Several people have asked me to talk more on my process behind creating a narrative. So here’s my attempt at that!
Note that I do not claim to have “the answer” as there are no set formula for this. This is my subjective take on the matter. So it is what it is 😉
Here we go;
You can obviously develop and create a world, background, characters and the lot by yourself (and for yourself) but for the sake of argument this will deal with the cooperative version of how to do this using my experience.
What differs from the three is the way we developed them. Nestorian Infestation is just between me and Helge. Vortapt IV was a four-way campaign and Tor Megiddo was approx a dozen-ish involved. But if it is either just two persons or a whole host of people you need to roughly agree on a few parameters to work from;
Nestorian Infestation is about the Ordo Xenos vs Genestealer Cult
Vortapt IV is the four chaos gods duking it out on warband level.
Tor Megiddo is a post-apocalyptic setting ala Mad Max where fuel and/or energy is the key
With just that simple premise per setting you get a pretty good idea where to take this further. But how do you decide who does what?
The simple answer is, do what you want.
And more times than not that works perfectly fine! The INQ28-verse is about having the freedom to forego the traditional rulesets and just make whatever makes you tick. But okay, sometimes you need to make sure that things are differentiated.
With me and Helge in the Nestorian Infestation setting, it wouldn`t be cool if there where no Ordo Xenos because both of us only wanted Genestealer Cult. So here we decided that both of us made Genestealer Cult AND Ordo Xenos and just mix and mash. In the Vortapt IV campaign it wouldn`t have been equally cool if there wasn`t one player per god, because everyone wanted to be nurgle for example. So we set up a random lottery to assign god/faction per player. A delightfully random and fitting way of doing it – the Will of the Gods! With Tor Megiddo it was a easier. A bigger world and easier premise to just pick something and roll with it.
The last factor that should play in before you get started is establishing a rough size of the warband and setting self imposed armament regulations. This way you avoid that one guy is making demi-gods with plasma cannons while the other one is making dregs with pitchforks and knives. That`s an extreme example I know but you kinda need to keep track on this just to have some semblance of balance. I`ll get back to the topic of establishing and keeping balance but the point here is that the playing field must be as level as you can with the type of characters you create (normal people, mutants, etc) and what they are armed with. With those two simple factors a lot is taken care of from the get go.
Mapping it out
With those things out of the way it is important to actually have one person responsible for how things will kick off. Not a Gamesmaster (GM) necessarily but more a facilitator I`d call the role. Remember that in line with Age of Munda (AoM) I think GMing is part of the game as you play and could (& should) be done together with those you play with in the pre-phase.
The point with having one person in charge of establishing the objective(s) and as such the motivations for whatever will transpire you make sure that it is kept as simple as possible and don’t overcomplicate things.
Who the hell could manage something like that in the micro-cosmos that INQ28 is about and focus on storytelling?! Probably someone but not me at least!
Instead, make a nice and easy chain of events in either a linear approach like I did for Vortapt IV;
You can read more about the Vortapt IV campaign structure here, but in short I just made a string of events that had sub-objectives per game and which lead to a conclusion. The games themselves filled in the blanks following the rough parameters that where established to tell the story.
For Nestorian Infestation I have made a more traditional campaign tree for the first part at least;
It is still in very rough note form and I haven`t even made a file on the computer for it. Now it is just pen on paper, but I will write it over when the first part is concluded and share it here on the blog.
Tor Megiddo had a sandbox (too funny seeing that Tor Megiddo is in a wasteland!) approach to it where the players themselves in a large part helped write and develop the story from their perspective as the game progressed.
Remember that there where so many involved it would be impossible for one person to try and GM it all. Though this is where the true strength of INQ28 comes into (literal) play I feel. People are interested in the story and developement of the characters involved, the outcome in the traditional sense of winning or losing is a by product.
All of these examples of running the setting are simple and managable, leaving room for improviasition on the fly. Most importantly it leaves room for the most key thing here and the whole premise for the article..the story.
I`d like to note that when you get started, and have a ton of bits out and suddenly you hit that magic spot and make something beautiful that doesn`t “fit” in the pre-made arrangements be flexible enough to allow the inclusion of it. After all, this is the funniest part of INQ28. Creating and using characters that wouldn`t fit into the more traditional game settings.
And that`s pretty much my point here. The narrative is from the perspective of the characters involved. They have the motives and the character traits that decides how and what they do. I`ll try to give a few examples of this;
In Vortapt IV we started out with the 4-way, faction vs faction approach. But as we played our characters developed, be it by luck/or cursed dice, or skills gained. Either way, they kinda grew into their own skins as we played and it was really cool to see. This translated into a given situation where the rules maybe said X, but even your opponent would be more like; hey that guy would definitely do Y instead, lets go for that as that would be super cool!
In Nestorian Infestation it is the Ordo Xenos vs Genestealer Cult, but beyond that it is brother (Berrugoete my inquisitor) vs brother (Nestorian the heretic). This means that there is a deeper motivation than just the Ordo Xenos clearing out a threat. There is something here that must be explored between the two brothers that started out on the same side, but now finds themselves on opposite sides as arch enemies in the traditional sense. But is it that easy? Probably not and this is something that we will find out as the narrative expands and develops.
So to coin a phrase, you need to MARP (Miniature Action Role Play) it!
Handy tip is to make short notes as you play so you can remember it afterwards without spending too much time on it when you play. That’s kinda rude anyways as you will be distracted and lose the flow.
Balance for most is about establishing an (apparent) equal footing with the use of point cost and limitations/regulations. To play without would be anathema.
That counts for 40k as a system, but it does not count for INQ28.
Simply because INQ28 isn`t a system. It is a mindset.
If the other person or the group you game with can`t relate to that, but want to get into the “blanchitsu” style of things I`d reccommend playing for example Necromunda as a frame and use count-as to represent miniatures with established rules.
And you know what, that’s perfectly cool too!
For INQ28, balance is about agreeing on what you want out of it. Meaning establishing a common understanding of what you will partake in. That won`t be done over night mind. Establish just the rough outline and let the rest flow naturally and develop “organically” as you make plastic and metal bits into characters.
Remember that story is key, and in INQ28 that story developes from the characters and not the other way around.
I hope that it is coming through that from my perspective, INQ28 is about the common man in the outskirts and fringes of the 40k universe where as the main setting is about demigods smiting everything (ie, winning at all cost). A “loss” isn`t necessarily a loss in INQ28. It could be the catalyst for how a character develops further or a turning point in the story.
The point is, a loss isn`t the end of the story it is just a part of the story!
Okay enough rambling, hope that you guys get where I`m coming from and that this can help you in your own ventures. Again, I offer no set solutions as there are none.
What’s your opinion on the subject matter?