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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 70 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [The Dark Wood] Ronnies feedback  (Read 710 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: November 02, 2005, 07:29:40 AM »

Hello,

It was neat to see this one and Escape from Hell show up within a day or so of each other, a little Dante two-pack. It was especially interesting that one of them was "suicide only" and the other was "no suicide, period."

This one is the suicide one, and pain is really here in this game design. It inclues very elaborate and interesting player-character creation, sorta Mad Libs, but frankly too long. I'm really sold on developing the story and key "lines" of each character as game mechanics, but not on how damn (heh) many of them there are.

In play, my biggest issue with the current design is that scene creation for one's own character is recursive - you propose the problem, you propose the reaction to the problem. It's isolated, meaning a lot of sitting around while everyone takes turns. The Little Devil mechanics arrive too late, I think, and the Helping options seems overly complicated - both of these ought to arrive before the player decides upon how to deal with the situation. (I also don't see the point of assessing the Little Devil's performance; one of the joys of playing the Little Devil should be a touch of irresponsible freedom without review.) Doing that means that the whole SIS will improve through player and player-character interaction, with less "talk" around the table per imaginative contribution.

I really like the Earthly conflicts, and would like to see more examples of them, but I find the Infernal ones comparatively pale. I also like the Sin/Virtue checks and consider them to be a neat, nuanced version of Sorcerer Humanity.

As for the final portion, I guess I don't see any reason for the characters to get cast back to the beginning. Or rather, I think that if it happened to my character, I'd be pissed and disinclined to play further. Is it included for Color, or do you think it's thematically important?

Overall, I think what I'd like to see is the entire process of play be less of a grind, one step by one painful step. It'd be good to be able to resolve more than one statement at a time, if possible, and also perhaps if it weren't necessary to clean the entire slate, just some of it. To get just a little deeper, it's also worth considering that the NPCs in one's back-story ought to take a little responsibility too, so that the sinner isn't, you know, carrying the entire weight of the whole back-story.

Best,
Ron
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Marc Majcher
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Posts: 14


« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2005, 04:22:33 PM »

Thanks for the great feedback, Ron.  I appreciate it immensely.

This one is the suicide one, and pain is really here in this game design. It inclues very elaborate and interesting player-character creation, sorta Mad Libs, but frankly too long. I'm really sold on developing the story and key "lines" of each character as game mechanics, but not on how damn (heh) many of them there are.

This was really the core of the game when the idea sprung into my head, and I was very curious to see how other people would react to it.  The structure is directly cribbed from the "Once upon a time..." game we play in improv, and I thought that it might make for an interesting way to collaboratively create a bunch of characters for an RPG.  Although the character generation section in the rules is a bit of a slog, in actual play, this goes fairly quickly, and gives everyone a good sense of involvement in everyone's stories right off the bat.  I think you're absolutely right, though, about the length - in my rush for completeness, I started throwing more bits in, when I should have been editing things out.  (This may also help a little with the "gotta purge 'em all" hangup that comes later on.)  Which story lines do you think are the most interesting, or may lead to interesting conflicts during gameplay, and which ones seem like dead weight?

My other big concern about this character creation method is that it could take too long to record each line as it's spoken, which really inhibits the spontenaity and creative flow that you get in the regular "Once upon a time..." version.  I'm not sure how to resolve that.

In play, my biggest issue with the current design is that scene creation for one's own character is recursive - you propose the problem, you propose the reaction to the problem. It's isolated, meaning a lot of sitting around while everyone takes turns. The Little Devil mechanics arrive too late, I think, and the Helping options seems overly complicated - both of these ought to arrive before the player decides upon how to deal with the situation.

This was another big worry for me - I read something (of yours, I think) regarding this in some other game very shortly after submitting The Dark Wood, and gave myself a head-smack.  I'll definitely be revisiting the way that scene creation and resolution occur, and hopefully mitigate this problem somewhat.  Infernal conflicts seem pretty straightforward - just have someone else frame a conflict for a player, maybe, instead of everyone creating situations for their own characters - but the construction of Earthly conflicts will require a bit more thought, as will fixing the timing and fiddliness of the Little Devil/Helper mechanics.

I really like the Earthly conflicts, and would like to see more examples of them, but I find the Infernal ones comparatively pale.

I totally agree, about the Infernal conflicts.  Coming up with the examples for those was somewhat of a chore, and in a few piecemeal pseudo-playtest scenes a few days later, they felt really forced and flat.  They were intended to serve as a sort of practice run for the characters, and give them a reason to work up to revisiting their sins, but I'm not convinced that they succeed at that goal, or even if that's a goal that's necessary.  I like the dichotomy of the Earthly and Infernal, but I'm not sure what I can do to salvage those mealy Infernal conflicts - maybe they should be ripped out entirely?  Would there need to be something to take their place?

As for the final portion, I guess I don't see any reason for the characters to get cast back to the beginning. Or rather, I think that if it happened to my character, I'd be pissed and disinclined to play further. Is it included for Color, or do you think it's thematically important?

Color, mainly, now that you call it out.  I could probably come up with some rationalization about creating some kind of dramatic tension by not ensuring that every player gets a happy ending, but it would still just be a rationalization.

Overall, I think what I'd like to see is the entire process of play be less of a grind, one step by one painful step. It'd be good to be able to resolve more than one statement at a time, if possible, and also perhaps if it weren't necessary to clean the entire slate, just some of it. To get just a little deeper, it's also worth considering that the NPCs in one's back-story ought to take a little responsibility too, so that the sinner isn't, you know, carrying the entire weight of the whole back-story.

Interesting.  Let me digest these thoughts a bit more - there's some really good stuff in there, and I think that if I can unpack the meaty bits and apply them to the game, it'll feel much more solid and fun to play.  Thanks again for the thoughtful words - this is invaluable feedback, and I really look forward to developing the Dark Wood further!
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