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Author Topic: MLw Dr. Victor Frankenstein  (Read 7655 times)
vhirvela
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« on: July 26, 2004, 05:44:28 PM »

Hello I am new here. Hmm I even might be the first one to post here not because I found out about My Life with Master  RPG but because I found out (and bought and read) "kätyrin osa". Name of the same game translated and sold at Finland.

I have to tell you, that arkkikivi Publishing did really just a splendid job translating the game. I have not actually seen the orginal English version, but the Finnish version has really clear and good language.  I even like those "editors notes" which some of them (I heard) have not even been aproved by Paul Czege himself. But enough with the chit-chat heres how my first session worked out:

We (players + GM) decided to play classical dr. frankenstein story because 2 of 3 players have never even heard about it and I as GM thought I am enough familiar with it.

We decided fear 4 and Reason 5. These are our minion:

Friedrich (Hurzgclhlub) Farm hand/Hired man

More than human: Hardworkin except when master is watching.

Less than human: Stupid except when in conversation.

Contacts: Dr. Frankenstein's daughter "Emma"
Man who he thinks is his long lost brother.

"Igor" Butler

MTH: Hardworking except when full moon. (he will transform to a dog.)
LTH: Has no feelings towards others except  for his connections

Contacts: Childhood crush Marie works as baker.
Grandmother "oma" (Little germanise joke) works selling flowers.

Adolf luffen Lab. assistant.
MTH: Good doctor except when operating on children.
LTH: lusts after blood except when his stomach is full.

Contacts: Linda Studies at university where Adolf was kicked out after failured  operation involving children.
Old doctor called  Marc (Is only one not including DR. frankenstein who knows he needs blood.)

Game session was pretty much me giving them booooring jobs like go get some food from store. Cook the food  etc etc. There was one intresting part though were I convinced Adolf to go get a head of a dead guy so we can continue the experiments. He went in to the graveyard after forcing Friedrich to come with him. At his way there he actually came up with a birilliant lie to keep friedrich from knowing the true meaning of the trip. As they were diggin the hole they were actually spoted by a real graveyard worker. After failed attempt on talking his way out of this  Adolf hits the graveyard worker with a shovel. (he actually dies from this but players don't know this yet) He discards "the unconsious" body and fools Friedrich again when he tries to ask what happened. Later the same day they robbed the morgue for another body ( for different parts) and now they are happily eating food at the castle where dr. lives.

Though this might not seem much It actually was about 5-6 hours of gaming (explanation on rules included) And I really had a blast. This is first Roleplaying book which I have SERIOUSLY tried gamemastering and it worked fine. Not too many rules and easy to use formulas on different situations. Just briliant!!

Any thoughts how should I continue this story? Tell me some good ideas for next scenes? No one yet tried to go against master what should I do so that they would try it?
I was thinking of planning out about 10 different scenes which I then can play out. (atleast some depending on how the story goes) Some links to Frankenstein's monster related pages (mayby plot summarum) would also help me a lot because I really don't seem to remember the plot excatly.

Also I would  appreciate for some general idea which I could include in my session. Mayby something that would get a darker/sinister feel to the game because yet it has only been quite a humorous session.

Thanks in advance.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2004, 12:46:26 AM »

Quote from: vhirvela

Any thoughts how should I continue this story? Tell me some good ideas for next scenes? No one yet tried to go against master what should I do so that they would try it?


The key is to distill the experience by skipping the boring stuff. Like so:

Quote

Game session was pretty much me giving them booooring jobs like go get some food from store. Cook the food  etc etc.


Instead of playing out routines, just assume that the characters do them. After all, if you're the butler, you most likely will serve the Master in all kinds of situations. Just skip those routines. Instead, play out the crucial moments when the evil shadows inside the Master's honorable exterior get out and grab at the minions: make the Master unreasonable, unjust and just plain evil, and the characters will resist him.

I'm not saying that routines are a bad thing, mind you. If you have fun exploring the milieu, by all means play some filler scenes, too. That gives the game a more leisurely pace, which is a good thing once in a while. But don't forget that you can speed it up immeasurably when needed.

