Plot Dæmons

Posted on Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 21:30

This page has been changed. You can read the original here.

In T13 we generally keep track of the various plots that are going on by imagining that there is an invisible architect of the Plot. This architect marshalls the narrative troops and drives the game forwards. We call these architects Plot Dæmons.

When you are playing the game you are normally not just following one narrative, but several simultaneous narratives of varying degrees of complexity. Each story should have its own Plot Dæmon, whether it is a Romantic sub-plot or an over-reaching backstory.

Stories

The basic unit of the Narrative is a Story. In T13 we assign every story to a Story Dæmon, to look after it and make sure it happens right. By this device the Story tracks its own characters, locations, events, treasures, resources, everything. This means the you (as the Referee) don’t have to worry about every little detail, as just a quick glance at the Story Dæmon should provide the details you need to run the game.

Story Dæmons are the most basic Plot Dæmons, but they themselves are not the smallest Narrative Dæmons in the game, as Stories can be divided into Act Dæmons and Scene Dæmons. This allows you to focus in on the details of an Act or a Scene if you need to (perhaps a specific scene should take place in a special location that you do want to detail – let the specific Scene worry about that detail, rather than the Story as a whole, or if it reoccurs throughout an Act then define it there).

Stories can be Acts or even Scenes of greater stories, and this means that Stories can come in types.

Story Dæmons always have one Central Conflict that they are tasked with examining. We’ll get to the details of Conflicts and what they actually mean a little further down. First we’ll look at the Types of Stories and how they interact.

Ranks of Plot Dæmons

Plot Dæmons come in a number of Ranks that have different purposes, narratively speaking, they also payout differently.

Rank Name Narrative Purpose Conflict Example Payout
1 Scene
  • Hook: To hook a single character (or a player)
  • Warp: Works the Conflict by oppressing the Oppressed side
  • Weft: Works the Conflict by allowing the Oppressed side to recuperate, improve or find out something
  • Gain: The Oppressed side gains something to help them
  • Revelation: The Oppressed side gains some information that might help
  • Finale: The final Test of the Oppressed side.
  • Completion: The resolution of the story that decides what happens to the Plot Dæmon
The Conflict Facets are embodied in the Scene. Sway (Yin/Yang)
2 Act
  • Frame hooks the Characters, defines the situation and Conflict, with a Revelation.
  • Loom works the Conflict in alternating Warp and Weft Scenes. Looms usually have at least as many Warps and Wefts as the Frame had Hooks or the Conflict has Facets, but have no upper limit.
  • Zenith resolves the Conflict (or not). Zenith is the culmination of the Plot, the end of the story. It usually concludes a Gain (or a Weft).
Conflict is embodied in the Act. Sway/Chi
3 Story Examine a single Conflict (usually 2 Facets)- A chapter, short story, or an episode of a TV show. Sin vs Virtue is the standard “Good versus Evil” plot Sway/Chi/Yarn or Twists
4 Arc Examine 2 or more Conflicts simultaneously, usually with one main Conflict (or main-plot with upto 4 different Facets) and at least one Sub-Plot (a Story – usually a Conflict related to the main-plot). A complex episode, two-part special or mini-series, a Novella or a Movie. Dominion-Wyrd vs Heresy-Liberty covers “Empire vs Rebel” plots Chi/Yarn or Twists
5 Volume Examine 4 or more Conflicts, or one Central Conflict that has up to 4 Facets per side. Usually examined over the course of several Stories (some of which will appear unrelated). A Season of a TV Show, a Novel or Movie Trilogy, Science vs Supernatural could be investigated as Orthodox-Nature-Craft-Key vs Heresy-Awe-Wyrd-Enigma. Yarn or Twists
6 Epic Examine 6 or more Conflicts (usually 5-8 Facets per side) usually over several Volumes. A whole TV series, a Novel Trilogy or Movie Series. Spades vs Hearts can represent Warfare vs Medicine Yarn or Twists
7 Cycle Examine numerous Conflicts over several Epics (or many Volumes). The Central Conflict (if it can be said to exist) usually includes all the Facets on one side or the other. The whole series (including all the Novels, Novellas, the TV shows and the Movies), a Cycle of work (such as the Cthulhu Mythos, Discworld, Dune, Forgotten Realm, or Middle-Earth books) Yin versus Yang, Two suits (e.g. Hearts+Clubs) versus Two suits (e.g. Spades+Diamonds), Awe to Liberty vs Miasma to Zeal , etc. Yarn and Twists

Payout

Each Plot Dæmon has its own Yarn score, this Yarn is accumulated in the Plot Dæmon and is granted to the Characters Hooked in the Plot during Gain Events. The Yarn accumulated by a Scene is granted by the requirements of the Scene. A Location, for example, always adds at least 5 Yarn to the Scene. A single Character must add at least 1 Yarn, and some forms of Embodiment may vary that more.

