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Episode Design for a one shot

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So here is an exercise in episode design for a one shot game, in particular so that James, down on the Isle of White, can run a session for his new group of gamers.

So first up in episode design is the pitch. What is the concept of the episode and its aim? What is the Theme and Mood? What story element should be present? A pitch should be able to sum up the episode in a few sentances.

For this episode it is;

'On an island a group of people from various backgrounds must content with the horror of an entity from the seas and the mystery that surrounds its attacks on them. Help is not possible as they are alone and so must rely on each other and their wits, or worse, use each other selfishly in order to escape.'

With that pitch done we can now think of the structure of the episode.

The episode has around 5 to 7 scenes.

This scene is the setup. Character introductions and the establishment of the location and any form of weirdness, but nothing to crazy, just something to spring on the more observant characters.

Escalation of the plot.

Further escalation and introduce the threat.

Escalate the mystery and allow for a degree of investigation.

Further threat, and now introduce a degree of urgency in the plot.

Further investigations leading to finale

Finale, final threat and conclusion.

So now we have an idea of scenes lets also remember that there are scenes here that can be skipped and altered mid game to suit our needs. This is merely a guide, not a set route.

So lets think about the entity. It is a creature of the sea. So lets make use of what is in the Book of Spirits.

Spirits embody the meaning a place, a creature and place. Spirits can effect the things that give them power even when on the other side of the Gauntlet. Spirits can then attempt to cross the Gauntlet where it is thin, or where there is some form of gateway, like a verge. Once on this side of the Gauntlet spirits can exist either materialized or in the state of Twilight (much like ghosts). Spirits also have access to other powers, such as numina. Spirits can also possess people to various degrees.

Spirits can also be strange things that are the amalgam of two spirits. These hybrids cause things to act irrationally due to the merging of different concepts into the spirits. Image what would happen if spirit was both of a tree and of a computer!

Spirits are often dangerous and appear at places where there is a locus (a hole between the worlds) or a verge. These places can be attuned to a particular resonance and so influence people in subtle ways when people are near to the loci and in its area of effect. Loci are also places where spirits can feed on essence and refuel themselves.

So what else can we consider? Well spirits can ebody the myths of old gods. So lets take for example Tethra, a sea goddess and Formori.

Another interesting feature is that some spirits can form broods (rather than just eating each other to gain power).

Also spirits suffer from bans, and from holy relics and exorcism.

What is in Book of Spirits we can use straight away? Well there are items and merits for mortal characters to use. Then there are the lists of premade spirits and rules to make your own.

There is an example spirit of a pool which with a rework could be a water spirit of the coastline of the island. There is also a crocodile spirit that can be modified. There is a Water Horse, who is an elemental spirit.

So how can we use all this?

Lets have it that the spirit is acting out due to something on the island being disturbed, or that the spirit is being manipulated by another human through magic or some relic.

Other books to consider. Second Sight, Reliquary, Mysterious Places, Ghost Stories, Inferno.

The discussion continued http://ethericlabs.posterous.com/#!/advice-an-exercise-in-episode-design-whitewol

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I checked it out. There is one thing I like about it and one thing I don't like about it.

I really liked what James has done with it. It felt like an isolated horror setting small town, kinda like something you could find in a Cthulhu setting. Only you are not stuck with the Cthulhu mythos.

I didn't like the setup. You wrote it like a lot of books do in new WoD. Like Mysterious Places and Urban Legends for example. With a lot of story seeds. That's good. But the story seeds are very generic, like people going missing, strange noises, bad weather, animals behaving badly etc. I can't blame you for that, because you just did what a lot of nWoD books do. It doesn't work for me. Something worked out gives me more inspiration than lots of story seeds, who seem (no offense) a bit standard.

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Whatever the troubles, its always nice to see some scenario creation in action to see how other folk do it.

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