Become a roleplaying scenario writer

What is a Fastaval scenario?

Role-playing is a core activity at Fastaval and the congress has a completely unique tradition of writing and designing role-playing games. A roleplaying experience at Fastaval is often called a scenario. A scenario is characterized by the fact that it is a written, self-contained role-playing experience for 2+ participants, which usually lasts between 2-6 hours. A scenario has at least five runs, often more, divided over two blocks of time, and GMs can be both volunteer participant, or recruited by the author or the organisers. So people you have never met might run your game.
Scenarios are not limited to any particular genre, system, or themes. Many games have similar styles as Nordic LARP, although Fastaval is mostly a table-top or chamber LARP convention. There is definitely also room for system role-playing and dice rolls at Fastaval, but as a writer you should prepare for the fact that people should preferably be able to participate in this scenario, without preparation or knowledge of a particular system, setting or genre.
Role-playing at Fastaval has a huge diversity both in design and content and Fastaval is a good place to make role-playing games if you want to experiment a bit with role-playing games as a medium, but we also really want classic system role-playing games. The scenarios can be grave, imaginative or action-adventure comedies and there is room for everything from Call of Cthulhu, investigation, love stories, surrealism and historical drama. You can see last years program here, as an example.

Scroll down to read more about synopses and how to become a scenario writer

How to become a scenariowriter

If you want to write a scenario for next year’s Fastaval, you must send a synopsis to scenarieansvarlige@fastaval.dk no later than August 29.

A synopsis is a short text of 1-2 pages that outlines the story, structure and features of the scenario. The synopsis is the place where you explain what kind of experience the players and why it will be engaging to play. It is from the synopsis that we select which scenarios to include in next year’s Fastaval programme.

As something new this year, you must also consider whether the scenario can run online. We hope and plan for a physical, offline Fastaval in 2022, but no matter what happens, we are planning a kind of supplementary online Fastaval especially aimed at international participants in particular. It is not mandatory that the scenario can run online.

You can get answers to questions, tips and feedback during the workshops we host during the summer up to the synopsis deadline:

Ask Us Anything, ONLINE, August 15, at 8 p.m.

Particularly targeted at new writers, we talk a bit about what it entails to be a writer, answer questions and share scenario ideas. It takes place in our dedicated Fastaval discord in the “Workshop Room”: https://discord.gg/j4Wjbdc7u8

Idea workshop, PHYSICAL 9 August, Copenhagen

We meet somewhere in Copenhagen and talk through each other’s ideas, talk them up, refine them and have fun.

Mailworkshop, EMAIL 10-13. August

For those who can not attend the physical workshops. Will contain elements from both the idea and synopsis workshop.

Synopsis workshop, PHYSICAL 19 August, Copenhagen

Here is advice to write the good synopsis and feel free to bring a draft of your synopsis in triplicate, so that you can work from something concrete.

Title. Can be a temporary working title

Type. Full length, novella or other

Key words. Genre / style of play / setting etc.

Description, typically 1-2 pages general description of the experience, world, rules, plot, mood, characters and whatever else is relevant.

Number of players.

Number of game masters. Typically one, but anything is possible.

Expected playing time.

Contact info. Name, email and phone number of all participating authors. (It is possible to write under a pseudonym, but the scenario coordinators must still ask for author data.)

Optionally, a brief introduction of yourself, if you are a new writer and not acquainted with the scenario coordinators. Include some information about what else you have worked on roleplay-wise. In no way does it count down to be inexperienced, but we would like an insight into your level of experience and your roleplaying style. It is important for us that we get a good mix of experience among our writers, so that we constantly get new blood and new ideas into the environment around the Fastaval scenarios.

Optionally, a short 1-2 sentence pitch to put on fastaval.dk if the scenario is accepted. You can also let the scenario coordinators write this.

