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Storytelling Adventure System Guide

White Wolf Publishing


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SAS created by White Wolf Publishing

2008 CCPhf. All rights reserved. Reproduction without thewritten permission of the publisher is expressly forbidden, except for the purposes of reviews, and for blank character sheets, which may be reproducedfor personal use only. White Wolf, Vampire and World of Darkness are registered trademarks of CCPhf. All rights reserved. Vampire the
Requiem, Werewolf the Forsaken, Mage the Awakening, Promethean the Created, Changeling the Lost, Hunter the Vigil, Exalted, Scion, Storytelling System and the Storytelling Adventure System are trademarks ofCCP hf. All rights reserved. All characters, names, places and text herein arecopyrighted by CCPhf. CCP North America Inc. is a wholly
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content. Reader discretion is advised.
Check out White Wolf online at http://www.white-wolf.com
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Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Written by Eddy Webb and Will Hindmarch

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

What Is A Storytelling
Adventure System Product?

Think of a Storytelling Adventure System product (SAS) as a story kit,


as if youd bought a piece of modern furniture and brought it home in a big
flat box. You open it up, eager to be the Storyteller for your troupe, but what
you find is a collection of pieces and parts. To put it together, youll need
some tools: the rules and worlds provided in one or more of our Storytelling
game rulebooks. Youll use these parts and tools to build a story together
with your friends. It might not look quite like you expect it to when its all
done, but as long as everyone enjoys it, it doesnt matter how you end up
using all the pieces, or even if you throw some of them away.
The basic parts that make up most SAS stories are simple: Storyteller
characters, scenes and some advice on how you can put them together.
Each of them can be used in different ways to keep the story building
towards its climactic end. These parts are designed to make the job of being a Storyteller easier, faster and more fun for you. The wondrous game
experiences youve read about that shock and satisfy your players come
from doing a great job, and everything in an SAS product is intended to
pick up the slack so you can focus on creating the best story you can.

Advice

Every story has unique challenges and pitfalls that can trip up
even an experienced Storyteller. No matter how great the parts are,
they dont do you much good if you dont have a clue how to put
them together for maximum effect. An SAS product often provides
specific advice on how to use those parts in just the right way to create the story you want to tell, as well as suggestions on scene flow,
relevant background, and unique rules and mechanics useful to the
story at hand.

SAS Structure
Storytelling is the most powerful way
to put ideas into the world today.
Robert McAfee Brown

Characters

Adventure Ratings

The Storyteller characters presented in most SAS products use the


same format and rules as those in our Storytelling games, with a few
elaborations and expansions. The archetypal characters you find in a
rulebook are intended to be used again and again, whenever you need
someone like them in your story. The characters in an SAS product,
however, contain special advice and notes to help you use them in a
specific story. Youll find descriptions, monologues, tactics and goals
for the most important Storyteller characters. Draw from them as
needed during play.

A Storytelling Adventure System product has three ratings on its


cover. They look something like this:
Storytelling Adventure system

Scenes

Scenes

Mental OOOOO
Physical OOOOO
Social
OOOOO

XP Level

o-34

Scenes: This is the total number of scenes in the adventure. Its used
to convey a sense of the length of the adventure (how long it will take
to play). If there are nine scenes (even if two of them are optional),
then the Scene rating is 9.

The scenes that make up the story follow a specific format. Each
scene is built as a discrete game encounter (or a closely-tied collection
of game encounters) for the troupe to play through. As the players take
their characters through these scenes, a story naturally unfolds.
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Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Pacing and plotting scenes are part of the fun of being a Storyteller
for some people. If its fun for you, take these scenes apart and use them
however you like. You can even import scenes from other stories or
create new scenes for yourself. If you prefer to just get to the table and
start playing, though, youll find an example already plotted for you in
each storys Treatment section.

Introduction and Groundwork

The Introduction covers general information about the product, as


well as set-up and groundwork sections like Storyteller advice, descriptions of key Storyteller characters, a flowchart of how scenes can flow
together, background and set-up information, and a treatment of the
story to be told.