A Scene Dæmon that occurs in a Frame Act may have 8 Yarn, that particular Scene doesn’t pay the Character any Yarn, but does record 8 Sway in the Frame Act. If the Frame comes to an end without paying out, then the accumulated Payouts are carried over to the Loom (and the Act also pays up to the story).

When the Act (or Story) comes to a Gain Event the accumulated Sway is granted to the Characters in the form of Treasures, Training or Equipment (Descendants) or even just as Yin, Yang, Chi and Yarn. This occurs throughout the structure, so if a Story is acting as a Scene in a Volume, it will store some Yarn in the Ranks above it, to increase the Gain Stories that occur in that Volume. This means that Gains in a Story are generally in the form of Yin and Yang or Chi, but at the end of a Gain Story in a Volume the Characters receive Sway, Chi or Yarn rewards.

Don’t forget a good plot will payout to NPCs as well as PCs giving them extra stuff as well.

It should be noted that when a Gain finally occurs all Characters that were involved gain a Share of the Payout. You can keep individual track of each Character’s Payout Shares from the Scenes they are in for real accuracy, but it is easier to take a Share over all.

Plot Dæmons and World-building

When running T13 it is usual to define the setting within a Cycle Dæmon. The cultures and lands of the world can be defined as Group and Location Descendants of the Cycle Dæmon in your notes. Even if you are starting out just running a single Story it is worth keeping the notes on the world separately as the beginnings of the Cycle Dæmon. Even if you don’t yet know what the Central Conflict will be (although often it should match the first Story you run).

I personally keep information about individual countries and cities in smaller Dæmons closer to the stories they are directly involved in, as it makes costing Stories and Scenes easier, but technically they all belong to the Cycle Dæmon.

If you want to know more about world-building check out these articles, starting here.

Linking Epics, Volumes, Arcs and Stories.

When building your Plots it is often worth defining from your largest Rank down to your smallest, but is not necessary. You can begin from a single scene, extending it first into an Act, then a Story (you learn the Conflict as it is revealed to the players) and finally, due to lack of true resolution (see Conflicts further down) into an Arc, and then treat that Arc as a Frame Act of a Volume…

However at any time you can benefit from taking a step back and looking at a bigger picture. It will give you more of an overview of where the plot is going, and let you construct some side-plots that explore interesting side Conflicts that may be emerging from the PCs choices.

If you are running a Campaign where the players are playing through a huge Cycle of 16+ Conflicts all relating to the Central Conflict, you don’t (well shouldn’t) include that plot in every single scene of the whole story. That would get too intense. Instead, you may want to look at having only a single scene in any one story that pertains to the Cycle’s main Conflict, with an occasional Story that is more directly related, until the final Arc where it becomes the driving force of the whole Campaign.

Think about a TV show that introduces a ‘Big Bad’ in the Pilot. The whole first season the ‘Big Bad’ plots and plans behind the scenes, sending the occasional foot soldier to hassle the heroes, but they themselves don’t face the heroes until the final two-parter of the series, and even then the story is not truly resolved — ending with a Cliff-hanger into the next season.

Scene Dæmons

Scene Dæmons are the most minor manifestation of the Plot Dæmons. They literally only care about the scene that they are presenting. In a sense every Story Dæmon is also a Scene Dæmon. They are the most basic form of the Narrative Dæmon.

A Scene Dæmon has the following attributes, some of which they may inherit from or share with their Act or Story Dæmon.

Location

All Scenes must take place in at least one Location. The Scene is granted Yarn according to the Locations available to it. For example a normal room grants 6 Yarn, a chase across a small city would grant 16 Yarn (assuming it isn’t owned by a Mercari or Solo, in which case, it would add more). That’s a +4 Yarn for a Location and +2 for a room or +12 for a city. See Sway and Locations

Events

A Scene always consists of at least one Event, a narrative step, or plot point that the Scene must make. A Scene may also have large backdrop events, such as a Civil War which are added just like a Chronolith. A Chronolith will have a Yarn cost (work it out like card play or a sidestep – see Sway). To see the types of events that the plot may have in any Scene, by Act, you can look at the Yarn cards page. You can develop random plots by using the Plot Dæmon’s Hand of Cards to produce the Events of the Story (or just draw a random card for each Scene).

