Exploration Mechanics for It Was There, Honest!

Today I want to talk about three exploration models for It Was There, Honest!

I have three ways to structure exploration: Freeform RP, the Five-Room Dungeon, and Adjective Maps.

Freeform RP. The kids narrate going wherever they go, and seeing whatever they see. This approach might give the same impression of a bunch of real kids telling a disjointed, possibly inconsistent story, because that’s what happens when a bunch of people improvise. This might not be what I want, because part of the premise of the game is that the story is true, and true stories tend to hang together.

Rolls would be introduced, possibly with a pacing mechanic, at the discretion of the AF.

Five-Room Dungeon. This is based on JohnnFour’s post here. There are five parts of the story, and the players either take turns telling stories for each part, or all cooperate in telling the story of each section.

I would need to write story questions or prompts to represent the Guardian, Puzzle, Setback, Climax, and Revelation rooms. Presumably these questions would be asked by the AF to prompt the kids to respond. They could also be a list of points that the kids should talk about when doing their narration.

Each room would conclude with a roll. There’s no separate pacing mechanic for when a roll is called for.

Adjective Maps. This is an idea I’ve been kicking around, and it works like this:

Pick three adjectives and find out what place seems logically described by those adjectives. Or, pick a location and decide on three adjectives that describe it. When you move to the next area, choose a single shared adjective that also describes the destination. Then, come up with two more adjectives for the new place. And so on. Players should not re-use adjectives, hopefully prompting some creativity in their narration.

For example, the kids talk about a “watery”, “noisy”, and “dark” area. We conclude that this is an underground river, part of a cave system. The kids narrate following the river, along the “watery” adjective. The kids decide on a lake, and assign “placid” and “deep” to it. Following “placid”, the kids come up with “shiny” and “echoing”. Together, they decide this means a set of crystal caverns.

Adjectives could be decided on at the table, generated by computer, or even drawn from a deck of cards.

Rolls come in the same way as the freeform model, or one per room.

Each exploration model has its own pros and cons. I’m still thinking over what my objectives are from this part of the rules, and about any necessary pacing mechanic or reward system.