I have more thoughts about the various types of skills I wish to focus on in Heroic Tourney. This particular post covers the basic concept of what a GM and a writer of the scenario should focus on to meet the needs of the players and the Show. This post is inspired by a comment by a game designer that they were willing to build for commissions but the pricing was variable dependent upon how difficult the writing assignment was. This led me to ask the question: How difficult is it to write for the needs of the Heroic Tourney Show?
Any scenario needs to meet the HT Show needs for being successfully shot. Thusly it must include not only breaking down the story into three to four sections (pretty much self contained arcs) each one which lasts about 2 hours or so (there is some leeway) while every player needs at least one opportunity (and preferably as many as possible, though see the time calculations below) to demonstrate their ability in each of the five categories. The judges should have the Player Character sheets for reference and probably a bullet point list of things to look for (which if I was using the classic module N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God I as head writer would have to build) for judging and feedback. Then the judges will probably need to have these in a separate packet as a way to make their jobs easier.
I think for my needs (as head writer/host) I should add in a requirement that the submission for pre-written scenarios requires notes as to how many arcs are intended. Using N1 for instance though means I probably need to have a discussion with the DM as to the arc breakdown. The example of Cult of the Reptile God would probably end up looking something like this: ([Intro/travel] Town exploration, [Travel] cult HQ, [Travel] dungeon, Boss encounter [denouement] ), or just agree to signals letting the DM know when to hustle players off to break before the next arc.
As a scenario designer I and everyone else will want a compelling story opportunity, for some game systems this can be either non-existent or understood (for example a straight Dungeon run has the understood story of “beat the dungeon”, while some systems require the players to determine the goals for the game as a sub game) in most cases though good or relevant hooks have to be there to help with maintaining the Judges and viewers interests as well.
There are Many ways to solve a problem.
Then the designer has to take and build in opportunities for each one of the five skills that those players should be looking for turning into an opportunity in that two hour session. Which if you have 5 players at 5 skills is 25 opportunities, While I do think some should be group presentation of opportunities allowing for quickest solutions many should be pretty individual though they can have multiple opportunities presented nearly simultaneously.
Then that 25 opportunities over 2 hours translates into one about every 4 minutes over the length of the filming opportunity for the skills to be shown, resolved and handled in that time frame. Keeping in mind that it may not all be seen on film because we’re only going to take the most Illustrative options for the final cut. Most of this probably won’t end up on film but they’re there because they may be things the GM or the judges should want to talk about to the players or they could increase their focus utility for the session. Still talking about one every 4-6 minutes. Unless we can combine multiple player results in the single opportunity that sort of cuts down on every other aspect of the game. Which is worrisome. In some ways this seems like a way to have clouds of clues flying above the players heads like a veritable belfry of bats in a problematic murder mystery.
While it’s okay to not solely focus as much on the story as in a home or convention experience it does need advance for that way lies better play and fun. Ideally giving optimal usage of the abilities is going to be key to having Heroic Tourney successfully show those abilities often if the opportunities can do double or triple duties of advance the plot as well as be entertaining. The opportunities for showing off abilities need to be not concealed but seamlessly integrated. Setting a high bar indeed.
Have to give the judges opportunity to examine many facets.
Having covered how difficult the bar is for a scenario, let’s talk about rewards for designing a solid scenario for Heroic Tourney. When it gets put on the show the designer gets the 250$ and Exposure, their name in lights and all the hoopla that comes with that!! The designer also gets to have and hold all the rights to the scenario, except where it conflicts with the show (the scenario writer, just like everyone else cannot be allowed to harm/hold up the show easily without just cause): publish it before, after, during the show. There is also the possibility for the scenario writer to be judging or refereeing on the same show for scooping up potential extra resources! Like more EXPOSURE (sarcasm) and possibly networking (and if working at a paying gig the $ that comes with that gig).
Why this instead of as the other big players in the industry do? Because I wish to focus upon the show, I’m not a publishing company, not here to make money off of anything other than the show because I need to keep that focus. Another part is because I am an artist, I understand exactly how dumb the exposure is as a selling element,I know why people do it, I know why they’re willing to get paid in exposure and why it’s offered but I understand the core level difficulty that results in the conflict of interests in a bad way.
People have to make a living too. So I’m aiming for about $25 bucks an hour; assuming a 10 hour day means about $250 bucks. That’s a living wage in Colorado so we’ve got three judges at $250 we’ve got a designer at $250 and a GM at $250 the reason why I’m spending more money than some GM’s to charge for like services is again long hours from a labor of love. A filming crew member runs about $200 for the day, possibly more.
I as a show producer, designer, creative elements author, and head writer as well as host I have an understanding of what needs to be done and that people need a living wage, yea verily this is a hobby, yes we have fun, but this is going to be work. There’s going to be times we sit down nose-to-the-grindstone in order to get stuff done. Also we’re showing participants intelligence, cognitive abilities, skills in adaptability and more, that should be rewarded.
So if anyone thinks this is a bum deal tell me so. If you can think of a reason for a better offer sing out. In the end though there will be people who can command more in appearance fees because they bring more to the table if you are one of those the go ahead: Bring It!