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Author Topic: [UtB] Questions & Looking for IRC transcript of actual play  (Read 3638 times)
Halzebier
Member

Posts: 216


« on: June 25, 2006, 12:53:55 PM »

Hi there!

I have a game of UtB scheduled, possibly for tomorrow already, and I'm still full of questions.

In fact, I can't quite imagine how a conflict actually plays out. Hence, I'd love to see an IRC transcript of actual play.

Okay, I'll try to envision an instance of play now - please correct any misconceptions I have:

*-*-*

The story stakes are: Will Jack get back his parents' attention after the death of his sister Jill two years ago?

Bob, a player, frames the next conflict because he has won the last one (building his toy's favoritism to 3).

"Jack's mom is dusting his sister's old room. Can Jack prevent her from getting lost in memories, inevitably to break down crying? The opposition is Jack's mom, who is slightly drunk (1 die) and comforted by Jill's old toys (2 dice)."

Bob states that Jack's mom is using "comforted by Jill's old toys" to ignore Jack.

Jack's toy for the entire (?) scene is determined: A blue token, signifying a soccer ball, is drawn.

The soccer ball has a favoritism of 2 and is played by Peter.

It has not been determined how Jack's mom ignores him, so Peter narrates how Jack asks her to help him with his homework.

Peter continues to spin the story:

"Jack's mom turns down his request without really noticing him. She continues to polish Jill's old Dance Competition Cup. Jack leaves the room and goes into the garden to sit forlornly on his swing. My toy, the soccer ball, is also in the garden. It uses two of his characteristics, bad and violent. Of its own accord, the soccer ball smashes through one of the windows. Jack is horrified, but the soccer ball cries out: 'This is your chance. Apologize, then help her clean up the mess you've made.'"

The dice (2 vs. 2) are rolled.

Jack wins, so his mom is mollified by his apology though she mostly doesn't care, as Bob points out , and allows him to help her with the sharp window shards.

Bob must now use the second and only remaining characteristic, "slightly drunk". Jack's mom is in danger of cutting herself on a shard, no doubt getting very angry at Jack.

1.   Can this be done? It hands victory to Jack regarding the stated conflict don't get lost in memory but introduces a new problem. Should this be a follow up scene?
2.   Also, am I right that there are at maximum two rolls because the opposition can't have more characteristics? A conflict is always resolved between the narrator and the toy's player and no one else interferes, right? (Except to kibbitz, of course.)

Regards,

Hal (who is confused and desperate for an IRC  transcript of actual play)
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2006, 08:02:08 PM »

Hey, man.

I'm sure that Joshua would be in here but he's busy getting married, so let me see if I can cover.

Your description of how conflict plays out is basically correct.

Now, the important thing that you're asking about it the "stakes of the moment" which is "can Jack keep mom from getting lost in memory and crying?"

You have two things -- your example and your general question.

The general question is that, no, you can't change stakes midstream.  In fact, getting Mom angry at him would be a win for Jack: it should really be a seperate conflict entirely.

That said, I don't see how the situation of the smashed window keeps Mom from getting lost in memories.  Maybe while they're cleaning up the window she starts rambling about his sister?

So, basically, each conflict with two (or more for longer games) traits for the opposition should be two fields in the same conflict.  A lot can happen with the narration between the rolls, but it must be focused on the conflict at hand.

yrs--
--Ben
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Halzebier
Member

Posts: 216


« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2006, 12:32:17 PM »

I'm sure that Joshua would be in here but he's busy getting married, so let me see if I can cover.

Thanks - I really appreciate your help. The game's on Tuesday, so I got about a day left.

I have more questions and observations:

(a) In a scene where the opposition has two traits, there will be two rolls (both about the scene's stakes), right? And winning the first one has almost no effect - just a +1 bonus on d8s for the second -, so it's really only the second conflict that matters, correct?

