Getting the Band Together with Meeting Montages

Montages are great for traveling. And for prison breaks. But there are other kinds of montages.

One great use of a montage is to transform all the individual PCs into a group with built in connections. It’s pretty simple, at the start of the first play session, go around the table and have every play help the player next to them. Let’s look at two examples.

Here’s an example from The Tower in the Mist:

Tower in the Mist - 13th Age - Dread Unicorn GamesMeeting Montage

Explain that the players are going to do some group storytelling to create a little shared backstory. Go around the table, letting each player tell of a problem and a solution. Turn to the first player:

“Introduce your character. Tell us what you look like, what you are wearing, and anything about your character you’d like to share. Then describe a time you got into terrible trouble, and the player to your left saved you. Don’t say how, just say the trouble.

When it’s the next player’s turn, say:

“Tell us how you saved the player to your right. There’s no dice roll, just make stuff up. You can use your one unique thing, backgrounds, race, class, or anything at all. Then introduce yourself, telling us what you look like, what you are wearing, and anything else you want to share. Finally, describe the time you got into terrible trouble and the player to your left saved you. Don’t say how, just say the trouble.

As the players go around the table, make notes of anything in their stories you might want to incorporate into this or future adventures. When you get to the last player, they will be saved by the first player, thus completing the montage.


5thlogo-transHere’s an example from The Gray World. In this example, the montage is doing double duty: connecting the PCs to each other, and connecting them to Old Man Gray, a central NPC in the adventure.

As soon as the montage ends, you start the first scene of the adventure, one where the people around the PCs all die a terrible death. Players are certain to wonder, could Old Man Gray be connected? Which is what you want.

Meeting Montage

Explain that the players are going to do some group storytelling to create a little shared backstory. Go around the table, letting each player tell of a problem and a solution. Turn to the first player:

“Introduce your character. Tell us what you look like, what you are wearing, and anything about your character you’d like to share. Then describe a time Old Man Gray got into terrible trouble and you tried to help him, but nothing worked until the player to your left solved the problem. Don’t say how, just say the trouble.

When it’s the next player’s turn, say:

“Tell us how you came to the player to your right’s aid and helped Old Man Gray. There’s no dice roll, just make stuff up. You can use your background, skills, race, class, or anything at all. Then introduce yourself, telling us what you look like, what you are wearing, and anything else you want to share. Finally, describe the time Old Man Gray got into terrible trouble again and everything you tried couldn’t help him until the player to your left solved the problem. Don’t say how, just say the trouble.

As the players go around the table, make notes of anything in their stories you might want to incorporate into this or future adventures. When you get to the last player, Old Man Gray’s problem will be solved by the first player, thus completing the montage.

Death for Breakfast

After the montage, tell the characters they are having a free breakfast at the Gnome’s Head Inn. Old Man Gray is paying as a reward for all the help the group has given him. Other tables are full of soldiers, hunters, and farmers. The serving girl comes over with a hot skillet.

Read Aloud or Paraphrase:

The serving girl brings down a hot skillet of sizzling sausages that smell like heaven. As you are about to dig in, she turns and says “Not again.”

Everyone else in the inn collapses to the flagstone floor, eyes bugging out and hands twitching. Out of their mouths writhe pallid white vines that sprout pale flowers. Their chests burst open, as more vines erupt out of their bodies. Only you and the serving girl are unaffected.

What do you do?


So, traveling, prison breaks, and meetups. There are more. What other uses do you get out of montages?

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Talk to the Fish: Instant Adventure — Part II

Last time in Planning to Improv: Make Your Own Instant Adventure, Part I, we looked at what goes into an Instant Adventure. In Part III, we look at GM Intrusions for your Instant Adventures.

Here’s the example using Numenera. Talk to the Fish

Notes:

Ignore the references to mooks in Numenera unless you have Dread Unicorn Game’s The Sun Below: City on the Edge, or The Sun Below: Sleeping Lady. If you don’t know how to run an rpg montage, see the Sun Below adventures, or the Blogger’s Roundtable of Doom: The Montage.

Summary

Liskal is a stunted machine intelligence that would like to repair itself. Its mind is truncated by being forced to exist in our dimension. In the past its mind was transdimensional, but that was a long time ago. Liskal needs a sphere from Le Temple De Toadue to start to reclaim its own mind. It can’t go itself, but it can teleport people. Which is where the players come in.

Details

  • Liskal wants the sphere of night.
  • The sphere is at Le Temple De Toadue.
  • The Toad King regards this sphere as a prized possession. The Toad King can’t remember his own name.
  • Klaru, a Nibovian Wife is in the temple. The Toad King fell for her tricks once, not again. Yet he lets her stay.
  • There are 3 Toad Queens. Queens Deepi, Onea, and Sloomah.
  • Sloomah wants the moon pool fixed. If the PCs do that, she can help convince The Toad King to give up the sphere of night.

Starting Point

The PCs have heard of the giant stone fish, high in the mountains. As they approach, they see blinking lights inside the mouth. Inside is a busted up synth column with 2 shins per PC strewn about.

Wrap Up

The PCs acquire the sphere of night, either through force of arms or by enlisting Queen Sloomah’s help. They bring it back to Liskal, who awards them each 15 shins and a cypher.

Future adventures: If you like, Liskal is not done, and you can use the machine mind to teleport the PCs all over the ninth world and beyond as it slowly builds itself up, piece by hard to get piece.

Keys

  1. Toadling servant of Queen Sloomah. Will try to take PCs to the Queen.
  2. Moon Pool Power device. It’s a head-sized green gelatinous egg that glows.
  3. Dead explorer with a detonation (desiccating) cypher. Journal’s last entry: “I got away from the Toad King, now I just have to survive his damned poison.” If found in the fish, it will mention teleporting on “a fool’s errand for a machine.”

Making Instant Adventure Notes:

Each node should have a way for the PCs to interact with it. A person is either at a place or will find the PCs. A location should have something to do there.

What Not To Do

I ran an Instant Adventure using 13th Age rules, and had three “people” (a nasty cultist and two devils) that could find the PCs. And an item that could summon a really nasty devil as a key. I put all four in the secret temple location, and it was a mess. Not every person who wants to find the PCs has to show up at the same time. Doh!