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Author Topic: [D&D 3.0/3.5] At long last, a dungeon  (Read 11991 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: June 29, 2006, 06:31:35 AM »

Here are the previous threads' links:

[D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
[D&D 3.0/3.5] Skill combat and blood drinking
[D&D 3.0/3.5] Spells and swords: fight!
[D&D 3.0/3.5] Undead, real dead

This is the last thread about this game, because we finished the scenario in two short sessions in two days.

Due to the time constraint (Christopher leaving for summer camp), I asked the players about what they'd like to see in the last sessions, specifically, whether a solid confrontation was key or a set of social interactions. They opted for the former which I also think was a good idea; we've established about as much as could be established with the positions and outlooks of all the NPCs.

The fifth session

In this one, the characters headed off to the abandoned "old fort" of the Khoros lands, which they'd learned was the favored haunt of Lord Garfauld when he was going cuckoo, years ago, and figured was where he was holed up in his nasty undead way. Without prompting from me, Christopher and Dan insisted that the two siblings, Raetha and Hathic, accompany them, so the characters could assess them a little better. At the time, they both favored Raetha over Hathic, who had been established as a slightly bigger mouth than motor.

I enjoyed using in-game time for urgency and effect, but not as much as I might have in the past. Lord Khoros could delay Lady Khoros' funeral only a little bit, according to the laws of the land, and that meant if the party wanted to defeat Garfauld before the funeral, they'd be arriving at the ruins at nightfall. This had absolutely no mechanics-based effect, but the players reacted with great trepidation. It's interesting - years ago, I considered it the height of GMing skill to induce emotion in the players, this or any other, but now, I get a lot less pleasure out of it. I would have been a lot happier with a general consensus that "night = scary = great Color," and not have it be considered otherwise beyond minor tactics.

I happily used this map from the D&D website. I love interesting dungeon maps. I decided it represents three levels (topologically speaking), with the alcove-heavy passageway being below the initial round room, and then the two round rooms connected by a passageway being the deepest. I also found another map of a ruined fort and graveyard to put "on top" of this map, above ground; we didn't use this tactically, merely for Color.

Rather than stock every damn niche with yet more giant rats, spiders, and "there just because" goblins, I kept it simple. I hope you'll forgive me for not posting a square-by-square key. Don't get the wrong idea, though. Although I'm describing our actual play-events, all of the creatures and traps were established during preparation and nothing except for Color-stuff was improvised into existence during play.

I stated that the entrance was through the big round room, and that it was in disarray. I defined the funny little objects in that room as gas traps. I'm usually not a big fan of traps, but part of my goal was to revisit some tropes of D&D. Also, looking back on previous play, I'd decided that more saving throws were called for, both formally (i.e. traps like these) and improvisationally.

In the watery corridor leading to the rest of the complex, they fought a gelatinous cube, a creature that I had never before encountered via a D&D character, nor run as a DM. At long last, eh? Surprisingly, it was a tad easier to kill than I anticipated, partly because saving throws seem to have become a lot easier in modern D&D than I recall from the old days, and partly because they had two not-half-bad helpers along, the siblings. Then again, three of the six characters did get engulfed and many hit points did get burned down by the thing's acid, so I guess it served its purpose. Plus, the color of the fight, in the pitch-black, thigh-deep water corridor, with torches tossing wildly and getting snuffed out, was generally pretty cool. It was fun to see Forin get engulfed, but make his paralysis saving throw, and thus grapple the cube from the inside. (I am using the cube description from the 3.0 book; I was a little dubious that one could be engulfed but not paralyzed, but the description there doesn't contradict that reading. This might be another error on my part, but if so, it was a fun-making error.)

I'd given a little thought to the siblings and decided to show each of them at his or her best. So at one point, when Hathic was engulfed by the cube, Raetha extended her spear into it for him to grab. He'd failed the roll against paralysis, so it didn't accomplish much, but it was a nice bit.