(b) Does this mean that players try to steer the scene in a direction where they can bring more of their toys' characteristics into play? (Dunno how this would look in practice, I'm just trying to fathom whether tactics are part of the game at all.)

(c) Who decides how characters other than the opposition act? In fact, who has jurisdiction over what (e.g. introducing new characters)?

Looking at my original example:

Quote
Jack's mom is dusting his sister's old room. Can Jack prevent her from getting lost in memories, inevitably to break down crying? The opposition is Jack's mom, who is slightly drunk (1 die) and comforted by Jill's old toys (2 dice).

Bob states that Jack's mom is using "comforted by Jill's old toys" to ignore Jack.

Jack's toy for the entire (?) scene is determined: A blue token, signifying Peter a soccer ball, is drawn.

The soccer ball has a favoritism of 2 and is played by Peter.

It has not been determined how Jack's mom ignores him, so Peter narrates how Jack asks her to help him with his homework. Peter continues to spin the story:

After Bob frames the scene, sets the stakes and announces the opposition's traits, whose responsibility is it to take it from there? I've assumed it's Peter in the above example, but is this correct?

Quote
[...] Jack wins, so his mom is mollified by his apology though she mostly doesn't care, as Bob points out , and allows him to help her with the sharp window shards.

Who gets to flesh out the reaction of Jake's mom and thereby set conditions for the follow-up roll (at +1 for one participant)?

(d) How does a group decide on the tone (e.g. magical elements, such as Emily's group which postulated a living chair attacking the child)?

(e) With a bit of luck, one person can be the narrator for quite a long time, correct? Once you have a favoritism of 3 for your toy, the opposition you create when you are the narrator will have two dice for at least one characteristic. If you set things up right, you'll have the opposition use that trait in the final roll in a scene - i.e., the deciding roll -, so it's usually 2 dice against 1-3 dice from the toy - that's about 50/50.

Regards,

Hal
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2006, 10:07:45 AM »

Hi! I'm done getting married! Now, on to being married!

I'm sure that Joshua would be in here but he's busy getting married, so let me see if I can cover.

Thanks for covering for me, Ben! You are, of course, right completely.

Thanks - I really appreciate your help. The game's on Tuesday, so I got about a day left.

I have more questions and observations:

(a) In a scene where the opposition has two traits, there will be two rolls (both about the scene's stakes), right? And winning the first one has almost no effect - just a +1 bonus on d8s for the second -, so it's really only the second conflict that matters, correct?

Correct.

Quote
(b) Does this mean that players try to steer the scene in a direction where they can bring more of their toys' characteristics into play? (Dunno how this would look in practice, I'm just trying to fathom whether tactics are part of the game at all.)

That's right.

Quote
(c) Who decides how characters other than the opposition act? In fact, who has jurisdiction over what (e.g. introducing new characters)?

Whoever wins sets up the next round. So the Opposition sets up the first situation, and whoever wins the first round sets up the second part of the Conflict.

Quote
Looking at my original example:

Quote
Jack's mom is dusting his sister's old room. Can Jack prevent her from getting lost in memories, inevitably to break down crying? The opposition is Jack's mom, who is slightly drunk (1 die) and comforted by Jill's old toys (2 dice).

Bob states that Jack's mom is using "comforted by Jill's old toys" to ignore Jack.

Jack's toy for the entire (?) scene is determined: A blue token, signifying Peter a soccer ball, is drawn.

The soccer ball has a favoritism of 2 and is played by Peter.

It has not been determined how Jack's mom ignores him, so Peter narrates how Jack asks her to help him with his homework. Peter continues to spin the story:

After Bob frames the scene, sets the stakes and announces the opposition's traits, whose responsibility is it to take it from there? I've assumed it's Peter in the above example, but is this correct?

Either player can narrate anything they like. The effectiveness of that narrated action is determined by the roll of the dice.

Quote
Quote
[...] Jack wins, so his mom is mollified by his apology though she mostly doesn't care, as Bob points out , and allows him to help her with the sharp window shards.

