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[Falling Leaves] GMless samurai angst

Started by TheTris, December 14, 2005, 10:02:10 AM

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Callan S.

QuoteA "I have no dice to roll - Tsubo claws his way to the top of the well, his mind empty of all, save the landscape of the stone he must read and climb.  He reaches the top, and hands the child to the parents.  He is feted as a hero, and the head villager sends a messenger to his lord, to praise his courage and strength.  Tsubo remounts and rides as hard as he can for the border, but in his mind is a 'Fear that the dead will wait for me, on the other side'"
I have no dice, yet I must scream.

Sorry, couldn't resist a cult refence. Perhaps you could still roll a dice and rather than determining whether you suceed, a six determines whether either A: the character recalls a dark memory or B: This creates a dark memory. In other words, a creative prompt for the player to write something in his circle, like 'Fear of the dead waiting for me'. For A, the player reads the situation like it's full of symbolic meaning and then invents why that meaning is there "Pulling a live child out of a well...ironic...after the many dead I threw down a well, years ago"

Basically the suprise of play would be in that the situations of play (like the well) are unpredictable and thus what they would trigger in the players mind as to their characters history or present fears, is also unpredictable (even for that player).
Philosopher Gamer


QuoteFor A, the player reads the situation like it's full of symbolic meaning and then invents why that meaning is there "Pulling a live child out of a well...ironic...after the many dead I threw down a well, years ago"

Absolutely love that idea.


Okay, I like that idea too!

I think this is very much in line with the game, creating the history that makes your character less of a blank sheet and less of a perfect samurai at the same time.  Cool!
My real name is Tristan

Callan S.

I'm glad it helps. :) I was kind of thinking that the samurai starts out as you say, an unbeatable machine. But his humanity slowly catches up with him (with each of these history dice that come up a six), filling in that circle slowly but surely. And just as surely, we come to know him as a human being, even as every little bit more we know about him is at the same time bringing him closer to his doom (failing on a dice roll and the players choice to give his life to suceed)

It's very melancholy. Doesn't "Kill puppies for satan" have a "I forgive the character and put him away" element? At least how I'm imagining this game right now, I'm imagining a point where instead of a unbeatable killing machine, the samurai has become a human who, by what has been revealed, essentially asks forgiveness for being human. Though I have no idea why that transistion is significant enough to me to bring it up. But there it is, hope it's not too fluffy.
Philosopher Gamer


I think there very definately has to be a redemption mechanism.

Maybe every time you need to test, because something is weighing you down... If you roll a 1, you can absolve one of your guilts?

Or maybe you need to stop and make a specific absolve guilt test.


At the moment my gut instinct is no redemption.

Callan has summed up the feel I was aiming for very well - and I suspect a "now I'm perfect again" mechanic really weakens a lot of the theme.  Each memory is something that really starts to define the samurai as human - make him into a character we care about before he dies, or can no longer follow Bushido.    If they become pick up and cast aside mechanics, then the samurai can lose his fear, regret, desire; and then pick up a new one.

Also, with a way out, I believe there will be a tendancy to reject fate, and struggle to preserve your character.  But this is a game of falling leaves.

I'm honestly not sure how redemption could work without hurting the theme.  Why do you feel it is necessary? thought - the samurai has been torn between what he is (Samurai) and what he is (Human).  Slowly, being one (Human) makes it harder to be the other (Samurai).  What if there is a set point where the Samurai faces a choice.  Human, or Samurai.

At some point, a decision faces the character.  He must either completely ignore his duty, for human reasons, or ignore humanity, for reasons of duty.

For instance:  Asked to put down the rebellion by his lord, Koto walks into a village, and is confronted by the peasant girl he rescued from the well so many years ago.  He has never admitted his feelings for her that have grown over the years.  Now she stands in front of him, and speaks to him "Samurai, our village is starving already.  If you kill more men, or take what little we have, we will all die.  I will not let you into the village.  Not while I live".

The player narrates the aftermath of the decision:

Tears roll slowly down Koto's cheeks, as he walks slowly back to his lord's castle, carrying an oddly shaped bundle.  A great sadness at what he had to do fills him, and his steps are heavy.  He approaches the gate, and the guard, saying nothing, opens them.  Koto stops at the gate.  Kneeling, he places the bundle on the floor, just inside the castle.  He bows, stands, turns, and walks away, leaving his sword behind forever, and returning to his love.
My real name is Tristan

Callan S.

