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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: timfire on February 01, 2005, 02:23:22 PM

Title: [Conspiracy of Shadows] Frozen Hell
Post by: timfire on February 01, 2005, 02:23:22 PM
Here goes another Dreamation Actual Play report. I got to play Conspiracy of Shadows ( with my road-trip buddy and author of the game, Keith Senkowski (aka Bob Goat). The demo was mentioned [elsewhere] (, but I thought it deserved its own thread.

For a simple 2-hour demo, I had a ton of fun. I have to give Keith alot of credit as a GM, I was surprised at how much creepy fear he was able to bring into the game. Here's the list of players and their characters:

Clinton R. Nixon: A socialist farmer out for class-equality. (The only non-pregen character.)
Joshua Newman (nikola): A gypsy... merchant? I forget.
Russell (gains): The pissed-off, burned-out inn keeper.
timfire (me!): An alcoholic priest who left the church frustrated over corruption & hypocracy.

The setup was an inn in the middle of a blizzard. The gypsy, Josh's character, came there to have some secret meeting with a nobleman. Supposedly Josh's character wanted to warn the nobleman of a plot to kill the widely-loved Duke. The demo was kicked off, however, by the unexplained murder of said nobleman.

The game started a little slow because we the players weren't sure of what to do and how much narrative control we had. We actually had a lot. We were allowed to narrate color whenever we wanted, and could spend 'destiny points' to narrate... err, "big" things.

Once we realized that, we were off and running. Clinton started things off by narrating that he saw a dark figure walking around outside (destiny point). When a fire broke out, I narrated that said dark figure literally came walking out of the fire. Josh then declared that the demon/creature and all the other creepy things were being caused by some sort of evil/injustice that had happened. A little later, when things became even more psychodelic and creepy, I spent another point to say that it was one of us who had caused the evil/injustice.

Like I said, Keith did a great job at bringing in creepy atmosphere. It was obvious when he had us, because we all got really quiet.

I had a lot of fun playing the game. As Keith and I discussed, CoS is a game that relies alot on informal play techniques rather than mechanics to create fear. Seeing Keith in action made me really excited about his upcoming Player's Guide (is that what you're calling it?), where he's going to expand on his GM/player advice. If he can put that stuff in a can and throw on the shelves, it'll be gold.

[edit] Edited so it would be a little easier to understand. [/edit]

Title: [Conspiracy of Shadows] Frozen Hell
Post by: Keith Senkowski on February 01, 2005, 07:24:59 PM
Thanks for the complement boss.  I learned long ago that I'm at my best when I don't have to think, just react.  The only thing I feel I missed in all this was to let you guys tinker with the combat system a bit.  I think there was only a few rolls made, but shit who am I to derail where you guys wanted to take the game.  Now I just have to figure out how to stretch this mother into a 4 hour game.

Any suggestions on things you think I could have done differently to stretch this mother out?

Oh and it is called the Game Guide.  You can see the outline in the Bob Goat forum...


Title: [Conspiracy of Shadows] Frozen Hell
Post by: Russell Collins on February 01, 2005, 10:39:30 PM
Stretch it out? Through us a fastball. Redirect.

Just as I'm about to bury my club in the Farmer's head, we're back! The inn is full of peasants watching me about to murder a lowly farmer, after I had accused them all.

Then, we're all stuck with each other, knowing what we know and unable to overtly act. Until the next haunting event.

Maybe the GM should have a few destiny points of his own to create plot twists in case the players get themselves lost in their own?

Title: [Conspiracy of Shadows] Frozen Hell
Post by: Keith Senkowski on February 02, 2005, 07:53:09 AM
Well the cool thing about being the GM in CoS is that you don't need to have Destiny Points to do shit like that.  You simply do it as appropriate.  I considered fucking with time and doing a rewind to just before the noble paid for his room in the foreign coin and let you guys go through the shit again and see what you did, though shit would still end up fucked up, just in a different way.  It felt like I would be forcing shit though (I believe the term everyone likes to use is railroading).


Title: [Conspiracy of Shadows] Frozen Hell
Post by: Russell Collins on February 02, 2005, 08:29:25 AM
I really only think of it as railroading when the possibility of choice or options is removed. Now adding repercussions is a whole other thing.

For example, my situation with being about to crack the farmer's skull when suddenly the room is full of witnesses, I can still go through with my action, or not, but now the consequences are more dire. Like an angry mob dragging me off to the block.

That's a GMs goal anyway, to set up scenarios and enforce consequence by reacting to the player choices. Intensifying the consequences can seem a nudge in one way or another, but it doesn't fence the player in, just slows rash decisions.

If the consequence is preordained, so that no choice really exists, then it starts to feel like you're a passenger riding the rails, rather than an actor making decisions.

Title: [Conspiracy of Shadows] Frozen Hell
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 02, 2005, 08:38:10 AM

Keith, I think it's useful to remember that GM input, however aggressive, is not by definition railroading.

Railroading is when you reach over and take over someone else's rights of input into play. Some people can do it very subtly.

What you're describing doesn't sound like that at all.


Title: [Conspiracy of Shadows] Frozen Hell
Post by: Keith Senkowski on February 02, 2005, 08:40:10 AM

I see what you mean.  Though not true in life, in gaming I can be very subtle, and I guess my concern is that a complete 180 would piss off the players and destroy the crazy atmosphere we had created as a group.  Maybe I was too cautious.  This was my first con game longer than 20 minutes really.