Nod Engine SDK > Storytelling Tutorials & Tips

Tips for the Storyteller (ST)


For the Storyteller (ST), the greatest challenge will be to learn the various controls and panes, which will allow the ST to keep track of all the players and run a fun and effective game.  Prior to actually running a full game with players, you may wish to create a game at home and play with the different keys and panes in order to get used to the basic controls.  In the game manual, we have explained the basic functionality of all the tools of the ST, however this section will hopefully explain the tools in  much more depth and in a  "real-game" scenario.

When you first create a game, you will need to decide whether you should use one of our prescripted Chronicles ("To Curse the Darkness" or "Leaves of Three") or create a Chronicle on your own. If you are new to STing, we highly recommend that you use one of the prescripted Chronicles  in order to allow you to get your "feet wet" and not feel overwhelmed with the ST controls and simultaneously tell a story.  Using the  prescripted Chronicles will allow you to focus entirely on the the actual ST controls and let the story tell itself.  As you feel more comfortable with the ST controls, you can create your own Chronicles and begin to tell stories that you've created.  For some examples of how a game may go using the "To Curse the Darkness" chronicle or a completely new story, please see the end of this section.  Also, we have included the design documents for both of these chronicles.  You can get these documents by going to Start>Programs>Vampire>Redemption Multiplayer Chronicles.

When you first create a game, the ST has several options to choose from.  Should the game be a cooperative adventure where no one harms each other or should the ST give the option to players to backstab each other during the course of the Chronicle?  Should the killing of innocents drive a player's characters to the brink of the Beast or should the ST allow the player to kill humans indiscriminately?  Does the ST wish to participate in the game itself and give up all of the STs powers?  And if the ST is using one of the prescripted Chronicles, should the ST disable all the java scripting (which allows the automatic dialogue sequences to occur) in order to allow the ST more freedom in telling the story?  As you can see, the ST can truly shape the tone and feel of the game from the get go with his/her choices.

Once the gaming session begins and everyone is in the room, the ST may choose to possess every character in order to examine his/her statistics and weaponry   This will allow the ST to judge whether or not the character that is in the game will be too weak or powerful for the Chronicle.  If this is the case, then the ST can advise the player to leave the game to choose another player or give the player some experience in order to strengthen the character from within the game.  Also, if the character is being unruly, the ST will always have the option of kicking out the unruly player or choosing to password protect the game prior to launch in order to insure that only trusted players will join his game.

After the players have been examined, the adventure begins for all.  If the ST chooses to use one of the prescripted Chronicles, then the real challenge is watching over the players to see how they are interacting with the environment.  In order to do this, the ST has several tools that s/he can use to accomplish this task.  First of all, since the ST has a player character in the game, s/he can chose to accompany the party as one of them.  This will allow the ST to play with the coterie and also observe them at the same time.  This is useful if the ST feels that the players need some guidance from a coterie member, or if the ST wants to ensure that the party has some help during particular tough parts of the chronicle.  If the ST chooses not to use his/her player character, another technique that the ST can use is  the ST head to observe the party.  With the ST head, the ST can unobtrusively watch the players and quickly possess NPCs on the fly or add objects and even enemies when need be.  This method is useful if you wish to simply follow one or two players, however it may get difficult if the coterie splits into separate units.  If this occurs, then the ST should use the final method of observing the Coterie which is through the use of the 'Tab' key.  Each time the ST hits the Tab key, the ST will jump from player to player in the game.  One of the most useful techniques that we've seen in testing is for the ST to tab from player to player, and if a player needs an item or a monster needs to be possessed, then the ST can jump right into action with a point and click.  Finally, generating the ST head on the fly is a tool that every ST should become used to, since it will become very important when you need to alter the story since no story should be set in stone.

