Getting started with Storytelling

Labels: Late Legends, storyteller, getting started

This chapter is specifically for Storytellers (called Dungeon Masters in other games) and how to build a story from scratch. Besides helping you create a story, this will also serve as a guide for being a great storyteller. Even a bad story can be made great by a fantastic storyteller and vice versa. Therefore it is most important that you understand some general do’s and (maybe even more important) the don’ts. Most of the things we cover in this chapter might be second-nature for experienced Storytellers, but it is still worthwhile to check it out. Late Legends is a different game after all. That said, we would like to challenge you to stay creative with your story, while we provide the needed tips and tricks in this chapter.

The role of a storyteller

A storyteller is in charge of running the story for a group of legends, either for a one-shot (a one-time sitting) or a full campaign (multiple sessions that could span years). As a storyteller, you are in charge of everything that goes around in the story, this includes the rules! That means the storyteller has a lot of responsibility, but also a lot of creative freedom.

Create a story

Labels: Late Legends, storyteller, story creation

Before you start with creating a story, please make sure you have the following:

  • A basic understanding of Late Legends (from a player perspective), check out Learn Late Legends.

All set? Alright, time to create a story! Here are some tips for starting off.

  • Set some ground rules for the world.
    • What kind of forces shaped this world? Are they gods at play, and what is their role in the current time?
    • Is there magic in the world, how does that work and why?
    • What kind of energy is used when legends perform class skills?
    • How unique are the powers of the legends? Are they extremely common or are they the only ones with those class powers?
    • What kind of people live in the world, what kind of races are there and what are their relationships to each other?
    • Is there a concept of money in this world, how is trade handled and what is the difference between the poor and the rich?
    • Where is the story going to take place (for at least the first couple of play sessions)?
    • How is the world ruled, is it ruled by royalty or is it a wild world of survival of the fittest?
  • Be sure to consult the group of players on the type of story you would like to play. You might want to do a traditional role-playing adventure around the world, while your group would like to do a top secret train heist. Make sure you align these preferences beforehand.
  • Try to conceptualize the world on a map. A simple map should do the trick when starting off.

At this point, you got a basic understanding of what the story is going to be. It is important to stay flexible at this point to create the story that not only you like, but also the group likes. With the blanks filled in, make sure you have a chat with the group. In this chat, you should try to get to know what the other players have in mind, so you can tweak your ground rules accordingly.

At this point, you should be helping the players create their legend and backstory. Help them find a place and motive in the world. This will usually force you to add more to the world, and it is important to do so. Make sure the group of players fits together. Even if the legends don’t know each other yet, they will be traveling together, give them a reason to.

Be sure to be ready for questions of the group, the more they get invested, the more they want to visualize the world. Use this as an opportunity to refine the world. It is your job to glue the ground rules of the world together with the individual ideas of the players.

Keep in mind, an inexperienced group of players might find it hard these decisions beforehand. Maybe they want to ‘just play’. If so, you could make some choices for them, fill in some more of the world. Most of these steps can be done on your own discretion. Keep in mind that it is more fun if all participants are involved in the creation process since they are more likely to be invested in the playing process.

Be sure to save all the notes, maps and drawings that you made for the world and focus on prepping the first session.

Prep the first session

When it is time to start playing, prepping the first session is very important. You’ve got a couple of challenges ahead of you:

  • The group can be either strangers, friends or rivals, but make sure they have the space to click in some way.
  • Establish a group goal, this is the start of the adventure, give the group something to do.
  • Introduce NPC’s, the world should feel alive with lots of stuff happening.
  • Let the players see all the sheets they have at least once, this means a simple interaction with abilities, items and a quick battle. Does not have to be anything major, but it is nice to tick all the boxes for the first session.
  • Be very ready for a change of plans, the players can do what they want, so it will probably go different than you planned. It is very important to go with the flow, but you can abruptly stop them if they act out of hand (if they steal from shops, you can throw them in jail if it is noticed). If they really behave out of hand you can also talk to them after the session.

Create a quest

Labels: Late Legends, storyteller, create a quest

In stories, you would like to add quests to give legends something to do. Either for the main story progression (a main quest) or a side activity (a side quest). In this section, we’ll cover how to make a quest and we try to make sure that the quest you make is interesting.

Keep in mind, the players are actually in control, they will decide if a quest is going to be their main quest or just a side activity. For example: If you introduce a quest to be the best wrestler in the world, but all the legends don't care about it and just move on, your quest will not be picked up at all, and you have to deal with it.

