Playing The Adventure

The pleasure and fun of playing The Road To Petra comes from acts of discovery and opportunities for role playing. Game Leaders should not make the game too easy by handing clues out without the players making an effort. Let players take their time over investigations, to be distracted by red herrings and become frustrated by dead ends. Investigations are only rewarding if there is a real challenge for the players to overcome. Players should be encouraged to think and ask questions rather than roll dice to solve problems. This encourages role playing, especially in social situations, and makes it more satisfying when the characters find the clues.

Filming A TV Show

A critical element of the role playing opportunities in The Road To Petra is the filming of the TV show Science In The Danger Zone! It helps establish characters and provides for interesting situations once the magic and weird elements of the adventure start to appear. Regardless of their characters' roles in the team, allow the players to take control of the TV show. The producer, Farouk Hosny, is deliberately written as weak so the characters can get their way on where the team goes.

The players should be allowed to dictate the style of the production for the show which may be anything from deadpan serious to gonzo journalism. Allow for characters who are meant to be off-screen, e.g. drivers and camera operators, to find themselves on-camera. Good reference points for the players are found footage films such as Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead, and gonzo documentaries like Micheal Moore's Bowling for Columbine or Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me. There are also TV channels such as National Geographic and Discovery who make numerous programs about presenters investigating alien sightings, haunted houses and similar rubbish.

Staying in character to discuss where the team goes next and similar decisions presents great role playing opportunities (especially once the status effects come into play). Game Leaders may have the non-player characters interview the characters on camera and ask awkward questions such as what does a skeptical character think having just seen undeniable evidence of magic. Above all, the Game Leader should keep the players and characters aware they are making a TV show. It adds a distinct flavour to the adventure and poses interesting challenges for both characters and players.

Useful Film Jargon:

The person or object fills nearly the entire shot.
Establishing Shot
A shot which sets the context for the audience, helping to define who is present and where they are.
A sequence of shots or one long-running shot which can be later edited to indicate the passage of time or progress on a task.
Piece to Camera
The show's host looks directly at the camera and talks to the audience.
Tracking Shot
The camera moves or pans to follow a person walking or vehicle going past.

Status Effects, Health & Healing

During the adventure the characters face a variety of non-physical attacks from the horrors and magic they encounter. These are often psychological or metaphysical in nature. With physical attacks players and Game Leaders can easily visualise and discuss the attack, and how advantages may be used to resist it. This is much harder with intangible, nebulous concepts such as the soul or mental health. Groups will need more time to discuss what advantages they think are appropriate for non-physical attacks and Game Leaders should embrace this. It is part of the adventure and a mechanism which encourages players to define their characters' personalities with their advantages.

Each metaphysical attack in the adventure has a hazard advantage associated with it. This should be shared with the players as the hazard's description defines the nature of the attack. It is the starting point for discussions about which advantages may be used in the resistance. As always with the 6d6 RPG, the group and not the Game Leader ultimately decides the suitability of advantages. The hazard description gives all the relevant information needed. Any additional knowledge the Game Leader has from reading this adventure (e.g. the nature of the outer dark) is irrelevant to this discussion.

The characters and the rest of the documentary team have just visited the hospital and seen the terrible suffering taking place. As they leave, the Game Leader reads the players the Harrowing hazard:

The Game Leader also tells the players how many dice the attack will be, based on what each character did in the hospital.

Dr Bennett resists first. He uses his Doctor path advantage as he is used to seeing medical suffering. On a personal level he lacks empathy with the patients thanks to his Insensitive advantage and he considers those patients are unimportant due to his Arrogance advantage. This give Dr Bennett 3d6+0 on his resistance.

The next character is Reem Acra. Initially Reem cannot find any advantages which will help. With several advantages relating to social skills Reem seems exactly the sort of person to be most troubled by the suffering. Then Reem realises there is more than one way to deal with emotional pain. Whereas Dr Bennett simply tries to ignore it, Reem decides to embrace her emotions and draw comfort from her colleagues. With her Socially Adept and Body Language abilities she can see that nearly everyone in the group has been upset. This helps her understand that these emotions are natural and she is with a team of people who care about others. This makes dealing with the pain easier. Her Socially Adept ability has the Double keyword so her Body Language counts twice giving her a total resistance of 3d6+0.

