Last week I broke down how the question tables will be set up for an Iron Edda game based around a quest as the center point, rather than a holdfast. This week I’m going to get into the top-level questions for one of the categories so you can see the thinking behind how all of them will be set up.
A Small Digression
When I was writing last week’s post and got to the point of doing the math on how many questions the quest setup would generate, I was surprised. I hadn’t intended to make this project quite so big. I’ve been thinking about it since then. I think that 90 total questions is probably too many. It’s bigger than I want the scope of the project to be, and it’s likely unnecessary for this kind of setup.
To fix this, I’m going to cut the number of questions for each top level category in half, from six to three. So the entire process will only ever need 1dF. This will also make it easier for GMs who want to pick the starting categories rather than letting a die decide. I’ve been listening to an actual play podcast of a group playing Iron Edda and the GM went that route (here’s a link to the podcast). It makes sense if that’s your style, and I’m fine with quests supporting that.
Now, on to the first question category.
This category is all about who or how the quest was assigned to the group. I like this as a starting point because it shapes the direction of the rest of the quest. The source of the quest is something that can resonate through the entire length of a quest, especially if the quest-giver is an active part of the proceedings.
To see where things could go, I’ve broken this category into three potential choices. Each of those will have three questions assigned to it, which is how I’m cutting the number of total questions in half.
This is a very traditional first category. In all kinds of mythology, the gods give mortals quests to complete. It’s a common trope and it’s relevant in Iron Edda, too. In the core book, the gods themselves aren’t really all that present. I did that intentionally because I wanted each group to come up with their own interpretation of what that means. There are a few references to some of the well-known gods of the pantheon, especially Loki. (Since, in the grand tradition of Norse myth, this is all Loki’s fault).
This option will make the gods more present in the setting. With the drill-down questions (coming in a later post), the players will have opportunities to define what that means very directly. Maybe the quest was given because of a god directly coming and visiting the characters. Maybe the gods are silent, or dead, and the quest was given through prophecy or portents. All of the answers to these questions will have a big impact on the setting and how the game plays out.
Jarls, seers, councils, war leaders. People also very traditionally give quests to be completed. Maybe it’s a family member asking for something to be avenged, or it’s the Jarl making sure that her lands have the magic she needs to hold off the dwarves. In one recent game of Iron Edda, a quest developed as part of the holdfast creation, and part of the group journeyed to a barrow to find the Loki’s Book of Tricks to be able to create the first bonebonded for their holdfast.
This category takes people and holdfasts and re-centers them as a main focal point. I think that if this comes up on the die or is chosen by the GM, it would be helpful to also ask follow-up questions to define more about the people giving the quest. Personal connections are something that can be very strong in any RPG, but in Fate especially thanks to aspects. Define and then work those connections.
Maybe you’re born with it. Maybe it’s prophecy.
Okay, I’ll see myself out.
Seriously, though, this category is ultimately about the self, and people coming up with their own motivations for the quest. Some of the most compelling stories happen not because some outside force is compelling the protagonists to adventure, but because the protagonists are making the choice for their own reasons.
In the first Iron Edda novel, Sveidsdottir, I tried to make that the care for Sigrid. There are outside forces that affect her life, but her choices to go on the adventures she does are all hers. At any point she could have made different choices and had gone different routes. It’s her choices that drive the story forward. In an RPG, this can work, and work well. Some of the most compelling play I’ve had in a game has come from characters making decisions about where to go and how to approach things.
The Categories Drive the Questions
Now that we have three top-level categories defined, the questions come next. I’ll focus on those in next week’s Thorsday post. For now, if you’ve got feedback about these categories, I’d love to hear it. This set of categories, as well as the questions that will follow, will serve as the template for the rest of this entire setup. Now’s the best time to tweak and change things to make sure that anything that needs fine-tuning can be fine-tuned.
So, give these some thought and let me know if you think there are better choices to make. Or tell me that I’m awesome and made a bunch of good decisions. Both are helpful, though one definitely feels better than the other. =)
Until next week!
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