*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 27, 2022, 04:40:02 AM

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 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 71 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Primitive] Grunt! Grunt! I'm talking to you  (Read 7583 times)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« on: May 11, 2007, 07:33:46 PM »

I've been looking forward to playing this for eight months! It was one of my faves from GenCon last year. Finally, at Forge Midwest, I got the chance to run a game. I had brought the game with me and collected sticks already. (Earlier that week - Wife: "Ron, can you get rid of that branch in the back yard?" Me: "Sure I can." (later) "Ooooh, those would be perfect for Primitive.") Included were Dave (NevtheDeranged), Juli (posts here as Juli, not the same person as jrs), Julie (jrs) (I think), Seth, Mayuran, and me.

We played entirely by the rules, with no shortcut for being con play. We settled on earthquakes being a bit part of the setting for the tribe, and if I'm not misremembering, everyone got a trait relevant to that in some way. I had a few notions in mind and jotted them down in more detail after the characters were made: I wanted them to be confronted by savage ape-men guys, and I wanted them to deal with what, in modern terms, we'd consider a crime. Not in the whodunit sense, but more in the moral sense. In a kind of anime-type twist that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't repeat due to its limitations, I also thought it would be interesting for them to deal with a young character who could induce earthquakes.

So the story consisted, essentially, of the group going to bathe at the spring, finding it fouled, and then being challenged for the water by a pair of mean ape-men with blood-smeared clubs. They did manage to kill them (although it was dicey there for a bit), and to discover their victims, apparently a family of newcomers. The earthquake-psychic kid was the survivor of the massacre, and he was running around in the forest all traumatized and causing quakes left and right. Note, these were different from the normal quakes of the region that they were used to, so "something funny is going on" was part of this transitional point of play.

All the verbal rules worked perfectly. For those who don't know, it works like this: a player may talk to state character intentions or to ask about a rule - anything absolutely directed to the GM. But to one another, no words! None at all - you can gesture, use any other vocal signals you'd like. The rules rightly make no distinction between you as person and you as playing-your-character, and further, to their credit, the rules say nothing about "stay in character." The net effect is a whole lot of grunting and hooting, a whole lot of gesticulating, some desperate expression-making, and the occasional loom-and-growl display.

By "worked," above, I mean that these rules and their effects did three things. (1) They served as communication among us, in a straighforward sense, to the extent that several players allowed as how, over time, the GM probably wouldn't be speaking much either. (2) They interacted very well with the useful and tactile elements of the system, like the rocks and the different lengths of stick. (3) Finally, they served excellently as influences on/in the SIS in terms of what the characters actually were and were not getting across to one another - which in turn, became an engine for conflicts and relationships among them. The verbal rules in Primitive are not just a gimmick, they are part of the system and part of everything else.

So what happened? It was pretty simple. They defeated the two tough guys after sustaining some serious pain; they dealt with the earthquake by using amusing applications of both Civilized and Savagery. The more nuanced conflicts involving the weird earthquake-psychic kid were more involved: they had a little miscommunication as different individuals encountered the kid with varying information available to them, and then came together around what they wanted to do with him. Eventually a couple of them managed to connect with him emotionally and adopted him into the tribe.

Play included lots of little fun stuff with the various objects of play (represented by drawings on sticky-notes, which I'd brought expressly for this purpose). One involved the bag which they found with the bodies of the victims, and the other involved the Stick, originally created by Juli for her character. The Stick took on quite a bit of group significance and ended up being given to the psychic kid when he was adopted into the tribe. This actually brought up a subtle issue which dominated the second half of the session, without (naturally) being explicit in any kind dialogue. Basically, for the first half of play, the tribe was generally led by Seth's character, who liked and protected his tribe members but was basically a brute. As time went by, it turned out that Juli's and Dave's characters were far more Civil and far more analytical about the world around them, with Dave's, especially, being quite the little scientist (figuring out that the kid really was the cause of the quakes, for instance). So adopting the new guy into the tribe and giving him the Stick was a big deal, and Dave quite rightly, afterward, pointed out that we'd really seen something of a coup, and that his character certainly wasn't going to be smacked around by Seth's any more, as he was in the first half of the session.

