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Author Topic: The Questing Beast comments  (Read 4524 times)
hardcoremoose
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« on: December 23, 2001, 06:44:00 PM »

Hey James,

I still haven't read the whole thing - it's a sizeable document - but I have browsed i, read a little, and have some working knowledge of your previous draft.  So I'll take a stab at a critique.

It looks cool.  I mean really great.  For a web-based game, it looks very pretty.  Your artwork is very nice, the layout seems clean, and the whole thing is pretty ease to browse.

Of course, I love The Pool.  I haven't had a chance to really dig into the rules variants you imposed upon TQB, so I'll reserve comment.  But your take on Arthurian legend is very cool, and the anthropomorphic stuff is an interesting way to go with this.  I think it's well suited to the sorts  of tales you want to tell.

I detect a sort of inherent separation between Bard and Character in your text - I haven't delved into it much yet, but that's the feeling I'm getting - and I think it's great.  Sets up the same sort of dissonance I was shooting for with WYRD.  Very cool.

Okay, I got to go.  More later.

- Moose
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James V. West
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2001, 12:33:00 AM »

There certainly is a seperation between Bard and Hero. I had a hell of a time trying to articulate it. I'm still not pleased with how it may be interpreted.

You are playing more than one role. At the top layer is the role of the Bard. In that role you are a storyteller trying to relate a pleasing or expressive narrative. Just under that, you're the Hero of the story you're trying to tell. Most everything is from the Hero's point of view. But just beyond that role, you also play director for everything in your Hero's tale. The incedental characters, the items of importance, the motifs of the Romance.

I found it difficult to relate just what I was asking of a player. And that's why I posted it in its current (fairly rough) form. I really needed to see if people are getting from it what I intended.

Thanks for all the compliments, Moose. It means a lot.

 
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2001, 06:51:00 AM »

Hi James,

I think one of the strongest elements in TQB is the shared concept of Hallows and Accords. It might seem strange to say that, because, after all, one element shared by all role-playing games (although it is not unique to them) is the necessary agreements about "what is," prior to making decisions during play, and "what is now added to that," after making decisions during play.

We know how this is usually accomplished. For "what is," game texts provide a vast quantity of setting, or admonitions about how to play your character. For "what is now added to that," they provide intensive simulationist models. But neither of these tend to admit, straight up, that these are really metagame agreements among human beings.

By bringing them into extremely concrete existence with the terminology and system, in one fell swoop, you have eliminated countless hours of negotiation about whether someone "really" has the ability to do something, or whether someone "would have" reacted in a certain way. In what I am coming to think of as the "J.V. West principle of game design," you have solved a long-standing problem by simply being up-front about it.

Best,
Ron
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Bankuei
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« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2001, 10:05:00 AM »

  I only got to check out a little bit, but I really like the idea of the Accords, Romance, etc.  I think the style holds the Arthurian feel very well.  The idea of motifs and the anthropomorphic form also being a motif is great.  I'm already getting ideas for sci-fi/alien/alternate race variants.  I look forward to digging deeper in and checking out what else lies in store.

In terms of layout, you've done a good job of making a readable site, with good artwork.  Speaking from the standpoint of a graphic designer, you've done a real solid job, and I'm impressed.  Too many folks slap something together(see Rolemaster, or Palladium games), or else go way overboard with the design elements and make things unreadable(Suzerain:The mortal realms), you've hit an excellent middle ground that few people  go for.

I really look forward to seeing where you go with this.

Bankuei
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2001, 01:00:00 PM »

Oh yes,

Although I agree with the Bankster about your easy-and-fun site design, it also so happens that I hate to read things directly off a screen.

I suggest that either a single-document download or a single-print-button HTML page ("easy-print version") be included on the site for those of us who like to print it out and muse over it during train rides, and mark it up with our little pens.

Best,
Ron
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Uncle Dark
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« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2001, 10:48:00 AM »

James,

Brilliant!  At first, I was  a bit dissapointed (as anthropomorphic fantasy is not usually my thing), but I came 'round quickly.

As was said before, the way you described Accords and Hallows was great.  Probably the greatest contribution to RPGs as an art in TQB.

As to readability, I spent some time printig TQB, but I agree with Ron that a single page document (or even a PDF) would help dissimenate the work.

One problem, thought, is that you dive into using game terminology without defining it.  All while reading the first two sections, I kept muttering to myself, "what the hell is a motif?"  I only figured it out after reading the bit about the sample character.  Still, I'm unsure how broad a motif may be, or how much power it gives a bard.  For instance, could the sample character's bard inflict the green plague on any (non-hallowed) NPC, just to mess with a scene?

Also, you really need to write a character generation section.  Having read The Pool, I have some idea about how to make a hero, but TQB is obvously different.  Are the rules for motifs different than Pool traits?  Is there still a word limit on initial descriptions?  What's this about writing a few pages about a characters death?  Is something Wyrd going on here?

Lon
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James V. West
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« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2001, 06:24:00 AM »

Hey everyone!

