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Author Topic: [WoD/Vampire] Urban Dark  (Read 3864 times)
Belinda K.
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« on: February 26, 2006, 01:29:18 AM »

This isn't really an 'indie game' as such, but I'm after some concentrated GM advice which hopefully I'm more likely to get here.

My last few World of Darkness campaigns haven't ended terribly well. The first one, http://wod.wikicities.com/wiki/Eaters_of_the_Dead (Eaters of the Dead) was a Werewolf: the Forsaken game that was sort of going to be a horror-ish, plot-based game, but the most fun we had with that game was when the characters did lots of this interpersonal, soapy kind of stuff.

The second game, http://wod.wikicities.com/wiki/The_Denver_Historical_Society (The Denver Historical Society) was a heavily plotted game with a labyrinthine, Cthulhu-esque plot. In that game, it was hard to get the group to stay together and they didn't quite build up a personal dynamic; the game sort of fell apart at the end with people pounding their heads against the plot, failing to group all of the clues together in time.

The new game is intended to be a more character-based game than what I've run before. I made players fill out questionnaires with who their characters were, and how they connected to each other, worked out their 'flags', that kind of thing. Here's a write up of the session:



There was this band in Chicago; a shitty, D-list band that had a confusion of styles and couldn't keep a lead singer for very long at all. They played filler music for nightclubs, usually before the big act started, but didn't make enough cash to keep them at the music full time. Still, they each had their different reasons to be enjoying the night scene in Chicago.

 
  • Xandra was hiding out from a person from her past who kept following her. When he caught up with her, bad things happened. She had to keep moving, to protect her son.
  • Vienna was an insatiable gossip enjoying slumming it amongst the dregs of Chicago's music scene. She was pretty talented and had a devoted boyfriend that paid for everything she did.
  • Freddy was the band's manager. A man who loved sex and the thrill of the hunt; he often doped people in bars and slept with them afterwards. Most of the band knew about Freddy's predilections and he'd even banged some of the members a few times.
  • Jerome Washington - an aggressive individual with a fierce temper, obsessed with his image.
  • Jesus Ramone Riccardo 'Mad Bull' Martinez. He was in the band for the fun of it. He didn't expect to get famous, but liked to be known in the neighbourhood. That was his big thing - helping out around the neighbourhood and teaching the kids down at the youth centre.
  • Robert ''Roxy' Jones (NPC), a hulking ex-Iraqi vet just hung around the band because he didn't have any other people in his life. He quite happily organised their van and set the stage up for them, and Martinez helped to remind to take his medicine.


So, one day, the band interviewed yet another lead singer, eventually decided on a bland but nice R&B guy called Clayton. During rehearsals, something about Clayton's vocals really synergised the band and brought it together, giving the music a definite focus and edge. And Clayton and Xandra started to really hit things off - meeting in coffee shops to discuss music and lyrics; that kind of thing.

Freddy got the band a gig playing at the Obsidian Sanctuary under the name of Puissant or "Piss Ant" as they pronounced things. (The band changed its name as regularly as it did lead singer.)

But Wash rebelled against the style the band was being forced down - maybe he liked the chaos and lack of focus or disliked how Clayton was trying to organise everything. When Puissant went on stage to perform at the Sanctuary, Wash worked hard to piss Clayton off, ending with the lead singer walking out off stage and refusing to perform with the second set. Xandra ran after him.

They got Roxy on temp vocals and Wash tried to whip up the crowd enough for stage-diving, but failed to make an impression and ended up hurting himself on the floor and getting into a fight in the mosh pit. Martinez hit a few folk with his riding crop and so Puissant managed to close the set, fulfilling the gig enough to get paid while the audience waited for the real act to come on next.

Meanwhile, Freddy was busy chatting up a music journalist; slipping him some 'roofies' to have some fun in a city park afterwards. As far as he was concerned, Puissant was doing its job.

