I had a whole lot of fun writing up the fluffy Scenario intros for our free downloadable mini campaign, Marple Syrup or The Man with One Red Boot, and of course if you’ve been paying attention to my Being the Fucking Governor posts, you’ll know how important it is to write enjoyable Scenario intros.
Our heroes have escaped to an old ghost town, but they’re running powerful short on options! How are they going to escape this one?
Trigger waited while Charlotte Canton washed her bloodstained hands in a dish of brackish water. “How bad is it,” she asked, handing a towel to the reclusive trapper.
“Bad,” Charlotte replied, “Sooner or later they’ll come up here lookin’ for us.” She flicked a glance toward the disheveled passengers and lowered her voice. “And with all that baggage, a child could run us down.”
“Where’ya wanna die, ladies?” Caroline Canaan sat in a darkened corner, absently bouncing her tightly bundled ward. “Here’n town, or out on th’trail?”
Trigger rounded on Caroline. “Just what are we supposed to do, Canaan? Hell, we don’t even know what these people want?”
“I think,” ‘Prince Cunningham’ said, “they’re looking for me.” The room fell silent, and a smug grin plastered itself across Cherry’s face. “That is to say, my name isn’t Cunningham, It’s Goldgerg. Professor Ruben Goldberg to be precise. Those fellows on the train, you see, I think they were after my formula.”
“Well that’s easy then, Doc,” Cherry said without missing a beat, “we’ll just give ‘em your formula!”
“You can’t do that.” The air in the room grew suddenly tense and Professor Goldberg quailed. “No! Wait! I’d do anything to get us out of here alive, but there is no formula! I got hired to develop a prototype, sure, but I never could get it to work. I was faking results for months before they finally demanded a finished product. So I just… kinda… skipped town. Only after I did everyone thought I stole the formula to sell on the open market, and now everybody is after me!”
“Well, shit,” Charlotte chuckled ruefully, “I kinda liked the idea of dyin’ for a prince…”
“Ain’t nobody gonna die here, Charlie.” Cherry said cheerfully, “The Professor’s got all kinds of tricks up his sleeves, don’cha?”
Professor Goldberg studdied the refuse littering the long-abandoned room. “Well, actually…”
Boy, was this bit tough to write! We knew where we wanted the story to go, and we had plenty of great ideas for the Scenario rules, but it wasn’t long before I realized how much heavy-lifting there was to do with the exposition. We not only had to give every character something to do or say and lead directly into the first Event, but we also had to reveal the twist, explain the backstory, and also let the reader know why the characters would decide to stay and fight it out instead of running! Phew! It took WAY longer than it should have to get all of this pared down into a narrative brief enough to fit in the book.
I also love the combination of characters we have in this campaign. It was fun to contrast the grimly enigmatic Caroline Canaan with Cherry’s indomitably nonsensical pluck. While Trigger and Charlotte debate the practicalities of survival, morality, and react to this rather desperate situation with the emotion of a normal human being, Cherry and Canaan both seem hardly phased by the prospect of death. And both serve, in their own ways, to bolster the courage of their comrades.