Because I am actually the worst human being on the planet I will be using a very formulaic approach to this particular game that should hopefully speed up noncombat narratives and get to the violence time in an expedient and entertaining way. The LOCK system is actually an idea from an article in Dungeon Mastering (link) that presents a four-step system for designing scenes, story arcs, and campaigns.

As far as it goes, the resolution for LOCK is fairly straightforward: Lead-in, Objective, Conflict, Knockout. Each section is self-explanatory, with a defined beginning, middle, and end point (and varying levels of intensity). This is going to be expanded a step further for design purposes, however, while still maintaining that streamlined feel.

  • Lead-in: GM or Players take the initiative and a scene begins or there is a transition between scenes. Here the GM will place flags for the players to trigger a specific route which will be clearly noted in the game text usually by different formatting: fixed/bold/italic/underline text, etc.
  • Objective: Short-term goal that is expected to be resolved by the end of this particular scene. These are usually divided into people (meet and/or beat); places (fedex quest, get to the chopper, etc.); things (obtain plot item, magic doohickey, neato loot). The objective must be revealed via the lead-in.
  • Conflict: The meat and potatoes part where the actual encounter happens that has the majority of the skill rolling, foe defeating and so forth. In a non-combat situation this is usually summed up into three choices (with characters being able to justify those choices as necessary) by asking more questions or using clues they picked up from the Lead-in/Objective. Note how these choices reflect things like Mass Effect etc; it’s intentional.
“Paragon” choice – straight and narrow, MAY be easier (but not always), lets characters feel cool and righteous

Neutral choice – normal encounter parameters, basically take it ‘as written’

“Renegade” choice – potential comedy option, MAY be easier (but not always), but also allows personality-breaking and “cutting loose”.
  • Knockout: The conclusion of the scene is meant to propel the characters into or out of combat or cause a significant story change that drives the narrative forward. These changes should affect future choices and decisions that the characters make and will alter future encounters accordingly.


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