E.g. A Scene Dæmon early in the story might have an ‘PCs Framed’ Event. The Scene Dæmon can therefore consist of a playthrough of the actual Framing (perhaps for a murder) so the police or some powerful witness believes they saw the PCs performing a Crime, or it could simply consist of the Police turning up to arrest the PCs for a Crime they did not commit.

When multiple Story’s are told simultaneously a Scene may have to deliver more than one Event simultaneously, perhaps an Opposed Ordeal of a sparring match with a Mentor who is explaining the Plot (a Revelation).

Characters

Each Character involved in the Scene adds Yarn to the Scene (see Sway), this is regardless of whether the Character is a PC or NPC. So a scene with 3 Grunts and 3,000 Extras would grant (+2 [they are] Grunts +1 [number] <5 +1 [they are] Extras (Chorus) +8 [number] <4,000 = 12 Yarn).

Plot Dæmon’s can be thought of as buying these NPCs. If you need to add NPCs in the middle of a Scene for any reason you can just add the required Yarn to the Act and Story.

Descendants

A Scene often has various Descendants scattered about as set dressing and so on. If you go into an armoury in a castle you’d expect to find lots of armour and weapons. Generally speaking the Location handles the Set Dressing. If a plot is actually about Descendants, like that piece of jewelry that turns the wearer invisible and has to be thrown in a certain volcano, because it was made by a powerful Solo who was very naughty, well a plot like that gets extra Yarn for the Descendants.

E.g. That One Ring, is certainly an Artefact, and adds +6 Yarn, then of course there are the other 19 rings of power so that would be a total of +9 Yarn for all those Artefacts.

Lores

Sometimes a Revelation or Gain scene doesn’t create anything, but reveals information about something. This is done by creating a Descendant called a Lore.

Lores are created exactly like a Prop or other Descendant, but they add to the abilities of the Character, Location, or Descendant that the Lore is about, who will turn up later in the plot. Lores can be Skills, Talents, Powers, or Super-Skills as required. This can be useful for building up an Extra that is largely undetailed by adding in details about it, so you might reveal that the bad guy has mastered three forms of magic, then you can add a Lore to grant “3 Magics” to the bad guy, you can do the same thing with “Vampire Powers”, “Mystical Training”, “Gym Bunny”, “Mafia Don” or whatever you need to reveal.

Motifs

A Plot Dæmon may provide a scene with a Motif, a symbol or element that is normally a Proficiency. E.g. A Story may use a “Scorpion” Motif, which means the PCs will defeat a Giant Scorpion at some point, and the Cult they investigate use a Scorpion in their sigil design, they use a cover corporation called “Alacran Corporation” (Spanish for scorpion), and all the guards use Samopal vzor 61 machine pistols (yeah, Škorpions). You see how that works. A scene that uses a Motif gains a point of Yarn.

Conflict Embodiments

Every Scene of a story should move the story forward, or it doesn’t belong in that story. In T13 we embody the conflict in every Scene somehow to insure that the Scene has purpose within the Story as a whole. More than one Conflict may be embodied in a scene (and the same Conflict in more than one way). Check further down for details on Conflict Embodiment. Conflict Embodiments can alter the costs of Scenes (and indeed Stories)

So that’s what a Scene Dæmon requires, Act Dæmons are pretty similar.

Act Dæmons

They tie together a few Scenes, but are not a Story in their own right. Act Dæmons are the next largest form of Plot Dæmon, they begin to add structure to what would otherwise be a random collection of stuff that occurs to the Characters.

Acts are exactly like the Acts in a play, they break the structure of the story into parts. When playing you should try to get through a Story in a Session of play, but if that’s not possible the end of an Act will be a perfectly satisfying break point.

We use a fairly simple and robust 3 Act model for narrative plots in T13 (you can extend these acts repeating the second act structure if you wish, but more complex plots occur from combining a number of stories anyway).

The Acts represent the tussle between the two sides of the Conflict (see below). The three acts are are follows.