Ron said:

"I think one of the strongest elements in TQB is the shared concept of Hallows and Accords. It might seem strange to say that, because, after all, one element shared by all role-playing games (although it is not unique to them) is the necessary agreements about "what is," prior to making decisions during play, and "what is now added to that," after making decisions during play."

Those two ideas came about as the game grew in my mind. At first, it was going to be a pretty straightforward setting for The Pool. But one of those cool little lights went off in my head and it took a sharp turn at some point.

I abandoned the idea of having a specific "setting". Hallows and Accords just seemed to fit the King Arthur "genre" better. There are a million different versions of the same story out there so why should I hog-tie people into playing in one little pond?

"In what I am coming to think of as the "J.V. West principle of game design," you have solved a long-standing problem by simply being up-front about it."

Hey, thanks Ron! That makes my day.

Bankuei said:

"The idea of motifs and the anthropomorphic form also being a motif is great."

Actually, thank Ron Edwards for that one. He threw that idea out months ago when this was just going to be a kind of generic Anthropomorphic game. I like it. A lot.

"In terms of layout, you've done a good job of making a readable site, with good artwork. Speaking from the standpoint of a graphic designer, you've done a real solid job, and I'm impressed."

Thanks. I just wanted the site to be easily read and navigated. I used Netscape Composer to make it, so it really was a *minimum* of effort to put together.

Ron Said:

"I suggest that either a single-document download or a single-print-button HTML page ("easy-print version") be included on the site for those of us who like to print it out and muse over it during train rides, and mark it up with our little pens."

Gotcha.

Would it be best to do a pdf file and leave out all the artwork? I know printing all that stuff would take a notch out of your cartridge. But the art is supposed to be a in important element.

Lon said:

"As was said before, the way you described Accords and Hallows was great. Probably the greatest contribution to RPGs as an art in TQB."

Wow, cool.

I have a question. I'm not familiar with the vast majority of games that have come before. I didn't copy the idea for Hallows and Accords from any other game. Has this idea been explored before? It seemed obvious when I was jotting it down, but I can't remember encountering these things in any explicit detail anywhere before. Just curious.

"One problem, thought, is that you dive into using game terminology without defining it."

And this is exactly why I always refer to it as a "first draft". I work sloppy. I have a nugget of an idea, then I just start writing about it. As I write, the idea grows and changes. There is stuff in TQB that I wrote months ago when it wasn't even going to be Arthurian. I kept the stuff I liked, added, deleted, modified, etc.. So right now its choppy. The second draft should be much, much clearer.

"For instance, could the sample character's bard inflict the green plague on any (non-hallowed) NPC, just to mess with a scene?"

Yes. And this makes the Guide's job really challenging. But that's something players would have to get straight from the get-go. In most games, the GM makes an adventure and its pretty much his show as far as what major stuff/scenes occur. This is quite a bit different because everything he planned can change and be rendered obsolete in a heartbeat. Kind of scary, actually. I'm asking a lot of a Guide (but remember that the Guide has the power to end a player's Monologue if it starts to veer out of control).

"Also, you really need to write a character generation section. Having read The Pool, I have some idea about how to make a hero, but TQB is obvously different. Are the rules for motifs different than Pool traits? Is there still a word limit on initial descriptions? What's this about writing a few pages about a characters death? Is something Wyrd going on here?"

The "Book of Heroes" section is supposed to cover character creation. Maybe its too vague? This is something I have to look at in the second draft. There will be a lot more sample characters and hopefully some finished Romances (still working on "The Book of Balin"--what fun!).

Well, characters often die in Arthurian Romances. Since this is about writing a book (essentially), I figure a death scene of the main Hero would be important enough that the Bard should get the room he needs. Also, when you complete your Quest you get extra pages to write the ending.

Of course, everything is WYRD!! :wink:

Thanks so much for the comments, everyone! Hope you all had a great holiday and I'm looking forward to more discussion.

Later
James. V. West
http://www.geocities.com/randomordercreations/tqbintro.html

P.S. The last major element I added to the game was the idea of the Quest. How does it sound? Needed, not needed, too much, not enough? Do you understand the use of Trials? I personally think Quests are *very* important factors in keeping the game glued together.

 
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James V. West
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« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2001, 06:33:00 AM »

Quick note:

In my previous post I think I made it sound like Ron gave me the idea for Motifs. That's not what I meant. I didn't read your sentence properly.

It was Ron's idea that the animal form should be a Trait (in Pool terms). That was long before I thought of Motifs.

Keeping it straight.

James
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Jeffrey Straszheim
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« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2001, 09:10:00 AM »

My comments on QB:

I really love the new dice mechanic.  It neatly eliminates the "always bet every die" strategy that was discussed in some previous The Pool posts.  Also, I agree with Ron's kudos regarding the Accord and Hallows.

