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[TSoY] Mobsters and Double Agents
Topic: [TSoY] Mobsters and Double Agents (Read 922 times)
[TSoY] Mobsters and Double Agents
August 03, 2006, 09:28:40 AM »
I recently ran an introductory session of TSoY for my group and received positive feedback on it. Thus, I decided to start a longer running campaign style game and everyone seems pretty cool with that idea. So, last Friday we got together and did a short session of establishing the setting/situation a bit and creating characters.
Setting: I've always liked the Birthright setting that was created for AD&D 2nd Edition, even if they did certain things kind of screwy in my opinion. It's probably because I like a good game of political intrigue and Birthright seemed ready-made for such games. In any case, we decided to set this game in The Free City of Ilien. Ilien is ruled by a Duke who is traditionally a wizard. The Free City is a large port with a huge amount of commerce. Most of the legal and illegal economy is controlled by a powerful Merchant's Guild called the Port of Call Exchange, run by El-hadid, a Khinasi merchant (if you think an Arabic Al Capone, you're on the right track).
Sri Banshet - Played by Fred, a good friend of mine who has been pretty open to Indie games.
Pools: V (2), I (5), R (4)
Abilities: React (2), Deceit (2), Duelist (2), Stealth (2), Resist (1), Streetwise (1), Sway (1), Theft (1)
Secrets: Contacts, Sudden Knife, Signature Weapon
Keys: Imposter, House, Collector
Friendly: Smi Banshet, mother; Brendl Aglondier, Captain of the City Guard
Rival/Unfriendly: Achmed, Henchman to El-hadid
Heirarchal: Rogr Tilgentor, Duke of Ilien; El-hadid, Powerful Guildmaster
Frederick Aglondier - Played by Ryan, who I met through FindPlay. Yay, Clinton!
Pools: V (1), I (6), R (4)
Abilities: Trader (3), Resist (2), Sway (2), React (1), Haggling (1), Diplomacy (1), Discern Truth (1), Seduction (1)
Keys: House, Power, Manipulator, Glittering Gold
Friendly: Brendl Aglongier, Captian of the Guard (cousin); Larissa LaRouse, Love Interest (daughter of Samuel)
Rival/Unfriendly: El-hadid, Powerful Guildmaster; Samuel LaRouse, Minor Guildmaster
Heirarchal: Morian Delroy, Minor Guildmaster (boss)
Fred decided to make his character the double agent type. He works for both the Duke as a spy into El-hadid's operation and for El-hadid as an informatino gatherer (which he usually gets from the Duke). Basically he's milking both sides for all they're worth. No one but the Duke knows that he's working for the City against The Port of Call Exchange. No one but El-hadid knows that he is secretly an informer for the Port of Call Exchange.
Ryan went a slightly (very) more straightforward route. He's the up and coming leiutenant in one of the smaller merchant guilds, The Southern Merchants League. He works for Morian Delroy, the aging leader of the guild. He's also interested in Larissa LaRouse romantically but whether that is genuine affection or because her father is the leader of a third guild, Free City Exports, hasn't been determined yet (...but it will be... oh, it will be...)
After character creation and establishing the setting we had time for a few scenes. Some Bangs seemed to present themselves immediately out of character creation, so I simply framed a couple of scenes and threw them at the players.
Scene 1: Frederick is walking back to his guild-house from the docks when he sees 3 enforcers for the Port of Call Exchange leaving the shop of a textile merchant associated with Free City Exports. He enters the shop to see the wife of the merchant nursing her husband who seems to have a bloodied nose and lip. After inquiring, it seemed that the Port of Call Exchange (PoC) has been putting pressure of a physical nature on the members of Free City Exports (FCE).
The first interesting thing of the night happened right here. Ryan had Frederick offer the merchant the protection of The Southern Merchants League (SML) since the FCE obviously wasn't providing enough. There was a quick Conflict to see if the merchat agreed and Frederick lost. The merchant thanked the young man but refused. I sort of dropped the ball here in setting the stakes. Since if Frederick won he would gain the merchant for his guild, I should have had the stakes for losing be that Larissa found out that he was trying to poach her father's merchants and be upset. Oh well, I'll keep that in mind for later.