Xandra'd had enough. She decided to quit Puissant and form an R&B style duo with Clayton, performing at coffee shops around Chicago. She got a few good reviews in the street press. But one night, staying in a hotel away from home, with Clayton in the room across the hall - Xandra felt a sense of danger. Like her hunter was close again. He'd found her again. And he was really close. Was he watching her? Was he in Clayton's room?

Xandra ran outside, running blindly into the late night streets of Chicago. She stumbled in a run-down, bar - to discover the members of Puissant playing a few rounds of pool. Xandra nervously chatted with them and got them to accompany her back to her hotel room for company. The door to Xandra's room was pushed open...

Neatly cut up in pieces on the bed was Clayton, arranged in a weird pattern. Freddy called the police and Xandra just ran, panicking. Roxy tried to restrain her, but she wiggled out of his grip with a good kick and tore off down the street. Vienna poked around Xandra's room, discovering a child's painting signed 'Remus' in Xandra's hand-bag. She looked at the weird pattern that Clayton's bits were arranged in and Martinez considered putting it on the band's next album cover.

The police came and Freddy gave a statement. He chatted it other with the others – what if Xandra was the killer?

Xandra, meanwhile, decided to collect Remus and get the hell out of Chicago. Time to go to another city, and rebuild her life over again. But when she arrived home, her son was missing and there was no sign that the door was disturbed. Valerie, the housekeeper, didn't remember seeing anything either. And then the police came.

Xandra gave her statement. Freddy showed up, and used his police contacts to talk to her and get her off the hook. The police were looking for her son, but she didn't have much hope. With no one else to turn to in Chicago, Xandra worked with the band to find out what had happened.

Vienna tried to research the weird pattern that Clayton had been arranged to on the internet, but couldn't find anything.

Martinez asked around, and his mentor Father O'Nally put him in touch with twitchy, balding guy - who said the symbol was used by 'the Others' to communicate with each other, and the more it was used, the more of 'the Others' would arrive. "They're not like us," the man said. "But they live amongst us. I've been hunting them for years. Don't repeat the symbol!"

Martinez quickly called up Vienna, who took down the pattern on the website she'd placed it on and transferred it to another. As she worked, she realised that she was the only person around in her internet cafe. Suddenly, she heard the door opening and she heard a presence behind her...



Problems - I was trying to make the game 'character-based' - that is, all of the situations arise from the character's background or are initiated by the players. But I was 'plotting' again in this game - mainly to get Xandra to stay with the band, as she discovered ICly that she'd little in common with the other band members, and had no reason to stay with them. So I had to stuff like kill of Clayton in a weird way and then kidnap Xandra's son to give her IC reasons to stay with the group. Xandra's player wanted to keep the character in game, but also wanted to 'do what her character would do'. She's a very 'controlling' player and likes to know what is happening with the plot and doesn't like losing control of either her character or having too weird stuff happen to her. I think I spent too much time with her and didn't spend enough scenes on the other players to help them flesh out their characters in play.

And originally I'd intended to keep the occultic elements out of the first few sessions but now the campaign is dripping with them - weird occultic symbols, a mysteriously kidnapped child, someone mysteriously stalking Vienna, and I've got no idea what it's all about or where it will go to, only a vague idea that this will eventually percolate into a Vampire: the Requiem game.

Also, Washington is a violent, psycho PC and had the barest minimum background - I'm not sure what to do with him, and he's saying he wants to get a 'supernatural power-up' in the second or third session otherwise, whereas the others seem happy to wait for things to develop. But short of some mysterious figure vampirising him in alley - I think that seems rather cheap and off-key, and I was hoping to build up and lead people into their transformations through character/NPC interaction.

But everyone had fun with this game, far more than the previous game, so I'm guess I'm doing something right - I'm just after any pointers to keep it 'character focused' and anything that could help me keep this campaign moving along and not ending out after a few sessions like the other ones did. Vienna's player was keen to find out what was going to happen to her (I've no idea yet!) and Xandra's player said she was quite on edge during the stalking things.