Who gets to flesh out the reaction of Jake's mom and thereby set conditions for the follow-up roll (at +1 for one participant)?

The winner of the previous roll.

Quote
(d) How does a group decide on the tone (e.g. magical elements, such as Emily's group which postulated a living chair attacking the child)?

If someone says, "Really? There's really a monster there? I thought it was really his sister in a mask and monsters weren't real." Then probably monsters shouldn't be real. But leave that for later. My recommendation, particularly if you're playing with new players, is to play it at a Winnie the Pooh/Alice in Wonderland/Wizard of Oz level. Metaphor gives you the ability to talk about serious stuff without derailing the game.

Quote
(e) With a bit of luck, one person can be the narrator for quite a long time, correct? Once you have a favoritism of 3 for your toy, the opposition you create when you are the narrator will have two dice for at least one characteristic. If you set things up right, you'll have the opposition use that trait in the final roll in a scene - i.e., the deciding roll -, so it's usually 2 dice against 1-3 dice from the toy - that's about 50/50.

Yes, it's possible, but I don't think I've seen narration kept for more than two rounds.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Halzebier
Member

Posts: 216


« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2006, 08:14:50 AM »

Hi! I'm done getting married! Now, on to being married!

Congratulations!

Quote
Quote
Who gets to flesh out the reaction of Jake's mom and thereby set conditions for the follow-up roll (at +1 for one participant)?

The winner of the previous roll.

I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that if the opposition has two characteristics, and the toy confronts the first one, wins and gains a +1, the toy's player narrates how the second roll comes about?

(This might be a moot point, really. When we played UtB last week (see below), narration was a highly cooperative endeavour with ideas flowing freely. Usually, the toy's player would simply check - by judging the narrator's body language and other cues in most cases, and simply asking in some other cases - to see whether he was overstepping his role.)

*-*-*

We played UtB last week as a surprise filler for an evening where our current DM was absent. It was a mixed bag, but I can wholeheartedly recommend it anyway (criticism notwithstanding). I don't have time for a full write-up (which is also the reason why this reply is so late), but I'd like to share a couple of thoughts nonetheless.

There were four players: me, Vicky, Carl and Gary.

# We met at 18:30, had dinner together, did a demo round and included Vaughn, Vicky's 6-year old son, for the first hour and still finished up at 22:15. UtB was easily explained and plays really fast, so it's perfect for a short evening.

# Carl set up a conflict where the child arrives at a birthday party without a gift. After the game, he told us that his sister once arrived at a birthday party with the wrong gift. He pointed out that he had not thought of this during the game and denied a direct connection, but it's an interesting point nonetheless. I certainly got the impression that UtB taps into people's childhood memories.

# Gary lost his toy, a lightsaber in which he seemed well-invested, in the second conflict and never recovered, in no small part due to the set of characteristics for his second toy: "stupid", "thick" and "slow". He was unable and unwilling to either create a toy he was interested in or come up with strategies to make these characteristics work in his favor during conflicts. In retrospect, he should have drawn another three cards for a more balanced set, but then, Gary would certainly have had none of that (plus, system-wise, this sort of thing can be an interesting challenge - I'm pretty sure I would not have minded this draw). After the loss of his first toy, Gary who was not sold on the whole concept to begin with, was in an antagonistic mood and pretty much a lost cause.

# The distribution of narration rights was very uneven. We lost three out of four toys right away - that's a run of bad luck, no doubt - and the surviving toy's player, Carl, opted for favoritism tokens on the first and second round (instead of characteristics cards). Because Carl also was the one to set up all these toy-killing conflicts at the beginning (none of which were out of line or intended as killers, BTW) his share of the narration was huge. Vicky perceived the game as unfair, claiming that Carl's head start ensured his dominance for the rest of the game. Also, she was frustrated afterwards because she had had many ideas of her own for setting up conflicts, but had only rarely gotten the chance to narrate.