I was interested in the two high-Savagery characters, played (if I recall) by Mayuran and Seth and how they factored into social play. They were very effective in dangerous situations, certainly, but I also got the idea that in the long-term, in many cases, the other, more Civility-based characters would have to team up to ride herd on them. Or at least, thinking in GM terms, that would be the issue I'd keep trying to raise through the medium of situational adversity, over time.

The adversity introduced by adding scary negative dice is pretty hefty; I used big red d6s, which worked well. I liked it - in certain situations, people have to work hard for their successes. This is a game in which failure is highly consequential and springboards into making new scenes and conflicts. It's true, the game text provides no guidelines for such things at all. Kevin, I think that you (like me) are a Situation-first thinker and "what to do" in terms of scenes and conflicts doesn't really occur to you as an issue (i.e. any sort of problem). As GM, I quickly found myself thinking in terms of GMing The Pool: solid events, solid stuff happening, to find out, to do, and to encounter, and don't be afraid to make things hard as hell because it's distinctive when you do. These are the skills I developed in Dust Devils and The Pool play which led me to write the scene-and-conflict rules for Trollbabe - which, if anyone would like, may be very nicely ported into Primitive play.

In the short term, we didn't get to see much of the tribal/individual economy, but it was always present and people commented favorably on how the contrast between individual and tribal totals influenced their decisions.

Some questions here and there:

1. What about character names? We didn't make any up prior to play because it seemed wrong somehow, to identify the characters through interpersonal real-world language. I liked the idea of arriving at some eventually during play, but for reasons based on playing a lot of Sorcerer, I suspect that would begin during and after the second session of play. Has anyone seen characters acquire names through play?

2. When you choose the short stick and get a double action, you roll twice then and there on your "go," right? You don't use two rocks in determining order instead? ('cause stick-taking is a new choice on your "go" and I like that ...) The second rock is only to keep in front of you as a marker for everyone, right? And finally, the two actions have to stick with the constraints of the originally-stated intent right?

3. When you choose the long stick and take no actions, do you automatically fail at your stated intention? (I tend to think yes - otherwise the value of the tactic is heightened by being an easy-out ...)

This is the only game I've ever played in which acting and improv actually worked to the benefit of the SIS and toward the engagement/power of content resolution. It's a wonderful game, Kevin. Like The Mountain Witch, it changes the way the people interact and make contact with one another, at the same time that it's generating fiction of merit, the kind of story I know I can always look back on with joy.

My favorite illustration, by the way, is the one with the grave. I usually don't think much about art/Art distinctions, but if there is one, that piece deserves a capital-A.

Best, Ron
Logged
Nev the Deranged
Member

Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2007, 10:07:46 PM »

 It's 1am and I am really tired, so apologies in advance if anything I type doesn't quite make sense.

I ordered my own copy of Primitive based on how much I enjoyed this game. I loved it the first time I played too, I dunno what took me so long to pick it up.

I have read it through a couple times since it arrived and I am really psyched to play again. I don't think we quite handled combat right at forge midwest, as it turns out, apparently the sticks are also range markers for tokens? But whatever, it worked out fine.

When Kevin ran it for us at GC '06, he explicitly told everyone during tribe-generation to steer clear of shamanism or other supernatural stuff. Later when we met the giant lava creature in the heart of the metal volcano, he said "what? I never said I couldn't do supernatural stuff!"

I dug that, and I sort of expected the same from this time around, and Ron didn't disappoint. If/when I run this game, I think my approach wil be similar, although I may take longer to introduce mystical or supernatural elements, since hopefully I'll have more time to work with.

I would have really liked to play out the shifting power structure within the tribe. Juli "Writes-With-Stick" was called away by work, and I wasn't sure if we'd continue, so I took her Stick and offered it to "Quake-Child". As Ron said, he wouldn't have played the poor kid as a "leader", he was very timid from the get-go. But boy, now that I was his pal, I sure wasn't taking crap from "Tiger-Skull" (Seth) anymore. I would never have expected intricate tribal politics and jockeying for influence to be part of a game that eschews spoken language, but in retrospect it seems obvious that of course it would.

As for names, I don't think verbal names would ever come up, but certainly certain gestures would be used to represent individuals. Mayuran was clearly "Bag-On-Head" after he took the slaughtered family's satchel and wore it, and in my own head I gave the others the names I used above. The only one I never thought of a name or idiom for was myself, which makes sense in a way. Not sure how self-aware cave folk were anyway.