The main problems were having reasons to stuff to develop with Wash's character - Freddy and Jesus have cool, experienced players and had no problems interacting with things or chatting amongst themselves ICly to keep stuff going, but I was having to use the NPC Roxy to talk to Wash alot in order to get him commenting and being involved in scenes.

Anyway, any advice/comments appreciated!

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Judd
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2006, 05:22:56 AM »

Belinda,

Welcome to the Forge.

I wrote a long reply but I've distilled it down to one issue..

You wrote about one of the characters:

Quote
Freddy was the band's manager. A man who loved sex and the thrill of the hunt; he often doped people in bars and slept with them afterwards. Most of the band knew about Freddy's predilections and he'd even banged some of the members a few times.

Is it my imagination or is one of the players actually playing, as their concept, a serial rapist who has, in fact, had sex several members of the band by using drugs to get them into bed?

How was it decided that this PC had had sex with other PC's?  Did the other PC's have input in this decision or just Freddy's player?

Are the players comfortable with this?  Have you talked to them about how they feel about a player making a character and playing a character who is a serial rapist?

Here's another passage I found chilling:

Quote
Xandra gave her statement. Freddy showed up, and used his police contacts to talk to her and get her off the hook

This serial rapist who enjoys the thrill of the hunt, the hunt being giving drugs to women so that he can have sex with them and has done so in-game, has POLICE CONTACTS?!?

Belinda, as a human being, how do you feel about that?  How do you feel about this character?  Are you comfortable with it?


What kind of dialogue occured about this Freddy PC before the game?  Not in character but entirely OUT OF CHARACTER.  Tell me about how the other players reacted to this.  Because I think it wouldn't be an entirely uncharitable reading to see Xandra's player as running like hell, not from the band, but from Freddy, who is far scarier than anything else in this game right now.


Judd
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Graham W
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2006, 08:00:28 AM »

Hi Belinda,

It sounds like a nice set-up. I think you're to be applauded for trying to react to the players: drawing up a game based around their relationships as opposed to trying to railroad them through a plot.

I'm interested in the player dynamic too. During the game, did they all seem into it? - and did they seem into it all the time, or just when their character was active, or what? How do the other players feel about Washington's "supernatural power-up"? And have you got any feedback from them as to how they want the campaign to progress?

You asked for tips about how to keep it character focussed. I haven't got any killer tips - other people on this board probably have better advice than me - but have you read the game Sorceror? It seems to do a lot of things that you're doing: relationship maps, building the game around the characters and giving the players events to react to. I think you'd get some really good tips on running your campaign from that game.

Graham
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Glendower
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Posts: 182

My name is Jon.


« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2006, 02:06:35 PM »

I'm Jon, a Forge newcomer.  I'm still reading and rereading the essays and articles, and I gotta tell you, this place is a real eye-opener.  I hope you find my suggestions useful, a lot is advice given to me when I first came on board here. 

The best place to start is with your players.  They should know your general plan, and support your premise.  Did you explain that you wanted to "keep the occultic elements out of the first few sessions"?  Are they aware you wanted to eventually go the Vampire route? The Forge has taught me lots of stuff, among them the importance of informing your players what you want to do, and where you want to go.  You then get feedback and suggestions, and people start to tell you what they want.  They as in the players.  You then adjust and alter until everyone comes to an agreement and is happy with the general premise of the game. 

This way you have people walking into the game with eyes wide open.  If everyone's on board, you don't get what the Forge people call incoherence in play.  Which, by the way, is what you're getting.

A second important bit is getting everyone to create characters together, and for everyone to discuss their characters together.  Characters don't have to know one another, or the secrets they have, but the PLAYERS need to know what other PLAYERS are going to be roleplaying.  This avoids all kinds of problems, like having a cop character and a robber character somehow having to team up without some reason in play (again, discussed in advance by the players). 

