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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 51 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Lords and Ladies: Setting Challenge review  (Read 1549 times)
Graham W
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Posts: 437


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« on: January 04, 2007, 08:52:46 PM »

I really liked Lords and Ladies. It takes Dust Devils and, very successfully, transplants it to a Jane Austen-ish setting. It also blends immersionist LARPs with Dust Devils' conflict resolution: I have some doubts about that, which I'll explain below.

(By the way, I'm English, so I'm going to refer to the setting as a "Jane Austen setting", because that's how I understand it. Hope that's OK.)

The choice of Dust Devils is inspired. It works because of Dust Devils' emphasis on relationships to start play, which transplants well to a Jane Austen setting.

I like the idea of the Passion, but it doesn't feel like the deep-seated, gut-wrenching obsession that was the Devil in Dust Devils. Perhaps it's the example given: "Protecting our family name" sounds like a mild character objective, not a deep-seated motivation. I'd prefer Passions to be more passionate: "Is terrified of our family going to ruin", say.

I'm also interested in why the level of the Passion is unalterable (at 3). I like the idea of altering the level of the Devil. It would be nice if this could be carried across to Lords and Ladies.

Lords and Ladies' relationship map is a good addition to the system. One worry is that it's not rich enough: each character is linked to only one target and complicative character. Would it be possible for each character to have two target and complicative characters? That way, there are two things to follow up in the LARP.

I'm not sure about the blend between immersion and conflict resolution. The Dust Devils system is treated like a last resort: something to be used only when immersionist techniques have failed or when the game falls flat. It does raise the question: why use it at all? Surely it's too complex for a last resort system? Why not use a simpler system or the skills of the GM?

And how do the two interact: what happens if, say, there's an immersionist scene which ends in family members shunning the character? Should the Family rating reduce? What happens if an immersionist scene changes the relationships that were specified on the relationship map? Should someone spend a chip?

Blending the two styles is a good experiment, but it doesn't entirely work for me. Personally, I'd like to see either an entirely immersionist game or a game which uses Dust Devils for resolution.

Having said all that, the use of Dust Devils for this setting is superb, and it's very well done.

Score: 7

Graham
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talysman
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Posts: 675


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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2007, 10:52:58 AM »

I don't know that I want to reveal exact scores (there's going to be a second round of judging, after all,) but of the four games I was assigned to judge, I thought this one had the most problems, specifically because of the clash between the freeform and the conflict resolution system. It seemed almost as if Sami wanted a pure freeform system with total immersion and was "stuck" with fitting Dust Devils into the game somehow, which I think is actually the opposite of what really happened. Maybe it's overcompensation, trying to appeal to the LARP scene.

I'll mention layout here, too, since we're not judging that, anyways. There's some nice things about the basic layout, but in later versions of the PDF, the colors should be handled differently. Anything with overlayed text should be very light, so we can read the text; a slightly heavier font would help, too. Also, don't use red text, because it vanishes on top of the red illustrations. This combination of color problems forced me to highlight several paragraphs just so I could read them. If this had been a printed product, I wouldn't have been able to read all the text and wouldn't have considered using it at all.

Otherwise, it's an interesting setting and holds promise.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Sam!
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2007, 03:04:59 PM »

First of all, thanks to both of you for your comments and critique. As said, this is a lot better feedback than mere numbers. And then some answers and explanations.

I like the idea of the Passion, but it doesn't feel like the deep-seated, gut-wrenching obsession that was the Devil in Dust Devils. Perhaps it's the example given: "Protecting our family name" sounds like a mild character objective, not a deep-seated motivation. I'd prefer Passions to be more passionate: "Is terrified of our family going to ruin", say.

I'm also interested in why the level of the Passion is unalterable (at 3). I like the idea of altering the level of the Devil. It would be nice if this could be carried across to Lords and Ladies.

I had a problem with melodrama during writing Lords & Ladies: The setting / game was supposed to be dramatic, but I was afraid that I overdo it and the result would be slushy comedy. L&L is serious stuff. I wanted to make sure that Passions are real things, which everybody can have: the son might be most willing to marry for love, while his father is just as eager to make sure his son marries “right”. The Passion is not for young hot-heads only. The “gut-wrenching” aspect was introduced by locking the level of Passion. It’s a strong element that really affects the choices in conflicts.