 A friend of mine is a librarian and I sent her the link about library RPG programs, she said I should run one. I was thinking Primitive would be a perfect game for tween-agers, gamers and nongamers alike, to cut their teeth on.

Logged
Nev the Deranged
Member

Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2007, 10:15:17 PM »

Hey, didn't Harlequin "Hides-in-Trees" play too?

I don't remember what I thought of Julie as. =\ Sorry.

Brain shutting down now... *thud*
Logged
jrs
Member

Posts: 373


« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2007, 03:13:27 PM »

I don't remember what I thought of Julie as. =\ Sorry.

Psst.  Dave.  I wasn't in that game; ignore that bit where Ron mentions that I might have been one of the players. 

Julie
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2007, 08:23:25 PM »

OK, Julie wasn't there, and yes, Eric (Harlequin) probably was. Somebody else was there, dammit.

Best, Ron
Logged
GreatWolf
Member

Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets


WWW
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2007, 07:51:28 AM »

Yes, it was Eric.  He was our sneaky scout guy.

Play included lots of little fun stuff with the various objects of play (represented by drawings on sticky-notes, which I'd brought expressly for this purpose). One involved the bag which they found with the bodies of the victims, and the other involved the Stick, originally created by Juli for her character. The Stick took on quite a bit of group significance and ended up being given to the psychic kid when he was adopted into the tribe. This actually brought up a subtle issue which dominated the second half of the session, without (naturally) being explicit in any kind dialogue. Basically, for the first half of play, the tribe was generally led by Seth's character, who liked and protected his tribe members but was basically a brute. As time went by, it turned out that Juli's and Dave's characters were far more Civil and far more analytical about the world around them, with Dave's, especially, being quite the little scientist (figuring out that the kid really was the cause of the quakes, for instance). So adopting the new guy into the tribe and giving him the Stick was a big deal, and Dave quite rightly, afterward, pointed out that we'd really seen something of a coup, and that his character certainly wasn't going to be smacked around by Seth's any more, as he was in the first half of the session.

I was interested in the two high-Savagery characters, played (if I recall) by Mayuran and Seth and how they factored into social play. They were very effective in dangerous situations, certainly, but I also got the idea that in the long-term, in many cases, the other, more Civility-based characters would have to team up to ride herd on them. Or at least, thinking in GM terms, that would be the issue I'd keep trying to raise through the medium of situational adversity, over time.

I would have been very interested in seeing that conflict develop, too.  From where I was sitting, I did feel like my character was the leader at the beginning of the session.  Well, maybe more of a warleader.  Mentally, I retconned the Stick into my thinking.  But still, I was the noble warrior, protecting his people from both outside threats and their own folly through my brute strength.  But, as the game went on, I found that I was sadly outmatched by the dangers that were being thrown at us.  I couldn't just hit things to solve problems.  So, as time went on, I found myself increasingly sliding into a support role.  Given that I had a Destiny of "dying to save the tribe", I wouldn't be surprised if my character had died doing something reckless, just to prove that he was still useful to the tribe.

Quote
The adversity introduced by adding scary negative dice is pretty hefty; I used big red d6s, which worked well.

This is something that probably deserves to be done in other games too.  I hated getting one of the Big Scary GM dice.  That's a good thing.

I'd also be interested in hearing from a group that has played Primitive for several running sessions.  It seems to me that, over time, a group would begin to develop its own language.  I'm curious if this has happened.
Logged

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Kevin Allen Jr
Member

Posts: 36


WWW
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2007, 11:24:18 AM »

Ron, i'm touched by your words. Thank you dearly. (especially in regaurds to the illustration)

I'm glad you guys had a fun game, ape-men, earthquake children, sounds totally awesome.

Ron's Questions:
1. Yeah, I've never use names. I think Dave had it pretty keenly when he talked about how he sort of made up names for everyone else but not himself, because in his head, he's just him. I like that a lot. In a longer term game (multi session) i think the notion of organically naming someone could be a really powerful scene. One i would love to see.

