Group Assignment


WORDS: + >5000 (approximate) (this word count doesn’t include “settings” section which is essentially the two previous parts worked out in the previous group classes)
MARKS: 100
% OF FINAL: 25%
READING: Anything provided in ASIC200, but any source of inspiration you can think of.
EXAMPLE ADVENTURE DOCUMENT: In Search of Tiger Joe (pdf) – Note: if you are a reader planning on taking this course in the future, best not to read this, as it will be filled with spoilers for one of your classes.
RULES FOR USING DICE: see bottom of this page.
DUE: hand in email copy before midnight April 4th.

February 4th: Group discussion and preparation of group version of assignment 1 (plus starting ideation around 500 word backstory). This is due, via email/google doc, on February 11th.
March 3rd: Group discussion and preparation of group version of assignment 2. This is due, via email/google doc, on March 10th.
March 10, 17, 24, 31: Opportunity to work on campaign until completion. To be handed in by April 4th (via email –
April 7th: Games will be played.

Each group is responsible for designing an adventure module, that is ideally suited to be played in about 2 to 3 hours (one class). This work will encompass an adventure that involves at least 2 (3 is o.k. if you prefer) story elements/scenes – encounters, puzzles, battles, negotiations, precarious transport, etc – that bring together a narrative arc that works in the groups imagined future world. Story elements may also need to be populated with a few non-player characters or creatures (NPCs), as needed for the plot. Each student will also pre-generate a playable character that will be used with the adventure: here the group can be mindful for specific character skillsets that may be useful (or even necessary) in the designed narrative (i.e. if a computer needs to be hacked, then having a character or two with that skillset would be useful).

As is the case in all group work, it may be difficult to find agreement on certain elements of the assignment. If this is the case, a quick resolution can be met via (1) limit choices, and then put to a vote; (2) diplomatically allow one individual (usually the one with most relevant experience – i.e. in this case, it maybe someone familiar with storytelling, narrative, etc) to make final call.

For the first class devoted to designing this game (March 10 or March 17 depending on your time of lab), the group will need to flesh out/finalize their backstories, work out (at least) a skeleton of the adventure scenario (i.e. their story elements/scenes, drafts of maps), as well as discuss what everyone’s player characters can be (i.e. so we avoid situations where everyone is the same). Homework will entail each student fleshing out their player character contribution (in principle, each group will therefore have a set of pre-generated characters for people to choose from and use when the games are played on the last day). Homework may also entail delegating folks to finalize backstory and map tasks, as well as brainstorm for possible details associated with each element/scene.

For the second class devoted to designing this game (March 24), you can use the 3 hour block to essentially work on your elements/scenes so that they are starting to be in good shape. Homework is delegation of final editing tasks, such that your final group work class on March 31st can be devoted to making sure everything is finished up and polished and good to go for submitting. Note that although we have access to your google doc works in progress, we will ask for a final copy of your game that can be sent to on April 4th. This is to ensure that everyone has something ready for our final class.

You’ll hopefully have a general idea of what this might look like having gone through an example adventure module in class (In Search of Tiger Joe). There is a pdf copy of this adventure’s document for a point of reference.

Specifics on what is needed is the preparation of the following:

1. Setting: – (10 marks)
This is basically the group work done on parts 1 and 2. It should more or less look similar to the assignments you handed in as individuals. Don’t forget citations!

2. A Backstory to be read to players (~500 words) – 10 marks
This is essentially a concisely written introduction that will be read to the players as a means of introducing the adventure. This will likely include key pieces of information (such as general setting, relevant general plot details, and a brief descriptions of potential motivations and challenges involved).
This section will be marked for grammar, compelling narrative, themes that fit within the settings, plausibility and rationality in design, and creativity.

3. A backstory to be read only by the GMs (game masters) (variable word length but concise, ~500 words) – 10 marks
This section basically includes a synopsis of any relevant information that should be highlighted for the Game Master. Note a lot of this is found in the settings section, but this is a place, where you have some extra space to provide better or more context.
This section will be marked for grammar, compelling narrative, themes that fit within the settings, plausibility and rationality in design, and creativity.

4. Maps of the adventure (pen or pencil on graph paper is o.k.) – 10 marks total
These are actual maps drawn for each element/scene, as best as possible, to scale. This is useful as it allows the GM and the players to physically note where the action is unfolding. Usually the maps are initially for the GMs eyes only, but are described and drawn to the players as they begin exploring the elements/scenes. Features such as doors, secret trapdoors, locks, items, etc should be highlighted in the map. Other non-player characters or creatures should also be highlighted on this map. Important areas in the map (say a room or section) should be clearly labeled, or tagged with a number/letter that is referenced in the scene descriptions.
Maps will be marked based on being provided (i.e. actually submitted with the assignment), being drawn reasonably accurate and being readable, and where the maps ensures that all necessary relevant information is present to allow ease of game play.

