How it Was
The pros of this method are:
- It was fun to write a "novel" of sorts.
- There was little to no Game Narrator prep time.
- Game Narrators did not have to worry about characterization or improvised play too much.
- You could really make sure that the finer points of the story and characterization were brought out as the writer.
The cons of a scripted adventure are:
- Little room to improvise, if the players derail things.
- You end up reading a chapter of text before or after encounters.
There are probably more of both, but those are the big ones that really came out in our playtests. The moment where it hit home was at the Geekway to the West game convention.
We brought one of our adventures (the fantasy one) to the convention to playtest. While running it, the players did some things that changed a part of the story. I know, shock, the players did something not in the script. So, I was reading this page of text to them at the beginning of the next event per the written adventure, and I literally had to stop. The text of the script did not match, in any way, what had happened in the game. I was able to recover only by jumping into the comfortable space that game narrators get into when they improvise.
And that was the moment. That was where I realized that we had created something that was fun to write, but counter intuitive and broken for most narrators. If we were going to write a pick-your-path kind of book, it would be great. But this is role-playing, which is part improvisational acting, part rules, and part cooperative play.
We had a great adventure, and I got lots of great feedback (and some ideas), At the end of the day, though, I just realized that our adventure we wrote was not going to work. It was kind of heartbreaking, really. All that work. All those words... gone. So... we had to fix it.
- We always looked at the characters involved in the story when we played.
- We always chose a "thing" to fix or exasperate in each of our stories.
- We wrote really loose skeletons about 5 things that might or are likely to happen.
- The most work of the Game Narrator was put into knowing and portraying the characters.
- Game Narrator Characters are always a few stats as possible, because moments of die rolling are there the only help move the story through.
- We really plan a campaign in our game 3 adventures or less at a time. Almost in blocks of time or themes.
Looking at all this, we completely rewrote our fantasy adventure. We thought about co-operative RPG game play (where everyone takes turns being a Game Narrator at one point), but that fell flat. Instead, we just concentrated on organizing adventures in chunks called Scenes with some possible Events that might happen in each Scene. Inside those Events we had a description (which could be read aloud, if the Game Narrator wants to), an action, some facts, and some possible next Events.
This worked much better. The flow of the story was kept inside the Scenes and moved through actionable Events. Cool character moments were available to the players and Game Narrators that the scripted version prohibited. We even put in possible Events for some interactions with the Game Narrator Characters that we felt really fleshed them out (like interrogating an ally that may or may not be a villain). All-in-all, the adventure was better and was written in less words. We are rewriting the Angels adventure/book now.