  • Frame Dæmons, Introduce the plot. They hook the characters, describe the situation and setting, reveal the central Conflict (or a reasonable feint), and generally occur near the beginning of a story (although not always).
    Frames often set the Tone of the whole story (often to a Facet related to the Central Conflict).
    Frame Dæmons usually have one Hook scene per Character Hooked, plus at least one additional Revelation scene. During the Frame the Central Conflict is in its initial position, with one side Dominant and the other side Oppressed.
  • Loom Dæmons, usually describe pairs of scenes, Warp and Weft, which can occur in either order. The Loom represents the working of the plot. The Central Conflict being worked through by the Plot Dæmon. A story generally has a minimum of one Loom Dæmon that has at least one Warp and one Weft Scene. Looms normally have more Scenes than Frames and have a balance of Warps and Wefts. A story can also have more than one Loom Dæmon if you desire (you don’t have to use a 3 Act model), you might use this to work two separate Conflicts. When randomly assigning Events it is normal to treat Black cards as Warps and Red cards as Wefts.
    • Warp Scenes, Something happens to work the Conflict during the Warp. The Dominant side of the Conflict usually gains ground on the repressed side of the Conflict. Basically something good happens to the Dominant side or something bad happens to the Oppressed side.
      Warps are divided into three parts

      1. The Ends: Each Character has an End that they seek, their goal for the Scene. Usually Players worry about their Character’s Ends, but the Warp Dæmon will note suitable NPC Ends. Ends are usually phrased as Quests, but Plots can be more subtle than that if you want. If assigning randomly then use the card’s suit to decide the Facet of the Quest (as well as some narrative sense).
      2. The Fray: That which works the Conflict, the Fray is what keeps the Characters from their Ends, it is often the End’s Quest.
      3. The Snag: The complication that follows the Fray. If the Fray was won then some new situation complicates matters, if the Fray was lost then there is usually an already obvious Snag. The point of the Snag is always to stop the Depressed side from achieving their Ends, or making that End worthless once it has been achieved.
    • Weft Scenes, Something is revealed about the Conflict, or the Characters are “rewarded” by the plot, or just given time to rebuild, heal or recover. During Weft scenes the Oppressed side of the Conflict will gain at least a little ground on the Dominant side. Basically something good should happen to the Oppressed side or something bad happen to the Dominant side.
      1. Recoiling: Whatever has just happened, the Characters need to adjust to it. The Plot should note the Recoils of the NPCs, noting that all Characters should have an emotional reaction, then an instinctive reaction, before they finally get to a rational reaction. Refs should allow Players to handle and have time to express their reactions, but can plan the NPCs Recoils. Recoils can best be thought of as an example of a Psychology Test. It should be obvious whether the recoil should be positive or negative and whether it should be 1,2, or 3 card Tests.
      2. Sweeping:  Helps balance the terrible effects of the last (or next) Warp by granting some aid to the Depressed side of the conflict (usually the Player Characters). This aid might take the form of some rest, a gain or a revelation, or some combination.
      3. Picking: Now the Weft must present the Characters with a choice or dilemma. It is normal to make both choices equally terrible (or perhaps good), but sometimes there may be an obvious better choice. Picking between choices is an important part of the experience for players, and the choices should be important. Examples of Picks that the Weft may have can include:
        • An ethical dilemma.
        • Decide if the Enemy will make a gain or a revelation.
        • Choose between two things that must be sacrificed.
        • Two Allies will not work together, choose which one is lost.
        • Behind the first door is Fiery Death, behind the second Certain Doom.
        • Choose which of two Warps comes next.
        • Or mix and match…
  • Zenith Dæmons,the final conclusion of a story is tied up in the Zenith. It generally involves at least one Scene that resolves the Central Conflict (read on for Conflicts). This Finale Scene is generally an Ordeal, of one of these types.
    • Solitary Ordeal (a Final Test, or an Obstacle). In which the Conflict’s Oppressed Embodiment is tested.
    • Revelational Ordeal, a classic of who-dunnits where the Detective reveals the Killer, and how they did it. Traditionally, this is done by answering questions often posed by the suspects. Each question can be a stage in a Motional Ordeal, but only the detectives are trying to answer the questions. The Conflict is often actually unaffected by the Final Revelation (see below)
    • Opposed Ordeal, usually a Final Battle (that involves armies), or at least minions as well as direct battle between the Embodiments of the Conflict. Of course, it doesn’t have to actually be a Battle, any opposed struggle, race, or even argument will work the Conflict and may resolve it.

