Esteren Tour - Dragonmeet London

3:17 AM Esteren 0 Comments

We will be at Dragonmeet! Hope to see you there :D

Since the beginning in 2010, the tour has accumulated more than 170 dates all over the world. The tour will continue in 2017 and enter a new dimension, more news in January.



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On Focuses, narrative arcs, and asides in the kitchen

1:25 PM Esteren 0 Comments

Dearg introduces several additional rules, including the system of narrative arcs and that of the Focuses. These elements make this campaign a one-of-a-kind gaming experience, but they may also surprise the Players. Before we get into the bit about asides in the kitchen, here is how we define narrative arcs and Focuses:

- Narrative arc. A narrative arc is a story that focuses on one Character in particular, while remaining part of the overall plot. In addition to detailing a series of events that will form a great tableau, Dearg develops several narrative arcs. One of them embodies one of the campaign's major themes: Love. You can learn more here.

- Focus. Dearg introduces a new type of scenario: Focuses. Although the PCs are all involved in the same quest (the main story of Dearg), each member of the party has their own history and motivations. The Focuses explore each PC's intimate story. These particular scenarios follow a pattern different from a regular session: only one Player plays their Character, while the other Players play as important people in the PC's life, helping the Game Leader steer the story.

In Dearg volume 1, the birth of this system is described thus:

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By convention, tabletop role-playing depicts the actions of a party of PCs, with the existence of each individual PC being less important than that of the group as a whole. This is because there is (usually) only one Game Leader: should the GL detail each PC's actions one after the other, the other Players would get bored and the story would move at a snail's pace. This is why the game focuses on the resolution of a scenario where all the PCs are involved at the same time, setting aside the PCs' personal stories. However, it is a fact that role-players love their Characters, and sometimes go as far as to write a thorough backstory, going over the PC's personal history, dreams, ambitions, wounds, etc. And of course, a Player loves nothing more than to see said backstory come up during the game.

Sometimes, during a game, a Player may ask to speak with the Leader alone to explain their Character's specific actions or to develop their story... which may have nothing to do with the current scenario. Who has not experienced something of the sort? The Leader takes the Player aside to answer their request in another room; typically, the kitchen. They are both aware that they must keep things short, as the other Players are waiting. These particular moments can be very exciting for the Player: after all, this is about their PC, and the story they have designed for them! It is understandable that they are at least as interested in this as in the ongoing scenario, which may be entirely unrelated to the PC's backstory. Unfortunately, the classic tabletop role-playing style does not lend itself to such moments, which have to be handled quickly... when they are handled at all.

Such experiences have given birth to this system of narrative arcs and Focuses. The idea is simple: what if we could turn these rushed asides-in-the-kitchen into the focus of an entire session? That way, each Player could, in turn, develop a story of their own, in fitting conditions, without it turning into a drag for the other participants. Meanwhile, the other Players could experience a new gaming style, halfway between improvisational theater and acting as co-Game Leaders. For a time, the focus would be on one member of the party rather than on the group as a whole, in order to explore the Character's inner world and personal story more deeply.

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For more information about Dearg, please check out our Kickstarter page:


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Narrative arcs: Making a Character the focus of the story

11:12 AM Esteren 0 Comments

Dearg introduces a major component of Shadows of Esteren's gaming system: narrative arcs. Most of this article is quoted from the first volume of the campaign book, to give you a clearer idea of what this new mechanic consists of.

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A narrative arc is a story that focuses on one character in particular, while remaining part of the overall plot. In addition to detailing a series of events that will form a great tableau, Dearg develops several narrative arcs. One of them embodies one of the campaign's major themes: Love.

The first volume of Dearg includes everything needed for the Leader to create their own narrative arcs, as well as game aids to play Dearg with pre-existing characters. This official campaign has been designed to make the PCs personally involved in the story, and to smooth out the Leader's part.

