BOLD is great for filling in gaps in time, but it can also be used to answer the question “what will happen?” What is a roleplaying adventure? Often times it’s a string of waylays. It is a sequence of scenes all relating for a certain reason. It is a series of conflicts leading up to a climax.
There are quite a few ways to use BOLD in real time. If a scene is getting boring, roll up a Waylay in BOLD to add some conflict to the scene. If the Waylay is unreasonable (at a boardroom meeting and the Waylay “tavern” is rolled), BOLD can be used to foreshadow the next scene or conflict to determine the heading of the adventure.
In this tutorial, BOLD will be used to create a short, impromptu adventure set around 3 scenes. The example portions were something that really happened in a game I had with my daughters playing Faery’s Tales, a game I highly recommend for early RPG players. One of my daughters wanted an adventure with a “lost puppy”. So I used that as the theme.
Step 1. Determine the theme of the adventure.
This can be done by rolling a Waylay without a solution. As always the context of the setting and game are paramount. If the adventure’s theme can fit into a metaplot or usual story of the world, so much the better.
The theme in my family Faery’s Tales game was upon request to deal with a “lost puppy”. It could have easily been “hopeless animals” if I had rolled the theme as a Waylay.
Step 2. Determine the exposition scene by rolling a Waylay without a solution.
This is the scene where the characters learn about the theme of the adventure, but they are also confronted with an effect of theme, a hint to the theme, or something to get them jumpstarted.
I rolled “valuable rival”, which really got me pondering. My first thought was that the rival was the one who kidnapped the puppy, but I could not figure out how the rival would be valuable. I decided that the rival would be one of the PC’s dark twins (I didn’t make that up), a dark pixie named Wissia (named by one of the players). She would be valuable in telling them where the puppy was. I decided that instead of Wissia taking the puppy, a forest troll had actually captured it.
Step 3. Determine the rising action scene by rolling a Waylay without a solution.
This is the scene that keeps the momentum up. I’ve found that it doesn’t always have to relate to the theme directly, and it can act as a transitional phase. It’s best to use this scene to bridge the exposition scene and the climax scene while keeping a good pace.
I rolled “apparent afterlife”, which again was just not an apparent scene. What I decided was that Wissia would say she saw the lost puppy in the Summerlands, which I found were kind of a faerie heaven according to my Google-fu. I set aside the idea of the forest troll to concentrate on the Summerlands idea. I didn’t want the lost puppy to have died though (since I was gaming with two grade-school girls).
Step 4. Determine the climax scene by rolling a Waylay without a solution.
This is the final scene, which should wrap up the conflict parts of the adventure. There still might be an epilogue of sorts afterwards, but the excitement is going to happen in this scene.
I rolled “binding illness”. This brought me right back to the forest troll idea because I decided that the puppy was very ill in being kept in the troll’s cave. The denizens of Summerlands had seen the puppy fading in and out of the Summerlands, and so they could lead the PC’s back on the right path.
Step 5. Hook the scenes together tightly with foreshadowing and plenty of theme elements. This can also be done by rolling up Steps 2-4 before interpreting them such that it will be easier to see the whole adventure at once.
This is the time to make sure that each scene bleeds in to one another. The transitions should not be jarring. This will give a basic roadmap throughout the whole adventure, and the specifics can be created on-the-fly since you will see the whole trajectory.
Here’s a cursory telling of our adventure. I had the rival, Wissia, come to tell a PC that she knew about the lost puppy, but she wouldn’t tell her where the puppy was unless she got to play a trick on one of the PC’s (a brownie) human family. The PC’s refused, but one PC said that the rival could grow thorns in her house for one moon cycle instead. Wissia agreed and told the PC’s that she saw the lost puppy in the Summerlands.
I then had the PC’s have to create a ritual to open the door to the Summerlands, which was quite a fun creative exercise involving getting flowers the color of the sunset, getting smooth pebbles as gifts to the door guardians, and so on. At the Summerlands they met a god-like stag who told them the truth of the puppy’s situation, the puppy being very ill in a forest troll’s cave.
The next scene the faery PC’s snuck into the troll’s cave while the troll was asleep. They basically destroyed their magic pool staying invisible, keeping the troll asleep, and healing the puppy, but they got out of there. It was a really good adventure all told.
For solo players. The same adventure-style can be used to generate short solo adventures. Again, I would suggest either rolling the theme as a Waylay (without a solution) or deciding on some small facet of the PC’s life. All the story hooks found in gaming supplements can provide an incredible wealth of solo adventure themes for this Impromptu Adventure setup. As a GM I would avoid much of those story hooks because I have to make sure the entire table is engaged, but as a solo player, the world is my oyster.
I would further suggest one change as a solo player. Do not roll ahead with regards to the scenes. Start with the theme and the exposition scene. Play out most of that scene, and when you feel things are winding down, then roll up the next Waylay and scene. Stay in the first scene, but start heading in-game towards the next scene. That way the surprise and exploration aspect of solo gaming remains, but you can still follow the Impromptu Adventure style above.