I believe that's why Washinton and Xandra are both having problems.  It doesn't seem that they had a clear plan of what to do with their characters, and they are not well connected with the other characters.  Washington would have benefitted from others giving him ideas (He doesn't seem to have much of a character) and Xandra could have had other players helping her with the "why" in her character sticking around. 

You and others can take the opportunity to say "that's not gonna work, chief" to any character concepts that just suggest a boatload of trouble.  The serial rapist, for example.  Or the person who needs to run every two minutes to escape those that want to harm her. 

It all boils down to communication.  Keep the floodgates wide open, stay on the level, tell people what you think will be fun, and they'll do the same.  Fun's what it's all about.
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Hi, my name is Jon.
Belinda K.
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2006, 04:01:37 AM »

Regarding Freddy, Or Your Player is Playing a What????!!!

Before we started the game, everyone knew it would eventually segue into a vampire game. Freddy's player wanted to explore the themes of vampirism, hence his choice to play a rapist - as vehicle of exploring the metaphor linked to vampirism and avoiding the  Anne Rice vibe. I was certainly hesitant about this; I had a rather bad experience with a former boyfriend that I’ve been trying to forget about for years.  I brought the issue up with the group and it was asked if anyone had a problem with it. No one did. They're all mature players and they were interested in 'dark' game, since our previous horror games sort of degenerated into schlocky whackiness.

The player of Freddy is a good friend of mine, someone that I’m quite comfortable with on a personal level and I knew his interest in the character’s predilections would be more for thematic reasons than for anything else. The rape thing is uncomfortable for me thematically, and I thought by seeing where that went I could get close to a pure horror feeling in a game, as well perhaps gaining a few cathartic moments as Freddy adjusts to losing what gives him pleasure in mortality, as it’s replaced by something horrible and dead, a fake fix that isn’t real (the vampiric feeding bit). The vampire themes are about downward spirals, losing mortality and realising that for all the power you’ve got, you’ll never regain what you lost.

As for the police contacts, that was justified through the character’s lengthy background – it was detailed write-up and gave motivations and explanations for how Freddy walks and talks, far more than my meagre lines above. I know people might find such a character in a game offensive, but it was carefully discussed, reasoned and found acceptable to the goals of the group, who were after a ‘dark horror’ game.

With regards to the characters, some of them know about this and some of them don’t, so it will certainly spark IC tension in future, which is what the group likes (especially Freddy’s player. He usually plays ‘difficult’ characters and likes relating to the group through tension. When he played a ‘nice’ character in the previous game, everyone said that that was boring, and asked him to play a ‘difficult’ or ‘tension-creating’ character again, so this is what the player came up with and what the group accepted.

Player dynamics
Quote
I'm interested in the player dynamic too. During the game, did they all seem into it? - and did they seem into it all the time, or just when their character was active, or what?

Certainly, they all seemed into the game – there was no OOC discussions or chitchats about World of Warcraft. There’s the occasional OOC comment about IC stuff – usually something sarcastic or witty about what’s happened. Xandra’s player likes doing that a fair bit, while Freddy’s player, for example, prefers full immersion without any OOC break-ups.  I think Xandra’s player likes to distance herself from the events of the game, so she can control things more. When she was tense and being stalked in the hotel, she was frantically trying to munchkin with her ‘Unseen Sense’ merit to use it like a GPS tracker to pinpoint the source of the threat, despite repeated explanations of what it actually does (just give a general feeling of threat).
Vienna’s player is  quiet but does stuff when she gets the camera. She usually ‘goes with the flow’ of events. I’ve seen her do fantastic things when really pushed to the wall, when her character’s life is on the line or when she’s proactive, but normally she’s a solid, supporting PC.

Martinez’s player enjoys character-based roleplay, building a character and relationships with others. He comes off with really cool, off the wall stuff  and quirks to flesh out his characters.

Washington’s player is also a good, solid roleplayer, but very direct in his approach to things. I haven’t ‘powered’ anyone up yet, but there’s a general expectation in the air that they will be vampirised at some point in the game (I didn’t stipulate when, and only Washington’s player asked that it happened to him within the first three or so sessions).