As you observe the coterie progress to the game, you can choose to add/delete enemies during the course of the game in accordance to how the coterie is performing.  If the coterie seems to eliminate every creature in its' path, then the ST may choose to raise the stakes by placing a few unexpected gargoyles in the player's path through the use of the Object Pane.  Conversely, if the coterie is having a difficult time fighting their way through a location in the game, then the ST can choose to delete or kill the NPC through the Actor pane.  Once the coterie has accomplished a great deed such as killing the gargoyles, the ST can then use the object pane to create treasure as a reward to the coterie for accomplishing their goals.  With the Actor and Object panes, the ST truly has control of every object and NPC within the universe that he controls.   By adding and deleting objects and actors, the ST can control the pace and fun factor for all the players involved in the game.
While the NPCs can be used as enemies, they can also be used as tools to enrich the world and help divulge key elements to the story as well.  As the NPC, the ST can speak through any character and consequently have a myriad of voices to choose from in the game.  If he so chooses, the ST can have the local drunk tell the coterie all about the problems in the streets of Prague, and then have a town guard approach the coterie to tell them that the Sheriff has issued a reward for the one, who can eliminate the evil menace that appears from the shadows.  Remember, NPCs are a major tool that a ST can use in order to give a sense of depth and  meaning to the Chronicle.  You can choose to sit and tell the coterie everything that they need to know within the first ten minutes of the game, however like a bad movie, players will quickly forget what happened and the events of the story soon after the Chronicle is over. To make the story stick in the mind of the player, you should use the NPCs to create living personalities that will leave a lasting impression on the players long after they've moved on to other games.

If the game ever becomes out of hand and you need to regain control, you have a few options that you can do.  First of all, you can go to the Controls Pane in the game and turn off the AI.  If the coterie is being overwhelmed by enemies and you do not wish to delete the enemies, then turning off the AI can resolve the problem, since the  ST can merely switch them "off" to allow the party to catch a break and regain their bearings in the game.  Also, turning off the AI is a useful story tool as well.  If you want to create an ambush for a coterie, you can create a room full of Lasombra ghouls with the AI turned off.  As the lead Lasombra, you can speak to the party, and to spring the trap, you can enable the AI and watch the battle ensue.  Another option that you have in the game is to use the 'Pause' button.  Hitting the pause button will freeze the game for all the players and allow you to slow down the pace of the game, or make some much needed changes prior to letting the game continue any further.  For example, if you need to have several enemies appear out of the shadows, you can pause the game and then use the ST head and objects pane to create several ghouls around the coterie.

For story purposes, it may be necessary to advance all the characters to a certain location or change the scene in order to keep the pace moving.  To do this, you can use the Locations pane to instantaneously move an entire party to another location within your world.  This can be useful if you need a party to traverse a long distance to get to the next game location, or you can use this to help advance the story itself.  Let's say that the prince’s ghoul has summoned the coterie and you must meet him immediately in the Inn.  With the Locations pane, the ST can inform the coterie that they have no choice but go to the inn at this point in time, and then use the Locations pane to immediately jump them there.   Also, if you are playing a long game over the course of several nights, the use of the Locations pane can allow the ST to immediately jump all the players to the area that they last visited. 

Once the players have accomplished the quest that the ST has given them, then it is time to reward the coterie on how they played the game.  While the members of the coterie will get experience points for killing enemies throughout the game, it is up to the ST to reward the players with any more experience points for ingenious solutions to a puzzle in the game or to a particular member, who played the game completely in character.  There really is no true guide as to how many experience points should be given for different levels of accomplishment since this is arbitrary and up to the ST.  Only through playing the game as an ST and as a player, will you begin to get a grasp of how you should reward the player.  This will be the best way for an ST to learn how to reward the coterie at the end of a Chronicle.