Whats a Treatment?

In Hollywood parlance, a treatment is a short prose description of a


movies story, written before production begins. A treatment describes
all the major dramatic beats of the story, and sometimes includes
directorial or developmental information (i.e., it doesnt necessarily
restrict itself to relating the story).
In Storytelling terms, the treatment is the Storytellers core overview of the story, from authorial notes on subtext all the way to
frank narrative tips. Nothing is implied in a Storytelling treatment;
this is where the author breaks it all down in brief for the Storyteller
at home.

MPS (Mental, Physical, Social) Dots:


Zero




No challenge (involves no real risk, but may be dramatic)


Minor challenge (slight chance of lost resources)
Lesser Challenge (low risk or mild consequences)
Challenging (even chances, moderate consequences)
Major (real risk or serious consequences for failure)
Extreme (serious peril with lasting or lethal consequences)

Scenes

XP Level: The amount of experience points that characters should


ideally possess to play the adventure (but its not necessary; the
story can be scaled to support characters who have less or more
experience). The scale is similar to the charts used for advanced
character creation in each of our Storytelling games, but may change
slightly depending on the system the SAS is designed for. The most
common scale is:

Scenes are the most important parts in your kit, so usually a large
portion of each SAS product will be devoted to them. Theres a
common structure for each SAS scene to help you quickly find
information in the heat of a blazing gun-fight or during a tense
negotiation, especially if you decide to snag a scene from a different product to use in your current story. Some sections may be
missing if they arent appropriate for a particular scene, however
(such as the Actions section if theres no defining core action for
the scene).
MPS Ratings: These dots are similar to the ratings for the overall
story. Theyre intended to give you a quick summary of the severity
of the challenges the scene presents, and of what types.
Overview: This is a big-picture look at the scene, including a synopsis
and a short description of what triggers the scene (e.g. Finding the
homeless camp or Noticing the queens tomb). The central conflict
in the scene is described here as well.

XP Levels:
0-34
35-74
75-119
120-179
180+

Beginner
Seasoned
Established
Veteran
Legend

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

MPS (Mental, Physical, Social) Dots: The adventure as a whole


is given a rating based on how challenging it is in three categories:
Mental (puzzles, mysteries, research), Physical (combat, endurance), and Social (interacting with and influencing others). Also,
each scene is rated with its own MPS scale. While the adventure as
a whole might be rated Mental , Physical and Social , its
possible for one or two scenes to be rated Social or if one of
the ways they can be solved is through a particularly challenging
Social feat.
Each MPS rating uses the familiar range of 0 to 5 dots, according to
the following scale:

After the scenes, there are suggestions and ideas for potential story
ideas that can result from the aftermath of the adventure (if the SAS
was run as part of an existing chronicle), as well as suggested experience point awards.

Scene Cards

There are also scene cards included in each product. Every scene
in the story gets its own card, which summarizes the scene in short
notes so that you can focus on the story. Print them out, cut them
apart and keep them on hand as youre Storytelling. You might even
keep a few scene cards on hand from other stories a fight scene,
a chase scene, whatever just in case you need to toss them into
the current story.

