As mentioned in Content Standards: Levels of Review, players who have attended at least three events may write content for Shards of Orn, via the Storyboard. In addition to contributing as Writers, players can also contribute as Narrators. To receive a Narrator's License a player must show they have a solid grasp on how to run content, and run an adventure under the guidance of a current Narrator.
Narrator Application Process
- Get the approval of the Writer and Narrator - You may apply by running Content you have not written yourself, but must get the approval of the Writer to do so.
- Get the approval of the Artistic Director.
- The Artistic Director will notify the Narrator.
- Applicant will run the content under the supervision of the Narrator - The Licensed Narrator is along to observe and assist if necessary, but the player applying for Narrator position is the one running the content.
- Narrator will discuss the tryout with the Artistic Director.
- Artistic Director will make a decision - The Artistic Director may approve the new Narrator's License, or recommend areas to improve before applying again.
The narrator is responsible for ensuring that Content runs smoothly, and as such is an important member of Staff. There are many qualities that may benefit a narrator, but some of the most important are:
- Familiarity with Content - The narrator should be well acquainted with Content before it is run. When a narrator is selected for Scheduled Content, they have full access to the Content and can read it immediately. Content must be run as written, or as closely as possible.
- Familiarity with Game Mechanics - Including, but not limited to: Races, Effects, and Gameplay.
- Familiarity with Lore - A Narrator should familiarize themselves with Lore relevant to their content.
- Reliability - Narrators are selected for scheduled content ahead of time by the writer. A Narrator who cannot run scheduled content after being chosen to do so must let the Artistic Director know as soon as possible so arrangements can be made to cover the shift.
- Improvisation - No matter how many scenarios a Writer may have accounted for, players will always find ways to surprise you. Being able to adapt to their actions, while staying true to Content, is one of the most valuable skills a Narrator can possess.
- Handling Group Play - A Narrator must be able to set the scene, direct Monsters, respond to players; sometimes all at once! Maintaining composure and keeping things flowing smoothly is important.
- Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment - Content is written with no specific level in mind, and no knowledge of who will attend it. party composition, or Story circumstances, may make an encounter more or less difficult for a given party. The challenge is in finding a satisfactory balance of difficulty so players feel accomplished and have fun!
- Ability to Guide Content - You want to guide the party without it feeling as though they're being lead. They may want to make a quick stop over to Creeper Keep while they're on an adventure to investigate rumors of a Hydra sighting near Shiredale, but that's an Adventure for another time...
Adjudicating Narrative Abilities
Narrative abilities are used by players to gather information or bypass obstacles in a story. They require no special method to activate and are not expended when used. Instead, they are limited by the narrator, who judges if they are useful in a particular scene, what they accomplish, and the difficulty of using them.
This follows a simple system of difficulty keywords and random numbers. When a narrative ability is declared, the narrator states the difficulty. The player using the ability then chooses a number between 1 and 10, which the narrator uses to determine if the ability succeeds. The possible difficulties and their chances of success are as follows.
- Very Easy (90%) - The narrator secretly chooses a number between 1 and 10. Every other number is a success. "Only a 6 fails."
- Easy (70%) - The narrator secretly chooses three numbers between 1 and 10. Every other number is a success. "Only 1, 3, or 5 fails."
- Medium (50%) - The narrator secretly chooses evens, odds, high, or low. Those numbers are successes. "Odds succeed."
- Hard (30%) - The narrator secretly chooses three numbers between 1 and 10. Those numbers are successes. "Only 5, 6, or 7 succeeds."
- Very Hard (10%) - The narrator secretly chooses one number between 1 and 10. That number is the only success. "Only 9 succeeds."
A narrator may ask for a number without stating a difficulty or may arbitrarily decide whether or not a narrative ability succeeds, at his or her discretion. Likewise, a narrator may elect to lower the difficulty or allow you to guess multiple numbers if you make a special effort to play out what your character is doing in a way that enhances the story.
Note that narrative abilities may be used on NPCs, but are not generally effective on players unless something related to the current story centers on the player. For example, Inspect Evil might work on a player if, say, they were cursed or possessed after doing something in a previous scene, but would not generally be useful otherwise. Without a narrator present, players may choose to allow other players to use narrative abilities on them or not, and respond however they please, without restriction.
Certain game effects may only be used by narrators in the course of a story. These include the following:
- Base Damage - High-level epic monsters may be allowed to call 2 Hits with normal attacks at no cost in Spirit.
- Crush Damage - Certain traps or epic monsters may call Crush when they inflict damage. Crush damage functions the same as Critical ("Crit") damage; it cannot be Resisted or Withstood, bypasses most defenses, and slays rather than subdues. It also functions similarly to Pierce damage in that it cannot be blocked. However, unlike Pierce damage, it cannot be Deflected.
- Field Modifier - An effect with the Field modifier affects all characters present in a scene as soon as it is announced and again every time those characters finish a rest. The characters may defend against a Field effect through immunity or countering normally.