Greg Christopher has written a post on what he calls Impressionistic Narrative Modules. Among his goals are no-prep adventures and a clear way to transmit information to GMs, especially new GMs. The layout has a two columns on each page, where the left column contains narrative information and the right column events the GM can add to the story. Links in the right column lead to game mechanics such as creature and NPC statistics, and form a crucial component of the module structure.
There is more to the approach than the components I have mentioned, and you should read his post for the whole story. I want to discuss three thoughts that occurred as I was reading Greg’s post.
First, it is natural that I compare Greg’s layout to what we are doing at White Haired Man. This can’t be a one-to-one comparison, as our goals are somewhat different. Up to now, White Haired Man has focused on producing adventure modules for Fantasy Grounds II, which has requirements not present in Greg’s PDFs. But there are some similarities: the separation of narrative and game mechanics, extensive use of linking, and an event driven adventure structure. We just employ these ideas in different ways.
Second, now that I’ve created a couple eBooks, I see his idea as one that might be more suited to eBooks than PDFs. An ePub would be viewable by many devices and gain display independence. Linking is a natural part of eBooks. This would require custom styles; however, once created, these styles could be reused in every module.
Third, I ask myself what I can learn from Greg’s ideas. I never believe that White Haired Man has the ultimate method of creating adventures or the ultimate format for presenting them. With each new adventure, I like to consider the lessons learned from our last project and how to put them into practice. I don’t think I can come to a conclusion about Greg’s idea in an hour or a day. I’ll need to think on it for a time, possibly try elements in our adventures, and determine whether these ideas can make them better.
Right now, I see two areas where we might profit. Greg’s conception of events is different from our own, with events comprising building blocks rather than a direction for the course of the adventure. I wonder whether an approach more like this might work for our next setting, which will be called the Eastern Frontier. Greg also intends narration to be more of a framework for the GM to present his own interpretation of scenes rather than text that should be read to the players. In Fantasy Grounds, complete narration the GM can drop into the chat window is a great time saver and expected by those who purchase the modules; I don’t know if we could succeed by changing that approach, but I may experiment with it.