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Aftermath

Description: This is a general description of the scenes atmosphere,


setting and inherent game effects. The descriptive text in this section
is usually suitable for reading aloud to the troupe.
Storyteller Goals: This details what a scene is designed to accomplish in the story (e.g., build suspense, exposit, challenge the
characters physically) and what you, as the Storyteller, should keep
in mind overall when running the scene. Antagonist goals for the
scene go here, too.
Character Goals: What are the players characters trying to get out
of this scene? Sometimes these goals will be obvious to the players
and their characters at the outset (e.g., find the Vault of Osiris or
get Edgar to tell his story), but sometimes not (e.g., survive the
zombie ambush).
Actions: This gives concrete examples of how the scenes goals can
be dramatized and played out. Most scenes have a key action, which
is a detailed description of the action in rules terms. You can use the
dice pools, modifiers and descriptive text detailed there as you play
out the scene.
Hindrances: This section gives you a quick list of
modifiers that make the scene more challenging, more
dangerous or more dramatic for the characters, such as
situational circumstances or the effects of previous scenes.
Often, these have the secondary effect of making a scene
longer.
Help: This section describes suitable ways the characters can make the scene easier for themselves, or extra
benefits they can derive through clever play in this or
previous scenes. Sometimes these have the secondary effect of making a scene shorter, but they just as often add
more actions to the scene as the players strive to get these
aids before attempting the key action.
Consequences: When the outcome of the scene has special
consequences, such as a temporary supernatural ability or a
chance of later police investigation, this section describes the
details. It may also detail how this scene can lead to others.

Telling The Story


Adaptability

One of the hallmarks of the Storytelling System is its adaptability.


The number of scenes, for example, is extremely flexible; you can add
or subtract scenes until you get exactly the story you want. Individual
scenes can be scaled up or down about the equivalent of one level on
the MPS scale for example, from to or . Use the Help and
Hindrance modifiers in each scene to dial the challenge up or down.
When in doubt, remember that the size of the dice pool is everything
add dice penalties like flickering lights, blowing rain, peeling linoleum underfoot and capable enemies to create more perilous scenes.
You can use this technique to change the MPS rating or XP level for
a whole story as well.
Its also possible to slant the MPS ratings toward or away from
a particular play style. If the story has a high Physical rating and
your players arent keen on running around and kicking some ass,
you can remove some of the high-rated Physical scenes and replace
them with more Mental or Social scenes (swapping out fight scenes
with, say, more investigation or interrogation scenes). Similarly,
if the players want to do more problem-solving in a story with a
low Mental rating, you can add more Mental challenges into existing scenes (perhaps by having some key information in the story
encrypted or hidden in a puzzle box).

Reading The Product

An SAS product is a collection of situations and settings that


describe the general plot a story could follow, but the story doesnt
really exist until you and your players tell it. Though most SAS
products will present scenes in an intuitive order, the scenes dont
have to occur in exactly that sequence. That story is just one possibility, which you can use as a guide to follow when you get together with your troupe to play. The order and the outcome of the
scenes depend on the choices your players make the story that
you all tell together around the game table is under no obligation
to imitate what we imagined when we wrote it.
Each SAS will be written in a very open, functional style, meant
to explain in clear language everything thats important about the
story youre about to tell. Each SAS product is a blueprint, and
blueprints arent subtle. We wont be coy when talking about the
story. Elements like mystery and secrecy belong in the game world
you construct with your friends, not when were trying to give you
the parts you need to build that world.

In Print or On Screen

Scene Flow

SAS products printed in our traditional books will be formatted to fit


those pages, but the layout for our electronic products is optimized for
use with a computer. The layout is landscape (wider than it is tall) so
that each page takes up the entire viewing area on a standard monitor.
The landscape pages also fit easily behind your Storytellers screen when
you print it up, and you can print only the pages youll need during play.
There may be bookmarks that allow you to jump to different sections of
the adventure, or hotlinks that will take you instantly to a website that
provides more information. Some SAS products feature printable handouts, notes and props hand-written notes, maps, clues for use when
youre telling your story. Depending on the kind of theatrics youre after,
you could print these out on fancy paper or heavy cardstocks to give your
players a tangible tool to help bring the game alive in their minds.

Although we dont know exactly what story youll be telling or


how youll plot it, having a general idea in mind of how scenes flow
together when you begin is a good idea. A basic plan can help you
improvise by giving you a core melody of plot that you can riff on
during play.
On the following page is the scene flow diagram from Criminal
Intent, but most SAS products include something like this. It looks
complicated, but in practice its really quite simple: play one scene
after another until youre done. By having scene flow mapped out
ahead of time, you can get a good sense of the general shape of the
story, and it makes it easier to keep track of what scene leads where
when the pace is furious and the tension is cranked to eleven.