Remember that the GM should be ready to make the Master a villain. He has to be evil for the game to work. This despite your source material: von Frankenstein was not evil in the book, just a deluded fool, but when making a game out of him you have to change things so that he is motivated by perverse malice.

Quote

I was thinking of planning out about 10 different scenes which I then can play out. (atleast some depending on how the story goes) Some links to Frankenstein's monster related pages (mayby plot summarum) would also help me a lot because I really don't seem to remember the plot excatly.


This is indeed how play should be prepared. Just some general ideas about the kinds of things the Master could ask, maybe some NPCs related to those things and such. Make sure not to commit yourself to some predefined resolution of those scenes, though; rather, just set up a situation and see how the players react.

Example scene preparation:
The doctor asks the laboratory assistant to start experimenting with the effects of quicksilver alcaloids on humans, using Marie the baker as a subject. He should start poisoning the baker's food with quicksilver to study how prolonged exposure prepares a body for the galvanizing reaction the doctor uses when awakening bodies to life.

Note that I haven't planned what the character does or anything like that in the above. Instead I've just set up an interesting scene with all kinds of implications. What if the minion misunderstands and starts poisoning the flour, subjecting the doctor himself as well as the whole village to quicksilver? What if nobody intervenes and Marie the baker dies after a few weeks, and the doctor wants to get the body for his experiments? What if Igor intervenes, being that it's his old love the doctor poisons? What if the minion tries to warn Marie? All of these are left for later, when we see how the player reacts to the order.

Quote

Also I would  appreciate for some general idea which I could include in my session. Mayby something that would get a darker/sinister feel to the game because yet it has only been quite a humorous session.


Add more horror tropes. Frankenstein is a highly intellectual subject in the sense that normally it isn't horror per se - after all, it's just about creating life through science, what's so awful about that? To create the horror, you need the idea of transgression: the doctor flouts natural law by trying to bring to life that which is dead, and this rebounds on him again and again, with incrementally more awful consequences. And because he's the Master, the minions will bear the brunt of the consequences.

Consider: the Master tries to awaken a body to life. What if he succeeds, but the body becomes a ravening monster, a zombie in search of human blood? Or what if the waste of his experiments is dumbed in the forest, and children and wild animals are exposed, growing bald and mad? Or the Master clashes with the church, which suspects him of stealing bodies? Generally, what happens when the Master's science and human morality stand opposed? Morality falls, and the Master is happy to lie, murder, steal and betray to continue his work.

Who are the Outsiders (Ulkopuoliset) in your game? That happens to be somewhat crucial to interpreting Frankenstein.
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vhirvela
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Posts: 11


« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2004, 03:59:12 AM »

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
Quote from: vhirvela


Example scene preparation:
The doctor asks the laboratory assistant to start experimenting with the effects of quicksilver alcaloids on humans, using Marie the baker as a subject. He should start poisoning the baker's food with quicksilver to study how prolonged exposure prepares a body for the galvanizing reaction the doctor uses when awakening bodies to life.


Quote

Also I would  appreciate for some general idea which I could include in my session. Mayby something that would get a darker/sinister feel to the game because yet it has only been quite a humorous session.



Who are the Outsiders (Ulkopuoliset) in your game? That happens to be somewhat crucial to interpreting Frankenstein.



Yes that quicksilver idea is just fantastic. I will definetly use that, but if they would ask why marie why not someone else then I really don't yet know what I should say. Mayby it is easier to poison the ingredients of baker  than to actually break into someones own house etc?

Outsiders are the professors of the university where victor was kicked out because of his radical ideas. In game session I am having them for dinner next day to explain what I have done so far and to show them my "monster".  

anyway I m now thinking of skipping 1-2 weeks time that show ofcourse failed and victor was the laughing stock of whole scientific community so now he is whole more crazier and more desperate. I will start right from the scene where I ask my lab assistant to poison maries food. :)
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Christopher Weeks
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2004, 05:53:01 AM »

Quote from: vhirvela
Yes that quicksilver idea is just fantastic. I will definetly use that, but if they would ask why marie why not someone else then I really don't yet know what I should say.