While this has covered the use of the ST tools in an actual game, the ST tools can be used to create your own chronicle from scratch as well.  In the game, the ST will have access to four blank maps that he can choose to populate.  With these blank maps and the ST tools, you can truly create any story that you wish to tell.  To do this, simply start a multiplayer game at home with the LAN option.  Once you're in the map, you can then move around the level with the Location pane and choose to place actors or props where you see fit.  If I chose to tell a story about Werewolves that have invaded the outskirts of Vienna, I can use the object pane to create one or two werewolves at the gates to Vienna.  However, if I wish to tell a story about evil knights taking over Vienna, I can choose to do this as well.  In another story, I can choose to tell a story about Knights invading a neighborhood in New York.   Truly, the ST is only limited by his or her imagination when he chooses to populate his universe with actors and props.  As the ST, I can choose to tell a story about a war between the Torreador Antitribu and the Nosferatu and have the Coterie become pawns in this battle.  Anything can be done and it is up to the ST to create this world from the depths of his/her imagination.  Once the world has become populated, all the ST will need to do is to hit the ESC key and then Save the game to a slot.

If you need to place an object in the game, the ST head will direct which direction the object faces.   Say you want to place an upright Settite coffin against a wall so it faces out from the wall. Walking up to the wall and placing it will put it on the map facing the wall, which is backwards of what you intend. To fix this, activate the Storyteller head. Move the head near the wall, then use left-click to position the head so it faces away from the wall. Then right-click (may or may not need to hold ALT key as well) on the wall where you want the item placed. The head should now be close to the wall or even partially embedded in the wall, facing out. Drop the coffin here and it will be facing out of the wall as intended. Work with it to fine tune the exact placement by deleting the item and moving the head in small increments until the desired position is found. Shifting camera angles and perspective will help the process.

Also,  it is important to note that when you place NPCs in your world, you should remember to set their stance.  Setting an NPC's stance will give the character a clue on whether or not the NPC is there for background purposes or if a specific NPC should be talked to in order to gain some useful story information.  If you set an NPC to the talk stance, this will indicate to the coterie that they should approach this character and begin talking to him.   This is especially useful if you wish to designate a certain actor  in the game as someone that needs to be spoken to in order to advance the storyline of the game.  Conversely, you can set an NPC as an enemy to indicate that this is someone that the coterie should fight with.

Please note, if you choose to equip an NPC, only the NPCs with the designation of "ST" in the actors pane will have the ability of wielding all the weapons in the game. If you choose to equip a model that does not have the ST designation, than that model will not properly show the weapon in hand and this may be confusing to the coterie.  To avoid this problem, always use the ST actors when you wish to equip them with a specific weapon in the game.

Finally, after the game hits the store shelves, there are plans for the Nod Engine toolset to be released.  This toolset will allow advanced Storytellers to create their own maps from scratch or to create new java scripts, which can determine how specific actors react in the game.  Thus, an advanced ST cannot just populate a world that is given to him, but completely craft a unique new one to take the players into.
While all of this may be confusing in the theory, here are two examples from one of our Storytellers, which explains how he uses the tools in action.  This will give you a better idea on how to use the ST tools in a true game scenario.

Example of Play I

[This is an example of how the opening to an early gaming session might go.]

The players (Glenn, Claude and Jon) have met up with the Storyteller (Siôn) in the Lobby. After chatting for a while they discover they are all interested in playing a medieval game. Siôn creates a new room and gives the three players a password to get in. In the new and private room they discuss what their characters are in general terms and Siôn approves their ideas. (Claude wanted to play an Assamite but was dissuaded by Siôn who said there would not be a good reason for him to be associating with the rest of the group. Claude leaves the room for a few minutes to create a new character and then returns.)

