The Gamewriter’s Glossary
The Gamewriter’s Glossary
Wayfinder games can be very abstract, especially since we all tend to develop our own jargon when talking about them. So, here follows a massive listing of all the terminology you will need to write an Adventure Game! Hopefully this will make many things clear, and make many things that were already clear slightly stranger. Did we leave anything out? Drop us a line and we’ll add it to the glossary!
A medium of live-action theater in which players use improvisational acting to participate in and co-create a story, roleplaying characters within that story. With few exceptions, an adventure game makes no distinction between audience and actor, making it a particularly unique form of storytelling. Often involves adventuring, hijinks, and the occasional bout of foam-enhanced stabbing.
An “Intro Game” is an adventure game which is both suitable for beginner-level roleplayers and which can serve as an introduction to Wayfinder games in general. Intro Games are usually set in a fantasy world and make use of Wayfinder’s published magic system. They also usually, though not always, play with familiar tropes of the fantasy genre and employ a Diamond Flow. They generally consist of a two game segments, with the first played at night and the second the following day.
Any game that does not fit the standard Intro Game model. These are often of non-fantasy genres, and consist of a single Night Game, though there are exceptions to both of those rules. Advanced Games do not need to use the standard magic system, and can have much more open-ended flows. Also often end with crying.
An adventure game, or section of an adventure game, in which players stay in a particular area and interact freely, generally with minimal combat or overarching structure. Players are free to pursue personal goals or partake of the various amusements the location provides. These often take place at taverns, bars, inns, or weddings, thus the name.
The loose set of events that are planned by the gamewriter to occur during an Adventure Game. This can range from open-ended catalytic events (“The Queen is slain by the Dark Lord, prompting the PCs to set out to avenge her”) to specific moments (“The PCs perform the ritual by lighting themselves on cold fire”). The amount of pre-planned Flow varies from game to game, depending on the writer’s style.
A common flow structure, in which the PCs split up into several groups to accomplish separate tasks, then reunite once all are finished. When mapped out as a flowchart, this produces a diamond shape, giving the structure its name. Two back-to-back Diamond Flows are referred to as a Golden Flow, because when you alchemically combine two diamonds you get gold. Obviously.
An abbreviation of “player character,” the term PC refers not just to players within an adventure game, but specifically those playing the protagonists. These will be most, if not all, of the campers at the camp your game is being run.
A group of PCs that are together at the beginning of an Adventure Game. They may be grouped by a common theme, goal, or place of origin. In some games, PC teams are expected to stick together throughout the game, while in others they scatter to the four winds to pursue their personal goals. The gamewriter’s opinion on which of these types of game is being played is rarely consulted.
An abbreviation of “supporting player character” or “story player character,” the term SPC refers to players who take on a role which facilitates the adventure game. SPCs generally are aware of the Flow and their role in it, and help keep things moving smoothly and keep the PCs engaged and active. There are many different types of SPC roles, illuminated below, but obviously there is overlap between them and a character may change roles over the course of a game.
The player who leads a particular PC Team, organizing the member players and guiding them through the world of the story. PC Leaders are often made aware of the Flow, as they are in an excellent position to ensure that it actually occurs and right it if it becomes derailed.
The central villain or villains of an adventure game. Source of much angst, and hopefully eventually defeated spectacularly by the PCs. Or, you know, not, depending on the game in question. Referred to by people more mature than us as the “main antagonist.”
Big weapons. Smash things. Sometimes smart. Sometimes not. Sometimes talky! Usually smashy. Fight PCs. Befriend PCs? Short sentences. Obey villains. Rarely flow. Roaming danger. Rawr rawr!
In order for the story of a game to make sense as it progresses, the characters must often be introduced to new information that spurs them to further action. A quest-giver SPC exists to serve this role in the flow.
Any SPC who waits at a particular location for the PCs to arrive, where the SPC will perform a set task. This might include monsters to fight, fairies with a magic item to bestow, people in need of rescue, and so on. While not optimal (no one likes waiting in the woods getting eaten by mosquitoes) they are often a necessary part of games. Note that, despite the name, sometimes these SPCs are actually forced to wait in fields, swamps, remote cabins, and parking lots.
An SPC who has little or no actual flow responsibilities, but serves to “flesh out” the game world and further characterize the setting with their presence. Shopkeepers, bartenders and the ilk can often serve this role; as can characters who are designed to be “recruited” by a team. They help immerse the PC’s in the world that they are playing in.
Used interchangeably to refer to: (A) the system by which a player whose character is dead or has otherwise left the game receives a new character and returns to play, (B) the player responsible for representing this cycle of reincarnation in-character, and © the set and physical location where this occurs. Short for reincarnation, rebirth, rehab, and just about anything else you want.
The first sheet of a game submission, which includes basic information like the gamewriters’ names and contact information, as well as a brief summary of the game. The form can be found here.
A description of the setting of the game. For fantasy games, this can include histories of the world and its peoples, maps of the location, descriptions of the mythology, and so on. For modern day or other genres of game, this is more likely to include the secrets of the world and major organizations that are relevant to the PCs and the plot of the game.