Anyway, that's as far as we got with this session. Dan provided an interesting observation, that in this adventure, finding treasure just wasn't a big deal. Although his early D&D experiences peeked through occasionally, he made a kind of personal shift from search-and-loot to why-we-fight, and noted it when it happened.

The sixth session

This one brought them into the deepest, nastiest section, the big circular room beyond the water-filled passage, which I'd prepped for a fun fight as follows.

The corridor to the south was filled with magical darkness, and that's where Garfauld was lurking. It turns out the Darkness spell trumped the Light that the clerics could cast, so there was no going into there, everyone decided.

The object to the north was an iron globe, which soon emitted electrical bolts all over the place in every direction; the idea was that everyone got zapped, forcing Fortitude saves. Failing the first makes the character flatfooted, failing a second in a row knocks him or her down, and failing the third and later means taking damage.

Given my map of the aboveground area, and the orientation of the two maps I'd decided upon, this area was right under the graveyard, so I also had big, bloated, mutant grubs to drop on them too. I merely assigned them AC and damage based on whether they were stuck to you or not; to avoid getting attached when they bit you required a Dexterity saving throw. You guys can see I was all about the saving throws in this prep ...

Anyway, the globe started zapping, and I had Garfauld lunge out of the darkness to grab whoever came close to it. I'd jury-rigged Garfauld by combining the ghast description in the 3.0 book with the spells of a 3rd-level evil cleric, which were not half bad to beef up the ghast stats. And he was really, truly evil with this Death Touch ability, the one you get with the Death Domain.

What Garfauld wanted, basically, was to corrupt either of his grandchildren to his worship of Nerull. So he attacked the one who got closest, then tried to tempt the other to kill that one. As far as Narrativist choices go, this one wasn't meant to be very compelling - note, for instance, that's why it was presented to NPCs, not to the characters. It was context for the fight ... back-story, nothing more.

So what happened?

1. Dan was the player to shine this time. His character Corin aced his Alchemy skill, of all things, to dope out the iron globe. Bemused (and pleased, in that I hadn't really expected any such tactic), I said that Corin had figured out that "breaking a connection" in the various trappings of the globe would shut it off. It took him a couple of rounds, but he did it. Pretty cool!

His character Forin had been savaged by the cube and had about 5 hit points left. He busted out yet another Feat combo plus lucky roll to do the final damage to Garfauld, but not before Garfauld got in the Death Touch. Yup - Forin bit the dust. No save, even.

2. Christopher's characters didn't have a good day. They failed a bunch of saving throws, they got hit by stuff, they missed a lot, and their spells got beaten down by other spells. I was interested in three specific things about his play, though, in this session. (a) He was very, very careful to play the two characters differently, more so than he'd done in the past, and very much in the trends that I mentioned in the previous thread. Interesting! (b) His character Joshua defied the Voice of Nerull which spoke to them from the shadows after the fight, which actually ended up being suitably dramatic and very cleric-like. Dan was sort of impressed that his kid back-talked a god. (c) Christopher was uncharacteristically petty toward the two sibling NPCs, talking about "hitting them" in a kind of random way at the end of the game; I attributed this to his frustration at his characters' relative less-effectiveness during the fight, as it didn't connect with any of his characters' other actions or depictions until that point.

3. As for the scenario itself, I'd also had Hathic stand up for Raetha during the fight with Garfauld, and so just as an amusing ending, I had each one of them demand not to become Lord/Lady, and to swear fealty to the other one as such. That leaves the realm itself in a bit of a pickle, but at least it's a nice (Good) one. Dan in particular found this very satisfying as a general outcome. It made a lot of sense to me as the player-characters had really set a good example for the two siblings, so I figured they'd both do the Good-est thing.

As a final bit, we briefly described Lady Khoros' and Beezah's funerals, and I told them that she had left a letter for her old friend, Corin's and Forin's mother. It also occurred to me, for the first time in my history as a role-player, and given the cleric-heavy, Hieronymous-heavy scenario, that resurrecting a player-character might actually be a fun and dramatic topic for a later scenario, rather than a lame-ass "oh let him keep playing" add-on.

