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Quick impressions of "Parlor Games" and WW's Storytelling Adventure System

PetriWessman

Squirrel with a Plan
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Well, White Wolf finally published the first set of PDF pregen scenarios that have been hinted towards for a while now, under the common label "Storytelling Adventure System". Essentially, they seem to be "classic" pregenerated adventures, but optimized for laptop/computer use and trying to use the strengths of PDF publishing in general.

Since I generally like pregen adventures (for various reasons), I picked up the Werewolf one ("Parlor Games") and quickly skimmed through it a moment ago. This is not a review in any way, just a "quick impressions" post based on this one PDF.

First off, about the "SAS" system: in my opinion it's a great idea, and I can see myself buying a lot of these in the future. The layout is clean and in landscape mode (optimal for laptop use), and there are lots of nice touches. The module has "scene cards" at the end which contain in-a-nutshell summaries of the scenes in the adventure, can be a handy tool for a busy (or newbie) GM. The organization is good in general, I can't really find anything to fault there; the "adventure" consists of a number of scenes, and each scene is semi-standalone -- there is also a flow chart which shows the probable plot flow from scene to scene. Overall, very nice.

The modules all come with a "ratings box", which tells you how many scenes the adventure contains, what exp range it's meant for, and the general level and breakdown of mental/physical/social challenges. In a way, it's an expansion of the old TSR "this module is meant for characters between levels 7 and 10, with at least one Cleric" -idea -- and I mean that in a good way, it's a useful tool when trying to figure out what to run for a one-shot or low-preptime game.

In general, I think things like this are pretty much what PDF is ideal for. No artificial pagecount limits, and very focused, smallish publications that probably would not make sense in printed-book form. I also like the landscape formatting and the fact that this is something you really could run direct from a laptop screen. That's cool.

The pricing is high, and falls just below my content-vs-price pain threshold (whereas Imperfect Lotus went over). I can see myself buying more of these in the future, though knocking a dollar off the price would make impulse buys more attractive. As is, I think they are a small bit overpriced -- not so much that I'd refuse to buy them, but enough to make it one of the few negative marks against these products.

About Parlor Games itself: without spoiling the plot, it's a hunt for something that has been preying on people near the pack's territory. It's pretty location-neutral, and designed to be run either as a oneshot or dropped into an existing game. I can see both options working quite easily. The plot is fairly straightforward but has some nice small twists, and the NPCs are interesting enough. No idea how it plays in practice, of course, but it reads well and sounds like it should be a fun evening of play. In addition, it has a very good Werewolf vibe to it, and plays to the game's strengths.

All in all, I liked what I got, a lot. I think White Wolf has a potential hit in their hands with this format, as long as the quality keeps up.

Even though it's notoriously hard to write pregens for, I'd absolutely love to see something for Exalted, too, in this format. You can never have enough drop-in miniscenarios and pre-statted NPCs, in my book.
 
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RedFox

Valerie Vixen
Validated User
Interesting. White Wolf may have really hit on a winning formula here. Though I'm leery of the laptop-optimized approach. It's great for those with laptops at their gaming tables, but many more people have computers than have laptops, so it's a further audience limiter from normal PDF customers.

That said, as a niche product it sounds really appealing. I personally love mini-scenarios and the scene/flowchart formula sounds like a good way of presenting it for use. Coupling it with the SAS rating system seems like a surprisingly utilitarian-turn for White Wolf (notorious for all style and no substance, especially where modules are concerned) and I'll definitely be following this with interest.
 

PetriWessman

Squirrel with a Plan
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Though I'm leery of the laptop-optimized approach. It's great for those with laptops at their gaming tables, but many more people have computers than have laptops, so it's a further audience limiter from normal PDF customers.
Well, I think most of the "computer optimization" here is just that landscape format layout, so I don't really see any problem with printing it (in landscape mode) and running it from that. That's actually the best way to run it, I think, paper still beats LCD in so many ways :). I just appreciate the fact that you *could* run this direct from laptop screen, if needs be, and also the fact that reading the module on a computer screen is a lot nicer with this layout than with the traditional portrait format.

In short, I don't see anything here that would detract from the more normal print-and-play-without-computer approach.
 

RedFox

Valerie Vixen
Validated User
Well, I think most of the "computer optimization" here is just that landscape format layout, so I don't really see any problem with printing it (in landscape mode) and running it from that. That's actually the best way to run it, I think, paper still beats LCD in so many ways :). I just appreciate the fact that you *could* run this direct from laptop screen, if needs be, and also the fact that reading the module on a computer screen is a lot nicer with this layout than with the traditional portrait format.

In short, I don't see anything here that would detract from the more normal print-and-play-without-computer approach.
Ahh, cool.
 

firebat

Retired User
Do you think the module could be adapted to Apocalypse or is it very focused on Forsaken-specific themes?
 

PetriWessman

Squirrel with a Plan
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Do you think the module could be adapted to Apocalypse or is it very focused on Forsaken-specific themes?
Hmmm. I think you could make it work for Apocalypse, too, substituting Wyrm baddies where needed. Or course, all the NPCs are statted with the new system so that would need some work. But yeah, with some extra prep you could probably run this pretty much as-is for Apocalypse. Some Apocalypse gifts could make this a bit troublesome, though, since it could easily devolve into a "find out who smells of the Wyrm, then kill that" thing. So maybe you might want to keep the bad guy non-Wyrm, or protected from basic detection. Not sure about all the details, I've never played or run tabletop Apocalypse, just read some of the sourcebooks.

The main Forsaken theme here is "protect your territory from threats". Changing that into a "hunt hostile possibly-Wyrm forces"should not be too hard.
 

Damian May

Apex Predator
Validated User
The main Forsaken theme here is "protect your territory from threats". .
Same as one of the main Apocalypse themes, sounds like it'll work. Wish they'd done this for OWoD.*


*You mention the vampire dungeoncrawl books and I swear I will smack you.:D


Guess the closest thing was The Valkenberg Foundation...that was quite solid actually.....hmmmm. Must go read old books.:)
 

ESkemp

Registered User
Validated User
A quick conversion note for Apocalypse:

As PetriWessman notes, you would likely want to make sure that "Wyrmsign" is difficult to accurately target. This should mostly be true of the various lesser enemies; by the time you go into the main enemy's den, you probably know something is up, just not precisely what.

You will need to increase the stats of the antagonists, however, particularly if you want to drop Parlor Games into a chronicle that's been running a while. They aren't as much of a match for experienced Garou, which are generally tougher in a fight.

Spoiler: Show
If you are willing to use the Ananasi as antagonists, in a "they eat people" way, Mr. Gustavus can be converted over easily enough. The Jacks might be a bit trickier, as they rely on the Azlu motif of smaller and less intelligent spiders that eat people's brains and ride around in their craniums passing as human. You could design some sort of fomori-spider, but in that case I would recommend giving them an appropriate camouflage from Sense Wyrm; let the players work their other senses when trying to figure out what they are. Also, it might not be as grotesque if Mr. G simply shapeshifts instead of bursting out of his human skin, but you could make the skin a fetish if the image appeals to you.


Thanks for the overview, Petri! I'm pretty fond of this endeavor; it's straightforward, yes, but sometimes you want a straightforward hunt scenario. I also love what our buddy matt did with the handout materials. I hope it entertains.
 
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