Writing Questions for TROPHY DARK

A few thoughts about question design for Trophy Dark incursions:

Done well, a question for your players does 3 things:

  1. It affects the narrative
  2. It illuminates the inner world of a character
  3. It contributes to world-building (i.e. it provides details for the setting)

The best questions can’t be answered with a single word or short phrase. “What did you drop?” “My sword.”

Compare this to: You realize that you’ve misplaced the one thing you swore you wouldn’t lose track of. What was it, and how do you convince yourself to swallow your grief, so you don’t panic at the loss or turn back?

Don’t be afraid to make a question define something about a player’s character. If it doesn’t work, the GM can skip it or the player can modify it.

Ask questions that let the players volunteer complications for their own characters. After all, we’re playing to lose. Let people choose which flavor of doom excites them. “As the torches fail, who in the group takes advantage of the darkness to slip away?” The obvious next question to write might be “What do they want to do in the dark?” but it’s more fun to make this a trap: Once someone says “My character will slip off. They want to do X.” So you design a follow-up question: “What do they encounter in the darkness that makes them wish they had remained with their friends in the light? Does their pride allow them to call for help?”

Ask questions that, like Moments, echo your theme.

A question can be an invitation to collaborate. Give a little with the question. Let’s say you want the players to volunteer a monster they would find scary. Don’t just ask “What’s the creature you encounter look like?” Give them some attributes to build with. “A creature descends from the ceiling with milky eyes. By what name did your people call this thing and why did you hope you’d live a full live without ever encountering one? Which of your relations barely survived a run-in with one?” etc. etc. How did they survive? What is its most terrifying weapon?

Your questions can give the player a framework (and more importantly, permission) to help build the story without putting the entire burden on them to create something from scratch.

The same trick works for traps, for areas… for anything. “When you enter room what about it fills your character with awe/fear/wonder/greed?”

“A set of symbols run down the thing and only one of you can read them. Where did you learn this language? Do you tell the other that it says something-something?”

I hope the above all helps demonstrate my first point: You don’t have to describe everything for the players. Your questions open a door and invite them to join the GM (and you) in creating a unique incursion experience that is customized to the characters they created.