A quest blueprint

So let’s start simple, a quest is a task for the legends to do. This can be running some errand or hunting down a monster. Answer the following questions to create a blueprint of your quest:

  • What is the goal of the quest?
  • What characters will be involved in the quest? Will the legends get help or are they on their own?
  • What needs to happen for the quest to be completed and are there half-complete scenario’s that you can think of?
  • What is the reward of the quest and what would be the half completion reward?
  • What is the information you are going to give the players up front and will you keep some aspects a mystery?

Use the blueprint and these tips to make the quest interesting:

Make the characters involved interesting

The best quests have good characters involved. The personal story of a character could be the driving factor of the quest or they can be in conflict with one of the legends. The best thing you can do is relating the quest’s story and conclusion to the main story you are trying to make. We do not want a boring character with a forgettable problem in the center of the quest.

Use quests to give another perspective of the world

The legends in the story are probably something like are adventurers. Since it is fun to travel, they will probably see a lot of the world that you’ve created. Changing this perspective in a quest could really add value to the ‘simple’ things.

A quest could involve the story of a crippled kid that wants to travel the world. For him, this is an unachievable dream. The quest could lead to finding a scientist and some materials to build the kid his own flying machine. At the end of the quest, the hopeless kid is helped and the legends fulfilled his dreams.

Don’t make a meaningless fetch quest

Collection quests are a pain, nobody really likes to do them, so give your players a good reason to do one of these. If the goal of the quest is just to collect and deliver an item, make sure the travel to the item and the destination has some fun interactions. Maybe they’ll learn the layout of a big city as a result, or run into a good source of information for later. Whatever you decide to add to the story, be sure it is there for a reason.

Offer variety of quests

Quests can be different types:

  • Mystery: find the culprit.
  • Collection: Get the right things in the right place.
  • Adventure: venture into a dark cavern in search of long lost treasure.
  • Contest: be sure to be better than the competition.

Make sure the rewards feel meaningful

In the blueprint, you already thought of possible rewards for the quest. be sure to think of the following to make the reward feel meaningful:

  • Put the reward in perspective, a small kid will probably not give you hundreds of pieces of gold.
  • Not all rewards have to be cold cash, think of the added value that the legends had on the world. Maybe a character can return on a later moment as an ally?
  • Make sure the players know when the quest is complete, show true appreciation of the characters and let them know they did a good thing. Don’t really hard punish behavior you would not like to see, but be sure to thoroughly reward good behavior.

This is the story of Flynn, a small boy that is born crippled. He always wanted to travel the world but has never able to. For him, it is an unachievable dream to travel the world. After the first encounter with Flynn, the legends might realize that they've run into a scientist that is working on a one-person flying machine a while back. If they consult the scientist, maybe Flyn's wish can be fulfilled? The quest itself involves getting some different people together to create the flying machine (a scientist, a wood crafter, and a tailor). If the legends bring everyone together, they could create a flying machine for Flynn! Maybe the legends themselves travel on for the time being, but later in the story, Flynn could show up again in his very own flying machine! As for rewards, who knows, the legends might need a trusty delivery boy to get a package to the other side of the globe.

Implementing a trade sequence

A trade sequence is a special type of collection quest that could span the whole story. An example of a trade sequence would be where you would find one item, that is needed by someone else, who would give you another item, and so on. When you would like to make a quest like this, please make sure you check the following:

  • Make sure it is clear what is expected of the legends, do they need to take action, or react at certain points in the story?
  • Make clear what item should be used for this quest, and what items are not for the quest.
  • If the quest is going to take long, make sure it is varied enough or easily completed.
  • If only one player is engaged in the quest, be sure to keep the interactions for the quest short.
  • Already plan a cool reward for the quest, the legends spent lots of time doing the quest after all.

Create a Character

Labels: Late Legends, storytelling, characterbuilding

A character is an entity in a story that is not a legend. This entity is usually played by the storyteller, but can also be played by others. Usually, a character can be summarized in a couple of sentences, but you can also go all-out and explain it in full detail. It all depends on what you have in mind for the character and how the players deal with it. In this section, we’re going to give tips and tricks on how to create a useful and interesting character.

1. What is your goal with the character

The first thing you need to realize is the goal that you want to achieve with the character. This is not the goal in-game, but more the goal you as a storyteller would like to achieve with this character. Is it a happy-go-lucky shop-keeper with not much else than good prices, or is it the mailman disguised as the real antagonist. It’s important to set this goal beforehand because it will help you create and play the character.

