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Author Topic: CoS Game Master's Guide  (Read 3291 times)
Keith Senkowski
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« on: November 16, 2004, 09:54:29 AM »

Hi,

So I've started working on the Game Master's Guide for CoS and figured it would be a fun exercise to post updates here to what I am doing with it.  I think it would be a good way to get feedback and also be a way for folks not familiar with CoS to learn what it is about and why they should buy and play it...

So right now I've just got a working outline for the GMG broken down by chapters.  None of this is final and the feedback I receive will likely change things as they go along.

Introduction
    [*]a short piece of fiction (2 or 3 pages) like that found in CoS
    [*]what the book is for and the what you will or will not find in it[/list:u]
    Chapter One (Horror/Conspiracy Gaming Techniques)
      [*]creating atmosphere
      [*]pacing
      [*]using the group kicker, pasions and drives of characters
      [*]portraying NPCs
      [*]using cut scenes
      [*]a modified Destiny Pool system that puts more narrative control in the hands of the players[/list:u]
      Chapter Two (Gaming in Polian)
        [*]creating communities and using them in the game
        [*]creating villains and using them
        [*]creating "Bleeds" (malevolent locations)[/list:u]
        Chapter Three (Creating Interesting Stories)
          [*]Creating Vignettes (one or two session stories)
          [*]Creating a Collection (essentially a campaign made of a set number of Vignettes)[/list:u]
          Chapter Four (two sample vignettes)
            [*]Dog Day Afternoon (single session)
            [*]Prophet of the Night (multi-session vignette)[/list:u]
            Any and all comments are appreciated.  Even the negative ones.

            Keith
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            Mike Holmes
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            « Reply #1 on: November 16, 2004, 02:29:59 PM »

            Why "Vignettes"? The term has all sorts of implications. Are they accurate to what you'll be including?

            Is this something that I'd understand if I'd had a chance to sit in on one of the demo's at GenCon? :)

            Mike
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            Keith Senkowski
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            « Reply #2 on: November 16, 2004, 02:33:56 PM »

            Hey Mike,

            I don't know why Vignettes.  Just a name I snagged when I was writing the outline and planning it out.  Shit I could call them Wackadoodles and a series of Wackadoodles, Sumbitches at this point.  Maybe Episodes and a Series would be better.  Dunno.

            Though I'm sure you would have a better insight if you had sat in on a demo... ;]

            Keith
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            Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
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            Ed Cha
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            « Reply #3 on: November 16, 2004, 06:37:22 PM »

            I feel that a lot of "Conspiracy of Shadows" was spent on the Polian setting when there could have been more about the nature of demons and their supporters. What are they like? Where do they derive their power? How would you fight a demon?
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            Adrienne
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            « Reply #4 on: November 16, 2004, 07:25:26 PM »

            The outline looks pretty good to me.  I also have a suggestion that I was going to throw in for a possible Exposing the Shadows issue, but might be worthwhile here too.  I think it would be kind of neat to see an article or two summarizing some mythology for a type of supernatural beastie, and maybe present some suggestions for stats (maybe one about demons, like Ed mentioned, or vampires, or...).  I say "some" suggestions rather than one because I love the way the old Amber DRPG did its NPC stats--three sets for each major character, often totally contradictory.  It seems like it might fit the approach of CoS, where the GM gets guidance rather than a single explanation.
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            urbwar
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            « Reply #5 on: November 17, 2004, 06:57:13 AM »

            Quote from: Ed Cha
            I feel that a lot of "Conspiracy of Shadows" was spent on the Polian setting when there could have been more about the nature of demons and their supporters. What are they like? Where do they derive their power? How would you fight a demon?


            I'd like to second this suggestion. I've read through a good part of the book, and it would have been nice had there been more info on demons, the cults that support them, and possibly other supernatural beings that haunt the nights of Polian.
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            Keith Senkowski
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            « Reply #6 on: November 17, 2004, 08:42:22 AM »

            Hay,

            Okay, okay.  I was going to have the December issue of EtS (military families love acronyms) be about the Cup Knights, but I can shelve it for now and do a write up on the way I see the supernatural threats.

            However, I would like to say that the reason I didn't do a detailed "this is what demons are" in CoS (another acronym) was because I wanted to leave it open for folks to infer what they wanted upon the world.

            Keith
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            Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
            ~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
            urbwar
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            Posts: 142


            « Reply #7 on: November 17, 2004, 04:50:08 PM »

            Quote from: Bob Goat
            Hay,

            Okay, okay.  I was going to have the December issue of EtS (military families love acronyms) be about the Cup Knights, but I can shelve it for now and do a write up on the way I see the supernatural threats.

            However, I would like to say that the reason I didn't do a detailed "this is what demons are" in CoS (another acronym) was because I wanted to leave it open for folks to infer what they wanted upon the world.

            Keith


            Keith,

            I fully understand why you didn't want to set up demons for the game; I consider that a strength of the setting.