I haven't yet totted up the experience, but I'm pretty sure the characters might make it to fourth level. I'll get around to figuring that out before Christopher gets back from camp. Not that we'll play these characters or this game again, but it's a form of closure.

So to sum up, here were some of the Social Contract goals at work, and how we did.

1. Did Christopher get to play D&D? Check.
2. Did Dan and Christopher get to do a dad-and-son thing together? Check.
3. Did Dan get a bit of nostalgic fun in with his fellow suburban neighbor-guy? Check.
4. Did we hit the creative goals that we talked about in the beginning? Check.

All in all, not bad. I have some general thoughts and conclusions about running the modern D&D, but even more about the nature of dialogue about D&D, and the latter may or may not show up in this thread. At present, I'd like to open up the discussion to questions about our game, especially in Big Model terms. In fact, I'd like to invite people who are relatively new to the Forge to check out the first couple of pages of The Provisional Glossary and to practice the terminology via questions about this game, if they'd like.

Best, Ron
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kalyptein
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2006, 07:29:42 AM »

Quote
Anyway, that's as far as we got with this session. Dan provided an interesting observation, that in this adventure, finding treasure just wasn't a big deal. Although his early D&D experiences peeked through occasionally, he made a kind of personal shift from search-and-loot to why-we-fight, and noted it when it happened.

I had a moment like this a few months ago in a 3e D&D game (just me with a friend GMing).  After dealing with a mind-controlled town and various monstrous minions, I succeeded in forcing the Big Bad, an aboleth, to come out of the water and duke it out.  It was a lot of fun, a close fight with lots of bravado and trash talking, and in the end I killed it.  In the aftermath I spent a while trying to help the town cope and alerting the authorities and even inventing a song with a laundry list of "aboleth control symptoms" to spread around so that people would have a chance to recognize the threat if it happened again.

We play by instant messenger normally, but I happened to visit my friend a few weeks later.  Practically the first thing he says is, "You didn't search for treasure!" and starts laughing.  I laughed too, because it was strange to have totally forgotten this part of the traditional "1) kill it, 2) take it's stuff" process.  The one piece of treasure I did find, I regarded as a clue and ended up returning to the family of the elf who once owned it.  But even if I could have done it over again, I don't think I'd have searched for loot.  Jump into murky water and scrounge for gold?  Never, these are my good clothes.  Slit the creature open and poke around?  Gross.  And why would a giant fish have treasure anyway?  If I'd known it was there for sure, maybe I'd have hired some peasants to do the dirty work.

My shift to why-we-fight must have come and gone without me ever realizing, and it was strange to look back at where I'd been.  I was completely absorbed in the social repercussions, what the appearance of the creature might mean, everything except how much loot it had.  My friend thought this was funny and groaned about having to invent new ways of giving me rewards.  I ended up getting some armor as a gift from the elf's kin, which was vastly more satisfying to me and didn't smell like fish guts.

Alex
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2006, 07:39:37 AM »

Hey, Ron --

As always, sounds fun.

And with an invitation to talk about this in Big Model terms -- uh, well, I don't know if I can help myself.

Let's talk Creative Agenda.  Your personal insistence and also the contents of your report make it pretty damned clear that you're playing D&D with a Narrativist Creative Agenda here.  So I'm going to base some questions around that.

1) You seem pretty strongly insistent that you aren't drifting the game strongly.  While we can quibble about the details of this, I can see pretty strongly that you aren't doing a lot to drift it into a Narrativist direction.  Given that the game system isn't giving you a ton of support for your creative agenda, what tools to you use to help you with your Creative Agenda?  Were there any times when you wished that you had more systematic support for your Creative Agenda?  Were there qualitative differences in experience between playing this D&D and playing with a game where Narrativist goals are openly supported by the system, such as Shadow of Yesterday or Trollbabe?