So far in the game, Wash, Martinez and Vienna clicked and hung out a lot together, Xandra ran away a lot and spent a lot of time trying to distance herself from her fellow PCs, and Freddy played the ‘I’m everyone’s friend’ schtick, which worked.
When I ask for feedback of these guys, they just say they’re enjoying things as they are, they don’t want to be ‘spoiled’ and will give the odd jokey comments about ‘Phat L00t’ and so forth. For long term plans or player contracts, they like to have it vague and not firmly spelled out, and so we develop most of our character dynamics in play. Although this set of characters is meshing far more nicely than the previous game, where you could feel the probability walls straining to keep the group networking together.

I might check out Sorcerer for some ideas though; it sounds like a good resource for building character-based games. (I doubt I could get the group to switch from WoD though for a full campaign, but you never know!)

Quote
I believe that's why Washinton and Xandra are both having problems.  It doesn't seem that they had a clear plan of what to do with their characters, and they are not well connected with the other characters.

Washington’s connected with Martinez (the players are good friends IRL) as they ‘grew up in the neighbourhood’ together. But so far, Wash is just an angry, violent character and couldn’t think of any NPCs he’d know, so I’ll probably just invent some and throw them at him, and he’ll grab the ball and run with it which I’ve seen him to do before. I’ll chat to him out of game first, but he should be cool with it. It looks like it’s one of those characters that will be more fleshed out during play than anything else.

Quote
Xandra could have had other players helping her with the "why" in her character sticking around.

Yeah, I really should have picked that up beforehand – Xandra had just joined the band, and instantly her character didn’t click with the others, and I had to resort to invisible ropes to get her back with the group. Xandra’s player admitted to wanting to stay with the group than make up a new character, and eventually we had to shuffle things around but I think she’s with the team now.

I guess it’s as you say – keep talking with the players, keep them involved but ultimately you don’t know what’s going to go down until the game starts! Still, I hoping to sate Wash's power-up urges and get Xandra more involved with the group in future games without neglecting the development of the other characters.
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Judd
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2006, 10:15:14 AM »

I brought the issue up with the group and it was asked if anyone had a problem with it. No one did. They're all mature players and they were interested in 'dark' game, since our previous horror games sort of degenerated into schlocky whackiness.

Awesome.  Sorry to freak out but when you didn't mention any conversation and just threw his character out as if it was anyone else, I was shocked and dismayed and worried.

I will re-read it all over with character-based adventuring and flags in mind.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2006, 10:44:26 AM »

Belinda, whether or not you dig Sorcerer, you should absolutely check out Sex and Sorcery, a supplement for the game. It's full of fantastically useful information about gaming with adults and about sensitive subjects. I bought it before I bought Sorcerer and was so impressed, I bought Sorcerer shortly thereafter.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2006, 10:52:05 AM »

What was on the questionaire and what were their answers?

What kind of flags to you perceive on their character sheets?
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Danny_K
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Posts: 198


« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2006, 01:06:20 PM »

I don't have any theoretical sparks of genius to offer, but I wanted to say this is an interesting, challenging, diverse group. 

Regarding approaches to running it, I'm concerned you'll hit a wall pretty soon if you keep hitting them with random spooky events without knowing what's behind it.  It gets hard to maintain consistency, and you may end up foreclosing some great options. 

I think classic Vampire GM'ing techniques might work here pretty well -- figure out what's going with the vampires (or other supernatural powers) in the setting, and then let the PC's, in the course of play, encounter the NPC powerstructure and get pulled into it (or driven away from it!) session by session. Freddy and Washington seem like excellent candidates to get ghouled.

One additional thought: have you already settled on Vampire?  I ask because your characters would make a great group to play Hunter: the Reckoning with.  A diverse group of people with very different approaches and moral codes, all forced together to fight the supernatural.  Of course, H:tR is out of print and not perfectly compatible with the new WoD.



