10 Jun A Variety of Aventuria – Different Player Styles and The Dark Eye
This is Curtis, the Product Champion of The Dark Eye, coming to you from rainy Seattle, Washington! Since I signed on with the team in early April, I’ve been going around to all my friends, and any random passerby who will listen to me espouse The Dark Eye and Aventuria to them. As I’ve been talking people into playing with me, one question has come up repeatedly: “How strict is the setting?”
Of course, for those who have already spent our time deep in Aventuria, this is an easy question to answer: not at all. Overall, the world may be reasonably low fantasy compared to some other settings, but that does not mean it pigeonholes us into tight boundaries. Due to the long history of the world and the extensive lore that has been established over the years, there’s always something in a region to appeal to every sort of player.
Recently, I put together a small starter adventure for a group of new players, all of whom were wildly different players who wanted significantly different styles of fantasy. At first, I was concerned about accommodating a group as diverse in their wants as this, but I quickly found that I had nothing to worry about. From character creation to the end of their first session, I found something to engage everyone and satisfy their wants in the game without struggling to spotlight anyone or fill in gaps for myself. Everything I used was found within the Aventurian Almanac or the Core Rules, making it a breeze to involve my players.
With Wolves of the Westwind just out, I knew I wanted to do something on the Coast of Winds. It’s a wild, untamed land filled with adventure and history, and there’s no better place to introduce them to the titular winds. Considering that most of my players were approaching the game from higher fantasy settings, I settled on Albernia as the place to start. We could venture further north in later adventures.
Albernia is characterized “by the course of the Great River, its swampy delta, its enchanted fairy forests, and its many brooks, lakes, and alluvial floodplain forests,” in the Aventuria Almanac. It’s a land in constant contact with fairies, as the veil between their world and Aventuria blurs here. With the fairies interfering so often, the nobility is often beholden to their fickle ways, complicating the politics in the area. It also holds Havena, one of the west coast’s most significant trading ports. All of this will come in handy shortly.
I had three players for this adventure: Paula, Paige, and Gabe. Each one of them came from a different background in games and had significantly different desires for how they wanted their experiences to be.
Paula is an old-school player. She has been playing tabletop for a long time and knows what characters she likes to play. Often, it’s a struggle to make the perfect mechanical character for her, as systems tend to be too rigid to create them without significant massaging. She prefers high-energy adventure and high fantasy.
Paige is a social roleplayer through and through. I’ve watched her spend hours arguing in character about the minutia of grain prices and who will be supplying them at the best price. She prefers interpersonal conflicts and immersing herself in the lore of the world.
Gabe has a knack for creating characters with solid gimmicks and strong personalities. He’s experienced with various games and is a miniature wargamer. He cares about robust combat and mechanical systems.
Giving Them What They Want
Since each player wants something different, we needed to set them up for success from the beginning. So, I helped guide each player during character creation and worked together on their story. This allowed me to outline the session quickly, each character having a section to highlight their strengths, their wants, and their player’s particular interests.
Fairies will feature heavily at the start of the adventure, giving the group their first taste of the high fantasy that the game can provide, if that’s what they want. Once they leave Albernia, I will lower this throughout the game until we find the point where all players are happy, as I know that Gabe will want a much lower fantasy game than Paula. While they’re in Albernia, however, “the sight of a small flower fairy in the forest is fantastic, certainly, but it is also common, an encounter which a local would rarely consider mentioning.” So there will be a heavy fairy presence for now. This will also allow me to set up the grand adventure that Paula wants. It doesn’t matter much what she’s sent after, but as long as she’s got a clear goal and a promise of a powerful enemy at the end to dispatch with panache, she’ll be happy. The promise of a powerful enemy is, of course, a driving force for many types of players. Paige will appreciate it, but Gabe will most enjoy planning for this. He will likely gather much information on the beast before the group engages it.
Once on her quest, Paula will be the center the adventuring party needs to stay together. Paige will enjoy the interpersonal relationships made during the travel, but she will also need an outside antagonist. As “Albernia is characterized by the rebellious, self-reliant inhabitants,” a political feud is ideal, especially due to a hard choice between multiple promises. She will spend much of her time trying to appease all parties.
Finally, we will cap the session off with combat. This should be against intelligent beings who can think and use tactics more efficiently to allow Gabe to shine. With a solid, challenging fight, he will leave the table happy. As “many heroes from that struggle are now seen as criminals, ostracized from society,” enemies that were once heroes but have now fallen to banditry are a clear choice. This will also allow Paula and Paige to engage with it beyond the main combat, as the political ramifications of fighting former freedom fighters—who may still be beloved among the common folk—can come back to haunt them.
The Story So Far
Paula created a dashing rogue, as expected from someone who wants to play a high adventure game. She also picked up some light magic to aid in her skullduggery. The fairies heavily influence her character, and that’s where our story started. She met with her patron, a minor fairy whose realm is on the outskirts of the Farindel Forest. There, she was tasked with speaking to a knight beholden to the same fairy and aiding the knight in retrieving a bauble for the fairy.
Paige is playing that knight. A minor noble embroiled in the politics of Albernia, she is under an obligation to aid the fairy when asked. When Paula arrives at her keep, she knows immediately that she’s being called upon to fulfill her duty. This puts her in a poor position politically, as she is currently in the process of aiding another house, and this demand from the fairy is going to get in the way. However, knowing better than to test the fairy’s patience—and as a devout but secretive fairy cultist herself, she knows where her loyalties lie. As their path leads to a lake, where a krakennewt protects the bauble they’re to retrieve, she diverts their route first to a hermit living within the Great River delta who owes her a favor.
Gabe is playing a Blessed One of Efferd, who has spent much of his life living within the delta. His life is simple, blessing the local fishers’ catch and providing small religious services for the faithful. However, he owes Paige a favor due to an altercation with a Thistle Knight that she had managed to smooth over—or at least stall long enough for Gabe to get out of the area. Acting as the guide to the swampland, he guides them to the lake at the end of the last session, but not before bandits and swampland pirates beset the group.
That’s where our first session ended, directly after that combat. In one session, without having to deviate from one book, I was capable of giving my players each the spotlight and tailoring their experiences to their desires. And this is only a tiny portion of Aventurian lore! So, I believe the answer to the question that kicked this all off is pretty straightforward. “How strict is the setting?” With 50 years of story development and lore to draw upon, I’d say: not at all.
Until next time, adventurers! Yours Curtis.
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