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Full Version: Meta-Plane quests (MPQs) - how do you do yours?
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Kren Cooper
Hi all

I'm not sure how metaplane quests work in SR4 and 5, we still all play 3rd ed here, so hopefully the question still makes sense.

We have a tendency when running quests to use the table from Magic in the Shadows to run "quick" resolution for any quest with a rating of 3 or less.
Roll for destination - place of battle. Describe battle scene using the quest metaphor (there's always at least some flavour, it's not purely mechanics), but it still comes down to the place of battle test. Once they have completed the test, roll the dice, determine the new destination, move on to that place and take that test. Rinse and repeat until they either quit, take enough damage to force the quest to fail, or reach the Citadel.

But, if it's a rating 4 or higher quest, we always run it as a full RP'd experience, with a narrative and an adventure flow, rather than a series of linked places. It does mean they're not so easy to do in the middle of an existing adventure - but we find generally that's not how people use MPQs generally, they're normally for learning a high force spell, concealing an astral signature, researching a new ability or some other activity that is normally done between missions - and as a result it's easy enough to do a solo run with the mage, or a small session if several magic users are all going on the same quest.

But I'm curious as to how other people do their MPQs? Do you always use the table from the book? Do you sometimes just do it as a series of mechanics rolls with little flavour text or description, or even a theme to get it done and out of the way? Or do you do every quest your players run as a full on RP adventure with maps, clues, NPCs, decision trees and research tables?
When we played 3rd ed, we'd use the table when it was something the magician was doing solo (spell learning or whatever) and usually as something done out of session as well.
If it was something that affected the group though, then we would roleplay the whole thing and make it part of that game session. Rarely, if ever, did the magician just decide he had to do an metaplane quest in the middle of a session, so they were things we could plan for and integrate into the game easily.
We play SR2 and have mostly handled it the same way. If it's something silly like learning a spell or whatever, we'll just reduce it to some rolls as appropriate.

Even if it is something trivial, however, I will sometimes do a short but heavily RP'd quest with tasks, intrigue, and whatever is appropriate. I feel that quests are a really good opportunity to engage with a player's imagination and make them feel invested in the setting.

The bigger the ramifications the deeper the quest. I've made entire 3-4 session adventures out of quests. I mean, Harlequin's back is pretty much a quest the whole time. I really ran pretty hard with the quest in Imago and did this whole Alice in Wonderland thing. It was great.
We've had some fun with these, using quests as a chance to do things a little differently. When possible we tie in other NPCs like a spirit, or a being who is similar to someone they know (kind of a Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland type thing). Using it to change the setting up and put their characters into unique situations such as the Dino-Western town in HqB would be an example. Also like to tie it back in to the world when possible, again with something like a spirit or an item. Early on with quests it was intentionally left vague whether or not some of the Places were real, and in 4th/5th they started establishing some actual "concrete" places. Continuity adds a lot of depth to it. So while no two quests may be alike they may have similarities.

As a GM I rarely use the table unless I'm just fishing for ideas, which happens. If the quest is something so easy they can resolve it in a few quick roles, I don't usually have them roll. Although sometimes it's nice just to let them get use out of their skills.

Soooo.... I rule them inconsistently as fuck I guess. biggrin.gif
In fifth they seem to be mostly needed for initiation and a few even rarer events. I really liked the pseudo-western setting in Harlequin's Back, so I adapted and converted it, and have had most of the meta-planar quests in my game go there (story reasons make sense of it).

The first time there was getting familiar with the Road Trains and the 'colours' of the spirits inhabiting the place*, and dealing with issues out where this metaplane of man was blending into a meta-plane of beasts (dealing with centaur train robbers, persuading a tribe of Minotaurs to sign up with the train company as guards. Shaman learned a binding to the beast side of things that lets him reliably use health spells on this plane. Also learned that his favourite spirit of man was was an engineer on the trains in this plane (may explain why he loves racing motorbikes so much?)

Second time was the Fistful of Karma scenario, as part of running Harlequin's Back. Minimal modifications to reflect a bit of the world building I had done, but added in a bit for the shaman to be able to make an allied spirit out of his favorite spirit, who was also their guide in this plane.

Third time through was dealing with the attempts of the 'Reds' to take over the trains from the 'Blacks.' Shaman had his apprentice along on this one for her first initiation. Got to know the heart of the 'Blacks' culture, gained a proper spirit formula, and stole back the Blacks' new locomotive from the Reds, finishing with an epic run into 'The City' where a troop of Minotaur guards provided the critical diversion to deliver the engine to the Blacks' pyramid/train station. Shaman ended up with a proper spirit formula for his allied spirit (Harlequin had helped him skirt the normal rules in the original ritual)

The next visit hasn't happened yet, but will be all in 'The City' as I complete the arc from country side to village to large town to big city. I haven't quite figured out the mundane plane events it will be tied in with or the exact plot, but it will be about the four smaller 'colour' factions resisting the domination of the Reds and Blues. Hopefully will see the Yellows break away from their servitude of the Reds, and crumbling of some of the Blues' overwhelming new pyramid expansion. May involve a tribute to the Renraku Arcology Lockdown. May involve one or more rival questers (there is this blood mage who has been causing problems ...). Just possibly may lead to character retirement afterwards, but that is the player's choice.
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