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Author Topic: WGP Taking Shape...  (Read 4229 times)
Thor Olavsrud
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« on: July 18, 2005, 10:44:04 AM »

I had a chance to play With Great Power... yesterday at DexCon, and I must say the game is REALLY coming together. I'm extremely pleased with how everything is taking shape.

Conflict Scenes are now extremely tight. The new process of explicitly setting stakes at the beginning of the conflict makes a huge difference and will really drive play. We had a wonderful conflict yesterday in which our four heroes faced off with Perjury, the Lord of Lies. The scene was the new headquarters of the Liberty League, which was still being completed. Steve, playing Debris, picked a fight with Perjury with the stakes: "If I win, the new Liberty League gets great press." To which Michael, playing Perjury, responded, "Okay, but if I win, some of the workers are injured." Another of the conflicts had the fate of the building itself at stake.

Anyway, Steve was forced to yield after a hard-fought battle. He yielded after a panel in which he had narrated Debris using her strength to rescue a number of workers. Because Perjury won, we knew some of the workers had been injured. We also knew that the Liberty League would NOT get great press. Debris wound up injuring the workers she had been trying to save (she didn't know her own strength!) and the news cameras caught everything on film!

The declaration of stakes really gives some guidance to the narration rights granted by winning a conflict, while also providing a sensible limit to how far that narration can go. It's pretty elegant.

The whole concept of Scripting, Penciling, and Inking is much sharper now than it used to be, and adds a lot to the feel, IMO. We had some great examples of it during yesterday's game, and it really felt natural and cohesive. For instance, at one point, Michael narrated a panel in which Perjury smashed Justice Patriot in the face with some rebar. I responded, "No way! He hits the V-Filter on Justice's arm!" (The V-Filter was one of Justice's Aspects, which filters out enough of Dr. Venom's poison to allow Justice to use his superpowers). This was a natural evolution of an Enrichment scene held earlier in which Aaron (playing Justice) had the V-Filter momentarily malfunction. Michael was very pleased with the idea and Inked it.

Another example was suggested by Aaron, after I had Purge, Perjury's "son," use his Aspect, The Voice, to command a woman to do something she didn't want to do. Purge is trying to be a hero, and doesn't want to be like his father. Aaron suggested that when Purge used the power, the comic book showed these black sparks around Purge's eyes -- the exact effect that Perjury had when he used his power! It really made that scene!

This only really scratches the surface of some of the stuff that's happening to With Great Power... as Michael gets it ready for press, but I thought I'd share! I'm really excited about this project!
« Last Edit: July 18, 2005, 10:56:21 AM by Thor Olavsrud » Logged

Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2005, 11:06:40 AM »

Conflict Scenes are now extremely tight. The new process of explicitly setting stakes at the beginning of the conflict makes a huge difference and will really drive play. We had a wonderful conflict yesterday in which our four heroes faced off with Perjury, the Lord of Lies. The scene was the new headquarters of the Liberty League, which was still being completed. Steve, playing Debris, picked a fight with Perjury with the stakes: "If I win, the new Liberty League gets great press." To which Michael, playing Perjury, responded, "Okay, but if I win, some of the workers are injured." Another of the conflicts had the fate of the building itself at stake.

Anyway, Steve was forced to yield after a hard-fought battle. He yielded after a panel in which he had narrated Debris using her strength to rescue a number of workers. Because Perjury won, we knew some of the workers had been injured. We also knew that the Liberty League would NOT get great press. Debris wound up injuring the workers she had been trying to save (she didn't know her own strength!) and the news cameras caught everything on film!

Actually, at the beginning of the conflict, I had written my Stakes as "Debris harms workers." The way I came up with that was looking at the Strife Aspect Steve chose: "Motivation: Those that can, must." I had crafted the American's villainous plan as being targeted to devastate this Aspect by showing Debris that she can't, therefore she must not. So, when setting the Stakes, I just stated how the Plan could manifest in the particular conflict beginning at the construction site. It seemed to me that having Debris harm the very people she was trying to save would be a great way to show her that she didn't have the "right stuff" for being a superhero.

Since I had "Debris harms workers" in black and white in front of me, whenever it was my turn to play a panel, I had a very specific direction. All I had to do was ask myself: "How are the villainous forces of the scene trying to get Debris to hurt the workers?" It was from that point that I inked a panel where Debris was running to catch the falling workers, and some thugs used a steel cable to trip her, that she might crush those she was trying to catch. If Steve had had the cards to respond, he could have inked her ducking into a roll at the last moment and protecting the workers from the fall. Since he was forced to yield, the thugs' ploy to get Debris to hurt the workers succeeded. And made it to the six o'clock news.

Very cool session. Wish it could have gone on and on ...
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2005, 05:53:53 AM »

The scene was the new headquarters of the Liberty League, which was still being completed. Steve, playing Debris, picked a fight with Perjury with the stakes: "If I win, the new Liberty League gets great press." To which Michael, playing Perjury, responded, "Okay, but if I win, some of the workers are injured."

Is it noted that an important strategy for the GM is to not declare, "Okay, but if I win, you get bad press."? The GM automatically gets that if the player fails. The important strategy is to declare some other consequence, which will happen in addition to the bad press, and by so doing you dial up the tension. Right?

Paul
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2005, 06:23:13 AM »

Is it noted that an important strategy for the GM is to not declare, "Okay, but if I win, you get bad press."? The GM automatically gets that if the player fails. The important strategy is to declare some other consequence, which will happen in addition to the bad press, and by so doing you dial up the tension. Right?

Have you been hacking my hard drive again, Paul? This is right on the money. Each side has their own Stakes that is a proactive "this thing happens"-type statement. Each side's Stakes assumes the negative "the other side's Stakes don't happen" statement. It's a way for players--when the GM picks a fight with them--to have more input than just "of course I stop the bad guy," and for the GM--when a player picks a fight with her--to be able to further their villain's nefarious Plans in every conflict scene, rather than "of course I stop the hero from wrecking my Device." Since villainous Plans are crafted from the interaction of the particular Stuggle of the story, and the heroes Strife Aspects chosen, this drives to address premise.

On a game theory tangent that I really shouldn't bring up, as I don't have time to really thrash it out, setting Stakes like this (I also do this in Discernment, and in an embryonic form in the FVLMINATA influence system), the setting of Stakes are kind of inside-out Bangs. Rather than "here's a problem, how are you going to deal with it?" You get "here's the consequences if you don't stop this thing." Oddly, at the table, both of Bangs and the Setting of Stakes usually cue one of the most awesome sounds in gaming: the low "ooooohh" sound followed by cheers and occasional tense laughter.
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Serial Homicide Unit Hunt down a killer!
Incarnadine Press--The Redder, the Better!
Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2005, 06:49:23 AM »

Is it noted that an important strategy for the GM is to not declare, "Okay, but if I win, you get bad press."? The GM automatically gets that if the player fails. The important strategy is to declare some other consequence, which will happen in addition to the bad press, and by so doing you dial up the tension. Right?

Hi Paul. We're still fiddling with the exact wording. But yes, the concept of Risk is definitely a part of it now. The act of stating something as your Stakes also implies that your Stakes are at Risk. If you are forced to yield the Conflict, your opponent is free to turn your Stakes around on you in his narration.

So not only is it an important strategy to declare a consequence other than that stated by your opponent, it is also very important to choose your Stakes wisely in the first place.
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