*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 25, 2014, 02:48:56 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 68 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Darker: Setting Challenge review  (Read 1614 times)
Sam!
Member

Posts: 25


WWW
« on: January 10, 2007, 09:10:55 AM »

Logged

Sami Koponen
Graham W
Member

Posts: 437


WWW
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2007, 04:42:18 AM »

Thanks, Sam, that's useful stuff.

Darker was the setting that I always thought the Roach should have. I thought that Pemberton was so clearly an Oxford College that I couldn't understand why Jason had put it in New England. So the criticism that it's similar to the original setting is totally fair: yes, basically, it's the original setting translated over to Victorian England.

Good point about the Enthusiasms and Opportunities, particularly the Opportunities. Perhaps I took an unhappy compromise: I should either have left them alone entirely or rewritten them.

The Slums are rather underused. Originally, I'd intended to have one of the events take place in the Slums (an alms-giving). I should go back to that.

Graham
Logged
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2007, 09:17:44 AM »

Hah, I finally have time for another part in my quest to give some useful analysis to each participant of the challenge. I'm continuing in the voting thread order, so next up is Darker. I think I also scored this one.

I'm pretty happy with the analytical tool I wielded with Thou art But a Warrior, so I'll bash Darker with the same one: how does the setting design specifically affect game play is the question. Here's my list:
  • Set in England during the imperial era. I'm rather sure that this would have some meaning for the right set. Namely, Brits. However, as the Roach is not that much about nationalism and international political scene, I imagine that the difference is slight for the most part. The central parts of the comedy of manners (sexual morality, formal manners, academic environment, to name a few) are left near unchanged.
  • Enthusiasms make the most effort in differentiating the game. They are enough reason for me personally to consider choosing between the original setting and Darker a worthwhile topic. The new enthusiasms are most everyone more flavorful than the old ones, at least to me.
  • I might be imagining this one (been a while since I checked Roach), but some of the early events seem rather pointed and clearly defined. Easy to latch on, perhaps good for first-time players. Events like "Catching of the Hare" (where hunting accidents are common) and "The Festival of Science and Engineering" (a suitable opportunity for horror and humor) are rather pointed about what could happen. If I'm not imagining the difference, this is important for evaluating the setting.

It is notable that Graham makes a point of separating and suggesting some potential themes of the setting at the end of the text. I find these a bit far-fetched at some points - while the themes are certainly apparent in the milieu of 19th century Britain, I'm unconvinced that merely making note of them is enough to make Roach deal with them. So this part is more like suggesting potential interests for players, rather than enforcing them. The actual college environment allows players to sidestep any of the mentioned ideas quite nicely, focusing on social drama and period comedy, like the original setting.

Hmm... that's pretty much it, I think. Not much, but then Darker is a bit to the simple side as far as settings are concerned. I might well choose it instead of the original, as English 19th century colleges are a bit closer to my experience than American 20th century ones. But apart from that, there is no great effort at forcing the game to change its shape.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Mikael
Member

Posts: 206


« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2007, 11:34:22 AM »

I was imagining a set of much more extensive reviews, but alas, I am just as poor a reviewer as I am an RPG designer. Also, a lot of valid stuff already said, so I will just chip in to say that the setting was certainly a pleasure to read, and I can imagine it on the shelves as the alternate to the original, just like Ticket to Ride Europe.

The setting is nicely described, but to be honest I am too lazy to spend a lot of time imagining the layout of the courtyards and stuff. It feels like you had a map when you wrote this - please include it in the setting. Just file the numbers off if needed.
Logged

Playing Dogs over Skype? See everybody's rolls live with the browser-independent Remote Dogs Roller - mirrors: US, FIN
Graham W
Member

Posts: 437


WWW
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2007, 03:58:47 AM »

Mikael, thanks, I like the comparison with Ticket To Ride Europe. That's exactly what I was aiming for: a new sandbox to play in with a couple of rules tweaks to make it more fun.

You've got a point about the maps. I didn't work from a map, but I had one in my head, and I could easily write it down.

Graham
Logged
Graham W
Member

Posts: 437


WWW
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2007, 04:21:11 AM »

Thanks Eero, those are useful points.

Quote
It is notable that Graham makes a point of separating and suggesting some potential themes of the setting at the end of the text. I find these a bit far-fetched at some points - while the themes are certainly apparent in the milieu of 19th century Britain, I'm unconvinced that merely making note of them is enough to make Roach deal with them.

That's a very fair point. I did some work incorporating these into the Enthusiasms, and the Events, but I could do much more. A full set of Victorian-themed Opportunities and Enthusiasms would help.

Quote
I might be imagining this one (been a while since I checked Roach), but some of the early events seem rather pointed and clearly defined. Easy to latch on, perhaps good for first-time players. Events like "Catching of the Hare" (where hunting accidents are common) and "The Festival of Science and Engineering" (a suitable opportunity for horror and humor) are rather pointed about what could happen.

That's interesting. The events are certainly more detailed than those in the original Roach, but the intention wasn't to prescribe or suggest what could happen. The Catching Of The Hare, for example, is a brightly coloured lump of eccentricity: it's intended to spark the imagination, not to suggest hunting accidents. So, if I've written the text too suggestively, that's something to change.

Quote
...there is no great effort at forcing the game to change its shape.

Well, yes, that's the idea. I really like the Shab Al-Hiri Roach, so I didn't want to change the game, just add some toys to play with.

In general, I'm not finding the "analytical tool" particularly helpful. I do admire the settings that have been written to change the games: I like the ideas of a positive Polaris or an immersive Dust Devils. But to judge settings on how they specifically change the gameplay rings false: can't a setting leave the game unchanged but provide some fresh material to play with?

Thanks to both of you: those are useful comments.

Graham
Logged
Gregor Hutton
Member

Posts: 274


WWW
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2007, 04:43:46 AM »

Hi Graham

My understanding, and this is just the way I read it, was that the challenge was in designing a Setting to an existing set of rules. Drifting rules, or introducing variants, was allowable but not necessary.

In reading over the entries I didn't (mentally) give a black mark to a game that used the rules as originally written. Neither did I discount a game that drifted. The questions for me were whether or not the Setting meshed with its rules (whatever they were) and how rich and interesting the Seting itself was for gaming. Did it inspire me to play?

Darker, to me, is a setting that is easier to understand for British gamers who aren't as familiar with the Ivy League institutions and American College culture, etc. I found it as appealing as the Roach and it still makes the same biting commentary that the Roach did. And for non-Britons I feel it appropriately presents the bizzaro world of Oxbridge Academia.

It could have been a chapter stuck at the back of the Roach book (and maybe it could be if Jason ever overhauls the Roach and does another edition?). Sure it needs polished and playtested but the framework, and more, is there.

I thought of these settings in the way that alternate Settings were presented in the new Dust Devils from Matt Snyder. But that's just my take on it.
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!