Author Topic: A game I love to prep for  (Read 3139 times)

Rafu

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2016, 11:38:03 PM »
I don't know. I mean, I think we followed the procedure pretty much as intended, so the problem may be just that the procedure didn't "click" for us. If I did it again, it would probably be with a different set of people, so it may go differently.
But, overall, I think our game is doing really well, which means that setup procedure - clunky or not - has ultimately done its job of getting us started. I don't anticipate I'll ever need to revisit it during the current game, with the snowball of trouble already rolling.

Paul T.

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2016, 01:47:04 AM »
Ha, Rafu! You're trying awfully hard to avoid the question, it sounds like, to me. :)

(On the other hand, of course, saying that it's not a question which is of practical relevance to you, and therefore you don't want to consider it, would be totally reasonable. So don't take me too seriously!)

I was hoping you might have given some thought to how you would improve on that process if you were to go through it again with the same gang. Let's say Vincent publishes another fun game you want to play after this one, and it has the same starting procedure, for instance...

It definitely worked to get you a great game, but you keep like using words like "clunky", as well. You don't have any more observations or hypothetical suggestions?

(Like I said before, I might be playing this too, in the near future, so I'd love to avoid some of that.)


Rafu

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #32 on: October 17, 2016, 07:19:22 AM »
What I mean is, I'm afraid I actually don't have any suggestions. It's too early. It's not something which is so obviously broken that a bunch of obvious fixes occurred me on first run - it's something which looked perfectly reasonable on paper that actually didn't play out as smoothly as I'd hoped for. If it were my own design, I'd have to try it again as written, and compare. In fact, I never meant to say I won't use this procedure again - just that, when eventually I will, conditions will be different enough to merit trying it again with no procedural changes. But, of course, if it were my own design I'd also know the exact intent behind each design choice, so I'd be much bolder in changing it to fix it. As it currently stands - not being my own design - I can only guess at the intent and I don't feel like I can provide any useful advice. The most useful thing I could do is what I did: provide a detailed account to be compared with other such accounts. In my opinion, that's what you should do as well, and there's a concrete possibility it'll work out flawlessly for you.
So my advice to you is simple: try it as written and then tell us about your experience. Also: don't worry too much about the first scene, because how you build on it is much more important.

Paul T.

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #33 on: October 18, 2016, 04:11:48 PM »
Good thoughts, Rafu. I have been pondering the same questions as you - I suppose time will tell where the fallout of all this will be.

I think that "play out the initial scene, and then break and prep" might be a very strong piece of advice for playing this game, so that's already something to take away from all this. I think that, if you don't do this, the game has a lot more potential to fall flat.

One interesting aspect of FV - unless I'm missing something in the text - compared to AW (and various descendants) is that it does not specify anything the relationships of the characters to each other. On one hand, we know that they are all involved in that first scene together. On the other hand, the characters explicitly live in different places, and are likely to end up moving in completely different directions (e.g. the various expansions or chapters to the game, which function as different games, like founding your Seclusium).

How did this pan out in your game? Did the players assume a "party" mentality, or do you follow each character around, a la AW, or something else?


lumpley

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #34 on: October 18, 2016, 09:09:52 PM »
They're explicitly neighbors and friends who see each other and hang out together all the time.

The object of the game is to fill in as many experience bubbles as they can and want, and to help their fellow players fill in as many as they can and want too.

Scattering = done with the game.

(And I'm not impressed with that particular thread over at S-G. Don't get bought into it, if you can help it.)

-Vincent

Rafu

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #35 on: October 19, 2016, 12:51:38 AM »
They're explicitly neighbors and friends who see each other and hang out together all the time.
Oh, by the way...! I pretty much missed that line (it only appears once in the current draft text, if I recall correctly) which says the PCs are each other's friends when I was running them through character creation, which of course added an extra layer of murky to our first scene recounted above. I noticed that after 1st session and we easily managed to ret-con that bit in (we actually established that not all of them had known all of the others before that fateful night at the House of Blue Steps, but that was a significant enough event to bring them all close together).

