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Subject: Made New Quests for Realmspeak's Expansion 1, Questing the Realm variant rss

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James Dean
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I just submitted a zip file to be uploaded to the files section. It contains about 29 quests, designed to be used in RealmSpeak with both the Expansion 1 variant (included in all Realmspeak downloads) and the Questing the Realm variant.

All of the quests will are designed to work only when you are playing with RealmSpeak’s original Expansion 1. This expansion adds additional tiles, natives, treasure sites, monsters, weapons, treasures, and spells. You can add every one of the new quests to RealmSpeak’s “quest” folder and they will only become available to you when playing the Expansion. Otherwise, their presence in the folder will have no effect on your games.

There are 11 “event” type quests. Most of these mimic the “First to Discover” type quests originally included with the Questing the Realm variant. Some of these mimic the “Gained a Companion”, “Trek of the Mapmaker”, or “Found Weapons/Armor” type quests in the original QtR variant. Many of these, by design, appear in the “All Quests” bucket and are automatically triggered for the first player to fulfil all of the steps.

There are also 18 “story” quests. All of these are designed to be acquired at a dwelling; none are “all play”. . . .

When naming all these quests, I tried to follow the same convention used in the original set that came with the Questing the Realm variant. Each quest, and “event” has “E1” in the file name, representative of “Expansion 1”. If you decide you don’t like them, it should be easy to remove them.

In any case, all you have to do, is copy all of these quests in the “quest” folder in RealmSpeak. These quests will only be available to your characters when you are playing the Expansion 1 variant (and of course the Questing the Realm variant). Otherwise, these quests should have no impact on your game if you choose either to: 1) not play the questing variant or 2) not play using the Expansion 1.

Some quests require the player to use the "Cheat" module of RealmSpeak. You can play the entire game with the "Cheat" module, or open your game in the "Cheat" module only to perform discreet actions then go back to playing with the basic RealmSpeak application.

“This is a board game, not a computer game.”
I tried to adhere to that guiding principal while making these story quests. Doing so quickly highlighted two issues. 1) Using Realmspeak there is a temptation to make very intricate quests that you’d be hard pressed to convert to pen and paper. 2) Realmspeak, for all its awesomeness, is a much more structured, and hence in some ways limited, than your typical “board game to computer screen” port.

Point 1: I probably toed the line here a few times, but I really did try to imagine being able to play these quests using just your character sheet and a pencil to keep track of everything. You’ll be the judge of whether or not any of the quests would be unplayable with pen and paper.

Point 2: I’ve played a few different board games on Vassal and Cyberboard, and for the most part, those ports-to-the-computer screen do not do any of the gaming gongculations for you. Instead, the typical board game to computer transition lets the player have total control over all aspects of the game, just as you would with a physical copy. Yes the game is on a computer, but you can move any piece you want anywhere on the board any time you want. With RealmSpeak, this is generally not possible. For example, I cannot decide to randomly take a stack of sword goblins and place them on the inn to simulate a goblin raid on the town – at least not with the basic RealmSpeak application. Likewise, the QuestBuilder application itself has certain limitations that would not have presented themselves if designing a quest in the analogue age. For example, it’s easy to imagine a quest wherein the character must have a Type III magic chit in order to do complete a task, yet the QuestBuilder has no way to make RealmSpeak “see” which types of magic chits a character has. I did, however, come up with a couple work arounds.

First, although RealmSpeak cannot “see” which magic chits your character has, you can. So in some of the quests, the player is asked to check the state of various game attributes and feed that info back into the quest. More simply, going back to the above example, the quest will ask the player “Does your character have a Type III magic chit?”, and then have the player choose one of two answers.

Second, although the basic RealmSpeak application limits the player’s ability to move game pieces around willy-nilly, so to speak, the designer of the application was thoughtful enough and industrious enough to include two additional applications that do afford the player much greater control. They are the “Cheat” module and the “GM” module. I used the “Cheat” module on a number of occasions to spawn monsters. On those occasions, the player sees a very clear message giving instructions on what to do, and when to do it. I did not explicitly call for the player ever to use the “GM” module. However, there is one glitch that I discovered late in the process and that probably needs the GM module in order to fully resolve. More on that later.

It might seem odd at first, but the occasional reliance on the “Cheat” module (and potentially on the GM module in a very few cases) that, in some respects, might feel like a move away from Magic-Realm-as-a-board-game, is really a way of accomplishing just the opposite: the Cheat module lets RealmSpeak play a little more like a physical copy of the game than would be possible using just the basic RealmSpeak application. Similarly, the reliance on the actual player to measure various game attributes is another way of making it more “board-gamey”.

“I tested these. . . . . sort of.”
I played each story quest (except the very last one I did) at least ten times. The logic of the quests should work. There shouldn’t be any game-stopping glitches. However, I tested them using the “Cheat” module, meaning I did not test the balance of the quests. Some quests require a bit of travel. I never play tested it in order to determine if it was too much travel. I also did not test the quests to determine if I’ve assigned the proper number of Quest Points. I mostly tried to rely on the precedents set in the original quests. As for the “event” type quests, like finding companions or armor, I did not test them because I essentially copied the quest from the existing “event” quests.

Some adjustments, particularly for the awarding of Quest Points, will almost certainly need to be made.

“Each quest stands on its own, and does not affect any other quest.”