Hi TheTris (Did you already give your real name?),

I agree fully with you about redemption done that way. But strangely you've already got mechanics that do remove these guilts - it's the players choice to lose the characters life to suceed. That wipes the whole character sheet clean of guilt - wipes away the character sheet as well, for that matter. In my own opinion, I think your already covering redemption just right! :)
Philosopher Gamer


I think starting with a fear-desire-regret is a good idea, simply because of the incentive to be a perfect machine otherwise. If you start out perfect, you can be a champion who does not fail, who will kill a hundred men if they stand in his way, and who cannot be forced to stray from the path of bushido. In a game about falling leaves, there really isn't much room for "the mountain does not fall."

As to redemption...I have to point out that in Japanese samurai culture, there's really only one redemption for any sort of failure, and that's at the point of a sword. Turning away from the destiny of a samurai, to die when and where death will come, is not turning back -towards- being a samurai. (Plus, characters will be able to survive if they -can- redeem themselves, and surviving is not the point.)

Finally, is it intentional that the usual result of two PC samurai fighting is going to be mutual death? ("I want to kill this guy," "I want to kill him first!" and if one loses and the other wins, the loser will die to kill the winner.)
My real name is B.J. Lapham.

Callan S.

I've wondered if narrativists have sometimes been called munchkins, because basically narrativists like to build 'em big. Primarily because the bigger they are, the harder they fall! And nar players LOVE a fall, IMO!

I have to admit, when I first read this thread I wondered "Why would I write anything in the circle?". Now I'm a bit more pumped about the idea of building up the idea of a perfect killing machince, just because it would so beutifully offset his human element, when I introduce it. It'd be 'All this power over so many things - yet this splits his heart in two!!' sort of stuff!

Assuming that's sort of what the design sets out to do, I think that 'perfect machine - and now I throw in this flaw - see the contrast!?' probably needs some mechanical encouragement.
Philosopher Gamer


Is there any mechanical incentive to ever fail a mission - ie add to the circle?

I'm wondering if there could be some kind of bonus - some incentive that doesn't make it a purely bad thing.

Maybe going against the lord's orders proves that you are more human, and you can somehow get a bonus to the NEXT mission.

I dunno how that'd work, of if it'd corny things up and move away from the intended direction... but it might be nice to have a bit more mechanical balance?


I think you need to make the game winnable.
Samurai legends are often about being legendary. What if everytime you suceed at something you get a legend point. If you do your lords will it is a bushido, honor or feudal legend point. But if you wnat to be a ture legend you have to be remembered by the people as well, so everytime you suceed at something, but you have disobeyed your lord you get a ronin, or hero legend point.

Your total legendary samurai status would then be your Honor Legend Points multiplied by your Hero Legend Points (maybe multiplied by hero points one more time,to give the player an incentive to go after the hero points and not just stock up on the easier to get honor points).
To give the samurai a a timeframe to collect his points maybe there should be a karma (or something more japanese) dice rolled after each scene with him in it, and the second time the dice hits 6, his next scene will be a prologue scene not giving him any points.



I sort of disagree with the need to win.

I think there is a need to triumph, because that is what makes legends. However, I don't see legends as being people who "beat" something and then were done.

Beowulf is a legend not because he beat Grendel and was done (although that's his biggest claim to fame today.). He is a legend because he bested beast after beast, until he met his heroic death.

Beowulf triumphed time and again, but he never "won" in the sense that his quest was ended. The samurai share this same existance I believe: The triumph is replaced with the next mission.

So, there is no win. There is triumph, there is pushing on.... and there is the ultimate heroic death.
I think that the end of a samurai's game is the end of his life.


But that's just me - I just didn't see the "victory" as being a part of the game personally.


well actually winnable is not the right word.
I just think it is good idea to be able to measure one's triumph. Especially since you can then boast in front of your friends (my samurai is more famous than yours!), which I think is very samurai.

If you think the end of the game should be a tragic death you can just narrate that in the prologue after the karma dice has hit 6 two times, but others might think it sutiable that their samurai retires to a monastery or whatever.


I guess monastic life is also an end - true.

QuoteEspecially since you can then boast in front of your friends (my samurai is more famous than yours!), which I think is very samurai.
Really? I always pictured them as more modest, even humbled by their power and worth. Hmm... I guess it depends on the warrior in question a bit.

So, measure of triumph?
However, there already is an endgame mechanic to an extent: when a 6 comes up, fail or die. You want to push that a step and say: you can only fail X amount of times?

Maybe failures plus betrayals = max amount? Because the whole hero points, etc seems a pretty weighty idea for a game which is supposed to be focused on the conflict, not mechanics...

Just my 2 cents. Or 3. : P