How did this pan out in your game? Did the players assume a "party" mentality, or do you follow each character around, a la AW, or something else?
I do follow each of them around (my "default" GM mode, unless otherwise specified by the rules), but they do spend a lot of time together... Well, not all together, really: more like in pairs and threes. There's something of a Fiasco-esque feeling about it. A routine has set in where I start a session by asking them what they're doing and, often, the answer is that they all regroup at someone or someone else's place to make a plan together. They talk a bunch, disagree on priorities or over moral issues or something - or occasionally say they agree but don't really act like it - then usually two of them go away on separate errands or escapades, asking one or two friends for their help.
For example, last Sunday they basically split into two separate "adventures": Dix had to fulfill an obligation to some ghost (as usual) by relocating an urn to a princely mausoleum, and the warden of that mausoleum had asked his help dealing with a dangerous poltergeist-like ghost in return, so he asked for Nictus's help and they went to the mausoleum together. Meanwhile, Iago and Vetin went on a get-rich-quick-scheme spree: after starting a publishing house for pornography and satire at his run-down house (as the result of examining treasure), Iago went back to the House of Blue Steps to brief with and squeeze some more riches out of the Hostess in Black. There, Vetin, who'd just tagged along, heard that the master of the house was looking for -er- human resources to test the new magical defenses he'd had installed by the wizard Aktebeth. Vetin and Iago decided to turn labor-providers and started scouring smoke-drinking dens for people desperate enough to accept the job and sign off the biggest share of the reward to them (basically, we played a Hand to Mouth scenario from the perspective of the middlemen instead of the jobbers).
We played these two very different "adventures" at once, framing alternating scenes between the two pairs of PCs. I made the best of Vincent's suggestion from some other thread to disregard "naturalistic" time simultaneity and happily contrasted a single "round" of fighting against a dangerous ghost with half an evening's worth of Iago and Vetin (now aptly nicknamed "Cat and Fox" in table chatter) conning poor fellows into what they believed was certain doom. The most interesting part was in fact the thematic contrast, centered around issues of morality. On a side of the table, it all revolved around naive Dix trying to "do the right thing" in humane terms and grim, grumpy Nictus reluctantly playing along, showing a bit of his human side - on the other, Iago and Vetin were being perfect amoral bastards and had us rolling on the floor laughing at their bold ideas and blatant lies.

Quite unusually for us, we've played sessions of this game with one or even two players missing. The setup of the game makes it easy to rationalize this: reasons for a PC to be absent from the action which don't sound far-fetched abound, and it makes sense to focus on the deeds of just one or two PCs from time to time. Then, when we next all get together, the social ritual of briefing them about the events they missed turns into a very playful, pleasurable moment - probably because everything there's to say usually sounds like implausible or humorous tall tales! In fact, some players have been texting absent players mid-game, reporting events in a joking or self-mocking way: "You wouldn't believe how fucked up this is", and so on.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2016, 12:58:09 AM by Rafu »

Paul T.

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #36 on: October 19, 2016, 02:41:29 AM »
Good answer, Rafu.

I feel like I see a bit of a tension in the rules on this point:

On one hand, it says "they're friends" (which, you know, easy to overlook, when it's not supported by anything else, not even like AW's Hx rules, which do that much more overtly - getting to know each other better is a powerful driver), and it has clear rules for "regrouping with your allies" (sounds like the PC party to me!) and each move explains how another can help you. All these things point towards a "PC party" kind of play.

On the other hand, nothing tells us about the characters' relationships to each other, except that the first scene features them all together (and the sample questions strongly imply they're working on the same side). They live in different places. They (likely) seek different experiences. The experience rules seem like they would drive them apart over time:

* The various expansions seem to move on to different parts of the game. For instance, is there room for a wizard founding his Seclusium if we're playing "Warbands"? (Maybe... but it's hardly clear, and likely not.)

* The experience rules push is along different destinies.

As a simple example, it wouldn't be obvious to have one character found their estate, and then offer for the others to move in.

First of all, can they do that without mechanically upgrading to better lodgings and so forth? Second, sooner or later they will roll "found your estate" themselves, and they'll be pretty tempted to do it.

These rules suggest, to me, that each character has his or her individual path (and these are random, not chosen like AW's advances).

Vincent, I don't know what you mean by "that S-G thread"! What's the topic we should be wary about?

Rafu

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #37 on: October 19, 2016, 07:46:26 AM »
I dunno... The rules say "you're friends", not "you're a family" or "you're a crew". Your example of moving in together sounds more like an (elective) family or a crew/gang/warband to me than just friends. Friends live their own lives. And if they later go their own separate ways, well, why not?
Despite the initial fumbling about the actual rule, I'm happy with the way we're playing it: the PCs having their own separate pursuits, ambitions and moralities, but ultimately regarding each other as their most trusted confidantes, business partners or partners in crime, whenever the need arises and despite their differences.
If in a distant future Nictus had retired into his own seclusium to pursue wizardly immortality (which we now know to be his ultimate ambition, BTW) while Iago, say, had become a mercenary captain, Vetin had seized the government of the city through charm and wits and Dix were still wandering, trying futilely to escape trouble - well, I think that general dynamic would still work, in principle, just on a more diluted (fictional) time-frame. And that wouldn't differ much from how we tend to play AW except in one thing: that in AW we don't start from an assumption that the PCs are friends.
But that's it: a starting point! In the very smaller social word of AW they don't need such a starting assumption to naturally gravitate around - or against - each other, whereas the default setting for FV is a populous city where others would fade into the crowd, or the game would soon slide into implausible coincidence, with no such assumption.

lumpley

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #38 on: October 19, 2016, 10:51:13 AM »
Here's my take on it. I find it a little frustrating! Forgive me.