A synopsis is an overview of your scenario idea which gives the scenario coordinators a foundation from which to evaluate it. A synopsis does not have to go into very specific details, explain the entire course of the plot or the background story of all the characters. Instead, focus on touching on all the important aspects of the scenario. You need to make the scenario coordinators understand what the players are going to do and experience during the scenario.

We love when we can sense the enthusiasm in your idea and when you can tell us how your idea will create a good and engaging experience. On the other hand, you should like to avoid excessive bragging and long manifestos about what “true” roleplaying is, and also are not interested in negativity about other kinds of roleplaying games or styles.

When you submit a synopsis, the scenario does not need to have been tested or written down yet. The vast majority of scenarios are only at the idea stage when there is a synopsis deadline, but we want a clear impression of your vision. The idea must be solid enough for us to believe that the scenario can realistically be completed on time.

If you want good extra advice for your synopsis, you can attend one of the synopsis workshops.

At Fastaval, we go to great lengths to accommodate all kinds of ideas, but there are certain limitations and frameworks that you need to be aware of if you are considering writing for Fastaval.

  • It must be possible to run the scenario at Fastaval or online. The vast majority of scenarios are played in a classroom at Mariagerfjord Gymnasium, where the only scenography is tables and chairs. However, there is also room for role-playing in the Fastaval common areas or in the nature behind the high school. We go to great lengths to accommodate quirky ideas that play with the role-playing game form, but you need to be prepared that Fastaval does not own costumes, props or candles that you can use. All extra scenography and props you want to incorporate in your scenario, you must basically bring with you. We are also planning an online Fastaval, so finally write it in the synopsis if you have any exciting ideas in terms of running it online.
  • The scenario must be written down. A Fastaval scenario can fill anywhere between 10-100 pages and acts as a kind of manual for game masters. Fastaval tries to guarantee a minimum of five runs of each scenario, divided into two blocks (except in special circumstances such as large live scenarios). Therefore, the role-playing game must be able to be read, understood and run by one or more GMs, or by the players themselves. The written tradition is also an important part of developing and strengthening the quality of role-playing games at Fastaval. On the Alexandria website, you have free access to fixed selection scenarios over many years, a fair bit of which have been translated to english and can be read, learned from and played. It is not required to put your scenario online on Alexandria for free, if you have commercial plans for it, but definitely in the spirit of Fastaval as a non-profit, volunteer driven convention.
  • The scenario is automatically included in the Otto competition. This means that your scenario will be read and judged by a panel of judges who will also give you good feedback after Fastaval. Read more about the Otto competition here.
  • The scenario must be written specifically for Fastaval. Fastaval is proud of its premiere scenarios and would like to incentivize the creation of new roleplaying games so scenarios written for other congresses or similar events are not accepted. However, we do accept reinterpretations or full rewrites of old scenarios, just as it is also allowed to play tests at other conventions.
  • As far as possible, you should recruit five Game Masters for your scenario. There is always a shortage of GM and it is a huge amount of organizer work in obtaining enough so that all writers get the mentioned five+ runs and the players get to play the games they want. If you are a new writer, do not be put off, we have a couple of skilled GM master recruiters, who will help, we only want you to do your best. For experienced and well-networked writers, it is expected that they will find these five GMs yourself.
  • It is allowed to send more than one synopsis. However, we recommend that you focus on sharpening one scenario idea rather than sending many loose ones. Quantity does not necessarily help the chance of being selected.

It is Fastaval scenario coordinators who have the responsibility and privilege to read the submitted synopses and select the scenarios that will premiere at Fastaval. The scenarios are selected as a single field. So we look not only at the quality of the individual synopsis, but also how your idea fits among the others.

First and foremost, we select based on a desire for diversity in the scenario programme. We would really like to offer Fastaval’s participants a wide range of role-playing experiences. Everyone who reads Fastaval’s program should be able to find at least one scenario that they really want to play. We strive for a good breadth in terms of genres, themes, forms, content and systems. Just as we also look at what age groups the scenarios are aimed at. Most of all, we want dice, action, drama, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, social realism, feel-good, historical, live and everything in between and beyond.

