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How to Write a Turnsheet

The basics (for those who have played a society game before)

For those of you who've read a hundred of these pages, here's a quick outline. (Skip to the next section if you want more details):

  • Each turn covers two weeks of game time (Note: this is a lot shorter than most recent society games, and you should scale your actions accordingly.)
  • Maximum of four plots per turnsheet, with one plot designated as "major" (Standard GM warning as old as time immemorial: Don't trying putting three plots into that one major plot.)
  • Long turnsheets are fine. However, if your turnsheet is going to be over one side of typed A4, the GMs would appreciate a quick 'summary' of the plots at the top. We'll still read the long description, but the summary makes turnsheeting so much easier, ensuring we have more time in session for the game.
  • Turnsheets to be submitted by midnight on Friday to the GMs (grandviziers@yahoogroups.com). Any turnsheet delivered after that time is not guaranteed to be processed, though we will try.

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The Details

Shalazar: Age of Wonders uses turnsheets to keep track of what your characters do between sessions. While a major goal of this society game is to move away from the importance of turnsheets and put a greater emphasis on plot developed within meetings, turnsheets are still going to be a very important part of the game.

IMPORTANT: Turnsheets must be emailed to the GMs (grandviziers@yahoogroups.com) (or handed to a GM) by no later than midnight of the Friday after the meeting in order to make sure they are processed. This is very important, as the GMs need time to read and evaluate every turnsheet. Handing in anything after that means that the GMs will have less time to consider your actions, and they may 'not happen.' Like all Society GM teams, we hate to do this, but there's only so much we can manage each week.

In general, a turnsheet is broken into four 'plots' that cover the period between sessions. In Shalazar: Age of Wonders, each session takes place approximately two weeks after the last, so a turnsheet should cover actions which can be accomplished in that amount of time.

A 'plot' can be anything from a snippet of text to a half-page of A4 (or, in the case of some players, much longer). Standard things that we expect to happen as plots are:

  • attempts to recover wonders from far-flung corners of the globe
  • military maneuvers
  • investigation of events that occured in meeting or items of news
  • break-ins, thefts, scams, and other larcenous skullduggery
  • political machinations (ranging from spreading rumours of a false pregnancy and framing a political rival to 'having a cup of tea with the Grand Vizier')

It's very important, however, that you keep in mind the tight timeline between meetings: anything that will take you over two weeks of game time may mean that your character is not at the following meeting (though you can still come to the game and play a different character or an NPC). However, this deadline will benefit those who plan ahead: you may start a plot on one turnsheet and 'develop' it over the course of the next few weeks if you would like a more complete result.

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Special Notes

A special note for Mages and other magical folk: One difference between Shalazar and some other society games will be magical development. Magic is a particularly difficult mastery of the forces that govern the structure of the universe, and even the greatest of mages may spend their entire lifetimes developing a new spell. For this reason, the most common way for characters to learn new spells will either be through studying them from other PCs or NPCs who have already mastered them (which is not trivial, and will take one major action per spell), or through finding lost scrolls, books of power, etc. Indeed, many mages spend the vast majority of their careers searching out such tomes.

A special note for Generals and other military folk: Warfare is a particularly unique part of Shalazar, as it will generally involve relatively large numbers of light troops challenging each other in desert terrains. Military power in Shalazar is normally concentrated in fast-moving, lightly-armoured men who are highly mobile, as any army wandering the desert is not likely to survive for very long. This is a long-winded way of saying that 'move Army A to City B and attack it' is generally OK for a major action in one turn--your troops won't generally be stuck in the desert.

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Sample Plots

A very simple plot:
I go to Emira Baseemah of the Izar and perform the duties she requires of me, in exchange for knowledge of how to create mechanical wings, as we agreed during the meeting.

A very complicated plot:
While I am working for the Emira Baseemah, I intend to spend as much time as possible sneaking about the palace, so that I can make a map of it to give to Shifty Ali down in the Free Men's Trading Bazaar. However, while I need the Star's Gem from him in order to complete the mechanical wings, I certainly don't want him harming the Lady Baseemah--so I think I'll leave off certain things like 'particularly obvious guard posts' etc. I'd like to leave Shifty Ali with a working map that makes it 'obvious' that Method A is the perfect way to break in, while being certain myself that Method A will fail.

Note that the above plan would work much better if the player had either high skills in Burglary or Con-Man, or very high merits in Intelligence (and would work worse with corresponding flaws).

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