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Author Topic: [Falling Leaves] Gaijin invasion  (Read 2566 times)
TheTris
Member

Posts: 68


« on: January 23, 2006, 05:27:09 AM »

Another playtest of Falling Leaves, this time with three players.  I need to set out explicitly who takes turns to set scenes for whom.  This didn't stop us though, we decided scenes passed around the table, and the other two players took turns to set them.

It was a fun game again.  We didn't discuss a limit to the scope, and it did go epic. 

It featured the best initial flaw I've yet seen.  "I regret that I killed a samurai, took his Daisho, and pretended to be a samurai".  That was aimed at a happy ending from the start :-D

Two characters ended up in a small and dwindling group lost and fleeing from the Gaijin invaders.  The other ended up leading forces against the invaders, and attempting to drive them out.  In the end, one character stayed true to duty, even to the point of killing her husband (a traitor who was aiding the Gaijin), when her sole flaw was "I fear for the life of my husband".  She ascended to become the Fortune of Sorrow.  One character chose against duty most of the time, and ended up embracing his sister when his duty was to cut her down so she could not reveal him as a peasant, and prevent him contributing to the final battle with the Gaijin.  The empire seemed about to fall, when the third character had to choose between tea with the emperor's daughter (leading to him as Gaijin-sponsored emperor of a corrupted empire) or ignoring her and planning the battle (accepting his "regret that I have known nothing but violence"), and dieing in battle, becoming the new Fortune of War.

A couple of things that will affect how I phrase the main text.

1)  Colourful consequences don't break the game.  At one point a character "would lose all his hair" if a certain decision was made (it involved gunpowder).  This didn't impact directly on what the character was about, but made him more real afterwards.

2)  Proportioning consequences is rubbish.  In fact, they are a good way to ignore the advice on stripping consequences to the bone.  I wanted all the characters to make a choice about saving the empire.  I ended up saying "and 1/3 of the miracle the empire needs will be accomplished".  To me this almost immediately felt like a lame attempt to control the plot.  It also doesn't work.  When the next character had a chance to save 1/3, he turned it down for the sake of his sister.  Immediately the consequence for my character was either meaningless (1/3, but we still won't make it) or just went up to "You'll save the empire" in which case the other two characters are deprotagonised.  I need to write advice to avoid people setting consequences like this, I think.

In retrospect I think "And Art and Beauty will survive"  "And Duty and Honour will survive"  "And Traditions and Memory will survive" would have been a better way than saying "1/3 of what is needed will be done" which was artificial.

It was a fun game again though, and I agonised over the last decision.  I'm not sure I've empathised with a character I've played so much before, and his final sacrifice seemed more tragic because of it.
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My real name is Tristan
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2006, 10:31:45 AM »

Hi,

I've gotten to play twice now, and it seems consequences either need to be explicit as you mention in order to have power, or they have to be heavily loaded suggestions ("...or else you find out who you sensei truly is.").  Otherwise they tend to hold no water.  It's also interesting to see what consequences are a big deal to you as a player vs. the other players.  I remember loading one consequence as, "If I do this, then heaven will forgive ONE of my sins", which I thought was a big deal, but everyone else pretty much blew off.

It's fascinating to see how much of Falling Leaves is about finding what is meaningful around the table, and artfully pushing and pulling on it for play.

Chris
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Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2006, 02:27:56 PM »

Hi Tristan!

I just finished reading all the threads related to your game and wanted to express my enthusiasm!
GM-less, prep-less, to the point, simple and smooth mechanics, easy to teach, tragic, poetic, epic.

If you include a minimalistic background about Bushido and feudal japan, you've definitely sold me the game.

I'm also ready to playtest the game if you need more of that, just drop me a mail with your last version of the game.


One thing I found interesting was that your game doesn't really give any possibilities for negotiating other player's input. The seven breaths as I understand them are set as soon as they're pronounced.
Yet this has given rise to no problems, if memory serves, according to the AP.
A lot of people have said this was a game close to Polaris, yet it lacks the negotiation. What where they thinking of?

Can anybody shed some light on that for me?


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Regards,
Christoph
Mikael
Member

Posts: 206


« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2006, 10:13:16 PM »

Polaris and Falling Leaves: no GM, no prep, characters struggling with their weaknesses against duty, on an unavoidable spiral to doom. Breaths in FL are an extended version of the "You ask far too much" (IIRC) phrase in Polaris. Oh yes, and both games prominently feature swords. Games so similar, yet it feels like FL is a completely separate development from Polaris. Care to comment on that, Tristan?

Another question: are the Fortunes in this AP something that could or should become a part of the rules?

+M
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TheTris
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2006, 01:01:28 AM »

I'd very much like to comment on that, but sadly I am without Polaris :-(

I have a mental list of forge games which will slowly be acquired, and so far My Life with Master and Dogs in the Vineyard were both great buys.  I also got Burning Wheel from a FLGS in Edinburgh, and it's also great, although I don't find it as eye-opening as the other two, for whatever reason.