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I believe in peace and science.
Belinda K.
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2006, 03:57:26 AM »

Thanks for all the responses. Mega-post follows!

Quote
Belinda, whether or not you dig Sorcerer, you should absolutely check out Sex and Sorcery, a supplement for the game. It's full of fantastically useful information about gaming with adults and about sensitive subjects. I bought it before I bought Sorcerer and was so impressed, I bought Sorcerer shortly thereafter.

Yeah, I'm going to try out a few 'indy' games to check out different ideas of gaming. Thanks for the tip.

Quote
What was on the questionaire and what were their answers?

It'd be rather looong if I gave you 'em all. Here's a brief sample, with Wash's:

FLAGS: Opportunistic. Always looking for the advantage. Sadistic - enjoys inflicting and watching pain on others. Volatile - has series anger issies. Controls it by periodic venting.

NAME: Jerome 'Wash' Washington AKA DJ Spearchucker. Born into a middle-class family, well-schooled, however was not that just interested. Coasted to uni, but really only wants a musical career.

FASHION: Tall, black. Giant Afro that is sometimes wrapped in a bag-hat. Wears a lot of black.

TYPE OF PERSON: Lives in denial of his middle-class background; enjoys being poor to a certain extent. Very independent. Studies kung-fu for recreation - has since he was a child.

LINKS TO OTHER PCs:

    * Freddy - Hostile, always looking for a reason to bash.
    * Jesus - Grew up in the same neighbourhood.
    * Xandra - Hasn't known her long.


WHY IN BAND?: Became involved in the band after answering an ad in the local 'Band Sense' newspaper. Feels that this is his big chance of success.

LEAD SINGER?: The band has a lot of stylistic conflict. Wash is never entirely happy with the intensity of the last few singers.

EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE/DARK SECRETS: Infamous. Has a remarkable temper, one he has struggled to control for years. Tries to deny his middle-class origins. Would have preferred to be working class as it is better for his image.

Quote
What kind of flags to you perceive on their character sheets?

Here are the 'flags' of the group,

* Freddy - Power over people. Maintaining control. Multiple identities.
* Jesus - Neighbourhood themes (e.g. Bad dudes moving into the neighbourhood. Satanists or cultists). Protectiveness.
* Vienna - Gossip. Angst. Soapy complications. Twisted romance.
* Washington - Opportunistism (always looking for the advantage), sadism (enjoys inflicting and watching pain on others). Anger issues - periodic venting.
* Xandra - Avoiding being controlled or manipulated. Avoiding predatory men. Signs that her husband has tracked her down.


Quote
I think classic Vampire GM'ing techniques might work here pretty well -- figure out what's going with the vampires (or other supernatural powers) in the setting, and then let the PC's, in the course of play, encounter the NPC powerstructure and get pulled into it (or driven away from it!) session by session. Freddy and Washington seem like excellent candidates to get ghouled.

Yeah, I'm fidding with something like that already - I'm just making it small to start with - starting with a bunch of vamps who may have reason to Embrace/ghoul the group, and then working backwards from there.

Quote
One additional thought: have you already settled on Vampire?  I ask because your characters would make a great group to play Hunter: the Reckoning with.  A diverse group of people with very different approaches and moral codes, all forced together to fight the supernatural.  Of course, H:tR is out of print and not perfectly compatible with the new WoD.

I was keen on a mortal hunter campaign, doable with the nWoD core, but they wanted supernatural powers, and vampires was what the consensus reached. I didn't really click with the old Hunter - I'd rather it had been about straight up human hunters, and the powers muddied the themes for me. Still, I knew those who'd managed to get some excellent campaigns going from it.
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Belinda K.
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2006, 04:21:55 AM »

I’ve just located the ‘Brain Damage’ post of Ron’s that talks about the long-term mangling of one’s story-telling prowess when forced to play in a game that runs using the standard ‘White Wolf’-esque way of story-telling. I think. This is a sort of oblique essay in response to that.