Many of the quests cause changes in your native relationships. All these relationships get reset at the end of every quest. Finding the Fire Drake in the volcano in one quest does not endear you to the Lancers in the next quest. I just thought there was too much potential for catastrophic destruction of the game balance if the quests did not exist in their own little bubbles. There are just a couple exceptions to this, one of which was required to ensure a certain secret quest could not be accomplished while another quest was currently activated.

“I probably got carried away with the narratives.”
I started out with basic narratives. Then I realized I needed a little more meat in order to give some context, and verisimilitude, to the various quest steps. Then I got verbose at times. If you’ve read this far, you might understand. Again, I was trying to imagine the text for each quest being printed on a standard 8.5”x11” page, or a half sized page. I did not always succeed in being that succinct.

“There is one glitch I discovered late in the process that might be best resolved with the GM module.”
Some quests give you a companion, but then cause you to lose that companion if certain events occur or if a certain amount of time passes. RealmSpeak, however, will not remove the companion if it is not currently in the same clearing as the player when the triggering event/time occurs. That means it is possible for a character to end up permanently accompanied by a companion that I had envisaged as only helping the player for, perhaps, one week (for example). The solution would be to use the GM module and “kill” that companion. Most companions you might get are intended to stay with you the entire game anyway, but there are a few that are not.

“If you die, you might see all kinds of weird ‘minor characters’ dropped in the clearing along with all your other stuff.”

The QuestBuilder has a neat little function to give characters “minor characters”. In the original quests, for example, you might kill 6 goblins and rescue a deposed king who would then be with you as a minor character. These minor characters bestow various bonues, or can also impose penalties. The really naet thing is, you can also make a minor character that is, in fact, invisible and will not make its presence known to the player. So I used the minor character function in a few quests as “markers”. For example, one quest might have an invisible, minor character called “Visited_Scholar”. Various step quests might test for the presence of that “character”. If you die, you will see that “Visited_Scholar” character dropped into your clearing. I think they are essentially inert, and as I type this I realize I do not know if another character can come along and acquire those minor characters in any way. Doing so, if possible, would very likely gum things up.

Thanks to Steve Schacher for helping me along at a few points where I got stuck, and thanks for Robin for originating RealmSpeak and creating the QuestBuilder. I know others have also contributed much to the Questing concept (both the Book of Quests and the Questing the Realm ideas), and much thanks to them as well (particularly Jay Richardson).
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James Dean
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I have just uploaded a revised version of the Questing the Realm pack for Realmspeak’s Expansion 1. The biggest change I made, was to the victory points awarded for each quest. I finally got a chance to play through each quest in an actual (solo) game and that let me get a feel for the game resources required to complete quest and to estimate what number of points would be commensurate with the loss of those resources. In estimating victory points, I tried to use the original “Discover the Lost City” as a baseline. That quest requires the player to travel to a monster-dense tile and loot one treasure, awarding 3 victory points. In my revision of the expansion quests, those that require spending additional time in a monster-dense tile got more victory points, for example, while those that could be accomplished even by remaining in Valley or Swamp tiles got fewer victory points.
On interesting aspect of Realmspeak’s Expansion 1, when using the questing variant or not, is that the ability to cover ground, to literally just move, becomes much more important. Location to which the player will need to visit become more dispersed, requiring more travel and more hide rolls and more monster rolls. This introduces, naturally, more randomness and all randomness is essentially acting against the player, who must engage in iterative games of chance with every move. So, I tried to give quests that require travel more points, simply because a player’s chances of being eating alive by a dragon or being frozen to death on a mountain (if playing with weather),increase just due to the need to move so much.
In any case, here is the final tally of the Questing the Realm cards for Realmspeak’s Expansion 1:

Gain a Companion Quests
A Dragonman Joins You – he’s chained to the stones outside the Basilisk lair.
A Ghost Joins You – taking certain actions at the Cairns can release a spirit under your control
An Imp Joins You – a little black magic employed at the Chaos Gate or Kalar’s Tower will summon him
A Kobold Joins You – two ogres had captured him for a stew, kill the ogres and he’s grateful
An Orc Joins You – he’s been cocooned at the Web
(there’s also a chance to gain a Ratmen companion if you interrupt a Derwydd ritual from another quest)

First to Discover Quests
These exist for all the treasure sites, plus Kalar’s Tower and the Chaos Gate. These do NOT exist for any of the Elemental Gates (which I do not believe are functional in Realmspeak). There are also no quests for discovering the pod-producing treasure sites, which I never include in a game. These "First to Discover" quests do NOT reflect recent discussion of tweaking the “First to Discover” quests to require the player to return to a specified native HQ prior to earning the points.

Mapmaker Quests
Trek of the Mapmaker – Snake Swamp
Trek of the Mapmaker – Volcano

Find Armor Quests
There’s a card to find any of the L armor (vest, shield, or helmet) included in the Expansion.

Return Home Quests
If you rescue anyone from another quest, you can draw a certain card to award points for returning that person to the Huts (where the Murkers and Dragonmen live).

Standard Quests
A Candle in the Darkness
Blood of the Beast
Call of Kalar
Den of Thieves
Hidden Mines
Lady of the Lake
No Honor Among Thieves
Shadows Among Us
The Center Cannot Hold
Through the Chaos Gate
The Circle
The Obsidian Tower
Tree of Sorrow
Into the Volcano
Wager of Battle
The Plague Doctor
War of the Woods
Swamp Hunt
Mercy for the Dead

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