Let's take a simple goal, for now, informing the legends about the weakness of great monster that lurks in the forest nearby.

Note: Character goals are not set in stone. It might have started out as an average Joe with not much thought put into it to fill up the townsfolk. But when Joe interacts with the group of legends and becomes close friends, he might up tagging along for a big chunk of the story. In this case, the group of legends clearly showed interest in this character, so it is up to you to make this average Joe the most interesting Joe he can be.

2. Put the character in the story

A good character should have a strong motive to do things. With the storytelling goal in mind, think about how the character is going to achieve this goal. If your goal was to inform the legends, you could make a blank character that simply tells the group of legends exactly what they need to know. Not really interesting right? Instead, you could build the character around the goal, make the character his/her own and envision a cool scenario where the information is given. If it is really important, maybe the legends need to do something in exchange for the information. Finally, you can think of why this character has the information and not just someone else, what makes this character special?

'Wooden Joe' is not only the village elder, but he is also a renowned wood-crafter. His mom was a hunter and his father was a lumberjack, and Joe joined his dad on the trips to the woods since he was 3 years old. One night when Joe was 12, Joe's dad was sick at home. Determined to get work done, Joe went into the forest alone with his axe, despite all the warnings his mom gave him of a terrible Chimera. Joe got caught by the terrible beast and was barely saved by his mom. Joe's legs were badly hurt and had to be amputated. Joe would not go back in the woods for a long time. Joe spent his days at the workshop of his aunt, a wood crafter. Joe's aunt even crafted two prosthesis legs out of wood for Joe. Instead of becoming a lumberjack, Joe spent his days learning how to use the wood his father brought back. He also learned a lot from his mother about wild monsters that lurk in the woods, even though he never returned to that place. Nowadays Joe is still a proud wood-crafter, trying to get the rarest of wood to improve his prosthesis legs. Most of Joe's family is passed away now, but he still hones the wood-crafting skills that he learned so long ago.

In the example above we got to know Wooden Joe. We know what Joe does this day and why he would be the one to know about a terrible beast (a Chimera) in the forest. If a group of travelers (the legends) would ask Joe about a Chimera in the forest it would seem fitting that Joe will be helping them. Along with helping them, he would also request them to bring a precious piece of wood back while they are in the forest.

3. Give the character personality

Now that we know the goal and how to achieve it, let’s try to spice up the character with some unique traits. This allows us to get more into the character so we can role-play them more easily. You can also draw or search an image online of the character to easily show it off.

On a first glance, Wooden Joe is not much of a talker. He usually hides most of his emotions and focuses on his work. Joe does not take apprentices and really loves his 'alone time'. With his enormous skill, he expects people to be amazed by his creations anyway, no matter the actual quality. This is why he sees himself as the only true judge of his work. Joe loves to go out drinking in the inn with both old and new folk. After some drinks, Joe will open up a bit and will talk about the old times. Joe hates rainy days and loves apple pie.

4. Adding the finishing touch

The character is basically ready to play. There are a lot of things unpredictable about Late Legends, but you do know this character will interact with the party. Be sure to be ready for that by asking the following questions:

  • What does the character feel about the group of legends?
  • Where would you think they will meet (even though it does not have the be there it still helps to think about)
  • What if the legends ignore him completely?

Wooden Joe can be found at the workshop. He will be trying to earn money from the legends when they come in, presenting his finest work. Since they are traveling he will try to sell them a cart (and hope they have a mount). If they are not interested and directly want information he will tell them to come to the inn later 'after work is done'. Later on the day, Joe can be found at the inn, he will be playing some cards and drinking a lot. He will be talking about good old times and ask the legends for a favor in return for his information. If the party ignore or refuse his request he will respect it and not force it 'if they think they've got better things to do, then so be it'.

5. Leave room to evolve

It is important to review the character once it has made an appearance in the story. Maybe you’ve added some characteristics while improvising or come up with fresh ideas for the character. The group of legends could have introduced topics that you did not think of before, this would be a great time to tweak the character a bit and keep it believable in the story. The potential is limitless, you can make any ‘ordinary joe’ an interesting character after all.

Ever since the 'accident', Wooden Joe has not been in the forest, he has built up some kind of hatred to the wildlife that lives there and has learned about them as if they are the pure evil of this world. If the group of legends has a pet monster with them (maybe a pseudodragon or something) Wooden Joe would be against the idea of such a monster in his workshop. But along the interactions, he may start to like the fella. Who knows, in the end, he might even open up and join the party when they go into the forest.