What you say depends on what they expect and how you're playing the good doctor.  But he doesn't owe them any explanation of any kind.  An appropriate response, particularly if it caught them off-guard, would be a sharp blow to the face.  No dice, no appeal, the character is now sporting a big red hand-shaped welt for a scene or two.

Keep the players on their toes.  Make sure they hate him.

Chris
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vhirvela
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Posts: 11


« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2004, 07:46:35 AM »

Quote from: Christopher Weeks
Quote from: vhirvela
Yes that quicksilver idea is just fantastic. I will definetly use that, but if they would ask why marie why not someone else then I really don't yet know what I should say.


What you say depends on what they expect and how you're playing the good doctor.  But he doesn't owe them any explanation of any kind.  An appropriate response, particularly if it caught them off-guard, would be a sharp blow to the face.  No dice, no appeal, the character is now sporting a big red hand-shaped welt for a scene or two.

Keep the players on their toes.  Make sure they hate him.

Chris


Yes I know that but when trying to roleplay "brain" master I really would like myself to know why... :P


Btw. Can contact "emma" also be "innocent"?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2004, 08:22:14 AM »

Quote from: vhirvela

Btw. Can contact "emma" also be "innocent"?


Sure, just make sure that the players know it. There's no hidden rules matter in MLwM.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2004, 09:04:28 AM »

Since he's a Brain, if you don't like the idea of the Victor slapping a character, have him do it psychologically. "How dare you question my orders, you imbecile!" might be more appropriate for the master you're using.

Question: Why didn't you do a group master creation? Is this not in the edition (can't imagine that Eero left it out)? It's going to be more of a challenge to make the players hate the Master, because they didn't have a hand in creating him. When they do have a hand, they ensure that he's somebody they despise. As it stands, you have to make him somebody they dispise.

Look for any moral acts of the Minions, and have the master do counter to them. That is, if a Minion returns something lost to somebody, have the master steal something, or, better, have him send that minion to steal something. In general, make the master the opposite of what makes the minions human.

And, like Eero said, don't be afraid to leap right to the big action when you need to. Have the master threaten contacts by sending other minions out to do them harm (or to bring them back for harm). This is a classic and important part of play. If you really, really need to make a minion hate the master, send him out to do harm to his own connection.

If you don't take action like this, then the game might not ever reach endgame.

Another way to get this to happen is to ask the players for scenes. Often players will know better how to move the plot along than the GM does. This includes the players making up people to be contacts, for instance. Does the translation convey that the players have this sort of power? It's quite clear in the English edition.


On another note, some of those More Than's and Less Than's aren't particularly inhuman. For example, anyone could be "Hardworking." For a minion this should be "Work for Days On End" or something actually more than human. Good Doctor should be "Can Heal Anything except when operating on children" Stupid isn't "less than human," but "Dumb as a Stone" might convey something less than human. These are meant not to be "skills" but things that make the character simultaneously superlatively admirable, and pathetic.

Use the exceptions to these things as ideas for scenes. Try to maneuver the doctor into having a connection with a child, and then put have the child become injured and need an operation.

Overall, don't use "logic" or "what would happen next" as your guide for what's in scenes. Instead use, "what would be dramatic?" as your guideline. Use "movie" logic where people show up because it's interesting for that to happen.

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2004, 09:04:41 AM »

Sure, just make sure that the players know it. There's no hidden rules matter in MLwM.

Actually, I personally don't name names or inform players how many Innocents I've included in a game. If an Innocent is present when we're getting ready to roll the dice, I simply say, "Reason is 6 in this scene." If there's only one NPC in the scene, the players figure it out and I'm not so cagey going forward. But I've always thought some fun would be to have an NPC Innocent hiding in a closet, or listening at the keyhole, so Reason was increased and suspicion of Innocence was thrown onto a different NPC. A subsequent scene with that NPC, where Reason was not increased, would suggest that someone was present but hidden during the earlier scene.