Pamela Hoskins is a woman of action and ill-suited to this type of challenge. She tries to hide her emotions using her Celebrity and Fake Sincerity to maintain a detached demeanour. However, the Game Leader points out the hazard is not about which emotions you display but what you feel. Simply hiding emotions does not protect the character from the pain. Reconsidering, Pamela uses her Self advantage to put her personal gain (making a good TV program) before the suffering of the patients. She also uses her Planning Ahead advantage to claim she had anticipated what the hospital may contain and mentally prepared herself for it. This gives her 2d6+0 on the resistance.

Dr Peters likes nothing more than to be in her nice safe university, but her Traveller path advantage suggests she is also widely travelled. After some thought, her player decides that Dr Peter's work has taken her to places like Rwanda and the Congo where she helps local academics put terrible genocides and wars into their historical context. This has exposed her to some awful suffering before. The group thinks this character backstory is excellent and are happy with Dr Peters using the Traveller advantage. Building on this, she also uses her Academic path, arguing it demonstrates training and ability to distance herself from emotions. Finally she has her Science advantage and understands that by studying the suffering of these patients, the doctors will learn how to reduce the suffering of others. Some of the group are not convinced by this use of the advantage but because it fits so well with her character, the group allows it.

After a brief conversation with the Game Leader, George Mourad adds a pocket camera to his mundane equipment. As someone obsessed with photography the Game Leader agreed with the idea that George would always have one. So George puts down his TV camera and walks away from the team. He then carefully and slowly takes a series of photographs of weeds growing out the cracks in the pavement. Finding peace and solace in his work, George uses his Art, Obsession and Methodical advantages for 3d6+4 plus 1d6+0 for the mundane equipment advantage of his camera.

A man of the world, Maurice Floquet simply ignores everything. He understands he cannot help those people. They are not his problem, he is here to drive the car. Shrugging off Reem Acra's attempt to share and discuss their emotional pain, he uses his Self-Confidence, In My Bubble and Unapologetic advantages for 3d6+0. He can reroll any ones thanks to the Dice keyword on the Unapologetic advantage.

Playing Status Effects

Characters are expected to accrue a variety of status effects during the adventure. Groups should give consideration as to when status effects will come in to play. For example, the painful Buboes hazard might arguably resist every action a character makes because pain is very hard to ignore, but this can become boring. Instead, groups should focus on role playing. Status effects are the cost to the character for their actions, e.g. dabbling with the outer dark. Players who bring the game to life by describing the hazard's effects or disadvantaging themselves though good role playing have already paid that cost.

Many of the status effects in the adventure have the Persistent keyword. These cannot be removed by a simple dice roll, but are part of the character's narrative. Many of these will remain until the adventure finishes but a character may acquire so many effects that they may become unplayable. Game Leaders should use their judgement in these circumstances.

Characters may be able to help other characters, e.g. someone a knowledge of psychology helping someone with their addiction problem. This requires an action taking a scene and must beat the status effect's CP value plus any situation bonuses. Success does not remove the status effect but suppresses it for a day.

Above all, the game is about fun. Groups should not slavishly stick to the rules on status effects if it is spoiling the enjoyment of the adventure.


There are circumstances where characters can take Life damage and therefore be at risk of dying. This damage can be treated and the characters generally have access to medical care. This can range from 1d6+1 to 6d6+6 depending on where the characters are treated. The adventure works best if physical healing is slow and realistic, offsetting the magical strangeness the characters encounter. The healing throttle should be set to Weekly, though kind Game Leaders may allow healing between each of the three episodes.

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open/oneshots/petra/playingtheadventure.txt · Last modified: 2014/08/06 15:41 by darth_tigger
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