2) Likewise, you're dealing with two players who don't have a strong attachment to any style of role-playing other than some distant memories and media-given images.  In terms of CA especially, how was the experience of playing with these folks different than playing with, say, the Hyde Park group, where you seem to have a pretty strong grasp on your shared creative agenda?

3) Okay, so this one's actually social contract level, so it's personal and feel free to blow me off.  I know from meeting y'all that you're pretty close with the neighbors in question.  I'm curious what specific effect role-playing -- either in terms of the activity itself or because it's "your thing" in a concrete way -- has had on your friendships as opposed to, say, watching Star Trek or some of the other things you've done together.  Including "it's exactly the same" in the scope of possible answers.

Probably enough for now.

yrs--
--Ben

P.S.  Those free maps from Wizards are awesome.  There's a lot of baggage on the word "support" in gamer circles, but it is nice to see a company actually provide it.
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Ricky Donato
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2006, 07:47:26 AM »

At present, I'd like to open up the discussion to questions about our game, especially in Big Model terms. In fact, I'd like to invite people who are relatively new to the Forge to check out the first couple of pages of The Provisional Glossary and to practice the terminology via questions about this game, if they'd like.

Absolutely!

I enjoyed using in-game time for urgency and effect, but not as much as I might have in the past. Lord Khoros could delay Lady Khoros' funeral only a little bit, according to the laws of the land, and that meant if the party wanted to defeat Garfauld before the funeral, they'd be arriving at the ruins at nightfall. This had absolutely no mechanics-based effect, but the players reacted with great trepidation. It's interesting - years ago, I considered it the height of GMing skill to induce emotion in the players, this or any other, but now, I get a lot less pleasure out of it. I would have been a lot happier with a general consensus that "night = scary = great Color," and not have it be considered otherwise beyond minor tactics.

I agree with your first opinion, that it is "the height of GMing skill to induce emotion", because it demonstrates that the players are interested and invested in the game. Can you explain your shift in opinion, and do you think that there are situations where you would still feel very happy to induce emotion?
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Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2006, 09:44:51 AM »

Hi guys,

Alex, that's what I'm talkin' about. Exactly. And it's a great example of how the reward system employed (which in your case did not include "get money from looting corpse") is the direct procedural expression of Creative Agenda.

Cool questions.

Ben, I'll take'em by the numbers.

Quote
1) You seem pretty strongly insistent that you aren't drifting the game strongly.  While we can quibble about the details of this, I can see pretty strongly that you aren't doing a lot to drift it into a Narrativist direction.  Given that the game system isn't giving you a ton of support for your creative agenda, what tools to you use to help you with your Creative Agenda?  Were there any times when you wished that you had more systematic support for your Creative Agenda?  Were there qualitative differences in experience between playing this D&D and playing with a game where Narrativist goals are openly supported by the system, such as Shadow of Yesterday or Trollbabe?

I'm drifting the game like a motherfucker. See my #3 point about Drift in the "Undead, real dead" thread. The key drift, in this case, is playing a single adventure without any particular investment on the trajectory of development for the character. Someone rightly pointed out (although in an odd context, as if I'd never realized it!) that planning and strategizing about future modifications is a huge part of traditional D&D satisfaction, and which has been amped up to 11 in the modern design. That's what's been drifted out in my game, simply through what might be called "mega-framing," for the entire concept of how long we play and how much. Of course I realized this. It's key to the entire game. And it is major, major Drift.

Now, what I think you're talking about is the absence of reward mechanics along the lines of plot points, Trust, maybe "alignment meters," or relationship scores, and so on. But I want to stress, over and over, that such mechanics are great - but they not in and of themselves Narrativist. They are as close to a given CA as given Techniques can get, but by defiinition, never to be forgotten, is that a given Technique is not and can never be a CA.

We reinforced, rewarded, encouraged, enjoyed, empathized - whatever you want call it - Narrativist play. All together. By mutual inclination. As mediated through imagined Situation (the central component of the SIS) and through decisions about characters' actions. It doesn't matter whether it was mechanically reinforced, in order to be Narrativist play.

