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[Trollbabe] VoIP play Session 5

Started by Chris Gardiner, April 12, 2006, 11:01:51 AM

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Chris Gardiner

A bit of a change of pace this session. It was a little slower, a little more talky, with quite a lot of conversation between Trollbabes and with NPCs. I prepared a short handout about some of the cults and characters at the Festival of Vagrant Gods, and the players took the opportunity to delve a little into the setting and the NPCs. I felt it might have been a bit slow, but the players were positive about it - I think they felt it was time for a more leisurely session. Everyone was also more proactive on requesting scenes and jumping into one another's scenes, and towards the end of the session we were cutting back and forth like crazy with Crosses and Weaves.

They also found out what the festival was about: a great ceremony to awaken Otun (whose mouth is the geyser at the centre of the island) and have him roar in order to scare away the evil spirits that stir when a certain wandering star is in the sky.

Events focused around the three prisoners of the Rhadamanthine who appeared at the end of last session. Three of the trollbabes have some sort of connection to one of the prisoners: Monolith to the human who saved her (who has turned out to be the servant of the man who cut off her horns), Breaker to the pirate, and Mountain-Cloud to the troll (via one of her relationships, Korsev, who is the brother of the troll prisoner).

Their trials are due to start next session, and players are deciding whose cases they want to intervene in, and how. The trials are martial contests, and Monolith is gearing up to step in, while Breaker intends to use the excitement to go after Yorick's treasure, which is hidden within Otun's Mouth.

The VoIP medium is having some peculiar effects. Fire-Eyes' player finds that it impedes playing a very emotional, tempestuous character, while Monolith's player finds that the VoIP thing actually helps her when it comes to playing an impassive, solemn, implacable character.

This time, my favourite set of events came about as a result of the Trollbabe rules slotting together in really interesting ways. After the first adventure, Fire-Eyes' player moved her number down to 2, making her a magical powerhouse but seriously impeding her in Fighting and Social conflicts. After the Child of the Wind delivered a prophecy that agitated the Rhadamanthine, Fire-Eyes tried talking to Husk, the Rhadamanthine leader about why it had upset them so much, and I immediately declared it a Social conflict, offering up the victory carrot of "If you win, you get a completely straight answer from him"

(At this point, Breaker's player noted that "Every fucking game needs the ability to do that in it.")

The failure conditions were that if Fire-Eyes lost, the Husk would see one of her past crimes and throw it in her face.

Fire-Eyes lost the conflict, despite calling another Trollbabe in as a Sudden Ally using a reroll, and increasing the pace in order to get more shots at succeeding (although is that actually what a higher pace does? I can't quite work out the stats on that).

As part of the failure narration, the player declared that what Husk saw wasn't Fire-Eyes' greatest crime, but the thing she felt most guilty about: the fact that she drove her troll mother to abandon her grandmother because she could not bear her incescent questioning and chatter. Fire-Eyes fled, weeping.

The player then asked for a scene on the shore, with Fire-Eyes' pain turning to anger, which we took as a recovery scene. In it, he talked about how Fire-Eyes wasn't about to go through anything like that again, and wanted to find a way to bring her magic into bear in social situations. Since Trollbabe magic has to be established in a scene before it can be used, he narrated how Fire-Eyes was opening her spellbook (now crammed with dark Vuhl lore) and studying a Vuhl enslavement spell (we'd established previously that the Vuhl had been built upon its legions of slaves). He was careful to point out that this was the sort of magic Fire-Eyes had steered clear of in the past, but now she was ready to use it. So now, Fire-Eyes has an appalling sorcery prepared to bend others to her will, and she's itching for a chance to use it.

The whole series of events was driven by a number of rules: goal-setting, conflict failure and narration rights, the ability to change your Trollbabe's number after an adventure, the effects of an extreme number, and the need to establish magic in a prior scene. It's a fantastic feeling, seeing rules be the cause of so much cool stuff, rather than impeding it.

Ron Edwards

I'm floored. You all were able to do this in a non face-to-face medium?  Wow. What a great story.

Quick note on pace: sometimes it's more advantageous to use higher pace, sometimes more advantageous to use lower. It depends on the Number being employed. Now, the fun part is that the person who calls the conflict gets to choose the Action Type, so that means you might get shoehorned into a more difficult choice. Getting good at this is real black-belt trollbabe play.

Hey, I have a question - do the people playing know each other outside of the medium? How well? What sorts of folks are they, you know, age-ish, gender-ish, that sort of thing.

Best, Ron

Chris Gardiner

Hi Ron,

Re: pace - it's something we tended to forget about a bit, and we've often just left conflicts at the Whole Conflict pace; I'll try and wrap my head around it some more. I feel like we've got a decent grip on the basics now; time to start working towards that belt...

QuoteHey, I have a question - do the people playing know each other outside of the medium? How well? What sorts of folks are they, you know, age-ish, gender-ish, that sort of thing.

Sure. Let's see. The players are two couples, all of whom live in the same town. I live a good 3-4 hours away from them, hence the VoIP. The players are all a tight-knit bunch and see each other frequently on a social level, and for face-to-face gaming every week.

We all know each other very well outside of the medium - we met through a university RPG club, and have known each other for about 10 years. I shared a house with one of the couples for about three years. We've done lots of gaming together, and see each other socially pretty regularly. In terms of age, we all cluster around thirty.

Erm...just trying to think what else might be useful. One of the players is a longtime GM who, like me, has recently been getting interested in indie-rpgs (he posts here occassionally - he may surface). He's about to run some Dogs in the Vineyard for people, who I envy with a green fury. Of the others, two have GMed occasionally before. I'd like to talk some about how one of the players has reacted to Trollbabe (which is very, very positively), but I'd like to talk to her about it first.

Is that the sort of information you were after? Let me know if there's anything else that would be useful.


Hi Chris - It looks like you've got a pretty cool setting here, based on the skeleton provided in the rules.  At what point in the process did you/the players come up with that setting?  It's one of those things the Trollbabe rules are silent about.

Chris Gardiner

Hi James,

Setting creation has been an ongoing process. We didn't start with anything more than the guidelines in the rulebook, but when the players stated where their characters were heading at the start of play, they always included some piece of information about their destination. Based on that, before the first session I came up with some setting ideas.

The festival of Vagrant Gods came about in response to Monolith's player saying she was heading to a religious festival at Otun's Belch. I jotted down some notes on the lost civilisation of Vuhl when Fire-Eyes player said she was going to the Silent Forest to seek the lore of the ancient magicians that were buried there. And the contest for the title of pirate king, the players in it, and the sea powers they serve were invented after Breaker's player made pirates a big part of her background.

The same has happened between adventures, when the players state where they're going next. Whatever they say about their destination or reasons for going there I use to come up with some bits of background. Players have added some details in play, too, but they've been quite cautious about doing this, limiting themselves to colour.

I had been worried that this method of world-creation would mean the setting felt flimsy or half-baked, but I don't think this has been the case. Weaving a particular bit of setting into different characters' stories goes a long way to making it convincing - so when Vuhl ruins popped up on the isle Breaker was on as well as in the Silent Forest that Mountain-Cloud and Fire-Eyes were exploring, it gave the history some scope and meaning. It's been a bit of a revelation to me, how little pre-made background is needed to run a game, and how easy it is to build a coherent setting around what the players tell you.


That's cool!  The only time I played Trollbabe, it was a very similar idea: all this blank canvas meant that I could come up with wacky setting material, and the GM did a fine job of roping it in.

On the topic of how much setting & color is necessary... I sometimes wonder if all that stuff is just a way for the GM to maintain control: it's still his story, because he created the setting or bought the big source book.  As a theoretical matter, I'd be curious to see different points along that continuum, between practically nothing and obsessively detailed.  Like, I think SOY's "World of Near" is a good middle ground, which sets up themes, moods, and flavors, but still leaves a lot up in the air.