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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Exalted: The Gates of Heaven  (Read 7048 times)
Turbo
Member

Posts: 16

Grad Student/Dancer/Writer


« on: August 25, 2006, 06:50:29 PM »

First off, I apologise if this is breaking some bit of etiquette I didn't see in the sticky information threads.

I've been running a short-term Exalted 2nd Edition game, and blogging the Actual Play here: http://monkeysdopeoplethings.blogspot.com/   The first two reports are up already, and there are two more games to come.

I'd love to see folks from here make their way over and comment there, or comment here.  I'm trying to get more involved with non-academic gaming theory, being as that I'm writing my Master's Thesis on RPGs and want more perspectives from people who have been thinking about gaming as much or much more than I have.  The Forge was on my radar before the 'Diaspora,' but since meeting Malcolm, Meg, Tony, and others at GenCon, I was urged to get involved.  Well, the popular thing seems to be 'Actual Play is the place where you base your theory investigations,' so here I am.

Thanks,
Michael R. Underwood
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Michael R. Underwood
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2006, 07:38:43 PM »

Hi Michael,

I've had a read of the first account so far. Could you provide a bit more information on what the players liked - like what bits they got excited about and were keen to pursue, for example. Also, what actions they took beyond the straightforward (fighting back against an attacking foe is straightforward).

Also, often I see at the forge a practical direction, like 'Okay, here's a problem, lets think about it' rather than just thinking about roleplay in general. Do you have any problems you'd like to bring up, that could engage this practical perspective? Even if it was a problem you might have thought a player had for a moment or two?
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Turbo
Member

Posts: 16

Grad Student/Dancer/Writer


« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2006, 08:22:33 PM »

The second post gets a little more in-depth in talking about those kinds of issues, but here's some more.

The players responded positively to being asked to describe their own contacts when I said that they'd need support from gods/spirits.  They took the inch I gave them and ran with it for many miles, taking up several hours merrily coming up with gods to contact, talking about their already-standing relationships with these gods in a great collaborative environment that made it easy for me to give a little bit and let them be center-stage most of the time, as well as allowing for me to dole out the necessary info-dump-kind of info in smaller chunks.

What didn't work as well was the fact that about half of this got done one-by-one, with a 1:1 correlation between PC and god, leaving the other PCs unengaged, leading to their players being unengaged, at least a bit.  Some of the players drifted from the table to the amazingly comfy couch across the room, partially due I think to the less-than-ideally comfortable play space of the table (high chairs with little padding, full table) and, what I like to call The First Game Thing, wherin it takes a while for everyone to lock in and get going in a first game session.  I like to think I avoided some of the problems of first games by having the players work out how their PCs knew and worked with one another before, but there was still some uncertainty as people settled into their characters.  There were great individual moments, but not as much with them cohering as a group in the first part in dealing with the gods, though in the scenes where they shared what they'd learned, I started to see things fit together.  I think if I'd encouraged more free play in the first scene with a solid reason to stay together and RP together more before splitting off to the gods, they might have stayed engaged in one another's short individual arcs more, but it didn't really disrupt play that much.

The biggest problem I've had overall is getting everyone to speak up and engage on a similar level/degree.  It's the first time this particular arragement of people have played tabletop all with one another, and most people's first time with Exalted, but I know these are good actors and good story-makers, I'm just going to have to work more on getting them involved with one another as well as the story--hard with a short-term game, but I know there's room for B-plots even in a 'mini-series' or 'movie' structure.

So for more general questions -- How do you help players incorporate years of backstory that their characters have, but they haven't played through?  Especially in a short-term game?  And what can I do (aside from combat) to help get all of the PCs engaged with the game such that they're also engaged with one another?  This is a circle that's been working together for several years, but the players don't have the experience with each other as those characters which would be avaliable if this were the last story arc in a several-year game rather than a 'let's get to the big exciting part' short-term game.
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Michael R. Underwood
Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2006, 11:44:31 PM »

Hi again,

My technical thoughts on backstory is that it's stagnant - it's events that have happened and resolved. There are no loose ends involved, everything has been resolved. And where the GM tries to find a loose end, the player will go a mile around it, turtle through it or complain/go lie on the couch.

A jury rig is to work out some mechanics which give rewards (XP, bonus stunt dice, whatever) when the player works in their background into play (this means they have some room for authorship, ie they can say stuff like the barman was a rival for a love interest or such). This is often still pretty bland, as those backstories are as said, usually resolved. So you might want to add further, larger rewards for introducing unresolved issues, like the rival and that you never got to beat the snot out of him for what he did.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Turbo
Member

Posts: 16

Grad Student/Dancer/Writer


« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2006, 05:40:50 AM »

The idea on backstory is fairly sound, though with this game, since it's primarily set in Yu-Shan, away from Creation where the PCs have been moving and shaking.

The players definately innovated and took initiative in the first game, making up previous relationships to various gods that their characters had become tied to/interacted with, such as Aegis, goddess of defense and guardians, Gen Chu goddes of the southern sands, Mirage, lord of deserts, and the Lord of the Indigo Waves.

I'll see what I can do to re-introduce some backstory elements into this week's game, which will be heavily social as they set themselves up for the big conclusion, where I'm also going to return to the PC's desires as ways to tempt them away from their goals.

Thanks, and I hope you read the rest of the reports as they come and comment again.
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Michael R. Underwood
Sovem
Member

Posts: 94

J.F.Halsey


« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2006, 11:44:53 AM »

Having Players take the roles of characters who have known each other for years before the game actually starts is, in my experience, a risky endeavour. The characters should be a well forged circle, they should know a great deal about each other, make jokes about shared experiences, and function as a team. The Players, however, are still settling into their characters, so there's less of that level of closeness in evidence.

One suggestion I read for some game that I can't remember is to allow each Player to help with the other players' characters' pasts. For instance, allow everyone to come up with one embarassing moment for someone else, or something really cool they did, etc. This makes creating their communal past a more communal experience.
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Sovem
Member

Posts: 94

J.F.Halsey


« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2006, 11:50:56 AM »

(BTW, your game sounds freakishly awesome and fun to play. That type of Exalted game is exactly my style of gaming.)
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Turbo
Member

Posts: 16

Grad Student/Dancer/Writer


« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2006, 04:42:43 PM »

I almost wish that I'd waited a few weeks to do the game so I could use the Apotheosis: Collaborative Campaign (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=282399), though what I and my group ended up doing was somewhat similar, just less structured and more organic. 

The players did help flesh out each other's backstories, especially people coming together to describe how Dahn was redeemed from being an Abyssal.  It'd have been even cooler if that much effort was put into all of the character's backstories, but again, with a short-term game, there's only so much that we have time for.  Something to think about if I do another game with a similar setup (go straight to the big stuff, with assumed backstory).

The third week's report is up on my gaming blog, www.monkeysdopeoplethings.blogspot.com

My question for the last game (tomorrow) is this:  What strategies will work best to tempt the PCs to stray from the course that will be easiest for the players (who know what has to be done) to make dramatic rather than giving the stiff upper lip?  I want to tempt them more than actually turn them from the path, but going up against a Primordial that has survived by being intoxicatingly addictive should be challenging to just wail away at in standard FF boss combat.

Though I'm totally going to have a 3-phase boss fight.  I've already promised it.
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Michael R. Underwood
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