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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 215 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Hero's Banner] War for the Soul of Uran  (Read 36430 times)
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2006, 12:54:02 PM »

Anyway, you guys rock and I'm just glad you're having some sort of fun with the game. It means a lot to me, your posts and discussions.

Cool, I'm glad we're on the same page. We're totally enjoying the game - don't forget we had a giant sea-battle with ships crashing into each other, and it ran perfectly. It was awesome.

You know, not to derail too much, but I've been going through similar things with TSOY: people having issues I didn't expect. I'm planning on releasing a serious of helper articles on my website, and I'm not being embarrassed by the text. It is what it is (that is, a pretty good game) and helper articles are just value-adds. Maybe when you get some more actual play, if you have further GM advice, you can collect it in some fashion. I don't know.

Next Monday, I'm making Remi and Jason collaborate at least half the time. We will report!
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Tim C Koppang
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Posts: 356


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« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2006, 01:09:56 PM »

I'm planning on releasing a serious of helper articles on my website, and I'm not being embarrassed by the text. It is what it is (that is, a pretty good game) and helper articles are just value-adds. Maybe when you get some more actual play, if you have further GM advice, you can collect it in some fashion. I don't know.

I think that's a great idea. You know, writing a roleplaying text is really an odd thing. There are so many different styles of games, play techniques, and social expectations that it's almost fun to watch what sort of things come out of actual play sessions not my own. Slightly frustrating and embarrassing, but fun.

I look forward to hearing from the Durham 3 again (You guys really need a slogan like, "Go Team Venture!").
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2006, 01:22:56 PM »

Our slogan should be "Get your bulls up!", accompanied by an enthusastic two-hand gesture, because that's what all the gangstas in Durham are doing these days. 

I'm looking forward to playing again!
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #33 on: September 13, 2006, 09:31:46 AM »

We had our third session last Monday and it went better, I think, than our previous two.  Here's what I learned:

1.  The doubles thing, although technically pretty common, was a freak for us.  Session three saw a single breakdown in 2.5 hours of play, which was way, way more satisfying.

2.  Remi and I made our characters with strong connections and reasons not to overtly oppose each other.  Instead of going for each other's throats, we did our own things and even cooperated a little.  This worked much better for us.

3.  We curbed our scene framing tendencies and let Clinton do the heavy lifting there, and that also worked well.  I will say that I felt a little disengaged from Remi's scenes and really wanted to jump in as a thug, a courtier, a sideman at various times. 

4.  The stakes of our three aspects were a little lower in some ways and definitely less aggressive.  Mine were peace (hero), self knowledge (blood), and freedom (conscience).  Tasty and mutually exclusive but not, you know "forcibly convert the northerners to the true faith."
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Tim C Koppang
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« Reply #34 on: September 15, 2006, 04:57:13 AM »

Jason,

Glad to hear things went smoother for you. I was wondering, though, how did the magic you guys created last session play out in this one? I mean, did the changes you guys made help at all with the problems you were having with the altered setting you were also using?

It sounds like you dialed back the stakes of each of your influences, at least compared with the previous set of characters. I'm betting that with the changes you made in point number two of yours that you could amp up the influences even further if the fancy strikes you because you won't run into the same conflicts. Not that a set of characters with more peaceable goals aren't welcome of course.

Also, how did the generational mechanics work for you guys? How closely related were your new characters? In my experience, it makes a big difference if you choose to play characters of the same time period as the previous generation -- as opposed to playing a set one generation removed. Not good or bad, but just a different sort of feel to the game.
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Tim C Koppang
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« Reply #35 on: September 15, 2006, 01:39:41 PM »

Holy crap Jason. I just finished listening to your Durham 3 podcast and I gotta say, the breakdown you casually mentioned above as being more rewarding not only rocked hard, but could be one of the best breakdowns I've heard about. What a perfectly self-involved hardcore teenager moment. Instead of describing this straight away, I recommend everyone go listen to the podcast. They open with a frank and rewarding discussion about religion in games, break to play Hero's Banner, and then Remi comes in around minute 20 (earlier if you want the entire report) with a bombshell of an actual play report. All I'll say is that he sure as hell captured the essence of immaturity, power, and passion all at once.
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Nev the Deranged
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Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #36 on: September 15, 2006, 02:30:26 PM »

Aside: In a beautiful example of reciprocation, I started listening to (and became hooked on) the Durham 3 podcasts because I wanted to learn about Hero's Banner, and listening to the podcasts are what tipped the scales for me on purchasing the game.

