So you love story games but you are drawn by the irresistible lure of the crunchy 4e battlefield? You want to smack some orcs but you want it to have meaning?
Check out Simon Carryer’s Say Yes or Face the Dungeon:
The GM should give a very short description of the dungeon, something like “It’s an zombie-filled labyrinth” or “It’s an orc warren with a surprise at the end”. All the players then brainstorm a way for the dungeon to be related to the conflict at hand…
For example, the PCs are trying to get a village of elves on their side in the civil war. The elves are undecided, and the GM makes the PCs “face the dungeon”. The dungeon the GM has prepared is a nest of harpies at the top of a crag. After some discussion, they decide that at some point during the negotiations, harpies will capture the son of an elder, one of those opposed to their plan. If they can rescue the young elf from the harpies, the elves will join in their cause. The GM marks in the dungeon where the young elf is being held, and play begins again – later that night, just after the harpies make off with their captive.
Yes, it’s a totally different way to play the game. Go read the rest. Very good stuff. And if you don’t get the reference, you owe it to yourself to go look up Vincent Baker’s famous “Say Yes or Roll the Dice.”