2. I think you got a little bit more abstract with combat  then the rules intend (i'll re-read tonight to see what the text states). Sounds like you got the initiative cue right, but the second token is intended to be used as your "mini" on an abstract combat map full of stones and stuff to represent other things (more reason to play with rocks). The length of sticks are there to act as range rulers. That way taking a "long action" is benificial because you can move really far. I envision it as a bunch of cavemen playing D&D 3.5, with tacticle fiddly bits that are so simplified that they are almost more for atmosphere then streamlining combat. Setting up your order of actions setting stakes and seeing what you want to do works fine though. Its nice to see you could diverge from what i intend and get something that still works nicely for you.

3. This question is addressed above, i think. You don't fail per sais, you just don't get to do anything save move around.

Some questions of my own:
1. Did you guys get a lot of facets? What did you spend them on in play?
2. How big of a tribe pool did you have to play with once characters were created? How useful did it prove to have those dice?
3. Ron, what did your prep look like? Did you stat out the ape-men (if so what did you give them?) or did you wing 'em? How did you set up the adventure (a couple of scenes you wanted to see happen, an order of events)?
4. I don't know how forge con is set up, but i assume you were in a big room with lots of other games going on at the same time. If this is the case was there ever a point where everyone was yelling or grunting really loudly, and everyone else in the room was looking over? If so, how did this make you feel (My games often encounter this, and i'm a little worried that i'm disturbing my neighbors).
5. What sort of non-wounding actions did the Characters take during combat.

Thanks for posting an AP guys, this stuff will definitly help me with the suppliment that i am presently writing.
Logged

Primitive: a game of savage adventure in the prehistoric world
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2007, 04:15:14 PM »

Hi everyone,

Let's see!

1. We did too use the sticks correctly. What Kevin describes, that's exactly what we did.

2. We didn't use the second stone as a mini, though. It just sat there and reminded everyone whose stone was whose in the action-order. I don't it made combat less abstract; people announced actions in a way that let me think we all had a pretty good, group-consistent idea of who was where as things went on.

3. "Failing" in intent by taking the long stick ... well, we played it as "you don't get to do what you said," which is sort of failing, but not in the sense that you could get hurt or anything.

4. We didn't use the reward system very much or very well. Not enough spending, sadly.

5. As I recall, I had the ape-men simply be Savage-max, Civilized-minimum, as if they were characters, and I gave them a couple of abilities, plus those big-ass nasty clubs they carried. Plus I used the red dice on the players' rolls. I wrote them up as the other people hashed out their personal abilities and drew the stuff they had with them. That reminds me, too, I drew little pond-scapes and quaking mountains as we played too, as characters moved around.

6. H'm, what was our tribe pool, anyway, after character creation? I'm pretty sure we had a handful left, but actually a little bit less than I'd (casually) anticipated.

7. Yes, we were in a big room with lots of other people playing lots of stuff. I didn't pay those yahoos one whit of attention during our whole game. Later, I was given to understand that everyone else figured out we were playing Primitive, but if anyone didn't like our hooting and gesticulating, they were too Civil to come over and say so.

Best, Ron
Logged
Nev the Deranged
Member

Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2007, 04:39:07 PM »

Some questions of my own:
1. Did you guys get a lot of facets? What did you spend them on in play?
2. How big of a tribe pool did you have to play with once characters were created? How useful did it prove to have those dice?
3. Ron, what did your prep look like? Did you stat out the ape-men (if so what did you give them?) or did you wing 'em? How did you set up the adventure (a couple of scenes you wanted to see happen, an order of events)?
4. I don't know how forge con is set up, but i assume you were in a big room with lots of other games going on at the same time. If this is the case was there ever a point where everyone was yelling or grunting really loudly, and everyone else in the room was looking over? If so, how did this make you feel (My games often encounter this, and i'm a little worried that i'm disturbing my neighbors).
5. What sort of non-wounding actions did the Characters take during combat.

Thanks for posting an AP guys, this stuff will definitly help me with the suppliment that i am presently writing.

