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Author Topic: Bangs and non railroading(TROS)  (Read 2559 times)
Aaron
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Posts: 102


« on: July 09, 2006, 06:58:03 PM »

Yesterday we played our 4th session of Riddle of Steel set in the warhammer world.
There are three characters, a former bounty hunter who is a bit religious and conscientious, a mercenary who is all for defending the innonsent, hates chaos and a conscientious sort as well.  The third, well, he's more a near do well.  Interested in money, forbidden knowledge and approving his standing in shadier circles.
To set the scene the previous adventure ended with in a city coming to the rescue of a bounty hunter, Sancho, he had been ambused.  Sancho was injured and asked them to pursue his quarry,Otto one arm, for he had to sit it out.  They agreed.
Between the last session and yesterday I received a copy of Sorcerer and the first two suppliments in the mail.  I wanted to read more on bang, kickers and realtionship maps.  Reading these it occured to me that the session I had planned for hunting down the target was quite badly railroaded.  The players had to see this man to get the clue to go to that one and so on down the line.
So I tried to approach it a bit differently.
Yesterday when we started I had the game start with them climbing aboard the ship and capturing Otto. My thinking was that if they knew where it was they had to get to in the end they could come up with ways of tracking down this information.  I gave them a weeks notice, telling them that we are starting with them climbing onto the boat and asked them to send me questions or plans of what they may do.   Unfortunately this fell a bit flat.  No one answered until I prompted them again and they asked some questions but gave me know real clues of what they might do.  I think I was expecting a bit much to be honest. So I was kinda stuck with my railroaded adventure.
So I tried to vary it up with bangs.  Now I haven't used bangs before and found making them really challenging.  In fact, my partner a non roleplayer, suggested two of the four I did use and a third I have still ready.
The bangs: Theys spotted three men attempting to sneak in the shadows.  They weren't doing a particularly good job.  At first the PC's thought they were following them but once they turned down a side street they realised this wasn't the case.  The PC's followed them to an unremarkable house.  One of the players wanted to know if there were any landmarks nearby he could use to find the house again.  I said you tell me, and he quickly described a statue and a nearby coaching building.  Perfect.  This was just the sort of play I was looking for.  This encounter went allright.  I had a note telling me what the men were up to but I had no idea what the PC's were going to do.  Following them I suppose was a fairly obvious game response, but they didn't push it after that.

They overheard what sounded like a man being beaten up.  Upon investigating it turned out to be a friend of one of the PC's being attacked for preaching.  The Pc's quickly chased off the attackers.  The character out for himself wasn't too fussed but the other two are goody goodies.  The friend had seen a one armed man not long ago.  I knew the PC's were really likely to investigate the sound of the mugging and help so I'm not really sure if this was a legit bang.  If they hadn't helped him he would have turned up later all beaten up so there would have been a consequence for not acting and a minor clue for intervening, as well as knowing you've done someone a favour.

The third was only minor again investigating the sounds of someone in trouble and resucing him from the river.  Again when coming up with this I had it in my mind that they wouldn't just let it pass.  There was a minor clue for helping and someone that owes them a favour.

The last one I used was a ship docking with no lights very late at night.  Five chained figures well led off.  They looked like children.  Again I knew they PC's wouldn't ignore this but I really didn't know what they would do so hadn't really planned anything beyond, there are x crew on the boat, they will take the prisoners to a wharehouse.  30 Minutes later two more men turn up to collect them.  The boat was met by three men and they, and two from the boat, led the prisoners to a wharehouse.  The PC's attacked them here.  It was a viscious fight, two of the men were killed, one passed out and two were captured.  The players discovered they had killed the ships captain, an exciseman and that there were about 50 more slaves on the boat.  One of the characters left something outside the wharehouse so it was when he went to collect this that I decided the two coming to collect the prisoners would turn up.  One of the prisoners escaped and warned the new men who all fled together.  The characters now have to decide whether to chase after them to try and stop them, what to do with the children( one player says "I want to set the children free", and I reply "so what does that mean?  Let five children loose in a city they don't know and can't speak the language?"  His faced dropped a bit!) and I think they might have forgotten about the other 50 on the boat.

All in all the session went really well.  I got the players to discuss all their spiritual attributes with each other as I want to encourge their use to be controlled by piers rather than just my say so.  I was having alot of trouble coming up with what I thought were legitimate bangs.  If you know the players are going to react a certain way is it really a bang?
I was really pleased with the player coming up with his own landmarks.  He did a similar thing later to the benefit of another players.  The bounty hunter character wanted to sneak up to the wharehouse and see if there were any windows he could look in.  Sneaking is something he is pretty good at and he passed that test easily with successes to spare.  With a spare success the other player suggested that the window he found was also open.  I would love to see more play like this.
How do I help the players help have more input in their surroundings?  I have one how loves to roll his tactics.  He is struggling with the concept that I want him to tell us what his successes mean rather than me having to come up with it.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2006, 07:20:26 PM »

Hello!

What an interesting post. First, thanks for ordering my game and using the ideas in it. You'll find it goes well with TROS, and in fact, I think in general you can put a big "good start" check onto that session as you prepare for the next.

Here's an idea to consider: that having the players make stuff up during play is a very different expectation, and in fact, skill, than having them address problems they care about. Trying to get them to do both at once is actually expecting quite a lot, and the two things may well get in one another's way.

You've certainly recognized your own habits: see a fight or a person in trouble, have characters run to help or fight for some reason, and then move on to another encounter. And although this didn't change very much in this session, it changed a little, and in the direction you'd like to go. So that's good news.

Here's my advice for the next session, and remember, I'm not actually there, so you should adjust the advice based on your enjoyment and on your knowledge of your friends. The advice is:

1. Make sure that the players really understand how the Spiritual Attributes work. Do they really know that a character can get twenty-five extra dice during a fight? Do they understand how to get rid of a Spiritual Attribute they don't want any more, and how to replace it?

2. Think in terms of making problems for the characters which are not necessarily about the characters' safety or lives ... but about the same issues that are mentioned verbally in the Spiritual Attributes. I'll tell you what I think would be cool, given the ones you've described - if the characters come upon a wounded angel. Yes, a real angel. And it is trying to accomplish something that it simply cannot do on its own ... but it offers amazing, wonderful advantages (not in the future, right now!) to those who help it.

Sound cool? Are you sure? Are you really sure that an angel would be easy to deal with? Are its expectations of them really something that they can handle? And is the awful wisdom that it might offer (for the roguish character) really worth it?

You'll have to let me know what you think of The Sorcerer's Soul, both the chapter on angels and the chapter on relationship maps.

Best, Ron
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Aaron
Member

Posts: 102


« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2006, 03:45:48 PM »

Hi Ron,
Thanks for the reply.
Here's an idea to consider: that having the players make stuff up during play is a very different expectation, and in fact, skill, than having them address problems they care about. Trying to get them to do both at once is actually expecting quite a lot, and the two things may well get in one another's way.

I hadn't thought of this, especially them getting in each others way.  I'll have to decide which I think is most important and get them happy with that first.  I'm leaning toward the addressing problems they care about.

1. Make sure that the players really understand how the Spiritual Attributes work. Do they really know that a character can get twenty-five extra dice during a fight? Do they understand how to get rid of a Spiritual Attribute they don't want any more, and how to replace it?
They understand how they work.  But I don't think it has sunk in yet just how much of an impact it can have.  I'm having difficulty getting them to realise just how important they are.  I had to come up with some for two of the characters!  I explained how the SA's are what is important to them, the players, about their characters and that I had to give them the extra SA's so they had five.  I also told them how they can change them, but three session later..........This is a little frustrating.

2. Think in terms of making problems for the characters which are not necessarily about the characters' safety or lives ... but about the same issues that are mentioned verbally in the Spiritual Attributes. I'll tell you what I think would be cool, given the ones you've described - if the characters come upon a wounded angel. Yes, a real angel. And it is trying to accomplish something that it simply cannot do on its own ... but it offers amazing, wonderful advantages (not in the future, right now!) to those who help it.

Sound cool? Are you sure? Are you really sure that an angel would be easy to deal with? Are its expectations of them really something that they can handle? And is the awful wisdom that it might offer (for the roguish character) really worth it?

You'll have to let me know what you think of The Sorcerer's Soul, both the chapter on angels and the chapter on relationship maps.

Best, Ron

I couldn't find my The Sorcerer's Soul last night.  I've read the chapter on RM's and bought some cheap detective novels to practise the technique!  I haven't read the chapter on Angles as yet. I'll have a good read with your suggestion in mind and I'll post the next session in about a month.
Thanks again
Aaron.
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colin roald
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2006, 04:28:31 PM »

They understand how they work.  But I don't think it has sunk in yet just how much of an impact it can have.  I'm having difficulty getting them to realise just how important they are.  I had to come up with some for two of the characters!  I explained how the SA's are what is important to them, the players, about their characters and that I had to give them the extra SA's so they had five.  I also told them how they can change them, but three session later..........This is a little frustrating.

What are their SAs?  At least the ones they chose themselves, or the ones that have seen any use at all.  If you gave us some idea of what flags you've got, we might be able to make more suggestions for Bangs.

Another thing that I think is very important in Sorcerer, though it's taken me a while to figure out what to do with it:  Relationships.  Who are the people that your characters care about?  Either the ones they love or the ones they hate.  You can't tie a character into a relationship map unless the character has some relationships. 
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colin roald

i cannot, yet i must.  how do you calculate that?  at what point on the graph do `must' and `cannot' meet?  yet i must, but i cannot.
-- Ro-Man, the introspective gorilla-suited destroyer of worlds
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2006, 06:57:33 PM »

Hi there,

Three sessions without seeing much use of the SAs? I would like to guess about something.

I'm guessing that you are playing softball, as GM and as player of the adversarial characters. Have you played a combatant NPC against any of them who had even the barest chance of killing him? Or if you have, did you fudge some dice results here and there so the results weren't so bad?

The Riddle of Steel is a game about adversity - actual blood-spilling danger and maiming. I'm wondering whether you are retaining a technique which is a necessary part of the familiar way to play, specifically, the technique of keeping player-characters alive and basically colluding, as GM, in helping them win fights. Have you been doing this?

Best, Ron
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Paul T
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Posts: 369


« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2006, 07:48:25 PM »

Ron,

Something you wrote piqued my interest:

Here's an idea to consider: that having the players make stuff up during play is a very different expectation, and in fact, skill, than having them address problems they care about. Trying to get them to do both at once is actually expecting quite a lot, and the two things may well get in one another's way.

Do you think you could elaborate a little bit? How does one, as a GM, tell the difference? Was there something specific in Aaron's description of play that made you think this might be an issue? If so, how might he have been handled differently?

Maybe this is totally clear to Aaron, but to me it seems like something that makes sense on paper, but might be difficult to apply in practice.

Thanks,


Paul
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Aaron
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Posts: 102


« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2006, 08:01:55 PM »

There could be a bit of softballing.  Most of the opponents they have fought I used the sample NPC's stats and Combat Pools.  They havent faced anyone who is really dangerous yet.  Some opponents have been better but not alot.  I haven't fudged any dice rolls though.  Th PC's have been hurt on more than one occasion.  I probably am guilty of doing some "balancing" of the odd opponent against the PC's base line abilities.  The PC's haven't had to rely on SA's, they've been more of a bit of a bonus when used.  I'll look at amping up some of the opposition so they have to use them more.

The SA's are;
Mercenary
Conscience
Drive:Protect the Innocent
Luck
Passion:Hatred of chaos(I made this one)
Destiny: Become a chaos champion(my one too)

The Bounty Hunter
Conscience
Luck
Faith:Sigma
Drive: (He's still pretty fuzzy about this one)
Passion: hatred of Goblins(I did this one) currently at 0 but not changed.

The Rogue
Luck
Destiny: To become a criminal overlord
Drive: To discover secret knowledge
Passion: Emmanuelle(a young female NPC who he encouraged to leave home and travel with them)
Faith:Ranalds Code(god of thieves)

They all love the luck unfortunately!  At the start of the second session I got them to generate some friends/enemies, people who they owe favours too and favours from.  It generated about 30+ NPC's.  We generated professions for all these contacts using the warhammer fantasy roleplay book.  I asked them to go away write a brief paragraph aobut each one and their name.  It's been a good couple of months but I only have details for 6 so far.  We haven't touched on family though.
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Valamir
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2006, 08:26:14 PM »

Two things.

First...luck is standard.  Do not resent them for taking it.  If Jake had done a second edition TROS Luck would almost certainly have become a universal stat seperate from the CAs. 

Second...Those spiritual attributes you made up...pretty weak actually.

Hatred of Chaos?  How about Hatred of Cronus the Destroyer who defeated and scattered my old mercenary company.  Destiny to become a Chaos Champion...How about Destiny to sit at Cronus's Right Hand.

Hatred of Goblins?  How about Drive Destroy the Black Hand tribe who kidnapped my sister.

The ones they picked are pretty weak too.  Conscience is a big red flag, especially when you have 2 people take it...that's the "I don't want to have to think to hard about it" choice.  The "I expect the GM to spoon feed me adventures so I'll give him an easy excuse to drag me into fights" Choice...Meh...I ban it from any game I run unless its clear its chosen with a specific goal in mind.

Protect the innocent?  Weak for exactly the same reasons as above...heck its practically the same SA.  Better:  Protect the villagers of Shan Bo from the Cronus the Destroyer's warband.

Discover Secret Knowledge:  almost good.  But its still in the "GM feed me adventures" vein.  Better to specify what knowledge, or even who has it...Get the secret of longevity from the wizards Damien (who perhaps just happens to serve Cronus the Destroyer)

Alot of Faiths...have you set up your game to be about conflicting faith..."Damn you worshipper of a heathen god...but yet, I love you...but yet I must burn you at the stake for heresy...but yet..."?  If so, then conflicting faith's are cool.  Otherwise...Weak.  Yet another "I don't want to think to hard about it" choice.  Better...make it a call to action:  Sacrifice 10 virgins to Xymtzlplik, Convert the King of Westphalia to the Cult of Wind and Rain, Burn the leader of the Red Moon heresy at the stake.

My recommendation...scrap them all and start over, doesn't sound like they've gotten much use anyway.

If you've created a bunch of NPCs great...90% of your SAs should be tied directly into those NPCs...THAT'S what their for.  Who are your characters loyal to.  Who do they love.  What happens when those two people are enemies...what happens when those two people are married to each other.  Who do you serve, what specific goal are you willing to sacrifice everything to achieve.

First Red Flag for a weak SA:  If a specific character or NPC is not named in the SA...strike one.
Second Red Flag for a weak SA:  If a specific task to perform or near term objective is not named in the SA...strike two.
Third Red Flag for a weak SA:  If the SA isn't an immediate call to action..."I have this SA, and therefor I will do X to act upon it"...strike three.

90% of the time an SA that fails all three of the above tests is weak.  The one exeption to this can be Destiny...IF the other SAs are firing, then sometimes it can be fun to have a totally vague and "I have no idea what that means" kind of prophetic destiny that you fill in the blanks for later.  But bottom line, if the majority of your SAs fail these tests (in your case, pretty much all of them) then you've got all fizzle and no bang. 
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Aaron
Member

Posts: 102


« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2006, 03:54:01 PM »

First...luck is standard. Do not resent them for taking it. If Jake had done a second edition TROS Luck would almost certainly have become a universal stat seperate from the CAs.
I dont resent them for taking luck at all.  I wanted to aim the adventures at their SA's and luck isn't really targetable.
Second...Those spiritual attributes you made up...pretty weak actually.

Hatred of Chaos? How about Hatred of Cronus the Destroyer who defeated and scattered my old mercenary company. Destiny to become a Chaos Champion...How about Destiny to sit at Cronus's Right Hand.

Hatred of Goblins? How about Drive Destroy the Black Hand tribe who kidnapped my sister.
I didn't say they were particularly good SA's. :) . The first sessions were in a prepackaged adventure that had some chaos and had some goblins.  I was hoping they would alter them to suit themselves afterward.  I certainly wasn't trying to force them, they had blank lines that needed to be filled!

My recommendation...scrap them all and start over, doesn't sound like they've gotten much use anyway.

If you've created a bunch of NPCs great...90% of your SAs should be tied directly into those NPCs...THAT'S what their for. Who are your characters loyal to. Who do they love. What happens when those two people are enemies...what happens when those two people are married to each other. Who do you serve, what specific goal are you willing to sacrifice everything to achieve.

First Red Flag for a weak SA: If a specific character or NPC is not named in the SA...strike one.
Second Red Flag for a weak SA: If a specific task to perform or near term objective is not named in the SA...strike two.
Third Red Flag for a weak SA: If the SA isn't an immediate call to action..."I have this SA, and therefor I will do X to act upon it"...strike three.

90% of the time an SA that fails all three of the above tests is weak. The one exeption to this can be Destiny...IF the other SAs are firing, then sometimes it can be fun to have a totally vague and "I have no idea what that means" kind of prophetic destiny that you fill in the blanks for later. But bottom line, if the majority of your SAs fail these tests (in your case, pretty much all of them) then you've got all fizzle and no bang.
I really like these SA suggestions.  I had a thought that I might have something drastic happen in the game.  Some of their friends are currently together including Emmanuelle who one character has a SA linked directly too. I might have her kidnapped, the men killed and the older woman badly assualted.  Then get the players to redo their SA's so they are focused toward this.  Almost as if the game had only jsut started and this was a kicker.  I'll use your red flags and question them on conscience(I dislike this SA for the same reasons you mentioned above and it ties in directly to what I meant in earlier posts about having bangs that I pretty much knew how they would react to.) I think I'll even include luck as a new stat at level 2 that can be increased like any other stat so that they all get 5 good SA's. 
I think fixing the SA's will go along way to helping with the bangs.
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