October 13, 2011

Hillfolk Synopses

For a look at sort of broad-strokes narrative that might emerge over longterm DramaSystem play, I thought I’d provide you with the following synopses. These cover the first distinct chunk of episodes, analogous to a season of a serialized drama.

The system doesn’t impose a particular arc on the group; rather, it provides a framework allowing the group to improvise its own storyline.

In retrospect we can see a pretty clear arc, though: after we establish our clan of iron age raiders and its immediate neighbors, they come into contact with the richer, more sophisticated nation to the north. They start out fighting it, and wind up joining it.

These synopses leave out a lot of the individual character arcs in each episode. Considered together, though, you can see the season arcs for the various PCs.

At the beginning of each episode, one player calls the first scene, and specifies its theme. The episode titles originate in these themes.


When a harsh winter threatens the Horsehead clan with starvation, the clan chieftain, Skull, seeks a solution aided by other prominent Horsesheads (the shaman Roll-the-Bones, the mighty warrior Redaxe, the shepherd Thickneck and the hostler Twig).


The Horseheads learn the price of success when their raid against the neighboring Lavender clan wipes out their entire male fighting force, leaving them vulnerable and the Horseheads responsible for their protection. Skull faces a challenge from the intemperate warrior Treeclimber, who demands too great a share of the loot. Horsehead leaders solve two problems at once by arranging for Treeclimber’s daughter to marry Farhawk, adolescent son of the slain Lavender chieftain.

The Injustice of Randomness

Disease strikes the village, sending Skull to his sickbed. Members of a recently absorbed clan, the Greensnakes, seize on his weakness in an attempt to kill him and seize power. Skull demands the expulsion of the Greensnakes, but, in a move vehemently opposed by Roll-the-Bones, wishes to keep their three most attractive women as concubines. Skull wins the debate, alienating the wise woman, only to see the women struck dead by lightning.


A trip to Lavender reveals that the neighboring clan has fallen into violently opposed camps. After much contention, and the reluctant subordination of the Lavender firebrand Farhawk to Skull, the Horsehead leaders absorb the Lavenders into their ranks, to the apparent approval of the spirit world.