I am a bit unclear, however, with the separation between the bard and the hero.  I think I understand how you mean for it to work, but I don't understand its necessity.  Let me explain.  In Wyrd you also take the role of a storyteller, composing the hero's epic, and for that game this approach seems essential.  I don't think it would feel the same if it were changed.  With QB, on the other hand, I think if you did away with the whole bard thing, it would more or less play the same, and to me that makes it an unnecessary complication.  It is a neat trick to get newcommers to try out author stance, but not essential.

Granted I'm probably wrong on this point, but I'd love to hear more on just why the bard/hero approach is essential.


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Jeffrey Straszheim

[ This Message was edited by: stimuli on 2001-12-27 15:19 ]
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Jeffrey Straszheim
James V. West
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« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2001, 10:57:00 AM »

stimuli wrote:

"I really love the new dice mechanic.  It neatly eliminates the "always bet every die" strategy that was discussed in some previous The Pool posts.  Also, I agree with Ron's kudos regarding the Accord and Hallows."

I'm glad you saw that. The use of sixes as negative makes rolling more dice a bit more dangerous, though you still have a greater chance of getting a MoV by doing so. Also, since you only get to add dice to your Pool by getting a Guided Event, there is an incentive to roll fewer dice.

"I am a bit unclear, however, with the separation between the bard and the hero.  I think I understand how you mean for it to work, but I don't understand its necessity.  Let me explain.  In Wyrd you also take the role of a storyteller, composing the hero's epic, and for that game this approach seems essential.  I don't think it would feel the same if it were changed.  With QB, on the other hand, I think if you did away with the whole bard think, it would more or less play the same, and to me that makes it an unnecessary complication.  It is a neat trick to get newcommers to try out author stance, but not essential."

To be honest, I just think its a fun part of the game. I was writing some drafts for sample Romances and I kept putting "by Gilderoy the Lucky" or other fake "bards" names under the title. That sparked the idea of having the Bard be a kind of meta-character.

It is metagame in nature, but the line is thin enough that you could actually have your Bard persona show up in your Romance. Maybe even be the Hero of it. I'm playing with these ideas myself.

So it isn't essential from a function standpoint, but its essential from the aesthetic standpoint, in my opinion. I might not be getting it across very well, but I intended a fair amount of lite humor in the game. Sure, the themes are about heroes and tragedies...but it can all be funny as well. Read "The Book of Balin" intro to get a better idea of what I mean.

There are still details to be looked at more closely in all this, so small changes may still be made. Thanks for bringing it up.

Anyone else see the bard/hero duality as baggage or problematic?


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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2001, 01:28:00 PM »

I suggest that the Bard term be reserved for the action, function, and role of the real human-being player. In other words, I do not see the Bard person as being a fictional member of the fictional game-world.

If I'm totally off-base here, James, let me know, but my reading didn't lead me to think of the Bard as a "layer" between player and character, but rather as literally the player, with the term being used to denote a role or function (tacitly, to distinguish it from the usual misperception of a role-player as an "actor").

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2001, 01:40:00 PM »

I dunno, Ron.

James saith: "It is metagame in nature, but the line is thin enough that you could actually have your Bard persona show up in your Romance. Maybe even be the Hero of it. I'm playing with these ideas myself."

Makes me think that the Bard is in the game.

James?

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2001, 01:46:00 PM »

Mike,

Regarding the text you quote, I am reading it very differently - that that intermediary layer is not part of the existing design, but that James is thinking about it. And, insofar as this is the place for it, I'm saying, "Bad idea."

Of course, James is the main man and if he decides to incorporate the notion, then that's good enough for me.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2001, 01:55:00 PM »

Why bad? I can see a lot of opportunity for a different style of play. For example, use of first-person speech could be officially made to be the character speaking, while third person descriptions would be the Bard. I'm visulaizing this as similar to the movie technique that has a narrator recounting a scene and then fading into the scene. Sometimes when the character speaks, in fact, the character is seen to speak, but it is the narrator's voice that comes out.

Anyhow, that's just one small idea. You could also flash between characters, with something to indicate the change. Perhaps when the player stands he is the bard addressing the King (or whomever) and when he sits he is his hero. You could even allow different powers in the different modes. With a little work I'm sure lots of better ideas would come out.

Not that I saw any of this in the game, these are just ideas. But I'm wondering if James had something like this in mind. In any case, James, it is quite unclear what your intent is from the text. Could you help us out?

Mike
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James V. West
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« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2001, 09:11:00 PM »

About Bards:

Instead of calling players "players" (which is dry and un-suited to the atmosphere of the game), they are called "Bards". I added the notion of giving yourself a Bardish nickname because, well, its cool.

I don't intend to screw with this concept in the rules. I like it as it stands.

HOWEVER...

I think it would be a great way to play with the rules (play as in "be playful") to have yourself (read: you as Bard) cameo in your stories. Sort of a tongue-in-cheek thing if you are so inclined. I meant this game to be just as playful and light as it is tragic and heroic.

So, to be perfectly clear, a player is a Bard. She can have a Bard-like pen-name, but there is no real Bard Character running around in the game world...unless you want to be playful about it.

How's that?


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