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

How to Use
an SAS Product

The Cardinal Sins of Storytelling

The design of the Storytelling Adventure System allows you to avoid committing two of the cardinal sins of Storytelling boredom and confusion.
#1: Boredom Is Poison. If players are bored, the story will die. If
the story dies, the chronicle is likely to wither and perish, too. If you
see that the players are spending more time reading a comic book
or talking about what they saw on television last night, dig through
your scene cards and throw in a scene that will get them focused
on the story again. Raymond Chandler said, When in doubt, have
two men come through the door with guns in their hands. If it was
good enough for Chandler, its good enough for us.
#2: Confusion Kills Fun. Being mystified isnt the same as being
confused. A puzzle or a riddle can be fun because youre not sure how
to solve it, but thats not the same as being confused about just what
the hell to do with it. Clarity in every scene is important, whether that
clarity comes from the big picture (We have to get out of this room
before midnight so we can save Daphne!) or the little picture (We
have to break down this door so we can get out of this room!). By
having goals assigned to each significant scene and putting them right
at the bottom of every scene card, both you and the players can keep a
sharp focus on whats important in that scene.

Hired by Petrovshy

The Scene of the Crime

Confronting Simone

Rosarios Apartment

Confronting Melanie

Providing Difficult Choices

Stories are about characters making important decisions. Games are about
players making important decisions. Storytelling games are about both. Making a blind choice between two unmarked doors isnt interesting. Players need
information for a decision to be important knowing that the reek of rot coming from behind one of those unmarked doors might be from the corpse of your
dead brother makes the decision more interesting. When the consequences of
the players decisions are known or at least can be guessed, choices become
more interesting and more dramatic something is at stake. While youre
telling stories with your troupe, remember the Storytellers mantra:
Difficult choices make drama.
So what is a difficult choice? Its a choice between two equally unwelcome outcomes. You only have time to save one of your brothers,
so who do you choose? Would you kill someone yourself to prevent
your child from becoming a murderer? Would you risk jail time to stop
a supernatural force that youre not absolutely sure is real?

The Enforcers Attack


Getting the Painting

Mr. Petrovsky Arrives


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Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Scene Flowchart

preciate each others anecdotes by comparing the flow of scenes.


You might say, When I ran the story, it ended up going
Scenes A > B > E > F > C
then I tossed in scene G from this other adventure, and ended with
a climactic scene of my own design.
What was the climax like? I ask.
And then you show me the scene, already sketched out in a format I can understand and plug right into my own games if I want.
Scenes become a shareable commodity, and the more people that
play with them and share their thoughts, the more prepared you can
be to tell that same story in play and the better everyones stories
will be in the end.

Examples in Action

The last couple of pages of this guide are sample parts of scenes from
two of our SAS products. Were always working on new SAS products,
and hope youll share your stories with White Wolf players across the
globe. Stay tuned to the SAS page on the White Wolf website for SAS
news and releases:
www.white-wolf.com/sas

Sharing The Experience

The Internet is a pervasive force in our lives, and thats a unique


opportunity for Storytelling games that didnt exist before. Not
only can you get content for your favorite games faster and easier
than ever before, but you can also share your troupes stories with
others, adding different interpretations on our existing material as
you do. By using a consistent structure for all our SAS products,
we create a common language that makes it much easier to talk
about how you ran an adventure, or how youre thinking about
running it.
For example, you might move a foot-chase scene in a particular
SAS story elsewhere, or run it twice if the characters have multiple
encounters with the perpetrators in that scene. I might cut that
scene out entirely. We can compare notes, share advice and ap7

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Storytelling Adventure System Guide