Paul
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2004, 09:19:10 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Question: Why didn't you do a group master creation? Is this not in the edition (can't imagine that Eero left it out)?


Quote

Another way to get this to happen is to ask the players for scenes. Often players will know better how to move the plot along than the GM does. This includes the players making up people to be contacts, for instance. Does the translation convey that the players have this sort of power? It's quite clear in the English edition.


Good advice, Mike. Rest assured, all these things are in the book. Väinö just seems to have started playing with admirable celerity, right the next day after getting the book. It takes a while to soak all the details, and overall he's doing well. On my honor, the book includes every single sentence from the original.

Quote

Overall, don't use "logic" or "what would happen next" as your guide for what's in scenes. Instead use, "what would be dramatic?" as your guideline. Use "movie" logic where people show up because it's interesting for that to happen.


This point bears repeating. There's no need to be any more sensible than the players in toto require for their enjoyment. Like in that demonstration game: nobody of us knew nothing at all about Rumania, but that didn't stop us from telling a story set in that milieu.

Ideally this kind of play works by setting the level of detail and realism on the fly: everyone just starts playing, and if somebody glosses over something interesting, jump in and give more detail. The rules do not force any particular level of realism in anything, it's all left for the players to decide. I could imagine doing a very realistic MLwM where it's absolutely essential what people eat, how they dress, and so on, but usually the game is applied for a more movie-like style. This is most likely because most players are full of rules systems that force realism on them, and like to play without when they have the chance.
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vhirvela
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2004, 01:31:55 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Since he's a Brain, if you don't like the idea of the Victor slapping a character, have him do it psychologically. "How dare you question my orders, you imbecile!" might be more appropriate for the master you're using.

Question: Why didn't you do a group master creation? Is this not in the edition (can't imagine that Eero left it out)? It's going to be more of a challenge to make the players hate the Master, because they didn't have a hand in creating him. When they do have a hand, they ensure that he's somebody they despise. As it stands, you have to make him somebody they dispise.



Mike


Im so bad at english. What I was trying to say was: For me to roleplay master smootly. I need to know answer to "why" not just come up with a clever way to avoid the question all together. (I actually might avoid the question at our game session but I have to know a reason behind the order.) I just don't want it to be illogical because the minions can poison anyone with quicksilver if they like to. If there really  is no greater reason to poison a contact they probably would decide to poison someone else.


About that group master creation. We actually did that!! We group created  master/Demesne and even the minions. Granted it was my idea that it would be Frankenstein type scenario (given that 2 of 3 players had never even heard the orginal story) but everyplayer  agreed on that. And one funny point greating minions was that we had to wait a good 15min for one player to come up with a MTH sentence. He had nothing and I just didn' t want to give him both of the sentences.  

Btw: how can you have a Quasimodo type  minion? What I mean is how can you have LTH sentence which gives player horrible thing sticking out of his back (or something similiar to that)  but still have somekind of exception to the rule?

I will have to think about changing those MTH/LTH sentences if players agree on...but propably they can stay like that too just have to be more careful next time.

I will from now on hide all my innocents too. It's a great idea though I will propably have innocent NPC's act out that innocence so that players will take notice but It might be better not to tell them that before hand.
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vhirvela
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2004, 01:51:08 PM »

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
Quote from: Mike Holmes



This point bears repeating. There's no need to be any more sensible than the players in toto require for their enjoyment. Like in that demonstration game: nobody of us knew nothing at all about Rumania, but that didn't stop us from telling a story set in that milieu.



I have that hard to believe!...Ok I do believe that but I could never come up with that kind of communist talk  which was included in the game. Many other aspects are far from the reach of my imagination. It was really really fun to read the full game journal!