Quote from: Graham Walmsley
Lords and Ladies' relationship map is a good addition to the system. One worry is that it's not rich enough: each character is linked to only one target and complicative character. Would it be possible for each character to have two target and complicative characters? That way, there are two things to follow up in the LARP.

Um, on page six it says: “Finally, assign one or two support characters that match the traits of each player character.” Later on it says that these can overlap with target and complicative characters, but of course if there isn’t enough meat for the relationship map, keep them as separate characters. That would give four connections to each character. After all, hardly any character is supposed to be lonely: every target and complicative character has his / her family and friends. But to have two targets... in my mind it would just ease the tension and so water down the drama.

Quote from: Graham Walmsley
I'm not sure about the blend between immersion and conflict resolution. The Dust Devils system is treated like a last resort: something to be used only when immersionist techniques have failed or when the game falls flat. It does raise the question: why use it at all? Surely it's too complex for a last resort system? Why not use a simpler system or the skills of the GM?

“The last resort” is meant to be used whenever the participants feel like it. I tried to keep the setting / game open for different approaches: some might use the conflict resolution fairly often, while others – probably immersionist players – might never use it. You use it, if you need it. It’s quite subjective what is a complex system and what is not; I myself don’t think Dust Devil’s conflict resolution system is complicated. But the main reason to use exactly DD, is to get the violent aspect right. Social violence is the mechanical heart of manipulation, which is a large part of the genre. It is the thorn of the rose, again something that gives L&L the edge a good drama needs.

Quote from: Graham Walmsley
And how do the two interact: what happens if, say, there's an immersionist scene which ends in family members shunning the character? Should the Family rating reduce? What happens if an immersionist scene changes the relationships that were specified on the relationship map? Should someone spend a chip?

In my opinion the biggest problem with L&L is that it hasn’t been play-tested. I really don’t know how it works in practise. Some sort of theoretical guideline is that freeform covers the moments, particular events, while conflict resolution is about bigger lines. To answer your good questions, it might help to think them through the intention-stating phase: if no-one resists, make the changes and go on.

Quote from: talysman
because of the clash between the freeform and the conflict resolution system. It seemed almost as if Sami wanted a pure freeform system with total immersion and was "stuck" with fitting Dust Devils into the game somehow, which I think is actually the opposite of what really happened. Maybe it's overcompensation, trying to appeal to the LARP scene.

I guess it’s quite obvious that they shouldn’t clash but support one another. The conflict resolution is like a gas station: you go there, if freeform starts to slow down. All in all, in my eyes Jane Austen’s fiction is very freeformish: there are hardly any conflicts in Sense and Sensibility. Overcompensation, however, is very possible. Some popular immersionist role-players in Finland have given a one-finger salute to the games made in Forge, so one goal of L&L is to build a bridge between these two role-playing cultures.
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Sami Koponen
Ben Lehman
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2007, 11:26:03 PM »

Apologies to Sami, but I'm going to have to do my report and scoring tomorrow.  There's no more left in me tonight.

yrs--
--Ben
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talysman
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Posts: 675


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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2007, 10:56:03 AM »

Since the formal judging for round two is almost over, I figured I'd do a more formal judging of the games I was assigned from round one, starting with Lords and Ladies. I judged the games based on 0-3 points in eachof the four areas.

- How well is the game system integrated? How well does it seem to fit?
As I mentioned previously, I felt the Dust Devils infrastructure was clashing with the freeform part of the rules. In fact, the rules seem to suggest players should avoid using Dust Devils at all. 1 point
- How will the game presumably work in play, especially with regard to how the setting facilitates a certain kind of play?
Again, based on the internal conflict between rules, I didn't feel the game would work as well as others. 1 point
- How complete, accessible and well presented is the material?
I didn't give the game maximum points, because I felt a few things were missing, but it's very close. Enough is here that someone more familiar with the source literature would be able to wing it very well. 2 points
-
Higher points for originality, since this era and style is underused in roleplaying games. I didn't give it maximum points, though, because it didn't grab me as much as othr settings. 2 points

Total: 6 points
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
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