Story Standards

The following standards apply to stories of any format, including encounters, cinematics, open play activities, adventures, and field battles.

Writing

  • Provide enough detail. Even if you expect to run the story you're writing, it must be written with enough clarity and detail that the editor can give it a proper review and someone else can narrate it if you are not available.
  • Use proper English. In the same vein, stories that are poorly written (e.g., too verbose, bad spelling and grammar, etc.) are difficult for others to read or run.

Content

  • Keep it simple. Complex mechanics and multiple contingencies are difficult to review and narrate; they may also confuse or bore players. If you can't explain how to run a scene in a paragraph or two, it probably needs to be simplified.
  • Describe the scene in the narrative; explain it to the narrator in the scene notes. The narrative section of a scene should describe what a character sees, hears, feels, etc. The scene notes should contain game mechanics that may need to be explained or announced (epic monsters, traps, NPC roleplaying instructions, etc.).
  • Vary your content. Scenes may involve combat, role-playing, puzzles, obstacles, or a mix of several different elements. The best stories vary the challenge from one scene to the next to keep players engaged.
  • Use content that fits the format. Puzzles and role-playing work best for smaller formats, such as encounters and cinematics. Over-emphasizing these on larger formats can lead to boredom for those who aren't directly engaged.
  • Build in narrative abilities. Narrative abilities can lend real depth and interaction to any scene. The list doesn't need to be exhaustive; just include the ones most likely to be used, or with the most interesting effects.
  • Don't give false information on failed narratives. Intentionally misleading players who have information-gathering abilities has the net effect of making those abilities a detriment rather than a benefit. Unless there's a very good reason, failing when using these should provide no information rather than false information.
  • Build brute force solutions into puzzles. Getting stuck on a puzzle can be frustrating to players. Include a brute force option if they give up or fail repeatedly. This option may be undesirable in order to encourage players to keep trying.
  • Plan for player abilities. Especially at high levels, players might have abilities that bypass your obstacles. Consider modifying the scene or adding creative outcomes rather than arbitrarily shutting down such abilities.
  • Respect lore. Stories must fit the setting. They cannot contradict lore, alter lore, add new lore, or feature the personal appearance of an NPC or item directly named in lore (e.g., immortals, artifacts) without express owner approval.

Characters

  • Do not assume specific participants. You can never guarantee a particular player or group will attend your story. Though adventures and field battles can be written with certain people in mind, they must still be feasible if those people don't show up. Smaller formats do not need to follow this guideline.
  • Write for others. Using your own character to seed a story or directly referring to elements in your character’s backstory are not permitted. Don't write for yourself; write for others, and let them write for you. Note that this rule does not apply to immortals; you may write content featuring your own immortal freely.
  • Focus on the PCs. It's fine to have an important NPC, but the PCs should be the stars of the show. Don't let NPCs steal the spotlight, and don't write a story just to play a fun NPC. If something cool needs to happen, let PCs do it.
  • Leave PvP to the players. Your stories can give them reasons to fight, but NPCs and monsters should not be doing the fighting for players in a PvP conflict.
  • Avoid "gotcha" NPCs. Players want something to do, so PCs will attend your story even if the NPC seems shady. Over-use of "gotcha" NPCs who turn out to have ulterior motives can irritate players in the long run.
  • Don't write dialogue. Unless it's necessary for an NPC to say a very specific phrase, give them roleplaying guidance rather than explicit dialogue. NPCs rarely have enough time to memorize lines and forcing them to read from a script breaks immersion.

Monsters

  • Use monster types rather than specific licenses. It's impossible to know the level of the party until the event. Write in general monster types (e.g., giant, ooze, undead) so the narrator can pick out level-appropriate licenses when the story is run.
  • Avoid arbitrary abilities. As with the licenses themselves, arbitrary abilities you grant to monsters may not match the level of the party when the story is run. If you want to throw a twist into a scene, use field effects instead.
  • Use interesting monsters. While fighting guards or bandits is fun in small doses, overusing generic licenses for monsters quickly gets boring.
  • Give monsters time to learn new licenses. You should vary encounters, but you also need to build in time to let monsters get up to speed with new licenses. Staggering combat and non-combat scenes gives them a few minutes to prepare.

Other

  • Start out small. Larger formats like adventures and field battles are hard to pull off and face a more stringent review process. If you're just getting started, write something smaller like an encounter, cinematic, or open play activity instead.
  • Do not give special rewards. Players should not receive special rewards (e.g., treasure, traits, titles, "fluff" rewards such as vehicles or buildings. etc.) from stories without express owner approval. Small gold rewards (5 silver or less per participant) may be permitted on adventures as incentives for superior performance.
  • Avoid arbitrary player fates. It is permissible to automatically slay a character and/or leave them to their fate for egregious lapses of judgment, particularly if it results in an interesting story. You cannot, however, do so without a good reason or change the way they draw from the fate deck (see "Fate" for more details).
  • Include content. Content needs to have a purpose. Simple random monsters or spawn points, lacking any further story or content, are not enough to constitute written content. Similarly, actions that are taken solely by player characters are not enough to constitute written content.