To answer Artanis' question: I think there are two reasons.  The first is that noone directly dictates a consequence.  You are the one who makes the choice for your character, no matter how terrible the choice can be.  The second is that, for me at least, the structure of play makes me feel as if my character is blown on the winds of fate.  I like that I can't adjust other player's consequences, because if I could, I'd be tempted to make them something I could deal with more easily.

Bankuei is right about pushing and pulling on what's important - occasionally consequences do fall flat.  With seven in total, the decisions end up hard anyway, but I'm in the midst of drafting/revising some text for the book which gives some advice to make more consequences hit the spot.

The fortunes are something that is part of our understanding of fictional Japan.  They didn't exist for most of the game, but at the end it seemed appropriate that one half of a choice could include "and you become the new fortune of sorrow" for a character who's story was largely about driving her husband away, even though she cared for him, because her duty forced her to.  If she killed him as a final act of duty it seemed pretty clear her story was done, and that was a good consequence for that side.

Things like fortunes, dragons, gaijin...they are all covered by the "loose" setting.  If they end up in your story, they exist.  I'm planning to include some background on the elements that must be present (samurai, for instance) and those that fit well in the general setting, to give some level of understanding of the possibilities to players who haven't "done samurai" before.
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My real name is Tristan
Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2006, 02:41:07 AM »

Ok, the player always gets to choose how to approach each consequence (by avoiding it or embracing it to avoid others). I hadn't realized that this was actually a form of negotiation.

I was thinking about the character sheet yesterday evening and wondered how fast it would get clogged up if the seven breaths where always written around the circle. One could just draw a new character sheet for each mission, creating thus a little booklet, where each subsequent page lets the players see the circle fill up according to the mission (and one could mark off somehow which breaths where embraced and which avoided). A few additional notes here and there and it would result in a crude but complete transcript.

Does somebody remember a seven breath sequence that they could transcribe? I'd like to have a few more examples to drill into my head.
I'll try to spring a game on my roommate who never played an rpg and thinks little of them...



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Regards,
Christoph
TheTris
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2006, 03:22:02 AM »

We only note down consequences that come to pass around the outside.  Also we selectively write consequences depending on how important they are to an ongoing story.  It gets fairly full by the end of a game.

As for an illustration of seven breathes (paraphrased, and perhaps slightly out of order)

This was a sequence driven by both my character's "I fear that I will fall in love" and "I regret that my whole life has been violence" flaws, as well as the previous consequences that I was reknowned as the greatest general the empire had ever known, and that most of my scenes had been violent in nature.

Scenario in brief:  We are planning the final battle.  I receive a note from the Emperor's daughter requesting my presence for tea that evening.
Duty:  To plan the battle where I would lead the remaining samurai to battle against the invaders.

1)  If you do your duty, the daughter will make certain that her father loses all respect for you.
2)  And if I go to her, as the emperor has no son I will become his heir when she marries me.
3)  And you will become bitter rivals, fighting over the empire.
4)  And I will win after making a deal with the Gaijin, becoming emperor of a corrupted empire.
5)  If you follow your duty, you will defeat the Gaijin army, saving the empire.
6)  And I will die in the attempt, having never known anything except violence.
7)  And you will become the new fortune of war.

Decision in brief:  I went to take tea, but took the maps with me, and ignored the emperor's daughter while I planned the battle.  Come dawn, I fled her rooms, whispering "sorry", half to myself, and half to her, before leading the forces of the empire in one last charge.  I saved the empire, and forfeited my last chance at tasting life apart from war.

Good luck with your roommate!
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My real name is Tristan
Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2006, 06:43:35 PM »

Allright, I see! Thanks.

Are you planning to release an updated version soon? If yes, I'm really interested in grabbing it ;)
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Regards,
Christoph
TheTris
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2006, 12:36:18 AM »

I'm currently writing sections and gathering art for what I plan to release as an actual in print rpg booklet.  I'm probably going to create one more playtest version, to check the changes in the rules work really well.  I guess it's probably best if I contact you at that point.

If anyone has advice on playtesting strategies, by the way, I'd love to hear from you.
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My real name is Tristan
Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2006, 01:18:38 PM »

OK, you can count on me for being a customer ;)

As far as playtesting goes, I'd recommend having a few non-gamers try it out (even better: have only newcomers test it between themselves, if possible).
They don't have all the preconceived ideas about roleplaying we have and that can lead to very interesting points.

You've already gotten feedback from the "elite" and you know it works ;)
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Regards,
Christoph
Miedvied
Member

Posts: 33


WWW
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2006, 12:25:59 AM »

I'm currently writing sections and gathering art for what I plan to release as an actual in print rpg booklet.  I'm probably going to create one more playtest version, to check the changes in the rules work really well.  I guess it's probably best if I contact you at that point.

If anyone has advice on playtesting strategies, by the way, I'd love to hear from you.

I, too, will buy your print version as promptly as it becomes available.
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