    The Zenith Dæmon then goes on to a Completion Event (with some Conflict Resolution) and a Gain Event as well.

Character Hooks

Hook Scenes often work by targeting an aspect of the Character that grants them Sway (or Twists) and then stimulate that production through the Characters, Locations, Props, and Events of the Story. You generally only worry about Hooks as you are setting up the story in the Frame Act and Scenes, but they do inform all the later Scenes. If you look at Hooks in Yarn cards you can see random table for these.

Examples include:

  • Handicap — Anthony the gentleman thief who has a “Duty” Handicap “to the Crown” can be easily drawn into the plot by revealing that the Crown is at threat.
  • Personality — Gregg the Combat Psychiatrist has a “Healer” personality, the Hook can draw him in by having someone talk to him and having NPCs that need help.
  • I-Ching — Di the Ilupxix goddess of killing has hexagram 21 twice, the Hook creates obstacles for the goddess to “bite through” between her and the goal of the plot.
  • Geometry — John the Conqueror gains Chi when he acts proud or plans, so the Hook creates Madeline the Sphinx, who will commend his actions whilst she works to liberate his conquests.

Conflicts

Conflicts take place between two (or more) things. In T13 we model these things as two (or more) Facets, which gives huge scope for developing stories from Randomly selecting the Facets (see table below), but more normally a Conflict is actually based upon the Player Characters themselves (or NPC).

You might note that Jim the Thief is a Reaper (Burden) Personality and has a Vulnerable (Chancey) Handicap, this could lead you to consider a story that pits the positive aspects of Burden (Wealth, Earth, Durability) against the Negative aspects (Vulnerability, Slowness, Physicality), but again when it comes to selecting other Conflicts for a sub-plot you can compare Burden as a whole with a randomly selected Facet, or perhaps with Jim’s Core, or Incarna Facet.

A basic Conflict is always between two Facets (that are usually different), but may embody in the story in a number of ways, and can embody in a different way in each Scene (if you want), even if the plot is obviously a Tension between two characters, if one character isn’t present in a scene a different embodiment can stand in.

It is also worth remembering that you may want multiple Conflicts to embody in a single scene, as a Volume, Arc and Story all intersect in a single scene (use sparingly or you will burn through your plots).

It is normal to consider one side of the Conflict to be Dominant and the other Depressed by the situation. It’s normal to consider the first Facet in the Conflict to be Dominant and the secondary Depressed/Suppressed/Repressed (or just pressed I suppose). So in a Key vs Gossamer Central Conflict plot we could have the Jocks fight their way out from the oppression of a Nerd-run school.

Advanced Plot techniques include adding additional Facets into the Conflict. Creating Three, Four or Five way Conflicts. You must add at least one additional Warp and Weft to the Loom to work those sides of the Conflict also, unless there are natural alliances that come into play, allowing two Facets to act as one for simplicities sake.

To study more complex plots it can be useful to think of the Conflict as being between Annexes of Facets. These Annexes might consist of 2 to 12 Facets. It is possible that all Facets may be involved in a single Conflict, which can create havoc if you attempt to embody all of them in every single scene. Instead, consider working some of these Facet Conflicts in a Sub-Plot, or cycling through the facets of the Conflict during the Loom. When running a Awe+Phoenix (Spirit Healing) vs Jeer-Miasma (Toxic Comedy) Story the Ref can work first Awe vs Miasma in one Warp-Weft pair, then work Phoenix vs Jeer in the next, and they could go on to work Awe vs Jeer and Phoenix vs Miasma, or of course work Awe + Phoenix vs Jeer + Miasma. This can be done in any order as the Ref wishes.

Plot Dæmon Boon

All Plot Dæmons build their Personality from their Conflict. Treating the Conflict as a Skill (or more properly a Super-Skill). Before the Ref can decide the Boon they will have to think about how the Plot is Embodied. If the Oppressed side of the Conflict is embodied in a particular Character then their Facet Boon governs the Oppressed side Boon. The Dominant Boon is always at least one higher than the Oppressed side, or is equal to the Highest Boon of that Facet in the Party.

The first two Facet Boons are directly added to create the Plot Dæmon Boon (and find the dice). So if Jim has a Burden of 18 then the Conflict has Boon 18 and Boon 19 (also Burden but at least one Boon higher) which gives Boon 37 (d10+3/d12+2), which should then be increased in line with the Characters Highest Scale. This gives any simple Story (at Scale 13) a maximum Boon of 26+13+27+13= 79 (d20+4) and a normal minimum of about Boon 17 (2d6-2).

