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Author Topic: [Mud Planet] Ronnies feedback  (Read 2831 times)
Ron Edwards
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Posts: 16490

« on: January 03, 2006, 05:55:27 PM »

Mud Planet by Frank Tarcikowski gets a Runner-Up for this round. It very nearly won the award, you should know - if Frank wants to claim he was robbed, I won't be disagreeing.

My goodness, this is a Sorcerer mini-supplement, including the awesome Sex & Sorcery content. For anyone who ever thought that my "male/female" story distinctions were supposed to be dichotomous, this is the game you ought to read as my clarification. I've tried hard to separate my comments into two parts: the first part, that says, "Oh, in Sorcerer, it would be so much easier, it would look like this, this, and this;" and the second part, that says, "These dice mechanics need fixing like this and this." Fortunately games like Conspiracy of Shadows, which are derived versions of Sorcerer with a mechanic that suits the designer better than mine did, have given me practice.

The core of the game lies in the great relationship material, and so I recommend focusing on the relationship mechanics as actually more powerful than the basic resolution, much in the way a Passion operates as a Spiritual Attribute in The Riddle of Steel. It's no secret that motor of this game relies on the tension between the supposed-to-be celibate, yet physically and emotionally supercharged lancers. ... But the content will lie in the relationships - who those relationships are with, and what they do.

The key weakness of the game, at this point, is the binary variable problem. I don't see much point in monitoring how Self-Discipline goes down at the same time that I have to monitor Savageness going up. There are also many areas of overlap across things like Revolt and Hunger that I'd rather leave to situational narration. This a bit of a sore issue for some readers of Sorcerer, or has been in the past anyway, who don't like the fact that Humanity basically plays single-number judgment monitor for any and all relevant ethical issues in play. My take is that "less is more," and that you'd do better to decide just which of the Monitors you really need, and which can be thought of as taking care of themselves as negatives (reductions) of those.

Self-Control, Commitment, Savageness; Impulse, Revolt, Hunger ... well, I know you've worked out how these cross-reference with one another for different situations, but to my poor tired brain, a lot of those situations look pretty much the same to me.

One tip-off is the issue of Blows ... when the rule (Blows reduce Monitors) applies in all but one case, and that case has to be reversed (Savageness), that acts an alarm bell for me. It means that you have a "backwards" score which is probably redundant or unnecessary. I heard the same alarm bell regarding Petty Greed in On the Ecology of the Mud Dragon, for instance.

Frank, since this idea is pretty much the core of my critique of Barbaren as well, I think we'll have to look forward to my next trip to Germany to play together, so I can show you what I mean in real application.

I'm also a little concerned about resolution, which is of course basically Dogs, but it looks damn laborious in this case - a lot of card-wrangling per character, especially since a dragon and lancer will often be active in the same conflict. The game is so full of potential for a dozen different characters all to be haring off toward different goals, as in Dust Devils and Sorcerer, that the resolution seems too focused on step-by-step, one-on-one narration.

Furthermore, here is something a lot of people need to learn about the Dogs resolution system. Without the opportunity to escalate (and thus both transform the conflict in terms of reward, and add a wad of new dice), the Dogs push-out-and-match system really isn't much different from basic Sorcerer pool comparison. I think a lot of people are getting so enamored of the pick-your-dice step in Dogs that they are missing the fact that, if the pools are relatively static (and adding new dice with traits does hit a hard limit, creating your "total" pool, eventually), then there's not much point.

So Frank, my suggestion is to modify Dust Devils (not using, for instance, poker as a model) rather than Dogs.

Oh yeah! Quick literary recommendations, in my view much better than the sources you mentioned, Frank: The Blue World and The Dragon Masters by Jack Vance.

Frank T
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2006, 02:50:50 AM »

Hi Ron, thanks for the feedback! It's good to hear the game concept clicked with you, because when I presented the game on a German RPG-design-board, people didn't get it.

Dragons... Demons... Sorcerers... Humanity... Damn! You're right! I haven't read Sorcerer yet, though it's sitting on my shelf impatiently, along with the supplements. But I'll be sure to read it with Mud Planet in mind. Plus, I'll be playing Sorcerer soon enough, which I'm looking very forward to.

I see your points about simplifying things. Makes a lot of sense. Regarding the Dogs-like mechanic, my idea was that the stirring of the Dragon (with the possibility of unleashing its wrath) is sort of alike escalation in Dogs, with the same transparency and player choice. I don't know the Dust Devils resolution system, unfortunately. Yet another game to check out. And I'll be sure to go looking for Jack Vance.

I'll be back for more comments after I've got myself some Sorcerer.

- Frank
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