We are also looking for a good spread in the authors’ level of experience. Every year, we actively provide space for debutants who get the chance to try their hand at screenwriting, so we continue to develop the writing community. Of course, we would also like writers with a two-three scenario under their belt who get the chance to develop further. Finally, there must also be room for the seasoned writers, who in addition to their scenarios also contribute by sharing their experiences for workshops and the writers’ weekend.

Fastaval is not only for Danes and therefore the scenario managers also look at language and nationality. We are happy for international authors who show interest in Fastaval and therefore we go for there are at least a handful of scenarios from abroad, even though the majority are written in Danish.

Of course, we also look at the quality of the scenario ideas as they appear in the synopsis. We talk in particular about whether the idea is mature enough and whether we believe that, within the time frame, it can become a solid product that will be cool to play at Fastaval. Dissemination is also a factor. Small linguistic errors are not something we notice, but if we can not understand how the game should take place, then we can not trust that the author will be able to convey an entire scenario.

Finally there is the ratio between novellas and full-length scenarios. In 2019 the allocation of time slots at Fastaval allowed room for 6 novellas and 22 full-length scenarios and we aim for more or less the same numbers in 2021. But if the synopses pull us in another direction then we will consider revising the time slots.

In 2021, we moved Fastaval online for the first time ever. Although the event was not large as usual, it was still well attended with over 300 participants, 20 online converted scenarios and lots of happy players. We are really looking forward to having a “regular” Fastaval next year, but nevertheless we also learned a lot about what unique strengths and weaknesses online roleplaying has, and there has been great support from both participants and organizers to develop the concept futher. Nothing is set in stone yet, but there is a plans to we make an online Fastaval, complementary to the physical one in Hobro, Denmark.

We therefore also hope that there are a lot of budding writers out there who are up to the challenge and will write some scenarios that can also be run online. We have gained a lot of experience over the last year and a half with the medium, and can help if there is something you are doubtful about, e.g. if you are not sure how a particular mechanic can be executed online. It is our experience that most roleplaying games, besides very physical games, can be run online with a bit of customization.

If you have an idea for a Fastaval scenario, the first thing you should do is submit a synopsis to Fastaval’s scenario coordinators. The scenario cycle usually begins around the summer holidays, where the scenario coordinators sends out a call-for-synopsis, which is announced on Fastaval’s Facebook page, our twitter and here on the website. In September, about 30 scenarios will be selected to premiere at Fastaval. There is often great interest in writing to Fastaval and therefore we unfortunately do not have room for all the synopses we receive. If you are a new writer, then you must not despair – we really want debutants! If you would like help formulating your synopsis, Fastaval will hold a number of workshops (both physical and online) up to the synopsis deadline. Here you can get sparring, meet other potential writers and talk your idea through with the organizers.

If your synopsis is selected then Fastaval offers additional help to support you along the way. You can be assigned a sparring partner, who is an experienced Fastaval writer who will help you execute your idea in the best possible way. You will also be invited to workshops and to the annual author weekend, where you can meet with the other authors.

During the year the scenario coordinator make sure to be in touch with you, just as you can communicate with the other writers in a closed group on Facebook.

In addition to the scenario itself, you are also expected to submit a brief teaser for your scenario to the website. It has a deadline in early January and should serve as a kind of advertisement and info about your scenario, so that Fastaval’s participants can see if it is a game they would like to sign up for. The actual deadline for submitting your scenario usually falls at the end of January or the beginning of February, depending on when Easter is.

If you have questions about Fastaval scenarios, or if you have an idea that is outside the usual framework at Fastaval, then you should be more than welcome to contact Mads and Marie, who are the scenario coordinators for 2021 and 2022.