More individualized descriptions of portions of the game setting relevant to a group of players. These are best employed if the groups would have significantly different understandings of the world, but can also simply give them more information to differentiate themselves from the other groups during chardev.
Character sheets explain a particular character’s backstory, relationships, and goals in the game, and are given to the player before game. In some games, the author may wish to personally bestow a specific role on each and every player in the game. This way lies madness, but players certainly appreciate being paid such special attention, especially if the author takes the time to hand-write each page in his or her own blood.
Sets of connected items written or printed consecutively. More colloquially, the organizational documents that are used to convey to each department what a game requires from each of them. If you don’t give them lists, they’ll give you fists.
The collective group of people who make cool things for your game. Includes costuming, game systems, and sets & props. Be nice to them, because they’re the ones who make your game look gorgeous.
The weapons and equipment that will be used by everyone participating in your adventure game. This includes swords, shields, monster weapons and all the equipment for magic users. The person, or people, in charge of game systems should receive a list with all of the equipment that is needed well before your game is run. If there is a weapon or piece of equipment you want that we do not currently have, it will need to be made before your game runs.
The clothes and accessories that everyone will be wearing during the adventure game. The person, or people, in charge of costuming should get a list with what costuming and accessories will need to be brought to your adventure game. It should include team colors, charters that need make-up and any armor that will be needed. Be extra descriptive so the costuming person can get the right look and attire for the people in the world you have created.
Sets & Props
All of the scenes that will need to be set up and what items need to be at them for your game look good and run smoothly. The person, or people, in charge of sets and props should get a list with all the needed props and scenes. It will preferably be sent out as soon as possible. If you want something for the game that we do not currently have, it will need to be made before your game runs.
The sense of accomplishment and engagement that accompanies being participant, rather than observer to, the story. This can take the form of literal empowerment– handing the PCs or just one PC actual powers within the context of the game– or more figurative empowerment– being chosen for a particular task, overcoming obstacles, and having one’s ideas, advice and strategies accepted. Counterintuitively, being placed in a disadvantageous or powerless position can often be empowering, especially for advanced players, if it means contributing to the story by their presence.
A player’s ability, within an adventure game, to enact their own desires upon the story and exercise their freedom from it. It differs subtly from empowerment, in that empowerment is created on the player’s behalf– opportunities to contribute to the story– whereas agency originates with the player, and must be accounted for. Essentially; does your game fall apart if some of its players run off and do their own thing? Or will the illusion of the game world hold up, and make room for their contribution?
Minutes of Focus
The gamewriting concept that, in a game, there are only so many minutes that the focus of the group can rest upon any particular character, scene or idea. Some of those minutes must necessarily go towards establishing the setting and conflict, including the main antagonist(s); some must go towards each obstacle; some must go towards each flow point; and as many as possible should rest on the PCs. You’ll need the help of your SPCs to accomplish this, but let them know what you have in mind or minor characters may wind up dominating everyone’s game experience because of a charismatic player; or scenes may drag on with no end in sight.
A flow point in which PCs set out to retrieve something specific. It could be a magic crystal, a magic spell, a magic friend, a magic enemy, or just about anything. As long as they fetch it.
The reasons the PCs set out on a fetch quest! It is the item that PCs need to go and retrieve. It could be a magic crystal, a magic spell, a magic friend, a magic enemy, or just about anything. It is usually an item that the PCs need to get to push the flow forward. (See also: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MacGuffin)
The big battle that happens at the end of a lot of games! The heroes rally. The villains also rally. Much murder ensues. One side dies, the other side gets to give speeches.
A short story, document, poster, video, or just about anything else that serves essentially as an advertisement for a game. They are generally distributed online before the camp the game is to be played it, to help build hype and interest in the game. They are also usually exhibited before or at the start of Intro to Story to get the players excited for that workshop.
Intro to Story
The workshop at camp where the gamewriter introduces the players to the world of the game. This often includes going over world history, mythology, and introducing the major SPCs and their players. Be careful not to spoil your players by accident! This is also a good time to throw in some sweet theme music if you’ve got speakers.
This refers to both the process of deciding who the people at camp are going to play in game, and the workshop where they find out the results of said decision-making. This can be as simple as dividing them into groups, or as complicated as writing customized character sheets for each person and distributing them. Depends on how little sleep you’re okay with getting before game, really.
Character Development (Chardev)
Time set aside for the players to flesh out their characters and the relationships between them. This can be more or less organized, depending on the person running it and the amount of time allotted at camp.
These are things that you have changed or added to the system for your adventure game. This could be to add something cool and original to your game that fits in the world you have created, or to take out a spell or ability that would not make sense in your world. The participants in your game need to know them so they can properly react to the things that are happening to them and around them in game.
Changes to the magic system which do not need to be explained to every player in order to work. These change the way a specific character or group buys, casts or reacts to elements in the magic system in such a way that it need be explained only to them.
A short ritual which precedes an adventure game, useful for any last-minute out-of-character announcements and reminders, and for getting players ready to step into character. This will be the last time to tell the people playing your game any information before it starts. This is a good time make sure everyone knows/remembers all the game conventions and the location of RE. LET US PLAY!
Original post 12/4/13