System Does Matter. We drifted the fuck out of the system to our purposes, as I described. We did not institute other mechanisms such as the ones you're thinking of ... to put it bluntly, we didn't have to, and to do so would have been out of keeping with a secondary goal, which was to "play D&D" in a superficial sense (the trappings, including various rules - saving throws, AC, etc).

What you are seeing as my insistence on the "rules" is my astonishment that others, who have been playing modern D&D in a fashion I can only describe as worshipful, are so astoundingly bad at reading the rules. They have built a Wall around the Torah and defend their Wall rigorously, and they will point to a comma here or a semicolon there, but the sentences in the Torah itself seem to have eluded them.

Quote
2) Likewise, you're dealing with two players who don't have a strong attachment to any style of role-playing other than some distant memories and media-given images.  In terms of CA especially, how was the experience of playing with these folks different than playing with, say, the Hyde Park group, where you seem to have a pretty strong grasp on your shared creative agenda?

All of us in the Hyde Park group have to have a verbal grasp of CA ... otherwise our damaged and halting habits will overwhelm our desire to have fun with each other. We've improved a lot since our first year together and many of the habits have finally been abandoned, but it took some work.

Dan's and Christopher's stronger grasp on Narrativist play emerges simply and straightforwardly from their desire to have fun, just as it should in whole, healthy people.

In other words, someone without the neurosis in the first place doesn't need therapy-based jargon in order to help themself enjoy doing something. All we did was that two-minute talk in the beginning about what sort of play we'd like, and since that talk wasn't swamped in meaningless garbage like "realism" and "balance" and similar, it was productive and sufficient.

Quote
3) Okay, so this one's actually social contract level, so it's personal and feel free to blow me off.  I know from meeting y'all that you're pretty close with the neighbors in question.  I'm curious what specific effect role-playing -- either in terms of the activity itself or because it's "your thing" in a concrete way -- has had on your friendships as opposed to, say, watching Star Trek or some of the other things you've done together.  Including "it's exactly the same" in the scope of possible answers.

I'm cool with this question. In fairness, my wife and I are not exceedingly close to the other family. We like them a lot and foresee becoming good friends, and this last year was a strong player in that process, but they're not yet like ... ohhh, say, a family or couple that we'd go vacationing with together. This isn't a judgment or fixed distance, just a description of the existing level of intimacy or shared time.

I'd say the D&D experience has strengthened the bond, though, pretty strongly. I've provided a good model for a game-y weird-y adult who's not also socially marginal. Dan has mentioned that he really likes the specific social-procedural features of our game, involving attention to process but also to courtesy and listening to everyone, and thinks that it's been important to Christopher. For my part, I think it's been great to meet at the level of Narrativist CA, and thus formed the same sort of bond that mutualistic artists (small "a") can have, as in a band. And at a slightly wider remove, if I'm not mistaken, I think the mom has appreciated that we've taken time to do this, but not turned it into a tremendous time-sink or emotionally-obsessive topic - in other words, that role-playing can be just another activity with its own virtures and without dubious properties.

Ricky, with respect, you may not be understanding me at all. Or if you are, and if you do think that mode of play is "best" or even "good," then I suggest your outlook is at best juvenile and at worst rather distasteful.

I think that induced, transitive emotion, by the GM, toward/in the players, is a grotesque act. Do not misunderstand me. I agree that emotion during play, in and among people, is a wonderful thing. But to transfer it like that - from the GM's prepared pocket to the gaping mouths of the baby birds - is something that healthy people should avoid.

In other words, when Dan or Christopher or I enjoyed any kind of emotional response to what was going on, ranging from exuberance at a good roll or engaging narration, to sudden sharp ethical certainty (a serious, less euphoric, but no less gripping type), then yes, that is part of "successful" play for us.