            However, I think providing a sample explanation, or even better, more examples of cults and stuff. The one in the CoS book is excellent, very Cthulhuesque. But a few other examples would be nice too.

            Btw,  I really liked the cult in your Daedalus article. It was cool seeing a cult that really was a sham.
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            Ed Cha
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            « Reply #8 on: November 17, 2004, 08:21:57 PM »

            I don't think you need to stat out the demons, but talk about the variety of their origins, how they attack, how they manipulate humans, how they grow in power, where they manifest themselves, what forms they take, etc.

            What about the cults? How do they operate? What if their goals conflict with another demon? Are there competing cults or just one demon arising at a time?

            I think there do need to be mechanics for all of this. Leaving it all up to the imagination of the GM (and players in this game) is not enough for me.
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            Brennan Taylor
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            « Reply #9 on: November 18, 2004, 07:52:03 AM »

            Hmm. I like the fact that these things are up to the GM. I think more examples and completely fleshed out conspiracies for people to use wholesale might not be bad, but I wouldn't want to fix anything in canon. One of the best points of the game to me was the fact that the conspiracy and demons were wholly my own, not the game designer's vision.
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            Ron Edwards
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            « Reply #10 on: November 18, 2004, 08:44:06 AM »

            Hello,

            I agree 100% with Brennan. My experience with Sorcerer is that initially people cried out in deprived agony when they realized there were no sourcebooks of fully-designed named demons or organized hierarchies of demons with extensive histories. One fellow even called me "lazy" for failing to provide such things.

            A year later, I began to receive grateful emails from customers about how amazing, refreshing, empowering, and fun my "build your own" design was for their group. That flood of emails has never stopped.

            Best,
            Ron

            P.S. Keith, my top recommendation for you if you don't already have it: Dangerous Prey, the first supplement for The Whispering Vault.
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            Matt-M-McElroy
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            « Reply #11 on: November 18, 2004, 10:07:56 AM »

            I can't wait for the villians and Bleeds sections...

            I love the idea of haunted/cursed locations and am building one for my game currently.

            Regards,

            Matt M McElroy
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            Ed Cha
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            « Reply #12 on: November 21, 2004, 05:25:18 PM »

            As I said, I don't think the demons need to be statted out, but what would be helpful are more examples of them and their nature. The book has some of this, but not a whole lot of it. I'm not advocating that Keith say that the demons have to be like this or that, but rather provide more ideas for the GM to use as inspiration.

            As it stands right now, there is a whole lot of information on the Polian setting (quite specific and almost half the book really), much more than on demons and conspiracies that surround them. The setting information really doesn't help me, if I'm not going to use it. I imagine most people who pick up the book won't use it either. It seems the book is described as an RPG, but a large part of it is a setting sourcebook. Instead, I'd like to see more discussion and insight like the one about the worm god and his minions/offspring.

            My opinion is there does need to be more game rules for the cults and how they operate, too. How large can a conspiracy grow into? How many followers might it have? How powerful would its leader be? Is this tied to the power level of the demon?
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            urbwar
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            « Reply #13 on: November 21, 2004, 06:31:43 PM »

            Quote from: inthisstyle
            Hmm. I like the fact that these things are up to the GM. I think more examples and completely fleshed out conspiracies for people to use wholesale might not be bad, but I wouldn't want to fix anything in canon. One of the best points of the game to me was the fact that the conspiracy and demons were wholly my own, not the game designer's vision.


            I don't think anything should be canon either. Since not everyone will use the setting, creating examples that are not tied to the setting, and could be dropped into any campaign, would be very helpful. While the Worm God cult is a good example, it's very Lovecraftian. Something a little different would be nice. For instance, the sample cult in the Daedalus article was for a cult that was a total sham, was fantastic.

            I don't feel mechanics are needed for this, but I do think the game could use a few more examples (not even fully detailed; even short suggestions like in Sorcerer would work for me)
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            Keith Senkowski
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            « Reply #14 on: November 22, 2004, 08:14:46 AM »

            Hey,

            Well my plan for the Game Master guide is to include more tool-kit style "mechanics" in the manner of the Conspiracy Creation portion of the book and the Dark Cults article I wrote for Daedalus (with plenty of examples of course).  That is how I am working up the community creation section right now (first thing I started writing) and what I plan to do for villains and Bleeds.

            EtS is I think a more appropriate venue for me to put together stuff on the way I think demons and other stuff can be used.  For example, the faux scholarly writings I did for November.  Writing that kind of stuff is lots of fun for me and allows me to create all sorts of nonsense that folks can use with out stating flat out "This is a demona and he does X."  This I think will satisfy both my creative urge as well as those folks interested in more than a tool-kit.  It also allows me to make my published material more about things anyone can use in play rather than a set cannon.

            If you look at the setting itself, despite all that wonderful information I jammed in it, it is still very bare-bones in what it tells you.  I give folks a glimpse of the cultures and places, nudge you in a direction, but leave it very open for interpretation and change.

            Keith
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            Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
            Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
            ~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
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