Continuing with the major theme of one shots in this blog, lets talk a little about tremulus (yes, that’s a lower case ‘t’) and how it handles these.
First, I find it great that a game has this aspect of focusing on one-shots in it. On top of that, the way they are handled encourages improvisation, but helps with keeping things together, which probably helps new GMs with their confidence, which is a huge part of GMing this way (or GMing in general).
To facilitate this, tremulus introduces the concept of frameworks. A framework consists of a few hazards, usually three or four. Then you just give them hazard tracks, which basically means things these hazards will do when certain things are triggered. Hazards can be lots of things, like people, objects or the setting itself, as long as it presents dangers or obstacles to the characters.
So, yesterday we had a session of so-called “random rpg” and I was going to run a game of tremulus. The night before I sat down and thought about it for a while. First, I decided I was going to use an old idea of mine, which never came to fruition, where a young girl murders her employers. There was one hazard behind that, which became the “linchpin” or the hazard everything else revolves around. Then I thought maybe the townsfolk aren’t that interested in helping the characters, but I decided against making them townies, and made the village a landscape instead, and a maze at that. I separated the sheriff from the rest, who became and elder, or protector to be more precise, and then I decided to put a painting with extraordinary powers in to the picture. That’s a weird.
All these terms (townies, landscape, maze, elder, protector, weird) are shortcuts to a set of moves they can make, if players fail rolls.
The end result: Bell End
Note that lots of things are left open. That’s the point. You have something to rely on, but mostly you have to think on your feet. The game itself is almost completely player facing, meaning the GM never rolls anything and in this case, the GM can’t even act unless given a chance (the players ask something, the players fail at something, a hazard is triggered from the track, the GM expends a hold, or the players remain quiet for too long).
This results in players as the driving force behind the story. In our group, this usually means intense conflict, which ends in someones death. As Lauri / doc_cthulhu mentioned yesterday in his post, all you need is a few PC in an enclosed space and the story will emerge. That’s pretty much what happened.
I highly recommend tremulus. I enjoy it, as I have enjoyed Apocalypse World and MonsterHearts before it. Different emphases, but its still great and lots of fun for me as the GM, as I try to find places where I can mess with the players. Most of the time I don’t have to. They’ll mess with themselves and each other plenty.