Extra Facets in this Central Conflict are added by Value (just like extra Umbrals in a Super-Skill). Additional Facets usually have a Boon similar to one of the other two sides, again restricted to one higher than the highest PC Boon.

Sub-plots and Sub-Conflicts are calculated the same way for their Narrative Dæmons, but these are then Reduced before adding to the Plot Boon so Maximal Subplots add +14 to the Arc Boon, Sub-sub-plots are double reduced (+4 to the Volume), Solitary Stories add at most +1 to an Epic, and each Story adds only a half a Boon to a Cycle (effectively their Conflicts are unimportant to the Cycle), even Arcs only add +1.

You might notice that a Sub-Plot can have a higher Boon than a larger one, although it is unusual, but fine. Sometimes huge sub-plots occur that have little effect on the Story, but do subsume it for a while.

The Plot Dæmon’s Boon is used during Descendant and NPC creation. Although it is worth noting that the Plot Dæmon can use those Dice just like any other Character to further their goals. Also the Boon Double-Reduced gives the number of Cards that the Plot Dæmon should have as a Hand (for creating the Events of the Plot etc if you are relying on a random method).

Embodying the Conflict

A Conflict becomes part of the story by being embodied within it. In each Scene you can Embody the Conflict in the following ways. It is normal to only embody the Conflict one or two ways in the story, but there is no reason why you have to restrict yourself. If you are running multiple simultaneous Conflicts you can embody those in multiple ways throughout the Story, so that each conflict is present in every Scene somehow.

  • Internal: An internal Conflict takes place entirely within a single character, normally this is an NPC, but it can be a PC. It is usual to think of the two sides of the Conflict as two contrary emotions felt by a single Character. In the case of Jim the Thief, the Ref and Jim’s player could arrange to have Jim playout the internal Conflict, but this would work better if Jim sees an extreme example playout in a different character in the Framing Act. So we could have a Revelational scene where a Werewolf with a vulnerability to Silver is slain while trying to steal a chicken.
  • Tension: An unresolved Conflict often hides as Tension. The Conflict hides both sides of itself within two Characters (usually a PC Protagonist and a NPC Antagonist, or 2 NPCs or even 2 PCs!). Each side Embodies one of the Facets of the Conflict for a pertinent reason (Jim could receive either aspect of Burden and therefore his counter-part could either have a vulnerability or be another Reaper, or perhaps just to keep him guessing be a Wielder Core instead). Tension should not result in direct conflict between the Embodiments, they may meet, but will not fight. Tension is often expressed within a relationship, such as Romance, or Buddy movie plot.
  • External: An External Conflict embodies one side of the Conflict within one of the PCs (or occasionally an NPC) and the other side in Obstacles, Tests (or Ordeals), Descendants (usually a Location), or as a Quest. For Jim’s tale this might be a Location like a Cave or a Vault, or as an ‘Obtain’ Quest.
  • Rational: This is a Tension that has snapped into action (usually following a catalysing Warp event). Rational Conflicts embody in the same way as a Tension (two characters), but now the Characters can compete directly and the Conflict can embody as a Monster rather than just a Character – Monsters have special abilities and bring interesting fantastical elements to the story (or just make that serial killer even scarier). That other Reaper could perhaps be the owner of an object imbued with life, or perhaps an Artefact such as Death’s Scythe.

Random Embodiment

This can be useful tool for the busy Ref. Just use the following table to randomly assign the embodiment in any single scene (or over a whole story). You can use best judgment with the table to decide whether the Embodiment is Dominant Facet or Oppressed, as usually the Protagonist is Oppressed and the Antagonist is Dominant, although this is inverted in a Tragedy (and for dramatic effect as well).

Roll 1d12 Embodiment
1 Internal NPC (or Background Character/Chorus)
2 Internal PC (or Prominent Character)
3 Tension NPC
4 Tension PC
5 External Obstacle
6-7 External Facet Test (Ordeal)
8 External Location
9 External Descendant
10 External Quest
11 Rational Character
12 Rational Monster

An Alternative Card based way of generating a random pair of embodiments is by drawing two cards (they are effectively Yarn Cards in this context).