In the late 90s, we played heaps of the old World of Darkness stuff. And it was fun, but from a narrative perspective those games were messy. In one game we were a mixed group of WoD supernatural critters, and were harried constantly by omnipotent NPCs. So we spent lots of time trying to ‘out cool’ the NPCs and each other. We built a huge secret base for ourselves in the Amazon and spent sessions dickering with each other and setting things up, and eventually the GM blew it it up with an  ICBM missile sent by the Giovanni (a particular vampire clan that were the world’s secret Illuminati in this game). Narrative-wise, it was but you get the idea. Was the GM doing stupid things because the GM advice at the back of the Vampire book gave him the wrong idea for how to set up a story? White Wolf in those days was big in Theme, Mood and Setting. Elaborate Preludes for the character. But that didn’t come across in our games – they were dumb because we were all young and stupid and just happy to play – but they were fun. And I don’t think I sucked up all of my narrative-appreciation from those games – there’s stuff like books and movies for that. And there were some really good games I played in where the game was driven by the story, but my character was integral to that story with a definite power over what could happen in that story.

So when you come together to create a game, you’re creating a community, and the game that comes out depends on how well that community is built. I started off GMing with my One Plot to Rule Them All, and rail-roaded the players to the ends of the world and back, but was never satisfied with the quality of the stories. And there were bits in the WoD books that helped – various essays, stuff on how to involve the characters. Wraith, in particular, had its unique (well, for a WoD game) approach where another player played the first character’s ‘dark side’, constantly whispering in their ear and luring them into oblivion.

It’s only when I loosened up that I felt the quality of my games improving; through handing control partially over to the players and by talking with them; empathy and interaction. I think the issue is learning how to improve your social approach to your gaming group, the community that plays the game. The new WoD core book supports this as well: giving advice like ‘Involve the players whenever possible’ and  ‘Be aware of player’s expectations’. Stuff like that. I’ve let the players play NPCs in the game, often going to ‘cut scenes’ where they play characters integral to a PC’s plotline. Or let them pull stuff out of the air to respond to a situation if it’s feasible: “ I use my cigarette lighter and the deodorant in my hand-bag to set fire to the swarm of cockroaches.”

I’m still flopping around: for my failed Denver Historical Society game, I had a labyrinthine plot. The  idea was that the players would investigate it kind of like a game of Myst – play with the setting, see what they ‘clicked on’ in terms of secrets and relationships. Maybe it didn’t work because they weren’t interested or motivated enough. Maybe I didn’t give them enough lead-in hooks. Maybe it was because the characters were too far apart from each other to have any reason to interract with each other outside of the ‘professional investigation’ framework.

Anyway, the attempt with the current game is to derive most of the plot impetus from the player’s backgrounds and motivations. How did I arrive at that conclusion? Well, practical experience. The most fun we’ve had as a group is just by doing straight-up character inter-relationship stuff, with players deliberate getting themselves into more complications so they can keep at it. Ergo, the next campaign would be fully dedicated to that kind of thing, and I’d only build the plot or external narrative bits as required to keep the PCs ‘stuff’ churning. I think I dropped too many ‘plot bombs’ in the first session, but overall it got the group together and raised the level of tension.

But, hopefully we’ll get there. I’m hoping this will be the best campaign yet!
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Belinda K.
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« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2006, 02:16:12 AM »

Okay, aside over; I've got a little conflict map happening and some NPCs going with the game. I'm having trouble with conceptualising 'bangs'.  I can think of 'scenes' for each player: (e.g. Xandra recieves a mysterious phone call telling her where her son is) but I'm not sure how to make that into a 'bang' so that the player will be forced to cool roleplay flashpoint. And then linking it together.

Bang - Xandra - (She recieves a phone call telling her that 'they' have her son, but she has to meet up with her predatory ex-husband if she wants to see the child again).

Is this the idea?
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