Inquisitor is described as a narrative skirmish game, but all the rulebook really details is the mechanics of the game. Where does the narrative bit fit in?Edit
One analogy some people use is that a game of Inquisitor is a bit like an episode of a TV show like Babylon 5 or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At the start of each game the GM sets the scene, describes what has brought the warbands together and what they're looking to achieve - in a sense he's painting the picture of what happens in the first 30 minutes of the episode; the characters investigating what's going on and figuring out what they're going to do.
The actual game of Inquisitor is the last 10-15 minutes of the episode - all the pieces are in place and all that remains is to carry out the plan, this is usually the action scene, the big fight (of course, not every episode ends with a fight, just as not every game of Inquisitor turns out that way either).
To continue the analogy - a campaign is like the entire season of the show, it may start out with a series of seemingly unrelated investigations and small battles all leading up to the confrontation with the big bad boss in the last episode. Over the course of the season the characters are developed and we find out more about them, but they don't necessarily get more powerful - hence the lack of a real levelling-up system in Inquisitor; the character development is more story-wise than stats-wise.
Without the story, Inquisitor is just a series of meaningless little skirmishes - with it, it's a whole lot more. As you play you'll find that characters develop in your head suggesting all sorts of side plots - they'll develop grudges and alliances that weren't intended when the campaign started, they'll come up with ideas about how to defeat the big bad that you'd never even considered, and then the story really starts to develop and come alive in an organic way.
How do I go about designing a scenario?Edit
Scenarios in Inquisitor can be as simple or as complicated as you like, but when designing scenarios there are three main things that need to be considered. Firstly there's the Objectives - what do the characters want to achieve? Secondly, there are the Impediments - what is there that might prevent the characters achieving their aims? Last but not least is the Story - the Objectives and Impediments relate directly to the mechanics of the game, but the Story is what brings it to life.
The Objectives in an Inquisitor scenario usually fall into one of four broad categories:
- The characters must neutralise or destroy someone or something.
- The characters must find something (or someone) and take it off the board.
- The characters must reach a specific point on the board and hold it at the end of the game.
- The characters start at one point on the board and must reach some other point.
I've deliberately described the objectives in very simple terms because it's better if the players have clear objectives. In some games the opposing warbands will be given the same objective, for example they are both there to steal the same item, but more complicated scenarios can be run by giving each player different, perhaps conflicting, objectives. For example, one warband might be there to meet a contact get something from him and carry it off the board, but their opponent is there to kill the leader of the first warband and capture the contact.
Alternatively, players can also be given more than one objective - for example their primary objective might be to steal some data files, but if they cannot achieve that task then their secondary objective might be to capture a member of the opposing to interrogate. The other option is for the objectives to change as the game progresses, for example a player might think they're there to meet a contact but when the contact is shot by a mysterious sniper their Objective will change to 'hunt the assassin'.
An obvious Impediment in most games is the other warband(s) and in many games, the fact that there are two or more opposing warbands is sufficient to make an exciting game, however often the game can be made a lot more interesting by adding more Impediments. These might take the form of one of more characters controlled by the GM - these are known as non-player characters (or NPCs for short). For example, the NPCs might be guards who patrol the board, civilians who wander around and get in the way, or perhaps even local wildlife who may be hostile.
Other impediments might relate to the terrain - maybe the scenario is set in a swamp and movement is difficult, maybe it's foggy or dark and visibility is reduced, or maybe the atmosphere is potentially explosive and firing weapons is likely to cause an explosion. Alternatively, the Impediments might be some form of security system, locks that need to be bypassed or broken, or automated sentry guns, or perhaps sound activated alarms.
Another set of Impediments relate to the Objective itself. If the Objective is an NPC then he may not want to co-operate with the players and they'll have to find some way to persuade him. If the Objective is an object then it might be large or heavy making it difficult for the characters to move or fight while carrying it. There may also be a time-limit and the Objective must be achieved before it runs out.
As you can probably see, there are an almost infinite variety of Impediments that can be used in your games, and books, movies and computer games are all great sources of inspiration.
Finally there's the Story, in a sense this is both the most and least important element of the scenario. The GM could tell the players 'The winner will be whoever gets that red counter and carries it off the board. Once you get close to the counter, you'll need to make a Sagacity test in order to get it. There are some NPC patrolling and there's an alarm that will be activated if you make too much noise.' That description would be enough to play a game, but Inquisitor is a narrative skirmish game and the above description is severely lacking a narrative element.
A far better description would be the following; 'You have heard rumours that the Book of Lancar, an ancient tome of forbidden knowledge, is being kept under guard in a secure facility belonging to a powerful Xanthite cell. You have resolved to steal it to either use it's secrets for yourself or to keep it out of the hands of those who would misuse it. The facility is being guarded by Inquisitorial troops and has a complex security system. The book is protected by a power field, but a successful Sagacity test should allow you to deactivate it. There is also a sound activated alarm, so if you make too much noise the guards will be alerted to your presence and escaping the facility will be that much more difficult.'
The two descriptions of the scenario give the same facts as far as the game is concerned, but the second has more of a story element and while that story might not affect the game at hand, it may well come into play later.
For example, what does the Book of Lancar contain? Was it actually the genuine article or a decoy designed to bring the player characters out into the open? If it was a decoy, who planted it? If it was the real thing, are the Xanthites going to attempt to steal it back? What are the characters going to do with the book now they have it? Destroy it? Use the knowledge contained therein to create a powerful weapon with which to oppose the forces of Chaos? The answers to these questions might come into play later in the campaign and might inspire the next scenario you play.
Inquisitor could actually dovetail rather well with other games such as Dark Heresy and 40k. Dark Heresy is intended for playing characters up until they reach the rank of Inquisitor - IIRC it says something like once they reach that point they pass beyond the scope of that game. Inquisitor is the perfect place to take their adventures - you could still use Dark Heresy to chronicle the investigations of their acolytes and switch to Inquisitor for those times when the Inquisitor is forced to step in and take action. Alternatively, you could use Inquisitor to follow the behind the scenes battles, and then switch to 40k for those times when the Inquisitor is forced to don his power armour, pick up his most powerful weapons and march to war.