Main arcs and secondary arcs

Dearg introduces a total of eight narrative arcs, four of which are main arcs. To follow the plot of the official campaign, it is important that these four main arcs are distributed among the Players, the major one being Love.

The four secondary arcs are less deeply woven into the framework of the central story than the main arcs, but they still have a lot of dramatic potential for the Players who choose them. They will possibly be detailed as spin-off adventures in upcoming releases.

Finally, it is possible that a Player is not interested in any of the established arcs. The chapter “Creating New Narrative Arcs” deals with this possibility and provides the Leader with tools to help find a solution.

Distributing the narrative arcs

This choice can be made by agreement between the Players, or randomly. The first solution is preferable, so that each Player can pick the arc that inspires them the most. However, some groups may enjoy the challenge of having to roll with a story they have not selected, similar to using pregenerated Characters. In this case, randomization can be a good idea. The Leader will start with the main arcs and, number of Players permitting, follow up with the secondary arcs.

Main narrative arcs

Love, Ethics, Adoption, and Guilt are the four main arcs of Dearg, inspired by classic iconography. Of note:

- Each main narrative arc is connected by default to a pregenerated Character from Book 1 – Universe. If a Player creates a brand new Character, they should feel free to draw from the relevant profile to design their own Character.

- Some arcs are related to a particular faction by default. However, the Player is free to pick another faction for their PC if they wish so.

- The theme gives a general idea of the narrative arc’s stakes.

- Each arc involves several narrative constraints, detailed in the “Prerequisites” section, which the Player will have to incorporate into their PC’s background.

By way of example, here is the entry for the arc of Love:

Narrative arc of Love

This narrative arc is the central one of Dearg and should take priority during distribution. The card shows Eoghan holding a gold ring and Céliane sitting next to a basket with two turtledoves. These symbols represent the hope of mutual love and a happy future.

- Profile: Eoghan (see Book 1 – Universe, p. 184).

- Faction: Any.

- Theme: This narrative arc is built around the universal theme of love. It depicts a tumultuous story between the PC and Céliane, a young Dàmàthair from Fearìl. The arc also portrays the relation between the PC and Mael Mac Govrian, tinged with friendship and romantic rivalry.

- Prerequisites: The PC has powerful feelings for Céliane, a young Dàmàthair from Fearìl. His relationship with Mael Mac Govrian is ambiguous, mixing friendship and rivalry. The PC can also be the son of Dearg’s Ansailéir, Maorn, though this is optional.

When the narrative arc goes beyond the Character

The second part of this article covers an eventuality that can occur in any role-playing campaign: the death of one of the PCs. In Dearg's case, due to the use of narrative arcs, such an event can have unusual consequences. Here is some food for thought and tips on the subject.

Making a Character the focus of the story

Making a Character the focus of the story–that’s a challenge for any role-playing game campaign! There is nothing like the intensity of a scene where the PCs are directly involved in what they are experiencing. However, such a commitment requires some thought, as well as unambiguous agreement between the Players and the Leader before starting the game.

Shadows of Esteren features a harsh world, where death can occur at any time. This is a problem for the Leader: considering that the campaign rests on the PCs’ narrative arcs, what happens if they abruptly die?

To overcome this issue, Players starting a Shadows of Esteren campaign should keep in mind that choosing a narrative arc goes beyond their current Character. In fact, they choose this arc for the entire duration of the campaign, and what is at stake is not the survival of their Character—which is subject to chance—as much as the final resolution of the chosen narrative arc.

For example, if a Player chooses the narrative arc of Love, they will be tied to Céliane. Should the PC created at the start of the campaign die before the resolution of the narrative arc, the new Character that the Player would then create would inherit the deceased Character’s arc. This new Character will not necessarily be in love with Céliane, but they will have a strong connection with her; powerful enough to carry the narrative arc of Love through to its conclusion. The Character could thus be someone close to Céliane, a relative, a friend, etc.

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For more information about Dearg, please check out our Kickstarter page:


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