Monday, November 28, 2016

Adventures of Consequence

The more time passes, the more I realize that Adventures in Oz needs a revised edition. Not that it's a bad game at all. Just that I've learned some things that I didn't even think about 6 years ago.

While there are some tweaks to the rules I want to make, the Narrator chapter needs to be a bit stronger. It's decent, fairly generic Narrator advice. However, it really undersells some specifics of Oz that are baked into the rules.

The big thing about AiO is the Friends List/Oz Point rules. That's the key innovation of the game. But I don't know how strongly I sold it in the game's text. As I said a few months ago, I think I gave short shrift to that in my presentation of character creation. I'm sure the Narrator's discussion could use some bulking up, too.

But the thing I've really come here for today is to talk about another thing that didn't get talked about much in the AiO Narrator's chapter that really should have been: Adventures that are initiated by player actions. Because there are things in the rules that are intended to create adventures that aren't really discussed.

For example, the whole notion of limb loss during combat. The most I do in my discussion of this in the book is say to handle it very carefully. There's a lot of story potential that winds up left on the table.

As much as I say that I included the whole limb loss rule because of the Tin Woodman's backstory, there's another tale that can inform your Oz adventures. In Baum's the Magical Monarch of Mo, the titular monarch loses his head in battle with the Purple Dragon. While he does eventually get his head back, he spends some time in the interim trying on various replacement heads of differing materials.

So if a character in your Oz adventures loses a limb, they have just created a new set of adventures for themselves. Not only do they have the option of going on a quest for their old limb, but seeking out a craftsman to make the replacement limb that they want can be an adventure, as well. Maybe they want a cool steampunk robot arm, but all they can find are clockmakers who want to put a little cuckoo in it. So they go on a quest to find the Steam Punk. Or whatever.

The other thing that can feed adventures is the creation of magic items. A lot of games that have magic items include rules for making them. But for the most part, it's largely handled as a downtime, non-adventuring activity. AiO, by contrast, specifies that magic items require a number of ingredients that must be quested for. While there is a loophole where you can spend an Oz Point to have one of these ingredients already, the real fun is in the journey.

And the cool thing about both of these adventure possibilities is that they don't strictly come from the Narrator. While the Narrator may certainly include enemies wielding Deadly Weapons in their game, exactly how that fight plays out and whether anyone loses a specific limb should not be mandated. Also, it should be player choice exactly what they want for a replacement. Likewise, it is perfectly fine for a Narrator to say "A new threat has come to Oz and we need these 3 things to work the magic to save it." It is also fine for the player of a Sorcerer character to say "Narrator, I want my character to make a really cool magic item. What magical ingredients do I need to find to make it?"
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