Siôn creates a game choosing the To Curse The Darkness chronicle. His character (the sarcastic Toreador, Ophelia) arrives first in the Mossy Hearth Inn in Temesvar. He receives the messages that the other players are joining the game and soon their characters appear in the Inn. Siôn (as the ST) tells everyone to stay in the inn for a moment and then provides opening exposition explaining how the coterie has been forced into this small town by poor weather and the presence of a pack of Moonbeasts (werewolves.) He also explains that Ophelia (his character) is traveling with them. The players spend some time admiring each other’s character models while Siôn possesses the barkeep and the drunks in the Inn to interact with the players: From these conversations they learn of the problems in the town. (Using the Actors Pane the ST can select any character in an area, possess them and then talk through them to communicate with the players.) Because none of the players have any equipment Siôn has the barkeep say that the town’s Sheriff will reward any group who can end the troubles.
After this the coterie leave the Inn and encounter Melmoth, the crippled Nosferatu. Listening to these conversations they learn of the Cainite involvement in the town (Siôn could have taken over the conversation with Melmoth but he chooses to let the cutscenes play.) Exploring the city streets the players interact with several NPCs, Jon’s character attacks a monk to feed on him for blood; Siôn could call out guards to defend the townsfolk (using the Objects Pane to add new actors to the world) but decides against it. Instead he adds a couple of rats for the coterie to feed upon.  Soon the coterie finds the sheriff and begins to question him; Siôn possesses the character and answers their questions. After some negotiation the sheriff agrees to equip them for their quest into the catacombs beneath and weapons and armor are handed out (Siôn uses the Objects Pane and the ‘addthing’ console command to create some basic equipment.) Some moments are spent admiring the new look to the character models as they armor up, this would continue all night until Ophelia remarks that the dawn would certainly end this fashion show (Siôn wants the coterie to keep moving.)

As the coterie moves towards the graveyard and the entrance to the catacombs Siôn uses the Location Pane to jump ahead. Looking through the assortment of enemies he realizes a couple of encounters might be too tough for the coterie and so deletes a few of the Nosferatu and their ghoul servants. As he has lost track of the players he uses the TAB button to switch his viewpoint between them: Jon and Glenn have already entered the tunnels and begun fighting with the ghouls, but Claude is still in the graveyard. Siôn sends a private message to Claude asking what’s up? Claude answers that his character (a Cappadocian from the Middle East called Omar) wants to dig up bones to use in a necromantic ritual. Siôn decides this is a fine idea and tells Claude to keep his character in the graveyard for three minutes in order to exhume a body. Checking the time from the Controls Pane Siôn TABs over to Glenn and Jon.

Glenn and Jon’s characters are happily fighting ghouls and rats, unknown to them three invisible Nosferatu are sneaking up from one side. Siôn possesses one of the Nosferatu and shouts out a warning “Die intruders!” The message appears on the player’s screens as A Nosferatu says, “Die intruders!” This alerts Jon and Glenn to the danger and they continue fighting. Unfortunately Jon’s character is overwhelmed in the combat and falls into torpor. None of the players have the discipline of Awaken so things seem grim. As the ST Siôn has the power to wake a character from torpor (by using the Revive button after possessing them) but he decides not to use it. Instead he returns to Ophelia and moves her over to join Glenn and Jon. Ophelia uses Awaken to restore Jon’s character to the action, and then spends the next minute complaining to the other characters.

Three minutes have passed and Siôn TABs over to Omar. Siôn creates the ST head (by hitting the Head button among his controls he creates an invisible presence in the world) and tells Claude that he has successfully excavated a grave. Siôn uses the Objects Pane to create a skeleton on the ground (Claude cannot see the ST head so it looks as the bones have just appeared.) Siôn asks what Claude wants Omar to do with the bones, he replies he wants to do something necromantic to help out in the fight. Siôn likes the idea, removes the skeleton (Deletes Object) and adds a scroll in its place which grants Omar a one-shot magical power (adding a discipline scroll of ‘Summon Wraith’ from the Objects Pane.) Omar picks up the scroll and races over to help his friends.

The game progresses in this manner until the adventure is done or the players decide to call it quits. When that happens Siôn can use the Advancement controls to give experience to the players and reward them for a job well done. Everyone agrees to meet up in a few nights time to continue their adventures.

Example of Play II

[This takes place after some more sessions. The characters are now wiser and more powerful and Siôn (the Storyteller) has created his own chronicle by stringing together some of the empty areas provided. Siôn decided to move the group from the small town (Temesvar in To Curse The Darkness) to the big city (Vienna, for which a map is available.) The coterie is now more experienced and involved in an on-going battle with other Eastern European vampires. They have come to Vienna to request aid from the Tremere there and to track down the artist of a sequence of mysterious paintings that seem to foretell Gehenna.