Btw. Eero ever heard of a book called "Mustan myllyn mestari" (In english this is only my guess; "Master of the  black mill") what I heard was that it has this master/minion thing just like in MLwM even to the "love will set you free" aspect which frankly I don't see in many movies/books that I have seen/read.

Would be great to list all the best books wihich have this master/minion relationship but that should go to another thread if anyone is truly intrested.

Also...

I don't really know are there any anime/manga fans here at this forum but I think both Naruto and Tenjou Tenge would make a great MLwM games. In naruto you would play as Orochimaru's minion (after episode about 80 No spoiling :D) Truly I can't think of a more Cruel master.  In Tenjou Tenge you would play as Mitsuomi's (or possibly Shin's) enforcers. Again if anyone else is intrested lets make another thread and continue this there. I will surely write about my ideas there. But I don't want to make completely useless thread's if no one cares. :P
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2004, 02:22:54 PM »

Väinö: I understand what you're saying about internal reasons of the Master... it surely helps to inspire roleplaying him if you can fathom what he's thinking. The main advice I'd have is to garner experience. It'll come with time, either you learn to "double-think" around the need for in-game motivations or you learn to invent them reliably. For example, to take the quicksilver thing, I didn't need an ingame reason to figure it out. But if I needed one, I'd allude to unspecified scientific principles. Surely you draw the line somewhere in scientific detail, if for no other reason than the fact that electricity and chemistry doesn't bring humans back to life in reality. As you're anyway fibbing with the science, you might as well invent more fibs. In this case it could be anything from "her father was a chinaman, and thus she has the appropriate regenerative traits required to amalgamize the quicksilver" to "only nubile beautiful virgins do the job because flogiston is repulsed by purity". Alternatively you could go with the Master having last spring tried to take the girl to his bed, and after failing wants petty revenge. All of these can be spinned into whole themes, as they define the Master and his experiments further.

So in summary, although you don't need a reason for the Master to do what he does, or at least you don't need it right away, it adds depth to the game if you can spout genre-appropriate stuff when the Master cares to explain himself. I had great fun with my Master's exploration of the darkest Africa in the scientist game detailed in the Isännän aika page. Whenever someone asked him to justify himself he started telling vague and threatening snippets of his time in Borneo, where he learnt things white man was not meant to know... the point of the game was in his medical experimentation, but the colonial background brought mysticism into the heart of London.

Quote from: vhirvela

I have that hard to believe!...Ok I do believe that but I could never come up with that kind of communist talk  which was included in the game. Many other aspects are far from the reach of my imagination. It was really really fun to read the full game journal!


It'll come with time. I've GMed for some ten years now, so I have had time to learn a thing or two about roleplaying. Diligent practice gives anyone the ability to improvise without too much problem. It's all up to knowing your genre, really: if you've read or listened to much communist agitprop, you can do it without much difficulty. Similarly for renaissance court speak, nineteenth century scientific jargon (use words like flogiston or ether for added effect; it's bonus to know what they mean) and even things like Star Trek technobabble; they all can be learned by the pleasurable effort of consuming fiction that uses it.

Quote

Btw. Eero ever heard of a book called "Mustan myllyn mestari" (In english this is only my guess; "Master of the  black mill") what I heard was that it has this master/minion thing just like in MLwM even to the "love will set you free" aspect which frankly I don't see in many movies/books that I have seen/read.


It's a great book, certainly. I don't think that it has ever been translated to english, but it's one of my Finnish fantasy favourites.

Quote

Would be great to list all the best books wihich have this master/minion relationship but that should go to another thread if anyone is truly intrested.


We've done that for movies, by the by. The thread is here. Books can be certainly done when people feel like it.

Quote

I don't really know are there any anime/manga fans here at this forum but I think both Naruto and Tenjou Tenge would make a great MLwM games.


That's a fine idea. How about playing it? As for general practice, people are usually interested in actually played scenarios and things which require active game design - messing with the rules - to make them work. So if you play it or have trouble planning for it, do let us know.
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vhirvela
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2004, 05:49:13 PM »

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen


Quote

Btw. Eero ever heard of a book called "Mustan myllyn mestari" (In english this is only my guess; "Master of the  black mill") what I heard was that it has this master/minion thing just like in MLwM even to the "love will set you free" aspect which frankly I don't see in many movies/books that I have seen/read.


