Saturday, January 10, 2009

Game Theory - The Total Rewrite

This phrase really freaked me out when I first heard it. What could be cooler than a theory of games? But you know what? It isn't the cool new college course that all the design publishers are looking for, its actually military strategy. Which kinda works, if you're playing Total Annihilation. But I'm not talking about military strategem, or TA. I'm talking about design.

My first major campaign for Star Wars Saga Edition is going on. We are up to the third episode, and since I didn't care for the original RPGA written episode 3, I'm rewriting it.

Now, I've got to tell you, this is not just an easy throw something together thing. There is real thought and planning behind building an episode for an existing established campaign. I wanted to keep some of the same elements in the game so that key things that took place in the original will still happen in the rewrite, but will fit my new setting and events.

But it doesn't work to just cut and paste areas of the text, because they are very different in content.

For example, I just couldn't bring myself to put my very aggressive players thru four days of playing cards. It just wouldn't have worked. They would have been killing random npcs by the second day. So that had to go. But there is a purchase / exchange that happens during the card game. Now I have to have that purchase / exchange go down anyway, but in a diffent manner, and to where the players discover it anyway, and make it more interesting than hiding in shadows evesdropping or sitting somewhere high up and watching thru macrobinoculars.

So. For the first installment of my new RPG focused hobby blog, here we have:

Episode 3. Rewriting the Adventure.

  1. Keep the NPCs the same, just change their role. Rather than your Rodian being a scoundrel card sharp, throw him in position of the Noble. Dress him up in fancy clothes and give him an entourage.

  2. Keep the setting similar, just change the location. The original may take place on Jabba's Sail Barge over the dune sea. But that doesn't fit your new setting, since you aren't including Jabba, or the Tatoonian Dune Sea. How about a five day-six night stay aboard the luxury star cruise Correlian Star Resorts Cruise & Travel.

  3. Keep the main plot of the episode, just change the detail. The original was a rescue of the princess from the evil Empire's new space station detention facility before she's executed. Well, perhaps in your game, the Empire's base is an underground facility, and the rescue of the princess is freeing slaves. Plot: Rescue. Details: location / rescuee.

  4. Add in new stuff that makes your game different, but similar. Basically not all the encounters from the original episode are going to work in your new location/setting/goal. But coming up with interesting encounters can be a challenge. You don't want your episode rewrite to be the same. you want to give it your own flare and creativity. Let's say in the original the heroes were going to come across a datapad that would lead them to an NPC that knew what they were looking for. Well, that's a data encounter. How about instead, your hero's droid slices into the central station computer and that data that was going to be provided from the NPC is available there.

  5. Make it exciting. No matter how much you didn't like the original write, something about it made it exciting to the writers. Try to capture that element. It's okay to borrow from their example to do it. Just as the heroes save the princess and disable the tractor beam, escape from the big bad evil super villain (BBESV), they blast off into space only to discover their hyperdrive has been disabled. Dun dun DUN! Now they have to fight off waves of TIE fighters and fix the hyperdrive at the same time before the shields give out!

Yeah, keep that part.


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All of Soulie's RPG (paper and dice) related articles that will be published on RPG Blogger's Network.

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