Embodiment Table
Drawn card Spades ? Major Character/PC Hearts ? Minor Character/NPC Clubs ? Stage Diamonds ? Direction
A Internal/Tension/Rational Incarna External Descendant Tension/External Tone
2 Internal/Tension/Rational Personality External Ordeal
3
4 Tension/Rational Descendant (Pact)
5 Core External Descendant (Location)
6
7
8 Internal/Tension/Rational Handicap: Nuisance
9
10 Internal/Tension/Rational Handicap: Flaw
J Internal/Tension/Rational Handicap: Woe/Flaw External Obstacle Internal or External Quest
Q Rational Monster
K Rational Monster and Draw again

Conflict Resolution

The goal of any Plot Dæmon is to resolve their conflict. Conflicts can be resolved in a number of different ways (some more final than others). The way the Conflict resolves effects the Zenith Act of a Plot directly through the Completion Scene.

  • Revolution: A revolution does not really resolve the Conflict, but instead reverses the fortunes of the two sides. The Dominant side experiences a Tragic fall, the Depressed side experiences a Comedic rise. The original Conflict is technically resolved, but a new reversed Conflict is created. The Plot Dæmon can come back later in the game at the same Rank, but with the Conflict reversed. This is a resolution often played for by the Plot Dæmon. If all else fails, they will put the PC on the top and slink away with their Conflict revolved.
  • Revelation: Not truly a resolution at all, but it ends a phase of Conflict. The “Villain” is exposed, their plans thwarted, but the actual Conflict is actually still present (and will simply select a new “Villain” and try again). The “Good”/ “Lawful”  vs “Evil”/”Criminal” Conflict presented in many Detective novels is an example. The Killer is caught, but society is unaltered by the resolution, the Plot Dæmon can easily be recycled again with only slight changes. Again a Plot Dæmon can often try for this style of resolution where nothing is really changed.
  • Rejection: One side (or both) avoids the Conflict. There is no resolution, and the Plot Dæmon will be promoted one Rank and will spawn at least one new plot, additional sub-plots about the rejection are possible. Rejections do not pay out to the Characters. If your players refuse to deal with the issue of a local Baron who is enslaving his populace and ride out into the larger world instead, they will return later to discover the Baron is now Emperor having conquered all of his neighbours with his huge slave army. Plot Dæmons cannot go for this option, it should only be used if the Characters (usually Players) force this resolution.
  • Reversion: The situation is unchanged at the end, usually this is because of a failure of the Depressed side of the Conflict to defeat the Dominant. In a detective story, the Reversion will mean the detective failed to solve the crime, perhaps they convict the wrong man. In a reversion the Plot Dæmon will be promoted a Rank (a Story becomes an Arc) and will return later. Reversions do not payout, but carry over the Yarn into their next Story. All good Plot Dæmons will seek this resolution and get themselves promoted, unless they are close to the top level of the Plot Hierarchy. Remember though, no Plot Dæmon will kill all the Oppressed side, as at least one are needed to start the sequel.
  • Revocation: Despite the best actions of either side, the Loom has failed to work the Conflict and nothing has changed at the end. No one has learnt any lessons. But the Plot is not promoted or demoted. It will simply return again later as essentially the same plot again. This is common to sit-com style shows, where everything is back to normal at the end of the story. In a detective novel the murderer wouldn’t be caught and the murder victim would be returned to life.
  • Reconciliation: The Conflict is at least partially resolved by an accord between the two sides. The Dominant side grants conciliations to the Oppressed side of the Conflict. A Reconciliation is usually a negotiated settlement, which means that it may not (cannot) completely resolve the Conflict. The Plot Dæmon is reduced a rank and may return as a Sub-plot at some point. Plot Dæmons don’t go for a reconciliation unless there is no other choice, they will prefer it to an actual Resolution though.
  • Resolution: True resolution of the Conflict means that the Plot Dæmon is actually defeated. It will payout its maximum rewards. True resolution usually comes from the Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis pattern of Dialectic Logic. At it’s simplest the Resolution is the ideal ending to a romantic plot as it represents marriage of the two Embodiments. A sensible Resolution of Jim the Thief’s Burden-Burden Conflict would probably result in Jim gaining a Burden-Burden “Wealth” skill (or Descendant), it could alternatively pay off Jim’s Vulnerable Handicap possibly, increase his Burden Facet, or even allow him access to the Wielder Core, or Earth Incarna instead. The observant Referee may note what Skills and Descendants a particular character is after, and design a Story Dæmon specifically to create the required Annex from a Resolved Conflict. While no Plot Dæmon ever wants to resolve their Conflict, this is the preferred resolution for the Players and the Conflict itself.