Scene 2: Sri is going to talk to El-hadid one evening and stops outside the guildmaster's door, which is cracked open, when he hears voices from inside. He listens and hears the guildmaster say to someone, "... and make sure you get the old man's whole family. I don't want any children growing up with revenge on their minds." Sri hides as he hears footstep approaching. From his hidden position he sees Brendl, the Guard Captain leave El-hadid's office.
Fred didn't want to do anything else with this at that point so we went to another scene.
Scene 3: Frederick is having a conversation with Morian. The old guildmaster inidcates that perhaps where all the smaller guilds have been ineffectual against El-hadid, a larger guild might make some headway. He thinks it's time to broach the idea of uniting to all the other guildmasters in the city, perhaps at a dinner party the following week. Frederick asks to be in charge of this important function and Morian agrees. They both decide that El-hadid would need to be invited to the function to throw off his suspicions should he get wind of a meeting of all his rivals.
Scene 4: Sri goes to talk to Brendl. The Guard Captain lets slip that he has been invited to a large dinner party of major economic figures in the City. He's the Duke's representative. Sri leaves the Captain and goes to see El-hadid who also was invited to this dinner party. El-hadid wants Sri to go also in order to sniff out anything going on that the other guildmasters might be plotting.
Fred (the player) got kind of wild-eyed at this because showing up in the company of El-hadid would definately screw up his whole double-agent, secret-identity thing since Brendl would be at the party. He got around that by suggesting that he should probably go indenpent of El-hadid since the other guildmasters might be more talkative with someone not associated with their biggest enemy. El-hadid said he'd secure an invitation from one of the other guildmasters he had in his pocket for his pet spy.
We didn't roll dice but twice and no one hit a single Key. I'm not sure what to make of that. Of course, the play time was only 30 - 40 minutes but we didn't really engage the system much during that time. I'm hoping that will change when we meet again tonight. I'm going to start them at the dinner party as I think it has lots of potential for great conflict. Hopefully there will be much dice rolling and Key hitting.
I thought the players did a good job at coming up with characters that were automatically embroiled in trouble and conflict. Prodding them into action shouldn't be a huge challenge. Some of this, I think, is because I made them write down some of their relationships, friendly, rival/unfriendly, and heirarchal. I also indicated that it would be a good thing if some of those relationships showed up on both their lists. It certainly pointed out where the serious problems could crop up.
This is my first time actually trying a longer term game with TSOY. If anyone has any suggestions based on the setting and characters I've presented here, I'd love to hear them.
The Shadow of Cerilia
Re: [TSoY] Mobsters and Double Agents
Reply #1 on:
August 07, 2006, 06:32:26 AM »
I am psyched about the Shadow of Yesterday buzz and experimentation that's going on. Your question also lets me make a general point, so here goes.
Near, in the core book, is a great setting because it concerns dozens of inherent local conflicts. There are clashes of ethnicities, ethics, politics, and more in each zone or country, and not only that, there are inherent conflicts of personal goals built into each separate culture.
Clinton has always said that Near is his Glorantha, and he's totally right - like Glorantha, Near is designed to prompt interest and most importantly, to prompt
the desire to resolve and develop
each geographical spot, which is to say, the problems of the people or a person in each spot.
So if you use another setting for The Shadow of Yesterday (or in my view, for HeroQuest as well), then it's that very quality that I think you need to emphasize. Here's an example - I was browsing through one of my many boxes of Al-Qadim material the other day, admiring the production value and the care to setting-detail, but also examining my own long-standing frustration with it ... specifically, that immediate conflict in each neat locale just wasn't there. It always seems to be presented in the person or psychology of some kind of trouble-making NPC with an extensive back-story of his own, and the cool Arabic stuff becomes so much window-dressing.
My question for you is this: what in the Ilien setting leaps out at you and screams "unstable!" in the most interesting, inspiring way? OK, you have this criminal/capitalist city, it's big, there are maps, blah blah ... so what? Unless my only goal were to take a tour of it, what does it offer me?