But I did not induce it in them. I did not say "I shall scare them" and then proceed to scare them. I did not say "I shall inspire them" and see their little eyes light up in inspiration. I enjoyed and took care of my emotions, and contributed to the SIS; they enjoyed and took care of their own, and contributed to the SIS. The relative roles of GM and player only concern the contributions to the SIS - they have nothing to do, at all, with delivering emotion (as an experience) from one to the other. I did not control or induce emotion in them in a "here you go, feel this" kind of way.

We interacted with one another via our ongoing, all-persons-go contribution to the SIS, and we all enjoyed and shared our respective emotional engagement as well. No one was the emotions-maker.

Best, Ron
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2006, 10:10:33 AM »

I too was interested in Ricky's question regarding this:

I enjoyed using in-game time for urgency and effect, but not as much as I might have in the past. . .It's interesting - years ago, I considered it the height of GMing skill to induce emotion in the players, this or any other, but now, I get a lot less pleasure out of it. I would have been a lot happier with a general consensus that "night = scary = great Color," and not have it be considered otherwise beyond minor tactics.

Specifically, I'm curious about the role of Color in your play, in in this game or others. Here at least you seem to downplay its importance, to the point of wanting to just give it a nod and move on--"yeah, it's spooky, we get it, now let's get to the good stuff"--which strikes me that it would possibly short-circuit investment in what's going on, for some players. These players certainly seem invested in the Color, at any rate. I'm not talking about "gotta immerse, gotta scare the players to scare the characters," or anything like that. I'm just talking about the look and feel and such being important for everyone to "dig," in order to really invest in the deeper content, just as whatever Premise is addressed in, say, Star Wars, or Les Miserables, wouldn't engage anyone if the "color" were flat. You certainly seem to dig on other bits of Color throughout the sessions, like the dungeon map or Christopher's moments of cleric-ness. But here you're like, eh. Wish we could just get on with it. Why?

Just to clarify, I CAN see why (as seems to be the case throughout the forums and the essays) you'd be down on empty color, like "ooh, we hung out in shadowy rooms and brooded over blood in wineglasses and angsted our little angsty hearts out, what cool Vampire players we are!" I'm just trying to find why, if I'm reading you right, you also seem to be down on color in support of, say, Narrativist play goals.

Or, it just occurred to me, is it more about the specifics of the GM-player dynamic than about the Color as such? Also, it occurs to me that perhaps Christopher and Dan were so freaked because they did expect a mechanical significance: "Ooh, ghoulish magic guy, bet he's more powerful at night." Any possibility that that's the case?



One other question:

What Garfauld wanted, basically, was to corrupt either of his grandchildren to his worship of Nerull. So he attacked the one who got closest, then tried to tempt the other to kill that one. As far as Narrativist choices go, this one wasn't meant to be very compelling - note, for instance, that's why it was presented to NPCs, not to the characters. It was context for the fight ... back-story, nothing more.

My question: what Narrativist choices WERE the players addressing at that point? Or were the significant choices already made throughout the previous sessions, such that this fight was just the natural result and payoff of the path they chose for their characters?

Peace,
Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2006, 10:18:23 AM »

Ron,

Sorry about the cross-post, I see that you've answered a good deal of what I was wondering is answered in your response to Ricky. I'd still like to know if my thoughts on Color hold any water, though.

Thanks,
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2006, 11:52:10 AM »

You're misinterpreting my comments on Color by 180 degrees, Joel. My comments were all about amping up the Color and enjoying it fully, rather than maneuvering around it. Dan in particular reacted to my "nightfall" input as if it had been a tactical move on my part, in the sense of now it being his turn to try to find a way not to be there at nightfall. Whereas my goal was entirely in line with your notions of what Color is for - to establish it, get into it, enjoy it, and reinforce whatever other goals are at work. Just as in the Big Model, in which Color is a "multiplier" through the algebraic equation of the other four components.

Best, Ron
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2006, 12:12:19 PM »

Color is a "multiplier" through the algebraic equation of the other four components

That's awesome. Thanks for the clarification, man. I begin to understand. . .

Peace,
-Joel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2006, 12:25:59 PM »

Another clarifier, for your question about Narrativism, Joel.

