more likely to afford resurrecting fallen comrades. One response I heard when I did this on a different quest was that clever players might use it to immediately summon Talek Three Dunes and buy an item to save with their new Title. I'm really not worried about that, since Talek only carries green items. If you're so under-equipped that a random green item purchase is actually worth saving after defeating a Boss, then you definitely earned the Title you just fought for.

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