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Started by Matthew, August 03, 2006, 11:04:01 AM
Quote from: Matthew on August 03, 2006, 11:04:01 AMFirst off, some background: I've been gaming for about 20 years, GMing for much of that, but I'm new to the Forge and this is my first post here. I apologize if this is verbose.
QuoteBefore the game, I had finished reading the book the night before and skimmed back through certain sections as I came up with questions I didn't know off the top of my head. I made very general notes about the path up the mountain, such as "Cave: Giant (Strong)" or Cliff: Kumo (Giant Spiders) (Weak)," with the notion that the characters would have a choice of three potential paths to the top. I made a few other notes, but this was between getting home from work and players arriving, so (as usual) I didn't have as much time as I would have liked. I have a few notions about this, below.
QuoteOnce we got settled, I explained the premise a bit more thoroughly. (I had sold it to my players as "a cross between Seven Samurai and Reservoir Dogs.") The players chose to use the pregen characters from the Timfire site rather than create characters from scratch. It took a good bit longer than I expected for us to note trust and for me to explain the rules. (This is not unusual; I tend to underestimate timing.) The first major confusion was "Your Trust in Them" vs. "Their Trust in You." It took a while to get the trust points settled. No, I wasn't using chips, as I didn't have five different colors of poker chip to use; I may look into remedying this in some fashion soon. I muddled things, confusing where trust was spent from, but even once *I* had it settled (you spend others' trust in you, not the reverse), this confused the others. It took further discussion and explanation to understand that trust was fuel for aid and betrayal - players had to give trust in order to get aid, with the double-edge that it might cost them betrayal down the line. Also, we discussed how it was necessary to build trust in order to betray, especially against someone starting with an enemy Zodiac (i.e. zero trust). I think this would be smoothed out a bit with poker chips to move back and forth, but it's still possibly the most confusing element of the game.
QuoteWith all of the issues of trust settled, we ran through the rules side of the character sheet, with me explaining conflict resolution, degrees of success, and the uses of trust. This was a little easier, although several players figured they'd only get it in play. (I find this is a reasonably common stance for players of many games, not just RPGs - "I'll pick it up as I go along.")
QuoteFirst, I didn't set stakes very clearly. I think it was something along the lines of "the wolves want to get you" vs. "we want to get past the wolves." I kept focusing on "What is your intent?" (generally a good principle) and not enough on defining the stakes adequately. This was exacerbated by their failure on the conflict roll. Since it resulted in a regular success for the wolves and a partial success for the company, it wasn't a total loss. One of the players suggested that the company had to retreat and find a different path but hadn't suffered severely. I was OK with this, insofar as I didn't want the new players' first game to end with "You are eaten by a grue," so to speak.
QuoteSecond, I forgot the relative strength of the wolves. I don't have the rules in front of me right now, but as Weak adversaries, it might have been possible for the company to be driven back by the wolves, losing time or getting lost in the forest but still defeating them utterly with their Partial Success. As it was, the company regrouped and sent one of the ronin ahead to scout a better path through the forest. They won their second conflict (possibly due to Aid), but it was still only Mixed. The company escaped from the woods, but the wolves were on their trail. A third conflict allowed the company to lose the wolves by crossing a nearby stream (and gain some food, either from dead wolves or from fishing from the stream), after which they set camp for the night.
QuoteI had them set watch for the night, and, being lazy, rather than tell them what happened during the night, let them describe what (if anything) happened on their watch. The second watchman, who could see the dead, described an encounter with someone who had been killed by the wolves. If the company would honor his remains, they might have whatever was left of his gear. I agreed to this, although I did not participate in dialogue (another weakness of mine, in a low-energy state). On the third watch, one of the newbies started to incorporate their dark Fate (Worst Fear), waking from nameless nightmares and being twitchy on watch. To complement this, she was visited by an owl that she accidentally shot at and missed, due to nerves. When she went to wake the next watch, the owl and the arrow stuck in the tree upon which the owl had been sitting disappeared. The last watch was uneventful.
QuoteThere was a lively discussion about the various paths, and this is where I feel the system failed me a bit: I wanted more than two sides to a conflict. In hindsight, what I think I should have done is established the three sides, allowed for aiding any side, then had the players roll, highest winning and determining their path. Ultimately, some agreed that if a storm came up, they would take the cave. I knew I wanted at least one snowstorm in the story, so I told them one was definitely approaching. I wanted something to happen, possibly interparty conflict, possibly more dithering so the storm would come down on them before they decided, so that there would be conflict and possibly a split party, but they all immediately agreed on the cave.
Quote1) I need to have a cheatsheet, possibly a notecard, for each step of conflict resolution. I need to focus on getting each step ingrained in my head and reflexive, and this is probably the best method. Then I can concentrating on getting the most out of conflicts.
Quote2) I need to have a bit more detail about the obstacles that lie between the company and the Witch. I have a few things jotted down already, as described above, but I think I need to add to these notes.
Quote3) I need to have one encounter or one NPC planned that will really pop for them. Someone interested and engaging, for the characters to dialogue with. I think my problem with dialogue aversion is down not having a ready and convenient avenue for it and the need to switch between dialogue and narration, something that's not a strong suit.
