Sweet write-up, thanks for that. It was a good read. Question: All the fluff that seemed to come about from the game, was that GM or player generated? If it was both, where did most of it come from? It sounds like from your writing that the players were coming up with it on the fly. If that's the case, cool!
Fluff definitely comes about from the game. I take my 'play to find out what happens' very seriously (I have a big beef with illusionism). The fluff comes from us combined (mostly players initially, mostly me later on), I do pretty much what the game says to do. I ask questions, listen, add the fantastical and fill their lives with danger and adventure. I'm just short-handing a lot in the AP report because otherwise it would take me weeks to set up a transcription. I'll try to outline what I mean though.
So everyone comes up with a name, and a description and tweak out their characters a bit. So I'll usually start with someone, at this game I picked the ranger because he was done and sitting on my right. It kind of works like this.
Me: So Shrike, you're a ranger right?
Me: What's the area you live in like? Are you a mountain ranger? Do you live in a swamp?
John: Some woods.
Me: Cool. What are they called.
John: Irontree Woods.
(I draw some trees on the whiteboard or paper and label it 'irontree woods').
Me: Ok, so when you need materials you can't necessarily make yourself like axe-heads or knives, how do you get them?
John: I suppose I trade in town.
Me: How far away is this town?
John: Not too far outside the forest.
Me: Cool, what's it called?
(I draw a couple tiny houses, and label it Perrytown)
Next to him is Sherasyth, our elven fighter. I address her:
Me: So Sherasyth!
Me: Where did you get your scars?
S: In ... the arena?
Me: Sounds good. Was this for glory or...?
S: (cuts me off) No I was a slave.
Me: Cool. Who owned you?
(I write down 'ORCS!' in red. I make a mental note they're probably becoming a Front)
Me: Where do these orcs live?
S: (looks around, looks at map) In the Irontree Woods.
Me: Oho, for an arena there's probably some construction... this is more than just a couple huts and a handful of orcs?
S: Yeah, there's lots of them.
Me: How many?
S: A Horde.
(I put down 'Orcs travel in Hordes'. Then erase a couple trees and draw an orc-face in the woods. Oh yeah, definitely a front.)
Me: What's the scariest thing they made you fight?
S: A forest troll.
(I write down 'allied with Forest Trolls' next to 'ORCS!')
I look back at Shrike.
Me: So you live in these woods right? You've been watching these orcs a while, scouting them right?
John: Sounds about right.
Me: How long have they been in your woods?
John: Less than six months.
(oho so they're on the move and only recently arrived. I make a mental note.)
Me: And what scares you the most about this horde?
John: They ... ... ... they serve demons?
(write that down)
And so on. Basically I am the keeper of the world. I let what the players say inspire me. I'll ask hard questions to keep things coherent and on track. Ex: The priest says the capital is 5 days away by boat. I point out this means that there's an orc army about a weeks hard march from the nations capital. The player blanch. I ask why they haven't struck. In this specific instance nobody came up with an idea right away, so I suggested that winter made the rivers impassable by army, so they had essentially dug into the forest to use the wood to build catapults. So the players asked why the orcs were building siege weaponry, and that got added as a portent/plot idea and so on.
Basically this fiction has a ton of tropes. We all know them. We've read the books, played the games, know the score. Most players are pretty creative, and once they unclench and realize that this isn't a 'gotcha' and see other people having fun throwing stuff into the pot, they join in. I just crank up the cinematics.
Elf: So if this thing can track us, is there some ancient magic that can shield us?
Me: Wizard, you're an expert on magic! What do your ancient tomes tell you?
Wizard: That I sleep in class? No ... uh ... ... is there some old religion?
Me: Sure, the God in the Wastes? (note: I'm using the ranger move here to apply mechanics to fiction)
Elf: Ok, so lets go to one of these.
Me: Great who knows where there is one?
Wizard: You know I might have been awake in one of my classes!
(I make him do a Spout Lore, he succeeds with a strong hit, so I translate that as knowing something helpful and nearby)
Me: There is a Grove like that in the nearby woods. (And when they get there I describe the ancient trees with faces carved in them very Pict/Celtic style, add atmosphere, describe the power thrumming and so on)
You can see though that I'm getting a lot of my information from the players, and then just curating and running with it and expanding on it. Once there's enough information on the table, the game carries itself forward. In handling one threat/challenge we frequently come up with another. It's kind of like an avalanche. Enough fiction in a setting and it gains its own momentum.
In between games I just codify and clarify this by making it formal (aka attaching it to fronts/dangers, detailing portents, and maybe coming up with a few sweet custom moves).
Hope that helps.
Isn't it Strength SCORE plus base to calculate Load? That's the only thing that made sense to me.
No it's +Str which is the modifier (not 6+Strength, but 6+Str). Not sure how that affects things for you.