Too many questions about Creative Agenda are framed in an atomic fashion, and yours graded into that direction. Not necessarily for any and all play, but definitely for this particular session in this particular game.

What I'm saying is that the whole five sessions were an "address" of the kind you're talking about. There were bits and moments of specific expression of it, as manifestations or "tells," but to talk about Creative Agenda in this case, we need to look at the entire scenario and sequences of actions throughout it, not at any one particular fight.

Or a better way to put it is, the Premise being addressed by our play in this game was not "fight and destroy Garfauld," in part because that's not a Premise in the first place, but even as any imaginable equivalent. So this fight was best understood as a step or piece of a series of decisions and scene-outcomes, not a goal. In many ways, it was only a showdown from the point of view of the characters (which we enjoyed immensely as the players, yes), and not so much a crunch here-it-comes showdown moment for us as people. I'd say that aspect of addressing Premise pretty much peaked at Beezah's death and the aftermath.

Best, Ron
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2006, 01:20:21 PM »

Thanks. I'm speaking from the standpoint of someone who is very attracted to Narrativist-style play, but has experienced very little of it (coherent, anyway) in practice, so these clarifications are invaluable. Even when (as is the case wich much of what you just said) it's a concept I've already heard and think I understand, I think there's a tendency, with roleplayer brain dama--er, ingrained habits kicking in, to veer off course repeatedly, so a course correcter, internally or from others, is welcome and needed.

Or a better way to put it is, the Premise being addressed by our play in this game was not "fight and destroy Garfauld," in part because that's not a Premise in the first place, but even as any imaginable equivalent. So this fight was best understood as a step or piece of a series of decisions and scene-outcomes, not a goal. In many ways, it was only a showdown from the point of view of the characters (which we enjoyed immensely as the players, yes), and not so much a crunch here-it-comes showdown moment for us as people. I'd say that aspect of addressing Premise pretty much peaked at Beezah's death and the aftermath.

Yes, this falls in line with my impression of the rhythm of the sessions. I think because "kill Garfauld" is not a premise, it had me scratching my head and thinking, "what, their big Narr-D&D game ends with a Big Bad and a simple fight?" But yeah, observed from the macro level, it was simply part of a progression that had address of premise as its main (player) goal. Makes sense. Thanks again.

-Joel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2006, 02:16:43 PM »

Here are all the character portraits we used during play, all taken from the D&D site.

The player-characters

Joshua, human 2nd-level fighter/1st-level cleric; Christopher pointed out that he had a big ol' tattoo of Hieronymous on his back as well
Vall, elven 2nd-level paladin/1st-level cleric; as time passed, Christopher played him as more and more forbidding and intense, unlike the rather bluff and friendly Joshua
Forin, half-orc 3rd-level barbarian; half-brother to Corin - all 'round bad-ass with a good heart
Corin, half-elf 2nd-level fighter/1st-level sorcerer; half-brother to Forin - sneaky, smart son-of-a-bitch, always seeking an angle, but also good-hearted

The family

Lord Khoros - an overly generic pic; I now wish I'd used this one, but didn't have a good enough feel for the character at the start
Hathic - perfect! Exactly the kind of guy I was looking for as I browsed the portraits for this character
Raetha - a bit more sultry than I'd planned, but I really didn't want an anime waif-girl, so this was my first choice; I now wish I'd used this one instead, which I like a lot
Garfauld - standard ghast thing; I guess a tad more dignity would have been good, but whatever

Others

Beezah (this pic inspired me to add the whole bit about Beezah protecting Raetha, and thus suffering Garfauld's "black kiss")
Eladd (a tad more catamite-ish in the pic than I played him, but I did note Dan's amused glance when he saw the illustration)

Oh yes, one another images-during-game point. I simply put the whole map out in front of all us as soon as they entered the dungeon. No one had any issue with "knowing what the next room looked like," and all decisions during play were made perfectly in accord with characters not knowing. I didn't have to mention a word about that, and in fact, I didn't mind if player-knowledge snuck in there in any way, as long as it was internally consistent as well. But as it turned out, there was absolutely no issue with any of that at all.