Quote from: MatthewI made very general notes about the path up the mountain, such as "Cave: Giant (Strong)" or Cliff: Kumo (Giant Spiders) (Weak)," with the notion that the characters would have a choice of three potential paths to the top...2) I need to have a bit more detail about the obstacles that lie between the company and the Witch. I have a few things jotted down already, as described above, but I think I need to add to these notes.
Quote from: MatthewThe first major confusion was "Your Trust in Them" vs. "Their Trust in You."... but it's still possibly the most confusing element of the game.
Quote from: EeroYou might want to try setting up some practice conflicts and such in the future, I've found that that works with TMW, as well as many other games. Actually, I tend to start TMW these days with a short introductory chapter with the sole purpose of teaching the rules.
QuoteFirst, I didn't set stakes very clearly. I think it was something along the lines of "the wolves want to get you" vs. "we want to get past the wolves."
Quote from: EeroYou as the GM should, however, enforce the idea that the players can only use director powers by drawing on their Dark Fate. This is another mechanic that encourages introducing the fate into the game. For example, I probably wouldn't have allowed that ghost without a connection to his fate (although it is a very cool idea in that context).Also, when you ask the players to use directorial powers, it's doubly important that you incorporate their contributions into your own play centrally. I suggest that the disappearing owl should have got some immediate use, just to encourage the player in what she's doing. Not following it up is the equivalent of snubbing her, I think.
Quote from: timfire on August 03, 2006, 06:55:14 PMHave you look at my Clarifications or Actual Play pages? Those should give you some ideas if you don't mind a little reading. Also note, some people (like Eero) just throw generic obstacles and opponents at the characters and let the players create their own drama. This does work, though how well might depend on your players. I usually try to create bangs that push the tension between characters. Just trying to say that there are different ways to GM the game.
Quote from: Matthew on August 04, 2006, 12:56:25 PM1) I'll be running this for another group of players tomorrow. This is an old troupe I used to run that broke up largely due to personality conflicts. It's been two years or so, and I want to give them another go, but only with a low-committment game (in terms of sessions). So we'll see. The next session for the first group should be on Monday.
Quote3) Wow, I'm kind of floored by exactly how wrong I was running the wolves. Yes, I was rolling 5 dice, one for each wolf, but I was resolving them as a group. I think I haven't fully integrated the system methodology yet, hence the desire for a step-by-step checklist. I will try to have folks at the table tomorrow, because that "die vs. die" technique sounds fantastic. (I also hope to acquire a poker set with five different colors of chips.) So, from the outcome of the first conflict, the wolves could have used their regular success to inflict a Chapter Wound on *one* of the company, and I as the narrator could have given the company either Damage for *a* wolf (at Weak, would that Take Out a wolf? Another thing that might be handy on the rules side of the character sheet) or some other narrative concession, probably negotiated? And then we would be back to establishing new stakes for another conflict, based on the narrative outcome of the first conflict?
Quote4) I really like your take on the argument. I tend to have a logical turn of mind, but it often doesn't operate that well in the heat of play. Now that I think about it, could I have set up the conflict in yet another way? For example, have one side be all the ronin and the other be me. My stakes would be "if I win, you waste a long while debating which way to go, until a storm blows up" and then if they won, whoever had the high roll could dictate their decision/path. Would my stakes be too large there, or too vague? Is it too much control to let the winning player decide the path? Not that I don't think your version has merit; I'm purely wondering if it could have been handled *well* with only one roll.
Quote7) Evidently I need to re-emphasize directorial authority again. The player who saw the ghost was using their Speaks with the Dead ability, which I had made clear had no mechanical effect and was "only for narration." I think the "only for narration" may have caused confusion with the player in question - I had asked him to narrate what happened during his character's watch. I don't *think* it relates to his dark Fate, but I'd have to check. I'm used to a slower build in my games and some of these are new players, so I was less likely to deny them things this early on. I come from the "give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves" school of thought. I suspect, however, that they're viewing things as more of an D&D-with-samurai adventure than the gritty ronin-noir it should be, so I need to break them of that delusion. The pendant that they acquired from the corpse, which they wanted to be able to ward off undead and I allowed would help detect the *presence* of undead, can always turn out to be cursed or marked by the Witch, so he will always know where the company is. (How do you think the wolves got to the previous owner, after all?) I have no problems with narrative judo. :)
Quote8) As far as the dialogue problem goes, I just don't want the narration to get too dry. I especially don't want the new players getting a view that roleplaying is just narrating what your character does and what happens to them and doesn't involve any level of immersion. For example, one of the new players said, "My character says he knew the dead guy," etc. without any actual character dialogue. I don't want to force them to speak in character all the time, but I also don't want them to *never* do so. Personally, I just find that I need a way into a certain level of dialogue, at least as a GM.
QuoteHow do you reframe/restake a conflict involving a combat that *wasn't* fully resolved (with one side or the other Taken Out) in the first resolution? If the wolves had wounded one of the ronin and the ronin had wounded one of the wolves, wouldn't both sides still want the same stakes? Or am I totally misunderstanding stakes? (Don't worry, I'll be reviewing that section of the rules tonight.)