If you are selected to write a scenario for Fastaval, we expect you to do your best to deliver a solid scenario. It takes both time and energy to write a good scenario. You do not need to take leave from your studies or work, but expect that it will take some of your free time. Plot structures and design questions will haunt your thoughts for the next six months. It’s part of the fun.

In return, you get the opportunity to become part of a unique, creative environment, with experience and inspiration built up over decades. You can meet the motley bunch of writers and scenarios, save and be challenged on what role-playing is and can be, and develop your idea in directions you might not have expected. It is not unlikely you will make friends for life in the process and develop a broader taste and appreciation of role-playing as a medium. The scenario coordinators are involved in the process and will do their best to help get the scenario across the finish line. The Otto judges give thorough feedback on the scenario, the hope of a plaster penguin and the programmers guarantee at least five runs of your scenario. It’s not hard at Fastaval to catch your players and hear how it went and get war stories. And lastly, of course, is the fundamental joy of doing creative work, of writing, and struggling to make the scenario as good as it can get. It’s not always easy to be a scenario writer, but always engaging.

Fastaval have two scenario coordinators and it is our task to ensure the participants at Fastaval the best possible role-playing experiences, as well as to ensure that Fastaval’s writers all have a good experience writing their scenarios. First and foremost, it is us who select this year’s scenario programme, but it is also our task to arrange workshops for the authors, provide feedback and moral support during the entire writing process from idea to finished scenario.

One is not the scenario coordinator indefinitely. Typically, a new duo is rotated in every other year, to take over from the old organizers. In this way, we ensure that Fastaval’s program is constantly evolving and provides space for new ideas and priorities.

If you have questions about the scenarios or would like to hear more, you are welcome to contact us here: scenarieansvarlige@fastaval.dk

Why is there only room for about 30 scenarios at Fastaval?

The number of scenarios on Fastaval has two explanations. First, Fastaval is limited by the number of gaming rooms we have access to at Mariager Fjord High School. Secondly, it is being prioritized by Fastaval that each scenario should have as many runs as possible. It takes a lot of  time and volunteer effort to write a Fastaval scenario and therefore Fastaval would rather have fewer scenarios, that can be played more.

Who decides which scenarios are included?

It is the scenario coordinators who are responsible for selecting this year’s field for Fastaval. The coordinators are organizers at Fastaval, who have the job for two years. They work to create diversity among in the scenario programme, so there is something for everyone to play. You can read more about their selection process below in the tab above.

Why can’t I submit my finished role-playing game as a synopsis?

There have been years where Fastaval has received 70+ synopses, which in itself is a huge amount of reading material for the scenario coordinators and finished scenarios would only give them even more work. The synopsis form is there so that the scenario managers can easily form an overview of all the scenario ideas and thereby select the best overall programme. Even though you may find it annoyingly redundant, you should still write a synopsis, even if you may already be far with your written scenario.

Can I bring my own role-playing game to Fastaval without the synopsis and scenario competition?

Fastaval is a big place and every year there are lots of participants who come to play their own roleplaying games and campaigns, bypassing the scenario competition and the official Fastaval program. Fortunately, there is plenty of space for this, but it often takes place in the common areas of the high school, as Fastaval uses the classrooms for programmed activities. If you just want to run your own game yourself and not have to write it out, you should not send a synopsis, but look for the general call-for-activities.

The scenario coordinator for Fastaval 2021 and 2022

Marie Skouenborg has been at Fastaval since 2013, and has written a couple of scenarios and been Otto judge once. She loves role-playing games that evoke enthusiasm in the players, whether it is playful co-creation, deep drama or scenarios that exude love of genres. When out-of-character, she works a lot and enjoys life with board- and role-playing games, boyfriend, twins and pets.

Mads Egedal Kirchhoff has written eleven scenarios, plus change, for Fastaval and other Danish conventions since 2011 and has also handled synopses and authors for Viking-Con. He loves all kinds of role-playing games, from dreary social realism to boundary-pushing artistic experiments to silly action with robots. In his civilian life he is a software developer, gamer and nerd.