I don't believe in the head start theory, but it sure illustrates Vicky's frustration. As for narration rights, I'd abandon the whole "the winner narrates the next conflict" and just go with simple rotation (even though this means it would take longer to draw a legal narrator from the hat).

Judging from post-game talk, I'd say that Gary did not like the game and Vicky experienced fun & frustration in about equal measure, not least because more fun must have seemed just out of reach.

Carl had a good time and also went to great lengths to pitch us nice conflicts. Furthermore, he opted for characteristics rather than his fourth favoritism token to open up the endgame for everyone.

I was content with the narrations I got (both as a narrator and as the toy's player) and had tremendous fun in the free-for-all back and forth while people came up with conflicts and navigated through them.

The game is immediatedly understood at the table and its core is rock solid, so it should generally be great fun. My only criticism is that bad rolls (or draws) can cause some frustrations (as bad luck is bound to do, doh!) and lead to an uneven distribution of narration rights. I'd deal with the latter by switching to a simple rotation of narration rights.

Regards,

Hal
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2006, 08:36:10 AM »

Thanks, Hal!

Narration is often very cooperative. That's totally cool. It almost always works out that way.

I find it very interesting that the player who didn't want to play was letting things slip from childhood, then denying the connection. It's times like this that I sit back in my comically oversized game designer comfy chair, steeple my fingers, and say through curled lips in a quiet basso voice, "Good. Good."

As for bad luck, I have to consider that. Playing with d6s will decrease the chances of Opposition victory, but I chose d8s because the Toy usually wins that way, anyway, but not overwhelmingly so. It's sure worth a shot.

"Stupid, Thick, and Slow" is a really hard combination. At one point in the development of the game, there was also "Passive". I once got all four. That was superlame. But without the Passive, I'm picturing a Hulk action figure.

Simple rotation of narration rights removes an element of the game of which I'm rather fond: when someone's just given you a tough challenge of a conflict (in terms of content, not dice), then it's your turn? You turn around and give something more challenging right back, not yet knowing who's going to confront it. I'd bet that the conflicts would drop in intensity rather than escalate.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Halzebier
Member

Posts: 216


« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2006, 08:48:01 AM »

I find it very interesting that the player who didn't want to play was letting things slip from childhood, then denying the connection.

Umm, no. You're mixing up Carl and Gary.

Quote
"Stupid, Thick, and Slow" is a really hard combination. At one point in the development of the game, there was also "Passive". I once got all four. That was superlame. But without the Passive, I'm picturing a Hulk action figure.

Gary actually took "passive" and "stubborn" from the open cards, claiming they fit with the others. That may be true, but it didn't help the situation in any way.

Quote
Simple rotation of narration rights removes an element of the game of which I'm rather fond: when someone's just given you a tough challenge of a conflict (in terms of content, not dice), then it's your turn? You turn around and give something more challenging right back, not yet knowing who's going to confront it. I'd bet that the conflicts would drop in intensity rather than escalate.

Heh. That's a good point. I guess our run of bad luck had something to do with playing a very friendly game - which is, of course, just one way to do it.

Regards,

Hal
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2006, 07:56:04 AM »

Quote
Umm, no. You're mixing up Carl and Gary.

...

You're mixing up Carl and Gary!

... (stands around awkwardly)

...

Quote
Gary actually took "passive" and "stubborn" from the open cards, claiming they fit with the others. That may be true, but it didn't help the situation in any way.

Well, it certainly makes sense to take Characteristics that can be used together easily, but when you've got something you don't like, a little diversification can really help. That's a peresonal taste and tactical decision discussion, though.

Quote
Heh. That's a good point. I guess our run of bad luck had something to do with playing a very friendly game - which is, of course, just one way to do it.

Oh, I've never had a game that was unfriendly. It's just what people do. When something effects you, it often effects you in ways that weren't anticipated, so escalation just happens.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
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