Much of this background information has been detailed in e-mails passed around the group, and through a web page devoted to their exploits that Glenn has set up. This means Siôn has to do less exposition at the beginning of any gaming session and the group can concentrate on the action and adventure.]

To start the game Siôn creates a game in one of the salons (Prince’s Mansion) as he feels the group should interact in character before beginning the adventure. The characters compare notes and show off new equipment and disciplines to each other. After the mood has been established Siôn creates a Tremere NPC (he picks the Virstania, mistress of gargoyles, model from the Actors Pane) possesses her and begins the negotiations with the players. They agree to help the Tremere infiltrate the base of the Eisenfurst (a fictional order of knights in Siôn’s campaign) in exchange for information on the paintings – Siôn secretly knows the Tremere are planning on betraying the coterie but doesn’t let on. However Claude, as Omar, activates a discipline called Aura Perception and asks if the Tremere is lying. Siôn makes a note to give Claude an XP bonus, and sends a private message to him that Virstania is hiding something from them. The coterie agrees to continue the quest but to be careful!

Siôn ends the game in the salon and loads up the chronicle he wants to run based on the Vienna map. He has shut off the areas he doesn’t want the players to enter, created his own set of enemies and NPCs and hidden quest objects for the players to discover. Soon everyone has joined the game and the coterie begins exploring Vienna. Though Siôn still has Ophelia available he doesn’t make her go with the party, instead using his camera controls to stay close to the action, ready to possess any NPCs the party encounters. In quick succession the party meets various civilians as well as being harassed by the city guards: From these encounters the coterie learns that the Eisenfurst Knights have a base in the Inner Stradt of Vienna. Proceeding there the coterie gets down to the serious business of breaking open some heads.
Siôn watches the early combats without intervening. He knows he has several surprises up his sleeve. As the coterie forces their way further into the base Siôn springs the trap on them – the leader of the knights is a powerful Ventrue Antitribu.  Siôn takes direct command of the Ventrue leader of the knights and exchanges insults and sword swings with the coterie until he dies in a blaze of glory and blood. Given the intensity of the fight Siôn creates several rewards for the coterie: A Tome of Thaumaturgy for Claude’s character granting him more sorcerous knowledge; a suit of full plate mail for Jon; and an exquisite flamberge for Glenn. He also adds a couple of books – the quest items the Tremere were seeking.

Happy with their treasures everyone is about to log off but Siôn asks them not to. He uses the location pane to transport everyone out of the knights’ stronghold and on to the streets of Vienna. Here Virstania is waiting and congratulates the characters on their success and then demands they surrender the books. The coterie considers fighting (Virstania has been set to talk mode by Siôn so combat cannot start until everyone is ready) but Virstania clicks her fingers and two gargoyles appear at her side (Siôn had Virstania cast a discipline with nice SFX such as Flame Ring and then used ‘addthing’ to create two gargoyles at her side. To avoid having the gargoyles appear in the same place as Virstania he goes into ST Head mode and places one on each side of her.) The coterie backs off and decides not to fight (they are low on blood after fighting the knights.) Omar puts the books on the floor – effectively surrendering them to the Tremere. Glenn decides he doesn’t accept this and throws down a torch he has in his character’s inventory announcing that he is burning the books!

Virstania is enraged but Siôn decides the coterie would not survive the battle. He announces, speaking through Virstania, that the coterie has made enemies of the Tremere and that to expect vengeance to follow shortly. Virstania and her gargoyle slaves disappear (delete object for quick getaways!) The coterie breathes a sigh of relief.

The game ends with everyone excitedly discussing what to do next: Will they attack the Tremere? Flee town? Take over the knight’s old base?
As you can see from these examples, a Storyteller can use the game tools to tell any story that s/he can imagine. We encourage all novice and expert Storytellers to create their tales in the World of Darkness, and we encourage all the Kindred and Kine out there to have fun and enjoy V:TM Redemption.


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