How a DramaSystem Episode Plays Out

Last week I presented a series of synopses from the in-house Hillfolk playtest, to show the sort of narrative you might develop over the course of a DramaSystem series. This time I thought I’d zoom in a bit with a detailed account of the action that unfolds during a single episode.

This is from our second season. For list of main characters, pop back here. We’ve now added a new PC, the warrior Flint (played by Scott.) He’s returned to the Horsehead clan after a year’s captivity at the hands of the loathed and feared neighboring people, the Tridents. Though still finding his footing in a home that has greatly changed during his absence, he’ll soon start acting on his dramatic poles: loyalty vs. ambition. Close readers will note that this is the same opposition that drove the chieftain, Thickneck, during the first season. His player is away attending classes this fall, so I’ve had to step in to play him as a recurring character. Other characters not mentioned in the above-linked post are also recurring characters, played by the GM.

The episode title is also its theme, chosen by the player who frames, or calls, its first scene.

SE02EP03: “Unity”

Skull seeks the cooperation of Staffholder, the child shaman who now serves as the clan’s spiritual advisor, in his bid for southern unity. She embraces his plan enthusiastically, thinking it will allow them to impose Horsehead-style worship on the region—by violence if necessary.

Flint dreams of the torturer who loved him, the cruelly beautiful Trident matriarch Pierces-the-Sky. He awakens in horror.

Twig seeks her husband’s plans for the coming moot, where southern clans open to unifying under the northern king will meet to mull the details. Thickneck provides slim assurance, revealing that opposed clans and rebel bandits likely intend to attack the moot or the northern procession to it.

At a meeting of the inner circle, Redaxe demands a clear long-range objective for the clan. Thickneck agrees to his scheme to unify north and south against the Tridents.

Flint confronts Farhawk, demanding to know what he must do to prove he’s not a spy. Farhawk reveals that Skull was until recently making overtures to the Tridents, and advises Flint to kill him.

Farhawk goes to his wife, Raging River, for a dose of realpolitik. She lays out a chilling vision in which all choices lead to civil war.

Skull seeks Redaxe’s aid at the moot. They hatch a plan to parley with their mightiest rivals, the Stoneforts.

Godtalker, a northern priest invited to Horsehead by Twig, petitions her for redress, after the northerner’s sacred tablets are profaned by someone throwing dung. She agrees to find the culprit.

It’s a young woman, perhaps put up to it by Staffholder. Twig goes to Godtalker seeking forgiveness for her. Godtalker compromises from his original demand that she be stoned, instead jumping at the chance to deliver an exhortation to the entire moot.

Redaxe meets Oldcrag, his opposite number among the Stoneforts, and finds him less interested in fighting Tridents than his traditional foes, the Horseheads.

Flint demands that Skull tell him the truth about his Trident dalliances. Skull placates him, minimizing the consequences of his prior meeting with the dread Trident warrior, Tall-As-A-Spear.

A religious riot pits Horseheads against Northerners. In its aftermath, Farhawk upbraids Twig for starting the whole mess, by inviting in Northern priests. She vehemently defends her actions.

Skull seeks out Thickneck, who turns out to be equally disturbed by his wife’s spiritual meddling. He appoints Skull as the man to solve the strife.

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