After years of being willing to do so, I'm finally running a saga where I really want to have beta storyguides. However it's not something that we've done before and I'm not entirely sure how to manage and coordinate it. I was wondering if anyone had any tips, tricks or tales from their experiences running a game with multiple storyguides...
We run the saga like that. I am the alpha SG, but sometime give the baton to other troupe members. IMportant things:
Everybody knows what will happen in the long run. Big surprises are frowned upon unless they do not impact on the big story arcs that we all have agreed in. Small surpises are perfectly fine.
Everybody knows who are the bad guys, but pretend not to. Knowing the bad guys can happen in saga as well, and we have found that trying battles against known enemies can be as rewarding as the big bad guy hidden in the background. Not to say that the later is not used (we have used Davnalleus... 4 times so far IIRC, since we simply live the guy)
Play is much less reactive. The magi go out and search for what they want instead of waiting at home for the SG to throw something at them. Less "you are at the tavern when..." and more "we need to beat the dragon Termaneagh once and for all since he is sinking one ship of ours per year; let's ask the bishop of York to come along with us and a few hundred relics to limit his potence". And then someone builds an adventure around the visit to York.
It helps to negotiate the theme of the saga with the players beforehand. Also discuss how they would like it to develop in chunks of 5-10 years, as well as when they want to stop (generally at the end of the main story arc). Sagas with a clear deadline tend to progress better for us than sagas that go on and on and on.
Some people enjoy to SG certain kinds of adventures (Laura enjoys puting us againt really evil faeries, for example, and Jordi likes to SG grog/companion level side adventures that tend to end up having a MAJOR impact in the saga... I suspect he plans it, but pretends not to). They can be paret of the big stuff or just filler adventures. Or both, or none. Lugh (yeah, the god) is the current plaything of Laura, and she has developed a whole secondary story arc around him. We play it when we are over the top with the erternal problem of setting up, surviving AND chosing a tribunal for ourselves in Mann.
Everybody decides on big events.
In a sense, it is more a theatre thing than anything. We know what is likely to happen if we do not mess up. That means that sometimes it does not happens (we DO mess up! Big time) but everybody knows how the big things evolve.
At least this is how we play. YSMV
Have fun with your incoming saga!!
Our current pen and paper saga has multiple storyguides. We do it differently. Each of us has taken on certain responsibilities and we check for permission from the others before messing with something in their domain. For instance, another player was considering involving a dragon I run (a common NPC) in the historical part of a storyline, so checked the basic details with me to make sure that would be compatible with my design. That allows us to keep lots of real mystery.
My method is closer to this than to Xavi's. I, as the alpha storyguide, know things about character backstories that other players do not, and know the secrets and shape of the overarching plot, which the other players do not. I therefore tend to define stories as either "episodic" or "serial". I handle all of the serial stories, and I happily hand off responsibility for the episodic interludes. Chances are high that those interludes can become subplots not related to the central arc, which is fine by me.
The first question is whether any given SG will have
a) long-term, over-arching plots, or
b) no long story arcs, but only smaller, distinctly independent adventures,
and then whether one SG can use elements of another's plotlines or not, and how. This might include characters, clues, locations (regio, caves, etc) - or whether once someone introduces something, they need to be asked if another can use (and possibly change, or even destroy) it. Obviously, if you go this route, major NPC's, like the local baron or the local head priest, might pose a problem - but later SG's simply create their own significant NPC's and weave any stories away from those existing NPC's if this approach is used. Maybe they're traveling or indisposed, and their ltnt is on duty if really necessary. But it can be problematic, and sometimes artificial, depending what exactly the limits are expected to be.
Then there are 2 basic approaches that you have to decide between for the SG's themselves:
- to have alternate "alpha story guides" (ASG's),
- to have only 1 ASG and any number of beta SG's.
The first diff in practice between the two approaches is whether a SG knows erything about the characters (plot secrets, flaws, virtues, spells and arts - the whole thing) or will only know what is minimally necessary as the situation dictates - the spells used, relevant virtues/flaws only if they are triggered, etc. (The alpha SG keeps everyone honest, including themselves (one would hope), since they do know, even if they're playing a PC at that time.) Some BSG''s only run grogs, or companions and grogs, leaving the magi "ASG eyes only". Obviously, if the Characters are all "open info", then this diff is moot.
The second diff is whether the new SG can move the overall plot forward and run the main NPC's, or whether they can only run their own lesser sub-plots, opening a separate but perhaps parallel storyline.
So, if the ASG was weaving a saga of, say, a struggle between the light and dark fae and the church (an interesting 4 sided struggle, w/ the 4th being the Covenant and Order) (or is that 5 sides?), a Beta SG might tell a story of a lecherous priest or a vengeful farmer (no fae involvement, tho' it could seem so at first as they try to use the recent activity to mask their crimes), or of an isolated incident w/ one solitary faerie, or something else that does not change the overall plot. With multiple ASG's, it's like that old game where everyone sits in a circle and tells a little bit of a story, and each time the last person to speak has no idea where it will go next it as it goes around, only where they left it. This takes a lot of creativity and spontaneous ability, as anyone who starts a long-term story arc has to accept that it might go a bit(!) sideways before it's their turn to continue it.
Some Troupes never have "long-term" plots, and each adventure is its own little mini-saga, with few tie ins. If there are tie-ins, maybe only the ASG would do that weaving, or at least only for their own plot elements, and then possibly only with permission.
Lots of variations, lots of options.