MoonHunter Sayeth 20180904

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#1
Dials: Chronicle Controls for Modes and Tones
For those that haven't seen me do this before...

Every chronicle, when written up, has several dials that define (or refine) the options the GM has in play for the setting. Each Dial represents an important point. In most cases, I rank dials from 1-5, with one being minimal to five being just on the line of over the top. Some dials represent Tones, as in the tone of game. They represent how the chronicle/ campaign will be played out. Some dials represent Modes. Each Mode is an how an important aspect of the setting is being used in a chronicle.

If this seems familiar, I have discussed Dials for Chronicle Packets on my Blog.

Tones

The Tone dials help define the tone of the chronicle. While most GMs and troupes/ play groups maintain the same tones of play from chronicle to chronicle, certain chronicles might be different. The setting of the dial gives a concrete example as to how the GM, and the other players, expect things to go in the chronicle.

These are what MoonHunter consider's the generic tones. Your troupes might have other important elements of play in the chronicle that they want defining, adding or deleting certain tones.

General Tones
  • Heroism - simplistic cartoon (1) to one step from the villains (5) (MH is 2)
  • Morality - from black and white (1) to everything is a shade of grey (5) (MH is 2 or 3)
  • Outlook - very optimistic (1) to almost nothing ever works out (5) (MH is 2)
  • Realism - very romantic/ cinematic (1) to extremely realistic (5) (MH is 2 or 3)
  • Seriousness - play it for laughs (1) to almost entirely serious (5) (MH is 3.5-4 as Written by Joss Whedon)
  • Continuity - isolated episodic play (1) to entirely serial – everything in the story line(5) (MH is 5)
  • Mortality - nobody dies ever (1) to "expect death to be a constant companion (and what is your next character concept anyways?)" (5) (MH is 2, you can die but only in dramatic/ climactic moments )
  • Genre - enforcing genre conventions (1) to play on (5) (MH is 1 or 2)
  • Genre II - If more than one genre is in play...
Note: Some people will reverse the numbers, wanting high numbers to be their desirable consequence.


Modes
Modes come from the important things in the setting. They are the important locations/organizations/ forces in the setting. They can also be subsystems in the game (magic, dueling, courtly intrigue). These modes are important parts of the setting in play. So for the Dark Oak Forest mini Setting, there are the following modes:

Mode
  • Dark Oak Forest
  • Mowren (North Kingdom)
  • Religion of the Spirits (Found in Mowren)
  • Kegrell (SW Kingdom)
  • Deshren (SE Kingdom)
  • Order of the Oaks
  • War
  • Court Intrigue
  • Magic
Notice that they cover the kingdoms and the events for the chronicle. These would be the important things in the chronicle (including what you are doing). Each one is rated from one to five. Those ratings have a meaning.

Generic Mode Ratings
0) Does Not Exist- Only a few things have this option in most settings. (*1)
1) Mode exists, but it is only used in a limited area/ time.
2) Mode is going on in the background in your setting
3) Mode is something your players might encounter personally once or so in the campaign.
4) Mode is something that will provide drama for the characters from time to time.
5) Mode is something that is used in the campaign regularly or is the center of the chronicle.(5+)

Now, why are these important? It helps players determine what is going to be important, very important, or something just in the background. This lets them choose story elements and game mechanics (archetypes/ gifts/ flaws/ skills/ etc) that will be part of the chronicle (and the frequency that will show up).

Now separate chronicles in the same setting will have the same modes, but with different Mode Ratings. You could explain your chronicle by listing where they are for each mode.

Your classic chronicle for the Dark Oak Forest
  • Dark Oak Forest -5
  • Mowren (North Kingdom) -4
  • Religion of the Spirits (Found in Mowren) -4
  • Kegrell (SW Kingdom) -3
  • Deshren (SE Kingdom) -3
  • Order of the Oaks -5+ Most character frameworks center on The Order.
  • War -3
  • Court Intrigue -2
  • Magic -2
Your chronicle could use these same modes, but using tones comfortable for the GM and the Troupe make their own unique game.


Mark's 4th game
  • Dark Oak Forest -4
  • Mowren (North Kingdom) -4
  • Religion of the Spirits (Found in Mowren) 2
  • Kegrell (SW Kingdom) -4
  • Deshren (SE Kingdom) -4
  • Order of the Oaks -4
  • War -4
  • Court Intrigue -3
  • Magic -0
  • Dragon - 0
  • The Empire -3
Mark ran a few mini-chronicles (movie metaphor) in this setting. They all had dragons and more magic (evil wizards) than a normal chronicle in this setting. So that is why he had to make a Dragon Mode as 0 and the same with magic, for his "very different chronicle". The Empire is the large country south of Kegrell and Deshren that ignores these hinterlands... most of the time. He also set this the Mortality Tone to 4 and had everyone have two characters.

Jared wants to run a romantic fantasy game
  • Dark Oak Forest -4
  • Mowren (North Kingdom) -4
  • Religion of the Spirits (Found in Mowren) -3
  • Kegrell (SW Kingdom) -4
  • Deshren (SE Kingdom) -4
  • Order of the Oaks -5
  • War -3 with a period of 4
  • Court Intrigue -3
  • Magic -3
  • Bound Beasts -4
This will be Order of the Oak with their bond beasts (beasts you have a mental connection too). The Order Rangers are going to spend a lot of game time out of the forest. This is a much more social game. He also cranked his genre tone rating to -1 for full on genre emulation.

Deshren Court Game
  • Dark Oak Forest -2
  • Mowren (North Kingdom) -3
  • Religion of the Spirits (Found in Mowren) -1
  • Kegrell (SW Kingdom) -3
  • Deshren (SE Kingdom) -5
  • Order of the Oaks -3
  • War -4
  • Court Intrigue -5
  • Magic -1
This game using some of the same elements, but is all about the competitive court of Deshren. The morality tone changed from my normal 2 to a 4 (I just have problems with level 5 morality games). This chronicle became the "what was happening in Deshren" in my mind.

After these examples, you can see the usefulness of tones and modes. The same basic setting pieces can be utilized in any ways by changing their emphasis. Thus the players know what they are getting into and what is going to be important.

--- -0- ---
The Dark Forest material at Strolen's is the home of the example pieces that defined this setting. It has been used by a number of people for one shots, short movie chronicles, and short television metaphor set chronicle. To be honest, this was my first good ad hoc setting thrown to together. I was all about the planning and making a novel worthy setting at the time. And here we go, my ad hoc game technique (which I have used for any number of convention demo games) and best examples.

*1) The 0 category is normally used for "optional things" added to a published setting. If you are not using the options, you rank it zero. If you want to change a published setting or change a setting the players are familiar with, you can take a normal mode with a zero. So if you have nine organizations of vampires in a setting and want to eliminate two from being an option, drop a 0 in front of them. That mode is marked as not existing (nor in fairness should they ever existing in that chronicle).
 
Top Bottom