Last week we talked about the possibility of having a group of characters who aren’t bound to a given holdfast. To be honest, it’s been a busy week and I haven’t had a chance to come up with a full set of questions to replace the holdfast generation. What I have done, though, is to spend a lot of time thinking about how to frame those questions, which is almost as important.
If the holdfast is the central component of the characters’ lives in a standard game of Iron Edda, then for a roving band of adventurers, the quest replaces that.
When you think about fantasy games or literature, the quest often figures heavily. Destroy the One Ring, stop the White Witch, Save the Cheerleader, Save the World. Okay, so the last one was superheroes, but you get the point.
In Iron Edda, the holdfast is the connector between characters. Every player is answering questions about the events of the area, and those answer tie everyone together (along with the Group Aspect; more on that in a little bit).
If you want to have a group who isn’t tied to a given holdfast, who doesn’t have that kind of shared history, then you need to have some other kind of uniting factor. For this, it’s the quest.
Things Fall Apart
As a side note, this isn’t just important for Iron Edda. I used the holdfast creation was a way to mitigate a problem that has plagued, and continues to plague RPGs: the lone wolf character. There are tons of examples of the lone wolf in the media we consume. Even Skyrim, one of the core inspirations for Iron Edda, is kind of a lone wolf game.
We all want to be the centers of our own stories, even when we’re playing with others. Couple that with the idea of the lone badass wrecking shop up one side of the setting and down another, it’s no surprise that this trope causes problems at the table sometimes. In Iron Edda, I wanted to lessen the impact of that. The holdfast creation does some of the that, and the Group Aspect brings it home. Even if a player wants to play a lone wolf badass, they still have to answer a question about the holdfast (tying the player to the setting), and they have to have a Group Aspect connection to another character (tying the character to someone else). It doesn’t totally solve the problem, but it helps.
What Kinds of Questions?
Like I said, I wanted to use this post to frame the questions that would work for Quest Creation.
(Like the capital letters? Means it’s an official term now).
Much like the holdfast creation, the questions used for Quest Creation need to do a few different things:
- Add to the setting in a meaningful way
- Create player buy-in
- Offer potential for answers to build off of one another
- Set the stage for future adventure
On the surface, this might mean that any one question could be a little boring on its own. This is a side-effect of having to craft questions that can stand on their own without any additional setting information or GM input. Some questions can be more direct and leading. This help seed setting information in the players’ minds, and gives them a sense of how the world works.
I did my best in the publication of Iron Edda to make sure that the holdfast questions accomplished the things I set them out to do. Stands to reason that it means creating new questions isn’t exactly an easy proposition. Given the guidelines above and some setting material, you might be able to come up with some questions on the fly that will get the job done.
(If you play a game of Iron Edda between now and the next post and you try this, I’d be interested to hear the feedback).
What really needs to happen is that the questions need to do all of the above things so they really reflect the nature of that game. Iron Edda is crafted around the idea that you’re making your place in the world. Each group gets to take a part of the setting and call it theirs: unique, original, and like not other. The questions help them get there.
So as I move forward to make the questions that will let a group play adventurers, it changes the nature of the game. It makes the game more insular: the holdfast, home, it wrapped up in your companions, not a set location. It means that the plot threads presented in the questions need to both be more explicit, and more leading, but both of those things need to happen without conflicting with one another.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to this. I didn’t expect to happen upon this set of thoughts when I started these posts, but I’m glad I did. As these posts go on, we’re going to unpack what I originally thought was a simple proposition, and we’re going to slowly develop what is essentially a new take on Iron Edda. I’m good with that.
With the above info under your belts, what kinds of questions might you ask? Let me know in the comments.