It's a great book, certainly. I don't think that it has ever been translated to english, but it's one of my Finnish fantasy favourites.


Actually after I did quite a lot of googling I found out that the book is translated to over 30 languages. English name of this masterpiece is: "The satanic mill" (Don't be afraid of the name :)

http://www.preussler.de/index1e.htm

Quote

I don't really know are there any anime/manga fans here at this forum but I think both Naruto and Tenjou Tenge would make a great MLwM games.


That's a fine idea. How about playing it? As for general practice, people are usually interested in actually played scenarios and things which require active game design - messing with the rules - to make them work. So if you play it or have trouble planning for it, do let us know.


Yes I will inform you if I play those anime sessions. Though It is not my first priority after playing this frankenstein scenario I really understand how important it is that the players create their masters. So I will propably use it only if players suggest or they really...really dont have any idea what the game should be about.

Speaking about alternative rules I had this situation where another player were trying lie to another player. It was kinda obvious lie and because another player just kept dodging the issue and another player kept digging for more. I wanted them to throw  villainy against player charracter. Because there is no rule for that. I had the player who was digging for information throw his Weariness roll (How awake is he :D does he even notice the lie) against the another players self-loathing. (how little does he care about others it is easier to lie with a straight face if you have no feelings attached to it).

What do you think about my decision? How should this kind of situation normally be handled and What would be the real villainy against other player roll? (If this kind of thing happens again. Ofcourse atleast this time if players would have been better at roleplaying this situation would have never risen.)
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2004, 03:43:41 AM »

Quote from: vhirvela

What do you think about my decision? How should this kind of situation normally be handled and What would be the real villainy against other player roll? (If this kind of thing happens again. Ofcourse atleast this time if players would have been better at roleplaying this situation would have never risen.)


Well, I personally would have the players either roleplay it, with the other player simply deciding whether his character falls for the lie, or alternatively rolling for it via the violence roll. This on the principle that there are no improvised rolls in MLwM, and if something doesn't seem to fit in any of the formulae it just means that the thing in question is not rolled at all.

The Villainy/Violence thing is a little bit vague as far as other player characters are concerned. I've always played it by assuming that any villainy that cannot be just roleplayed is rolled exactly like against NPCs. This roll is identical to the violence roll, by the way: minions roll Fear plus Self-loathing against each other. In case of villainy, however, I've not given out Weariness for failure.

Then again, I don't see any immediate integrity issues for the game even if you use such improvised rolls now and then. What ever rocks your boat, I guess.
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Christopher Weeks
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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2004, 08:04:41 AM »

Quote from: vhirvela
What I was trying to say was: For me to roleplay master smootly. I need to know answer to "why" not just come up with a clever way to avoid the question all together. (I actually might avoid the question at our game session but I have to know a reason behind the order.) I just don't want it to be illogical because the minions can poison anyone with quicksilver if they like to. If there really  is no greater reason to poison a contact they probably would decide to poison someone else.


What if the reason is simply because the master has noted that one of the minions has a fondness for the baker and in his insecurity, he must be the center of their lives?  The master, even a brain, isn't supposed to be the height of reason and logic.  They are disgusting, tragic figures plagued by illogic.  That's what must drive the dysfunction.  At least that's my take.

Quote from: vhirvela
Btw: how can you have a Quasimodo type  minion? What I mean is how can you have LTH sentence which gives player horrible thing sticking out of his back (or something similiar to that)  but still have somekind of exception to the rule?


It depends on what effect you're shooting for.  Here are some examples that are at least related:

Horribly Disfigured -- everyone is revolted by his visage except in the presense of an Innocent.

Hunchback -- extremely clumsy except when swinging from a bell rope.

Emotionally scarred -- stutters uncontrolably except when in a church.

Chris
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