Managing Legend rewards

Labels: Late Legends, storyteller, Managing Legend rewards

As a storyteller, you are in control of the rewards the legends get, when they gain a level and what kind of artifacts/trinkets they can get. We got some tips on how to manage this to (hopefully) make it satisfying for your legends.

Rewarding using Levels

Every player wants to see their legend get stronger. A big part of this is leveling up: A Legend will get core stats (which gives ability points and battle stats) and a new class skill. it is important that you find a good timing for this. Late Legends does not include an experience system, and this is for a reason: the storyteller should be in control of when the group of legends gains a level. This will remove all the meta-gaming aspects of grinding for experience and will let you be the judge of when they’ve earned it.

Here are some tips on how to handle the level gains:

  • Be sure to level all the legends at the same time, you should not be punishing any bad behavior with level penalties.
  • At the end of a session is usually the best time to announce a level up, this will not clutter the story, the ones that immediately want to level can do so, while the others can do it at a later time. This also ends the session on a high point, which is always nice.
  • Level up can be given after battling lots of monsters, but also take social interactions into account. If a legend has never helped anyone in his life, it is a big step forward if he helped someone, no matter how small the task was.

Rewarding using Artifacts / Trinkets

In a story, the Legends may have found something in a dungeon by solving a hard riddle or won a prize in a singing contest. No matter the reason, you can reward them with trinkets and artifacts. Trinkets give the legends something fun for role-playing (non-battle) and artifacts are purely for battle (either battle stats or a skill).

Here are some tips on rewarding trinkets and artifacts:

  • When introducing this for the first time, be sure to give something to all legends (or something that can be useful for all legends).
  • Be sure to give artifacts that help the legends, it should give battle stat increases or skills that make battles more interesting for the player.
  • If an artifact or trinket is a way too impactful and not fun anymore, you can try to find a narrative reason for the item to not work anymore. Maybe it ran out of magical power, is it cursed and will it wound the user or will it just break after a certain amount of uses.

Be sure to check the Artifact list and the Trinket list for inspiration.

A quest for the class Ultimate

A legend gains their class ultimate on level 6 by default. You can change this and instead keep it for a special dungeon or quest (this means it can be gained whenever it is appropriate in the story). This can be a dungeon that is themed after the Legend or some kind of nightmare realm where they truly face their fears. A dungeon like this could really drive home a legend’s motivations in the story, giving more perspective on their backstory that might have been overlooked up until that moment. Maybe you could even let the player storytell the dungeon, allowing them to add all neat details while you play a side character for the time being. It can be really fun and add to the specialty. Of course, by the end of the dungeon, the legend would learn their class ultimate!

Add music to the story

Labels: Late Legends, storyteller, add music to the story

Music can be a powerful thing, it can pump you up for a big battle, or really make an emotional part heartfelt. Music can also have a place in Late Legends, these sections will go over how you can use music in your stories.

1. Set a goal for the music

The first thing you need to realize is the goal you would like to set with the music. Do you want to envoke a sense of peace and quiet for a small town, then you can use something peaceful as background noise. If you want to build up hype for a meeting with a big general in the capital, you can go for something epic with majestic cords.

2. Pick a song

With the goal in mind, it is time to start picking a song. In our experience, video game original soundtrack can be very effective. They usually lack vocals, are easily loopable and invoke a certain feeling.

For the peaceful town example you could go for songs like:

For the big general hype-up you could go for songs like:

3. Bring it to the table

Now it is time to think about how you bring the music to the table. Are you going to use a Bluetooth speaker and push it using your phone, or are you going to bring you whole surround system to do the job? This is really up to you. Storytelling is a lot of work, so it might be a good idea to appoint one player to the music so all you have to do is press play/pause whenever you want to.

Legend boost

As an option to emphasize legend moments, you could use a Legend Boost. You basically give all the players one token to use as a Legend boost whenever they feel like it. Once they use this token, they can do something extraordinary. This can be a role-playing moment or in the middle of a heated battle. This would probably be the time where you as a storyteller ditch some of the rules and let the Legend go nuts. Maybe the player wants to throw weapons across the battlefield to break the enemies spirit or start riding the big scary dragon instead of fighting it. This will be the moment for the legend, so it would be cool if you accompanied this with a special song (chosen by the players themselves). It is up to you as the storyteller how many tokens you allow and what you expect the players to do with a boost. If done correctly, it can be lots of fun.

Examples of Legend boost songs that we used:

Please keep in mind that this page is still under construction!!!









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