Its fair game to use game mechanics to make tough choices


real for the player. For example, a World of Darkness character
can be confronted with the choice between stealing or going
hungry. This decision might not be too difficult for a starving
character, but the player can be confronted with the choice of
risking some damage to the character in exchange for fulfilling
his Virtue of Fortitude.
Not every challenge should necessarily be reduced to an either/
or dilemma, of course. Deadlines, for example, automatically
create situations in which decisions become important because
every choice uses up the precious resource of time, but the actions
a character can take between the start of the countdown and the
end arent limited to binary choices. Any limited resource can be
used to lend weight to any situation, to make any choice into a
tough choice. The authorities will be here in two minutes what
do you do with the body? You can only go four or five more miles
before the car runs out of gas where do you go? There are ten
arrows and twelve guards in the castle will you be able to rescue
your friend?
In the end, not every choice before the characters or the players
will be meaningful or difficult. However, by boiling down significant
scenes into discrete structures, the core choices are made clearer,
and more time and energy can be devoted to scenes that matter to
your troupe.

If they decide to talk, however, the characters will find that Simone
isnt very socially savvy. Shes trained as an assassin, and she doesnt do
much talking except to intimidate people. The players are encouraged
to act out their attempts to convince Simone, but they might want to
back up their roleplay with a dice roll. You can also choose to let the
players roll if the scene is running long.

Confronting Simone

MENTAL

PHYSICAL

SOCIAL

Overview

Fast-Talking Simone

Dice Pool: Manipulation + Persuasion vs. Composure + Empathy


(in Simones case, the pool is 2).
Action: Instant and contested.
Hindrances: Simone is paranoid (-1); Simones City Status (+2 to
her pool).
Help: The coterie drops Rosarios name before she does (+2); the
character speaking has Mekhet Clan Status, Crone Covenant Status
or City Status (+1 per dot).

Either from searching the alley or trying to go to Rosarios apartment,


Simone approaches the coterie. She makes it clear that shes protecting
Rosario, but if they prove to be willing to listen, shes inclined to arrange
a meeting with him. Otherwise, the encounter can turn very ugly.

Confronting Simone

Description

Criminal Internt

Simone will attempt to get the drop on the coterie, either near the alley or
by Rosarios apartment. This description assumes that she successfully surprises
a member of the coterie alter it if they catch her sneaking up on them.
A cool metal ring in a blanket of rough wool presses into the back of your
neck. This is a gun under a coat. Its the quiet but firm voice of a woman
from behind you. Were getting off the street so you can explain to me just
exactly why the fuck youre snooping around.

Roll Results
Dramatic Failure: Not only do the characters not convince Simone,
but she refuses to speak to them any further. She will attempt to kill
them if they approach Rosario.
Failure: Simone doesnt believe the characters story.
Success: Simone is willing to listen, but carefully watches the coterie
to see if they are planning to double-cross her.
Exceptional Success: Simone believes the characters completely,
and relaxes her guard around the coterie.

Storyteller Goals

Your goals in this scene are to introduce Simone, demonstrate that she
is protecting Rosario and hint that shes willing to kill the characters if
necessary. Note that checks for Predators Taint can be used in this scene
if desired; see Vampire: The Requiem, p. 168. Things are tense, but
the characters should be able to talk their way out of the conflict fairly
easily. If the scene does move into combat, make sure to let the players
learn about Simones motivations. Perhaps she says Ill die before I let
you kill Rosario before the fight starts, or something similar.

Consequences

This scene leads to Rosarios Apartment. Either the characters were


already on their way there and she goes with them to protect Rosario,
or the coterie has convinced her that they mean her no harm and she
offers to arrange a meeting.
If for some reason they get into a fight with her and she escapes,
she might attack them later (such as before or during Getting the
Painting). If they kill her in this scene, she wont be available for
future scenes, but much of what she knows can be covered by Rosario
or Melanie. While she has a significant presence in the events prior to
this story, only her connection and desire to protect Rosario are really
important for the players to know. It wont derail events too much if
she dies in this scene.

Character Goals

The characters try not to get killed by Simone, and hopefully find
out why shes threatening them.