Paul: Vincent, games are more fun when the characters are on screen together.
Vincent: Sure.
Paul: In this game, there's nothing forcing the characters to be on screen together.
Vincent: Well, they're friends...
Paul: But that doesn't FORCE them to be on screen together.
Vincent: Sure.
Paul: In fact, if they single-mindedly pursue their own pursuits and don't help their friends or get their friends' help, they won't be on screen together at all.
Vincent: ...Sure.
Paul: So what makes sure the characters are on screen together?
Vincent: Didn't you just say it? It's more fun when they are.

One of the basic moves is to get back together even if the GM has worked hard to separate you.

I just can't see this as a problem with the game design. If you want your characters to take turns being on screen alone, you can make it happen. If you don't want that, for goodness sake, have your characters meet up and go together.

-Vincent

Paul T.

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #39 on: October 19, 2016, 07:39:29 PM »
Oh, dear! No. Ha!

I'm not criticizing the game here... I haven't even played it yet; I'm hardly in a position to offer a critique.

I'm just curious about it, and how to best play it. Looking over the rules, I'm seeing some things which seem to pull in different directions, and wondering how to reconcile them. As Rafu says, in AW, there is an assumption that a) it's totally OK for the characters to be doing separate things (and the larger Fronts and PC-NPC-PC triangles will eventually bring them into contact, if nothing else does), and b) there's a small, limited community that they are a part of. And, ultimately, they are dealing with the same larger issue (rebuilding civilization in a broken world, dealing with the maelstrom).

Freebooting Venus looks to me like a "characters all appear together" kind of game, but the rules seem to be pulling them apart in places. The Experience rules are likely to send you in different directions. The various expansions ("Warbands", etc) don't seem like something the characters would do together. So I'm curious how the game is supposed to evolve in this respect!

I figured you - Vincent - might have some vision to share here, as the designer. And Rafu might have thoughts on this topic based on his experience with the game so far.

For example, I could imagine some useful MC principles or techniques along these lines. Something like this:

* When different characters encounter different kinds of trouble, consider how they might have been - ultimately - caused by a larger, common problem, higher up in the ranks of the City.

Or, perhaps:

* The characters are all friends, but with lives and ambitions of their own. When you sit down to play this game, you're going to be playing the bits where their lives intersect. Feel free to zoom back and forth in time to focus on those times in their lives.

Other than that, I dunno.

Rafu

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #40 on: October 19, 2016, 10:29:28 PM »
* When different characters encounter different kinds of trouble, consider how they might have been - ultimately - caused by a larger, common problem, higher up in the ranks of the City.
Definitely!
I promise I'll get to this part, too. Or have I already? Well, anyway: an effect of the methods of prep I'm using (and I'm trying to describe in this thread) is that everything eventually ends up being connected with everything else. Or maybe that's just how I generally see the world (the real world, I mean)?

* The characters are all friends, but with lives and ambitions of their own. When you sit down to play this game, you're going to be playing the bits where their lives intersect. Feel free to zoom back and forth in time to focus on those times in their lives.
I like that! That's not how I'm playing, but I like the idea.

Paul T.

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #41 on: October 20, 2016, 01:21:39 AM »
an effect of the methods of prep I'm using (and I'm trying to describe in this thread) is that everything eventually ends up being connected with everything else. Or maybe that's just how I generally see the world (the real world, I mean)?

It seems like a good Principle for this game!

Paul T.

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #42 on: October 21, 2016, 04:30:17 AM »
Thinking about this a bit further:

Apocalypse World pushes the idea of community - or, at least, of communities - and underpins it with the idea that "something is wrong". The world is wrong, there are no status quos, everything we love has been destroyed, and the psychic maelstrom attacks everyone. There is an implicit struggle here, one that all the characters are engaged in together.

The implied endgame is of piercing the maelstrom and building something lasting (or to die trying).

In Freebooting Venus, my 'reading between the lines' is that it's a game, rather, about the individual, and his or her progress. Every little piece suggests that my progress is about advancing myself in the world, on my own path, which is not entirely in my control, but will definitely take me somewhere (and, by the looks of it, somewhere interesting).

What is the implied endgame of Freebooting Venus?

(I can imagine a few of my own answers, and they're all a bit D&D-like... but I'd like to hear your thoughts first!)

Rafu

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #43 on: October 21, 2016, 08:19:37 AM »
I've been wondering about the endgame too. As written, the end condition is like: you're satisfied - or bored - with your achievements, there's nothing more you want to get out of it, so you stop playing. But open-endedness is really genre-fitting, and new chapters are going to come with expanded experience lists, so why not? We know in a not so distant future we're going to put FV aside in favor of some other game, possibly to revisit it when new materials become available.

Paul T.

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Re: A game I love to prep for
« Reply #44 on: October 21, 2016, 03:39:26 PM »
Indeed!