5. Character and NPC descriptions (variable word count) – (20 marks)
This section highlights information around various characters (or creatures) that are in your adventure. Each student will be responsible for creating a player character, after the group has discussed what the mix of character types should entail (due to story needs, or ensuring a diversity of character types). Information required includes:

Personality notes/Motivations,
Abilities (from expertise, human enhancements, or connections) – also includes bonus points to dice rolls when doing certain activities,
Attribute scores (INTELLIGENCE, WISDOM, DEXTERITY, STRENGTH) – these fall between 3 and 18, can be generated randomly (by rolling 3d6) or by just choosing – try to make the character relatively balanced (i.e. no characters with all 18 scores!),
Hit points (how much damage the character can sustain – usually equal to Strength score),
Armour Class (what others need to roll over in order “to hit” – usually equal to Dexterity score),
Items – standard items may include a weapon of some sort, as well as a medical kit (just so there’s limited opportunity to heal characters).

Note that details about NPCs (non player characters – these are characters or creatures that are played by the GM in the game) can be embedded in section 6 (where the adventure elements/scenes are fully described)

The collection of player characters and NPCs will be marked for completeness, diversity, skill sets that fit within the world that has been built, plausibility and rationality in design, and creativity.

6. Descriptions of each scene (>4000 words total, or >8 pages single spaced) – (40 marks)

This section represents the bulk of the group assignment’s work.

For each element/scene, write a short (less than 300 words) narration blurb that can be read to the players as they start the scene. This is provided to essentially “set things up.”

In this section, you will also provide (for the GM’s eyes) relevant information that describes your elements/scenes, making sure you highlight your maps as appropriate. The primary idea is that you do your best to give the GM enough information to effectively direct the game’s action.

This includes describing key physical features of the scene such as: geography; environmental features (if outdoors); structures (buildings, walls, bridges, etc); rooms (furniture, doors, windows); visible and hidden items; location of NPCs; as well as where the players first start.

This also includes a described narrative of the tasks that are meant to be accomplished in this scene. This may be reveal right at the beginning, or it may be set up in such a way that information becomes apparent as the adventure moves forward.

Make sure you highlight any special considerations or possible courses of action that are likely to unfold (i.e. doors to be unlocked; keys to be obtained; items to be found; physical obstacles to overcome; NPCs to defeat; NPCs to negotiate with or extract information from; machinery to be used, hacked, etc).

It’s also a good idea to describe for the GM a number of alternate options of how the player characters can work through the scene. For example, in the Tiger Joe module, getting through the first scene (into the server farm) can involve actions that are more covert in nature (wait for guards and then climb over wall) or actions that are more combative in nature (just fight the guards and storm the building). Such options can also remark on how specific characters may be best to contribute to certain tasks. Also remember that the actions and outcomes of the first scene may effect how the subsequent scene(s) proceed.

Some, most or even all of this “GM only” information may be revealed as the players navigate their way through the scene. It is the task of the GM to “lead” the players through the scene without seeming like they are “leading” the players.

Be aware that the overall sequence of elements/scenes needs to provide a possibility of a “satisfying ending,” although don’t worry if players fail to finish the game in the allotted 3 hours we have to play in class (it’s really difficult to predict how long these things will take)!

This section will be marked for grammar, compelling narrative, completeness (i.e. written in keeping with requested information listed above); themes that fit within the settings, plausibility and rationality in design, and creativity.

– – –

GENERAL DICE MECHANICS (these can be used as is, or modified slightly to GM’s digression)
1. DICE CHECKS (d20): Whatever the task is, choose an attribute it most closely aligns with. i.e. climbing a wall would be related to DEXTERITY or maybe STRENGTH (or the average of the two). This is the number you have to roll equal to or under in order to read as a “success.” Sometimes, the task requires multiple checks (i.e. climbing a 10ft wall might just require one check, but climbing a 20ft wall may require two checks – one for each 10ft).

NOTE: the GM can change these check numbers depending on the difficulty of the task (i.e. -5 on roll for easy, +5 for hard, etc), the expertise of the player (some who is a mountain climber might get a -5 on roll), or availability of items that help (having a rope set up might equate to a -10 on roll)*. However, a natural roll of “20” is always a fail.

2. HIT CHECKS (d20): When a player is trying to hit something moving, you must roll equal or above the target’s DEXTERITY score (this is why we call it their “armour class”). NOTE: the GM can change these check numbers depending on the difficulty of the task (target is hiding behind a wall), the expertise of the player (a person with weapons training*. Rolling a “20” is always a hit, and rolling a “1” is always a fail. Note that hand to hand combat does d4 damage, except in special circumstances.

3. NEGOTIATION CHECKS: When having a contest of wills (i.e. negotiating, debating, arguing, etc), add your WISDOM and INTELLIGENCE scores together. Compare that number with your opponents. Note the difference – the individual with the greater score will have that difference as their dice roll modifier. Each person roll a d20 (with modifier if applicable) – highest roll wins and GM determines the outcome (release of info, agreement, etc).