Here Mike Mearls talks about Core Stories, which are the things that make up a stereotypical game in any given system, writing it as if it was a real session. The idea behind exploring these is that it gives you an insight into the focus of the game and can be a nice easy way to pitch the idea to new players. Elsewhere the idea has been expanded into Core Activities that cover both the characters and the players. I decided to take up the challenge to write a Core Story (what the characters do in a typical game) and Core Activity (what the players do in a typical game) for A Wanderer's Romance.
Core Story: A band of three wanderers, skilled in their particular style of combat and individual talents, arrive to an island on a small boat. They find the ruler of the island has declared a tournament for the following day, with the winner being rewarded with rulership of the island. They find out that the two favourites to win are despicable and cruel characters desiring power for their own gain and decide to enter themselves. They spend the rest of the day preparing by sparring with each other, partaking of some meditative calligraphy and tracking down the master of a legendary style deep in the island's woods. The following day they compete in the tournament, one of them reaching the final and defeating their power-greedy foe in a duel. Upon receiving their reward they do the honourable thing and refuse the power, handing it to the wise master that trained them in their new style, who vows to rule the island in a fair and peaceful way. The next morning they sail into the sunrise in search of their next adventure.
Core Activity: You create your character using the semi-random creation process, fleshing out their concept as you choose their combat style, weapon of choice and specialities. You then seek out duels or contests and prepare for them by considering the location's element modifiers, carrying out activities to boost one element and sparring with your companions to gain a lesson token. Hopefully you can boost the elements that you wish to while keeping your balance score high. In the duel or contest you balance your actions between attacking and focusing, eventually winning or losing to your opponent. In this time you may have learned a new combat style or speciality, slowly increasing your range of abilities.
The purpose of these is something I'll go into in a later post, but at the very least I have a nice clean summary of my game, which is always useful.