I kept my notes on my lap in front of me, or on a side table. We were sitting on my porch, so there wasn't a central table. The map was put on a little table (TV-tray type thing) in the middle. I didn't try to hide my notes and they didn't show any interest in looking at them.

Best, Ron
« Last Edit: June 29, 2006, 02:20:13 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Precious Villain
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« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2006, 02:36:23 PM »

Quote
Oh yes, one another images-during-game point. I simply put the whole map out in front of all us as soon as they entered the dungeon. No one had any issue with "knowing what the next room looked like," and all decisions during play were made perfectly in accord with characters not knowing. I didn't have to mention a word about that, and in fact, I didn't mind if player-knowledge snuck in there in any way, as long as it was internally consistent as well. But as it turned out, there was absolutely no issue with any of that at all.

I'm totally doing that next game.  If there's anything that turns off a dungeon crawl for me it's the need to pace off distances while whoever had the bad luck to be the mapper gets his act together!

I wanted to raise a question about the Skill Combat that went on, in theory terms -

IIEE for skill combat seemed to me to go like this

Players and GM talk, either "in character" or "out of character," about a subject.  Either the player or the GM calls for a skill roll - which is done on the spot.  Then, depending upon who wins the skill roll, the direction of the conversation changes (or continues). 

Is the above a correct summary?  Would it be appropriate to formalize the procedure? 

I had a situation arise in play a couple weeks back:  The game is D&D 3.5.  5 players plus GM (me, I was filling in for our regular GM who hadn't had time to prep).  The player characters are piloting a rowboat up a reservoir (man made lake) in an area heavily populated by goblins and elves.  There happens to be a human settlement just below the dam at the bottom of the reservoir - where the PCs have been staying.  Goblins in their own boats set upon the PCs, but with the extra surprise that there's an elf among them!  The PCs defeat the Goblins but are able to capture the elf. 

At that point, the PCs began to question the elf, with folks speaking pretty much in character.  After a failed diplomacy roll and failed intimidation roll the interrogation pretty much flatlined.  They did get some interesting information via sense motive rolls - which made sense later.  However, the scene drug on for some time as the player characters kept trying to reason with their prisoner.  I finally had to cut the scene by flatly telling them that they had failed their intimidation rolls, and thus could not frighten him into talking, had failed their bluff rolls so no trickery and finally had failed the diplomacy roll which would be a prerequisite to reasoning with the guy.  That seemed to work fairly well - it ended the scene and did so in a fashion I consider to have been entirely fair.  In IIEE terms we got a little hung up on Effect - a failed roll didn't necessarily end the scene, although enough of them conspired to do so.

For a first attempt at using these rules in this way, I think it worked pretty well.  However, I'm curious if you had similar problems or if your result would have been similar. 

Best,

Rob
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James_Nostack
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2006, 02:36:43 PM »

This may be a little tangential, but I use those pre-generated maps too.  I really like how the D&D website has maps, adventure hooks, critters to fight, and so on.  Given how prep-heavy the game can be, it's good customer service.  I only wish I knew of some good apps to generate treasure and dungeons, since that's almost all look-up tables in the DMG.   
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rafial
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« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2006, 02:41:29 PM »

Quote
I kept my notes on my lap in front of me, or on a side table. We were sitting on my porch, so there wasn't a central table. The map was put on a little table (TV-tray type thing) in the middle. I didn't try to hide my notes and they didn't show any interest in looking at them.

This strikes a cord with me.  Since my return to RPGs in 2000, any time I GM I just plop my notes in front of me.  If there is something I'd prefer the players didn't see immediately, I keep it in a folder, or simply at the bottom of the stack, but other than that I make no real attempt to hide anything I'm doing.  And as you experienced, those people I play with have never evinced much of an interest in looking.

At one point I pondered using a screen, and I surprised myself with a rather intense feelign of revulsion at putting something between myself and the other players.
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