 So now I have a cool game, AND a cool podcast series to listen to. And you guys all have new fans. Everybody wins!   ^_^
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Remi Treuer
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« Reply #37 on: September 16, 2006, 01:38:19 AM »

Glad to hear things went smoother for you. I was wondering, though, how did the magic you guys created last session play out in this one? I mean, did the changes you guys made help at all with the problems you were having with the altered setting you were also using?

Also, how did the generational mechanics work for you guys? How closely related were your new characters? In my experience, it makes a big difference if you choose to play characters of the same time period as the previous generation -- as opposed to playing a set one generation removed. Not good or bad, but just a different sort of feel to the game.

Hi, Tim.
1. We steered entirely away from the magic we had established. The Billow Maidens were there, the mothers of both our characters, but were simply seven wives of a deceased/disappeared king. There was some reference to their participation in an earlier battle and their magical feats there, but nothing overtly magical. We did have armies of whipped slaves, which gave Jason an ahistorical chuckle, but nothing that completely broke the bond of humanity.

2. We were the direct descendants of Andor Uranson. However, we were each named after our mothers. So instead of being Uranson we were 'Femalename'son. It was good, and there was some meaty play coming out of the sexism that we worked into Uran. My character's Hero was his father, Andor Uranson, whom he saw as a sort of Don Juan of the Uran people, the ultimate lover, wooing and bedding and satisfying 7 women. His goals were 'Find His True Love, Live With Her 4ever', 'Destroy the Get of Throbjorn' (our Big Bad Grendel from the first game), and 'Save My Best Friend From A Bad Life'.

I'm not sure that amping up the Influences would work for our particular group. Even though we had smaller, non-conflicting Influences, when our characters ended up in the room together, we started sniping at each other a bit. I think Jason and I naturally fall into that rhythm, and so we need big stories growing out of little seeds in a game like Hero's Banner.

Also, the girl my character ended up sleeping with was NOT my True Love, but was, rather, my Best Friend, which made it even more awesome and awful.

There was a bit of disengagement for me, as well. Especially in the early scenes which were intensely personal to each character (I had a conflict about putting spices in soup, for example), but as they go broader, more connections emerged and I found myself getting drawn in. I think finding a middle ground between entirely personal (soup) and entirely external (God War) is the secret for us to run Hero's Banner at full heat for the entire session.
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Remi Treuer
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« Reply #38 on: September 16, 2006, 01:59:57 AM »

3.  We curbed our scene framing tendencies and let Clinton do the heavy lifting there, and that also worked well.  I will say that I felt a little disengaged from Remi's scenes and really wanted to jump in as a thug, a courtier, a sideman at various times. 
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Remi Treuer
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« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2006, 02:00:45 AM »

Dang, I meant to quote Jason's before making my comment on disengagement. I was commenting on this:
3.  We curbed our scene framing tendencies and let Clinton do the heavy lifting there, and that also worked well.  I will say that I felt a little disengaged from Remi's scenes and really wanted to jump in as a thug, a courtier, a sideman at various times. 

Also, Nev, glad to have you aboard!
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #40 on: September 19, 2006, 04:00:35 AM »

OK, we wrapped it up last night and it went pretty well.  I think Clinton and Remi had a better time than I did.

1.  Play speeds up as everybody learns the ebb and flow of the game.  Our second generation took just over half the time of our first. 

2.  The character arcs were very satisfying, and we can all see a way forward, if we were going to play some more.  Our second generation guys were more interesting adn fun than our first, and make better heroes. 

3.  We had the same end-game problem of one guy topping out, but not being able to 100% complete his narrative because it had dependencies built into the other player's story.  This is a minor point.

4.  I have some sort of cognitive block that makes the end-game less than fun.  It feels deterministic to me, but Remi was rocking out in the same circumstances.  I kept thinking, "OK, I either automatically win or automatically lose, and there's social pressure on me to automatically lose because it's time to wrap this up."

5.  I made obvious choices from the middle of the game pointing toward a single aspect - my conscience. By the time we reached end-game, the other two aspects were not only not viable, they had been rendered incompatible or obsolete.  I couldn't swap my scores around, because a 98 in "unify the kingdom without bloodshed", in the middle of a bloody battle, wasn't very satisfying.  I'm not sure if this was my fault for picking bad goals or what.

6.  Remi was playing harder and making stronger choices than I was.  I honestly don't think Hero's Banner is a game for me, because I struggled just following where he would lead.  None of the characters I introduced had an impact in the story, nor did any of my connections.  In the end the only characters that were important were either ones he'd introduced, or ones Clinton introduced as adversaries for Remi.  I felt pretty lame and uninspired. 
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Tim C Koppang
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« Reply #41 on: September 19, 2006, 12:17:54 PM »

Jason,

I appreciate your honesty. If anything, I appreciate your comments because they allowed me to better hash out some of the frustrations I've had with Hero's Banner depending on the game and the particular players and characters. I don't mean to direct the following at you specifically, by the way. I mean it more generally even if it does apply to your group.