Spending Sway and Twists.

A Plot Dæmon can spend its Sway and Twists to modify anything that happens during its Conflict.

If we have 3 Stories, One a Virtue vs Sin Central Conflict with two sub-plots, one a Virtue vs Awe Conflict, and an Awe vs Nature Conflict; we can define the Virtue-Sin Conflict as belonging to an Arc Daemon with the two Stories acting as sub-plots. If during one of the sub-plots scenes, the main Conflict is embodied as well as the sub-plot Conflict, then the Arc Dæmon may spend its Sway on the events (and will also receive Sway from that Scene) that are occurring so it may boost the number of cards the Villain draws in a Fight or reduce the wounds the Villain takes a level, but only to further the Plot.

The Plot Dæmon can spend Sway as any of the Characters it has Hooked or created (so basically anyone), and spend Twists only through suitable NPCs (such as Monsters, Goblins, and Demons).

Plot Goals

Remember that the Plot Dæmons goals are separate to the Villain’s. The Narrative Dæmons just want to tell a story, they don’t care about the Villain, and can easily create a replacement (or clone) if one dies. The Villain, of course, wants to survive, so the Ref should adopt a balanced approach to the Story this way.

The Plot Dæmon can be thought about as wanting to get promoted, it might help the Villain win, but it will not want the PCs destroyed – otherwise how can it get promoted. The Plot should always try guide the Story towards a Conflict resolution that is actually short of true Resolution.

The plot is always trying to preserve the Conflict, seeking any resolution, but Rejection, or true Resolution, but the Conflict itself should be seeking only True Resolution. Character’s may be seeking Resolution, or more selfishly Revolution, and realistically a Reconciliation. That said there are other Goals a plot or Conflict can have.

  • Handicap Infection – sometimes the Plot just wants to spread a particular Handicap (Plague Dæmons are a good example). They just want to make sure that lots of people pick up a particular Handicap, once that job is done then they tend not to care about final resolution.
  • Annex / Descendant Creation – Invention Stories always seem to be about this. In a plot about the invention of a time-machine the Plot really wants that Time-machine made. Conflict resolution is not an issue for any item Creation plot. (Although there will still be a Central Conflict)
  • Character Creation – sometimes a Plot just wants to create a certain character (often a Monster or ‘Chosen One’ of some sort). When this happens the Resolution of the Conflict is never important to the Plot, but will undoubtedly be important to the Story’s Arc, Volume, Epic or Cycle later.
  • Geo Plots – Geo plots are a special case of Story that is more like the classical Dungeon adventure of normal Roleplaying. Geo plots treat the Locations of the dungeon as Stages and Scenes, a room full of Goblin guards may be simply the equivalent of a Warp (or more simply an Opposed Ordeal) scene (with the Chest they guard holding a Gain Scene). The Frame Act might represent the entrance or first floor, the Loom the majority of the Dungeon and the Zenith the End of Level, or the final Floor. The Story may represent the whole dungeon, or just a floor, and so on, with what would normally be a timeline of events distributed geographically instead. Doors and Traps become Obstacles that must be overcome, and so on. Because the PCs can choose the route they take through the Plot, you may wish to add extra Scenes that can be avoided.

Random Conflict Facet Generator

If you are stuck for a Central Conflict you can always grab some dice and generate a random Conflict from this table, or having already picked a Character (and one of the Facets) use this table to generate the other. You can also decide if this is a positive, negative or both aspects of the Facet.

1 2 3 4 5 6
Yang Facet Incarna Handicap Yin Facet Incarna Handicap
1 Awe Spirit Fear Jeer Illusions Exposed
2 Craft Toil Impoverished Nature Flesh Scarred
3 Dominion Group Madness Yonder Space Loss of sense
4 Fury Water Lament Quiet Wood Dependance
5 Gossamer Air Malformed Burden Earth Vulnerable
6 Heresy Fiction Taboo Orthodox Fact Paranoia
7 Key Inspiration Confined Enigma Riddle Vague
8 Liberty Dreams Devotion Wyrd Fate Doomed
9 Phoenix Fire Fatigued Miasma Toxin Stagnation
10 Sin Vice Persecuted Virtue Energy Apathy
11 Trial Metal Defensive Rook Defence Offensive
12 Zeal Faith Doubt Inertia Time Duty
 
%d bloggers like this: