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Driftwood: Hard and Soft Scenes
Posted By Walt Ciechanowski On May 3, 2011 @ 12:01 am In GMing Advice | 12 Comments
Driftwood: Hard and Soft Scenes is the first in a line of articles that highlights an aspect of a particular RPG and looks at how it can be applied to other RPGs (see Drift in Gnomenclature). It’s also probably the title of a porn movie.
Adventures in 7th Sea use a scheme of “hard scenes” and “soft scenes.” Hard scenes are encounters that need to occur through the course of an adventure. For example, if your adventure begins with an NPC coming to a local space station to hire mercenaries (i.e. the PCs) to keep her cargo safe en route to the core worlds, then the opening scene in the space station cantina is a hard scene, as would boarding the NPC’s ship to meet her crew.
A soft scene is an optional encounter that adds spice to the adventure but can easily be dropped without losing the adventure’s integrity. Continuing the above analogy, a barfight between the PCs and an old rival might be a soft point, since it has nothing to do with the current adventure.
I find hard and soft scenes very useful in convention games when I need to watch the clock. Having enough soft scenes enables me to adjust the adventure to finish on time without the players feeling like they missed key scenes or I rushed to the end.
I also find them useful in my regular home campaigns. Building soft scenes into my session notes enables me to end the session where I want the cliffhanger or resolution to be. It doesn’t always work, but since hard scenes tend to be adequate stopping points I can usually end on one of them.
Some things to consider when using hard and soft scenes:
I’ve found hard and soft scenes very useful; how about you? Do you utilize this technique and, if so, how well does it work? Do you find yourself trying to fit in all the soft scenes anyway? Is it easy to determine what scenes are “hard” and “soft” based on your GMing style?
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