Actions

There are two main options for this scene fighting Simone or convincing her to talk to them. If things get violent, its likely that Simone will be
able to protect herself long enough to escape and warn Rosario, and its even
more likely that the coterie will draw a lot of attention in the process.
8

Scene:
Taken!
PHYSICAL

SOCIAL

The Fear-Makers Promise

MENTAL

Give the characters a moment to take the reins themselves and make
a decision: will they go into the Hedge? Or will they let someone else
go and remain on this side, negotiating the situation from here? If they
hesitate and seem to be fading into the background of the disorder, urge
them forward with the voice of another character, someone perhaps
from their own Court or someone who represents their patron figure
(or even the patron himself). Its even possible that Red Wren will
turn to them during the chorus of rising voices and plead with them to
go into the Hedge shell make wild promises to them in a desperate
bargain, though she claims there isnt time right now to commit to a
formal pledge. Will they take her up on it?
If they dont, assume that the scene drags on until someone finally
decides to brave the Hedge to find the thief and the stolen child. (The
easy assumption is that Autumn Court courtiers undergo this task:
Ornithine, Mary OBrine, and probably Wrens own ensorcelled boy,
Henry. Though, if you have others better-suited to the task, do whats
right for your story.)
Character Goals: Decisions, decisions. What informs the decisions
of the motley? A number of things. First, they surely have some opinion on the Childrens Contract. If they consider it important, maybe
they go after the child. Or, as others note, a child in the Hedge is a
dangerous scenario for the boy, so maybe a rescue is in order even if
the ritual disgusts them. On the other hand maybe the thief had
the boys best interest in mind. Maybe hes taking the child to another door in the Hedge and bringing him right back out somewhere
else, thus working toward the childs safety and the obviation of the
Childrens Contract.
Do the characters go with what their patron asked of them? Do they
go against the patrons interests? Do they give in to Wrens pleas?
Do they enter the Hedge within five turns? After? Or do they stay
behind and let someone else do that dirty work?
Action: The only action is the informal decision of what to do, as
noted. The adventure hinges in part on what the motley chooses at
this point.
Consequences: Really, what the characters do determines how the
rest of the scenes in the adventure line up. What has been up until this
point a relatively linear progression of scenes, it now falls into a pattern
based on the choices they make. And the choices they make have a
very real effect on the freehold and all the children of the city.

Taken!

Overview: A scene of great decision for the characters.


Description: Disorder erupts. In the darkening forest, by the flickering torchlight, the door slams shut and there hangs a moment of bated
breath what will happen? What will the characters do?
Wrens unyielding faade shatters, and her eyes go wide. She matches
those gazes that turn to her and she stammers, I cant go in! I must not
leave the ritual space or the contract wont be written!
Note: the characters have only five turns to re-open the door and
enter the Hedge if they choose to go after the child. (The door will
only lead to the same place in the Hedge for a number of turns equal
to the Wyrd score of the original opener of the door in this case,
Red Wrens Wyrd score of 5.) Thats not to say they cant open it
after those five turns are done (and in fact, doing so does not require
the expenditure of Glamour since the door is already keyed to the
Hedge), but it will not take them to the same place that Cancer John
and Joey went.
Voices of dissent and protest will be certain, here. Some will demand
that the child must be followed and reclaimed for the ritual. Others
will demand he be claimed because well, a child in the Hedge is
doubly cruel and could get him into trouble far worse than what the
ritual would bring him. There will be those, however, who will loudly
proclaim that whoever took him is likely taking the child to safety
thus ending this dour ritual.
Storyteller Goals: This scene can go ten seconds or ten minutes. If the characters leap into action, boom, the scene is swift.
If indecision plagues them or they decide to remain behind, the
gathered Lost will devolve into a squabbling mess of blame, insults,
threats, and desperate pleas (with, of course, no action actually
being taken remember that the characters are meant to be
the truly dynamic presence in any story, and in this adventure
its no different).
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