Re: [TSoY] Mobsters and Double Agents
Reply #2 on:
August 07, 2006, 09:01:43 AM »
That's a damn fine question. I actually had a paragraph in my original post that addressed it but edited it out because I thought it was somewhat tangential at the time. Not sure why I thought that. Maybe it was sleep deprivation or something.
First, I'd like to address your question on a scale larger than the current scale of my game. The Free City of Ilien is, after all, only a small corner of the overall setting. The thing about the setting that really pulled me in was the whole concept of a broken empire ruled now by many feudal nobles all scheming and plotting to become the first emporer of the new empire. That kind of situation is inherently unstable in terms of the large scale situation. I'd like to keep this in mind as I describe the thing about Ilien that made me choose it as a starting location.
One of the things I did like about the Birthright source material were their Player Secrets books. Toss out the Flora, Fauna, and Geography sections of the booklets and you are left with a premade list of NPC's with descriptions of what they really want and who doesn't want them to have it. Write the names down and draw lines between the names based on those descriptions and you have something resembling a Relationship Map. It's a pretty good place to start out and modify a bit. The two major points of contention for Ilien based on this information that I liked immediately were:
1.) A powerful Merchant Prince wanting to maintain his dominance over the largest city on the southern coast at odds with a Ruling Duke that wanted to ease the strangle-hold the Merchant has on his city without ruining the realm financially. Salt this liberally with a few foreign interests and unscrupulous criminals and you have a nice hotbed of political/economic problems begging to be handled.
2.) A triad of conflict between Elves who wish to preserve their sources of magical power and their unspoiled forest home, human merchants wanting to exploit the forest for their own gain, and the Duke who wants to preserve the forest to maintain it's natural magic but wants the sources for himself. I thought this situation had lots of potential too perhaps a little less on the political side, depending on how you ended up playing it out.
My players both jumped into situation #1 and seemed to ignore situation #2, which is fine by me. I can save that for later or perhaps have it resolve itself in the background in a way that affects their own situation.
Now I'd like to revisit my original reason that the setting grabbed at me; the large scale political instability. At some point I want to play a game with characters involved with the setting on that level. I have no problems with just letting the players start with characters at that level except that I know my particular players would have a difficult time engaging with the setting at that level without some experience to draw upon. As none of them have played TSoY or played in the Birthright setting, I picked a smaller scale for the first game so that they could familiarize themselves with the system and the setting. Hopefully they will enjoy it enough to want to continue to play after this story plays out.
The thing I find interesting is that the stuff that grabbed me and I thought were the strengths of the setting are not serviced very well by AD&D which were the rules originally used. Sure, if you went completely the way of warfare, military strikes and killing things to get power, the system would work fine but if you wanted to do the more subtle and, in my estimation, more interesting political intrigue stuff, AD&D really fell flat. In fact, in the original game if you went the political intrigue route, it was always easy for GM or another player to simply trump what you were doing by going the overt physical violence route. TSoY lets me do both options equally well. It gives the players and the GM more options to play with so that the game doesn't degenerate into a one trick pony situation.
Did this answer your question or did I miss it somehow?
The Shadow of Cerilia
Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland
Re: [TSoY] Mobsters and Double Agents
Reply #3 on:
August 08, 2006, 01:39:28 AM »
your overall description of the birthright setting (broken feudal kingdom) almost perfectly matches Maldor minus the Ratkin. I'd recommend rereading that section of the description of near to get a better hold of what TSoY offers in that regard. Apply Awnsheg influence in healthy doses. Did you write up any birthright-setting specific keys? I'd love to see those.
your 2). triad of conflict maps onto Khale vs Ammeni minus the Green World and the Sky Metal. So, reread that to see what can come from this. The TSoY Elves are totally different from the ones in a D&D world, but the Khaleans are a good template for a nature-bound people being forced to fight for their old ways against outsiders and fight against themselves as well (green world conservatives vs sky metal rebels see to that).
Oh, and don't forget to give your players opportunities to hit their keys. If you want them to go to that triad conflict, show them they can hit their keys there.
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