News:

Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

[TSOY] Love and death on the Poison Coast

Started by Clinton R. Nixon, August 12, 2005, 07:32:46 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Clinton R. Nixon

This is somewhat of a follow-up post to Eating the Black. Only somewhat.

Eight lovely sessions, and what do we have?

Last night was session eight of my current The Shadow of Yesterday game. We wrapped up this story arc we were in once and far all, and it was a blast. I'm not certain how to do an Actual Play post for eight sessions, but I'll try.

Our story in a nutshell
So there's this guy, Tlaloc the Qek, um, trader. Or smuggler. Or thief. That guy, you know who I'm talking about. Also, he's a very reluctant walozi, which means he left home because he can talk to the dead, but doesn't want to. This guy is played by Mischa. (Also known as the winner of this year's Iron Game Chef competition.)

There's this other guy, Aonghus the Khalean, um, outcast. Or dude with hand made of moon-metal. Or traitor. Or diplomat. He's slick and has a crazy hand. This guy is played by Judson.

Ok, so the two of them have wild and crazy adventures in an Ammeni city named Marais. Imagine Planescape's Sigil, but on earth and without demons and stuff, and then take Basin City, and maybe a port city in Laos. Mix that together. That's Marais.

Aonghus's story goes something like this: meet low-level city officials and work for them; get bit in the face and see this Tlaloc guy steal his boss's stuff; meet low-level criminals and work for them; meet a floozy; meet Tlaloc and gain a friend and try to unload some stolen goods; get offered the chance to join a powerful secret society of awesome weirdos; take that chance; meet more interesting women; savagely destroy the Khalean Liberation Front in Marais; help Tlaloc with a really complicated setup; find out your city boss is like the most powerful dude in Ammeni; watch him die; sleep with this oracle prostitute that never wakes up but answers your questions in your dreams after you sleep with her.

Tlaloc's story is more like this: make off with the biggest heist in Ammenite history and meet this savage woman who bites people in the face; fall head over heels for her; hang out with low-level criminals; meet Aonghus and gain a partner; get screwed over by Aonghus' floozy; get tortured by the woman you love; try to stay low for a while, but get bugged by dead people; meet an awesome band - led by a dead person; promise to help out that dead person by freeing his spirit; find out the only way to do that is make the woman you love forget this dead guy; oh, yeah, find out she eats people and is like 100 years old; chop down the most powerful dude in Ammeni because you need the Zu word "forget" from him, and he's kind of a dick; make her forget; walk off lonely; inherit a drug farm from the dead guy you just freed; ride off with the band, especially the hot stringed-instrument player.

That's really paraphrasing it.

See the weaving of the stories, though? There's a few important NPCs here:


  • Undersecretary Gael/Saul, Father of the Ammenite Houses. This guy was so much fun to play. He started as just a low-level official in the game, someone to interface between the powerful House Desang and Aonghus. As I kept introducing more elements into the game, though, there was a session or two of "is he what he seems or more?" Not even I knew as GM. Finally, I decided to go with it. He ended up being a very useful connection to Aonghus and a rival to Tlaloc. The best part about that is that Gael didn't really know anything about Tlaloc until about two minutes before he died.
  • Akhaharu. Leader of the notorious "Noir Mange" cult, this Zaru woman was feral and mean. She literally bit through Aonghus's cheek. Of course, Tlaloc fell for her. I mean, 100 year old animal-woman who eats people? Fun.
  • Bones. Band-leader and theremin-player and ancient sorcerer. Good, good guy. The deal is that spirits can't completely pass on until everyone who knew them when they were alive is gone. Akhaharu was this guy's lover when they were both alive. Gael started screwing stuff up - he killed them both years ago. But he made Akhaharu live again forever, which was really fucking up Bones' day because he was a little tired of hanging around. He's been around so long, though, he's forgotten a lot of stuff, and he didn't know Akhaharu was alive. So he pays Tlaloc to find out who remembers him and stop them.

That's a fun group of people to put the player characters among, let me tell you. Bones, the last one, was invented when Mischa wanted Tlaloc to refresh a pool by relaxing at an opium bar.

The last session
Quickly, I have to talk about this. It was such a proving-ground for TSOY. I mean, if I didn't believe in the game, I wouldn't have printed it, but I feel even more confident now. The PCs are start the session surrounded. There's this old Zaru village full of dead people - it's been hovering in the background the whole game. It's where Gael killed Bones and Akhaharu - the original crime scene, so to speak.

Gael and troops are on one side. The PCs are nominally with them, although Tlaloc's come here to steal the Zaru word "forget" from Gael and make Akhaharu forget about Bones. Akhaharu and cultists are on the other side. Akhaharu sees Tlaloc and calls out, "Kill Gael and you can live forever with me!" Good deal, huh?

He stabs Gael in the belly and Aonghus stops the sword, grabbing onto it with his metal hand, sparks flying. They have words, but Tlaloc proves himself. He makes Gael give up the word. Gael thinks, "Why not? I'll just kill him and take it back." He gives up the word and Tlaloc, not thinking, uses on Gael! Gael tries to steal it back and it's Bringing Down the Pain time! Not just normal Bringing Down the Pain, but "Tlaloc's goal: kill Gael. Gael's goal: steal word from Tlaloc's head" Bringing Down the Pain. That's crazy stuff! It goes off, Tlaloc edging out Gael by spending a spare advance to give his sword the Secret of Imbuement (+2 harm when using Jaguar Style on Ammenites.)

And Akhaharu, well, she wants to give Tlaloc immortality. She hates Gael, but she can't spend eternity alone. Aonghus tries to help out with this decision by offering to take immortality himself. When he then doesn't, she flips and throws Tlaloc into a wall. It's up to his friend to stab this crazy woman. He severs her spinal cord, and she lives without control of her legs.

They dump her and her cultists off at the spot where Tlaloc dumped the treasure he stole from everyone in session 1. Before he leaves, Tlaloc tells Akhaharu that Bones is still around. She totally becomes a real woman again, begging him to take her to her old lover, swearing that she'll not harm anyone.

And he makes her forget with that word, buying off the Key of Unrequited Love in the process.

Kick-ass!

The Mechanics of our Game
This was a really interesting game mechanically, as it was the playtest group for the new TSOY. We started with the old version, and from the start, things were unclear. How does Bringing Down the Pain work? Why can't I give more gift dice? All sorts of issues.

Converting characters was easy. Nothing really to talk about there.

Around session 4, we had a session with one roll. That was it. I think Mischa, whose background I'd guess would lead him to think mechanics get in the way - he's a very immersive player, in a good way - loved it. I really was disappointed, as mechanics not being used seem to equal bad mechanics to me. What it was was me not truly having the new system done. It was about half-baked and we avoided it.

Every session after that, there were more and more rolls. When Ben Lehman came to town and played in sessions 6 and 7, stuff started flying. (I finished the new text right before he got here.) High-energy rolls, tense Bringing Down the Pain, the whole nine yards. Keys were being hit like gang-busters. We had our first 5 XP Key hit, which is a big deal.

Session 8, with the new book in my hand - two 5 XP Key hits, a buy off, lots of other Key hits, a rad Bringing Down the Pain, all gift dice spent at the end of the session - whew! It was heady stuff.

We learned - and I wish I'd put this in the book - that saving a few advances makes you a bad-ass. You get to be flexible. Tlaloc making his sword an Ammenite-slayer saved his bacon.

Wrap-up
It'd be hard to figure out my favorite parts. Bones' appearance is way up there. Aonghus helping to save the life of a KLF member's mom right before he slaughtered the KLF single-handedly was amazing. Watching the transformation of Estella (a minor NPC, the aforementioned "Aonghus' floozy") from a strong revenge-seeker to a broken wash-out was harrowing. The death of Ben's character was pretty fun - maybe more for me than him.

And we're going to keep playing! Tlaloc has this poiture farm he owns now - Bones gave it to him. We're going from very urban to very rural, and that'll add a lot of new twists. Aonghus has a mission as a member of the Nine, a secret society, that he's going to try and fulfill.

And more sessions! I'm so pleased I made a highly-narrativist game that truly works for long-term play. I'm guessing at least six more sessions, if not a lot more. I'm a little nervous about the future; once you hit the mid-point of a story arc, the Story Guide really has no prep. I have to go back and use those skills again now to make new conflicts. But I'm even more excited.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Ron Edwards

Hiya,

Look out, man, I was planning or semi-planning six sessions for our Hero Wars game back in 2000, and the damn thing went on for fourteen months.

Best,
Ron

Bankuei

Hi Clinton,

Your format for actual play reports rocks.  I will be stealing it and hope it becomes a world wide gaming method :P

That aside- that whole thing sounds great.  I like the recurring themes of music sex and death.  Now I must go make my own Fudge Dice.

Chris

Bill Cook

So Tlaloc sacrificed Akhaharu's love to Sever Bones, right? The last session play log is a little hard for me to follow. I'm especially confused about the source of Akhaharu's conflict. I get that she wants a partner for afterlife in Tlaloc; I just don't get how her hatred of Gael competes with that aim. How does Aonghus' offer address this? Why does Akhaharu start attacking her intended? About the spinal cord injury and the transformation to living tissue: these are interesting color. I wonder how you arrived at them? (I'm not asking why you made those choices. I want to know how the mechanics led you to the that point.)

That's pretty cool how you had Advance expense, severe BDTP, Key hits and a buy off, all within proximity.

You're really juicing the Qek. I can see a little hue of every culture except Maldor. Near is a bizarrely foreign place. It's very cool to read about it coming to life.

I agree that TSOY lends itself well to campaign play. Have yet to prove it through my efforts, but that seems to be the format it suggests.

Clinton R. Nixon

Quote from: Bill Cook on August 13, 2005, 05:45:42 AM
So Tlaloc sacrificed Akhaharu's love to Sever Bones, right? The last session play log is a little hard for me to follow. I'm especially confused about the source of Akhaharu's conflict. I get that she wants a partner for afterlife in Tlaloc; I just don't get how her hatred of Gael competes with that aim. How does Aonghus' offer address this? Why does Akhaharu start attacking her intended? About the spinal cord injury and the transformation to living tissue: these are interesting color. I wonder how you arrived at them? (I'm not asking why you made those choices. I want to know how the mechanics led you to the that point.)

Bill,

Akhaharu is pretty broken in the head. Gael made her what she is, and she hates him, but he's also the only source of stability in her life. As soon as she realized he was gone forever, she wanted something to replace that. I paraphrased everything between her, Tlaloc, and Aonghus, but basically:

- She offered Tlaloc immorality.
- He waffled, and she couldn't believe it and was getting angry.
- Aonghus stepped in, mainly to distract her.
- That didn't really work out, and since Tlaloc wouldn't join her, she had to destroy him - in her sick brain.

I don't get the "transformation to living tissue" comment. Please clarify. As for the severing of the spinal cord, Aonghus had an ability check. We established that the stakes couldn't be "kill Akhaharu" - she's too powerful to outright kill without Bringing Down the Pain. We revised that to "incapacitate her." Judson rolled something sick like success level 6, and so I narrated the spear going through her and cutting her spinal cord, paralyzing her from the waist down. (Don't worry - she'll be fine. If she eats some human flesh, she regenerates. Aonghus even made sure to get one of her followers to come to her before he left her on the ground. He even got XP for that: Key of Conscience, "gain 5 XP when you help someone who cannot help themselves.")

Quote
You're really juicing the Qek. I can see a little hue of every culture except Maldor. Near is a bizarrely foreign place. It's very cool to read about it coming to life.

I realized what TSOY is really about. It's about what happens when differing cultural values - and belief systems - collide. This whole story arc was really about what happens when Ammenite life-extension meets Qek afterlife beliefs. It wasn't pretty.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Bill Cook

Cool. I'm seeing her craziness better.

Quote from: Clinton.. Gael made her what she is .. she eats people and is like 100 years old .. she totally becomes a real woman again ..

I'm starting to understsand that her technicality is based on Ammenite life-exetension. I thought she was a zombie, but now I see her as a Methusala.

Clinton R. Nixon

Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Judd

Clinton,

In another thread you talked about kind of dreading running your own game.  Can you talk about getting over that and just digging what was happening at the table?

Clinton R. Nixon

Quote from: Paka on August 14, 2005, 05:56:41 AM
Clinton,

In another thread you talked about kind of dreading running your own game.  Can you talk about getting over that and just digging what was happening at the table?

Sure thing. I always dread running my own games. I feel like if I wrote them, I must think I can do better than the other games out there. Wait, that's phrased wrong. I feel like that others will feel that if I wrote a game, I must think that I can do better than other games. Which isn't true - I just get a game in my head and I can't stop thinking about it until I write it. But - with that assumption, I worry that I'll run it and people will think it's no big deal. I kind of have a phobia of disappointing others.

Anyway, this game got me over that. Not only did I quit worrying about it, but I found that TSOY really does do the type of fantasy I wanted and the type of game I wanted better than any other game I've tried. (Which, you know, as the author I feel weird saying, but it's true.)

I'm not sure what else to say on this subject. My fears were kind of dumb, and once I started play, they didn't come up.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Judd

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon on August 14, 2005, 06:03:43 AMI'm not sure what else to say on this subject. My fears were kind of dumb, and once I started play, they didn't come up.

I think that's valuable to put out there.  I am sure there are many burgeoning game designers who find playtesting a daunting process and to hear you talk about your fears and overcoming them is valuable.

I know the first time I ran Dictionary of Mu away from the safety of Ithacans and friends, away from my home turf I felt pressure very much like that.  So, I hear ya.

Bill Cook

Quote from: ClintonGoblin: We Are Gigantus

These goblins also believe they can become one person. One giant, terrifying Godzilla-goblin person. They can.

I'm sorry to make an empty post, but I just had to share; when I read this, I laughed so hard I almost cried.

RPL

Hi, I'm going to start a TSoY story very soon, it's the first time I'll be in the GM seat for a serious game-lenght so there's a lot of things I need to understand about the game and its mechanics.

My question here is about this:
Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon on August 12, 2005, 07:32:46 PMNot just normal Bringing Down the Pain, but "Tlaloc's goal: kill Gael. Gael's goal: steal word from Tlaloc's head" Bringing Down the Pain. That's crazy stuff! It goes off, Tlaloc edging out Gael by spending a spare advance to give his sword the Secret of Imbuement (+2 harm when using Jaguar Style on Ammenites.)
I get (i think... hope) the idea of BDTP, zoom in on the conflit and get your hands dirty with the bloody mess of the conflict.
What's confusing me is the... "visual concept" (?) of how thing unfold, in this situation there seems to be a very strange conflict at hands, Tlaloc wants to kill Gael (simple enough) and Gael wants to the "forget" word back from Tlaloc (likewise). I can see this working in separate or maybe paralel conflicts, but at the same time it seems confusing, I'm trying to kill this guy and all he wants to do is to take a word out of my head!! how does this come to happen.

If you steal remember how this developed could you post a breakdown of this conflict? or if you don't remember exactly just make it up hehe, i just wanto to understand how such diferent intentions can unfold at the same time.

Thanks.

Clinton R. Nixon

RedPiss,

It's a common courtesy on the Forge not to post to old threads. I'll answer your question in a separate thread, if you don't mind.

- Clinton
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

RPL

Oh, sorry about that, i'll make a new post then.