One of the toughest aspects of Hero's Banner from the point of view of the player, I think, is coming up with three influences that you both care about and that have the longevity to make it all the way to the end of the episode. I think it's easy to come up with one influence that you care about, a bit harder to come up with two, and downright tough to make up a third. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that if you don't actually care about all three influences, then you will play your character like he doesn't care about all three. And without that conflict, there really isn't anything interesting going on: your character just goes around getting into forced conflicts until the inevitable happens and he makes what is really an obvious choice.

On top of this all is the fact that you have to come up with your character's three influences right off the bat during character creation. So even if you find out that one of your influences isn't so hot during the actual game, you're kinda stuck with it. At least an episode is rather short, but I suppose that's unsatisfying nonetheless.

The influence categories are supposed to help alleviate some of the difficulties in coming up with meaningful and interesting influences, but in reality I think they only go so far. As I see it now, there's really three schools of thought when it comes to creating influences.

First, you can create three influence that all work in concert with each other. For example, your Hero influence could be something like "save my people from the invading barbarians" and your Blood influence could then be something like "keep the family reputation for ruthlessness in battle." You can see how both influences are concerned with different goals, but both involve conflicts involving the same sort of things: battle, war, leadership, your kingdom, etc. Under this method, you could make a third, conscience influence along the same lines.

The second method is to create influences that truly pull your character in opposite directions. Using the above example, say that instead of making Blood about the family reputation, you make it something like "join a convent and live a life of peace." You could even go entirely opposite with something like "become a spy for the invading army and help to overthrow my king." The point is that the influences are fighting against each other by nature.

Third, and finally, you can make three influences that have absolutely nothing to do with one another. Oftentimes, I've seen players combine method one or two with method three. They make two influences that are related, and a third that exists outside of the first two. And when it comes to method two, it's easy to think in pairs, but thinking up a third means you either play the rock, paper, scissors ploy or else think up a tangential influence to fill the gap.

All this to say that I have a theory. Quite simply, it's easier to both play and GM a character whose player actually cares about each of his three influences. This also means that the GM has to legitimately challenge each of your character's influences. As a player, you also have to be willing and in the mood to play a character who's all about rapid changes of heart. Again, this is hard at times.

Finally, with reference to the three methods of influence creation above, the combination of influences your character has can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the game. I'm not sure what works best, but I suspect that choosing one method of creation and sticking with it for all three influences would be easiest to play. At the very least, being aware of how your influences could possible interact with each other is a good thing. If two are pulling you in one direction, and the third is totally unrelated, then it could be difficult to find the motivation to pursue that third with any conviction: the odds are stacked against you really.

Whew. That was long. I have some thoughts on the endgame, but I'll let those sit for a while. Anyway, like I said Jason, I appreciate the feedback. Even though Hero's Banner may not be your cup of tea, your criticisms are well-put.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #42 on: September 19, 2006, 01:21:27 PM »

Tim, for reference, I chose the "opposites" method.  Mine were peace, freedom, or self-knowledge.  My self-knowledge goal was generally met early on, although we all agreed that there was a layer of subtext we could have explored.  Peace went out the window almost immediately and I never had a scene related to it - powerful, violent conflicts ocurred that made it moot.  So I pushed freedom.
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Tim C Koppang
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« Reply #43 on: September 19, 2006, 01:36:27 PM »

Thanks, that helps.

Out of curiosity, though, what do you mean when you say that your self-knowledge goal was "met"? I assume you don't mean that the goal was completed? Because that's not supposed to be possible at all until you pump 100 points into it. So were you personally just not interested in it from a dramatic point of view?
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #44 on: September 19, 2006, 02:14:21 PM »

Tim,

Jason's self-knowledge goal was "met" in that his goal was to find out who his father was, and he did. The goal had a bit more nuance that we could have explored - he was supposed to find his name, and he never accepted his father - but it was found. Jason narrated who his father was when he won a conflict about halfway through the game.

I bet you're about to say that's invalid play, and you will not get backup from me on that. An artificial "you can't have this until I say so" mechanic is obtrusive to play. It might work better with centralized narration ability, but not with distributed narration ability.

I disagree with Jason, however, that "unite the country without bloodshed" was cut off. His character personally spilt no blood until the very end (or did you ever? actually, I think you didn't) and earlier scenes with violence went uncontested.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
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