Advice for Narrators

World building is the most important part of your work as the narrator. You must prepare a world that is rife with conflict and opportunity. Create characters that naturally lead to action, rather than forcing action on the players. A map may be useful for reference: any decent atlas will provide you with the geographical information necessary to judge distances across an area. Inside of towns, however, the landscape will differ greatly from our world. In cities, plesiosaurs tow boats through crowded harbors, massive zeppelins choke the skies, and the streets and markets thrum with energy and tension. In smaller towns, the ordinary goings-on are often interrupted by crises of various scales, often dangerous wildlife or criminal activity.

The characters that your players meet should be more than props. It is easy to produce a dynamic story when each character has his own motivations and interests. A shopkeeper should not be solely a means of procuring equipment, he may also be an incorrigible gossip who hints at the opportunity for shady employment or a stalwart loyalist who suspects you of separatist leanings. In this way, plots should flow naturally from the interactions between the players and the world.

Adjudicating the rules is the part of narration most likely to result in conflict with the players. A balance must be struck between the two important premises: firstly, that everyone wants to have fun, and secondly, that the narrator has final say on all disputes of any kind. Disputes about the difficulty of a roll or what player-made abilities and equipment are allowable should be handled gently but firmly. It is of paramount importance to avoid having one domineering player take control of the world, and to keep a level head such that all players have an equal hand in the development of the story.

Advice for Players

Staying in character is the most important part of being a player. While acquiring abilities, traits, and equipment, try to ask yourself: is this something that I want or that my character wants? Playing your character to maximize roll modifiers and acquire the best possible gear is likely to be out of sync with the motivations of a real human being on some level. Keep in mind your character’s motivations, and keep a strong sense of personality while role-playing.

Moving forward with the story is not solely the responsibility of the narrator. Your character has goals of their own to pursue. Rather than simply wait for circumstances to prompt action, take the initiative. Ask local authorities if they need assistance. Seek out information about the area in a library. Your character need not be carried along by the current of the plot. Make your own way in the world.