1. We all got at least a couple. I think our Tribal schtick was "People of the Sling". We had discussed some kind of earthquake lore but ended up deciding against it, altho Ron ran with it anyway, which was fine. Seth had the tiger skull helmet and was going to die protecting the tribe. I had a bag of pitch, good aim, and knew how to make fire (but not necessarily control it). Juli had the Stick and a drawing ability. Eric had hiding skillz. I don't remember what Mayuran had, or what some of the other facets were, maybe the others can jump in? We didn't earn enough facets or dice in the short time we had to play to get any new stuff, sadly; although Mayuran did pick up a bag and Seth got one of the clubs... just no dice to go with them yet. I think it's cool that you could, say, get a club, but not really learn how to use it well until later when you could afford the dice for it. That'd make good scene fodder I think.

2. We had a fair amount of dice left, maybe 10 or 15?, although we did take quite a few to start. They got used a few times, but I don't recall for what... again, I'll hope the others can chime in.

4. I really like games that make people want to know what the hell is going on. That's a big part of why I like Jungle Speed, Martian Chess, Mao, and Primitive.

5. I specifically disarmed one of the club guys, and I think Mayuran drowned one of them.

 I really like this game. I'm in negotiations now with a librarian friend to run some gaming as part of their summer programs, and I am really leaning toward Primitive as a game that's well suited for that sort of thing. I'll post if/when anything comes of that, it looks like it may take a while to put together on their end, although I could totally see myself running Primitive off the cuff, which is another reason I like it. Cheap, simple, easy to learn and easy to play... that's what I'm all about these days.

Well, that and more fun than clubbing monkeys. ^_^
Logged
Nev the Deranged
Member

Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2007, 05:37:33 PM »

Question for you, Kevin:

It seems to me like Civility has all the advantages in the rules. You use Civility for all the special actions: Missile weapons, Healing, Communication, and even Initiative. Seems like Initiative at the very least should be based on "instinct" and reflexes rather than intelligence.

Is this on purpose? Is it just assumed that Savagery is more generally useful, for running and hitting stuff?
Logged
Kevin Allen Jr
Member

Posts: 36


WWW
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2007, 06:05:21 AM »

Ron, I think i'm clear on how you used the sticks now. Sounds totally awesome. I like the long stick=you don't get what you want thing. There's some interesting stuff worth exploring there.

Dave, on Civility and Savagry: Before the game advanced to it's current state you got to adjust your civility and savagry after EVERY ROLL. I don't know what i was thinking. It was a mess. Anyway, because of that rule i decided that civility needed a little push (you would finish up a combat so savaged out that you couldn't come back). So that stuff was grandfathered in. It still fit thematically (i CAN see your point on the initiative roll) so i kept it.

sounds like you guys had a lot of fun. that's awesome.
Logged

Primitive: a game of savage adventure in the prehistoric world
Nev the Deranged
Member

Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2007, 02:44:44 PM »

Another question (since you don't have a forum here this seems as good a place as any), I'm curious about the narrative function of Tribe dice. The rules don't seem to require any special narration for using them. I'm not saying there should be, but it seems like an option. One thing I was considering is that four to six people seems like a pretty small "tribe". And, depending on the gender representation at the table, potentially a very short lived one, no matter how clever they are. So I was thinking about the PCs as, logically and narratively, as the key members of a larger tribe- which makes sense, them being the protagonists of a story about a tribe rather than necessarily the entire tribe in and of themselves. So, with that in mind, it seems like a logical step to use the rest of the tribe (who may be individual NPCs as needed but mostly I'm thinking would just be "the tribe") could come into play to give narrative oomph to use of the Tribe dice pool.

Now obviously that's not always going to make sense, and I'm not suggesting it should be the standard mode of play, I'm just wondering if that makes sense to you in the context of the game as you intended it.

As an example, perhaps something like:

Runs-With-Spear cannot carry enough water to put out the forest fire himself, because he has no fire-stopping skills and the GM has piled on adversity dice. So Bob, guiding (I ripped this term off Polaris because I like it better than "playing") Runs-With-Spear, grabs a few dice from the Tribe pool, saying that Runs is organizing a primitive bucket-brigade of sorts, or just encouraging other miscellaneous tribefolk to assist in some way.

Does that make sense or am I trying too hard?
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2007, 08:52:43 PM »

I think that sounds like a really good idea, actually. As long as people didn't feel the need to make it fit if they didn't want to ... or ended up ascribing traits to the generic tribe by default ... or starting directing their actions as part of a stated intent. As long as it's an added way to modify an already-stated individual intent, that makes a lot of sense to me.

Best, Ron
Logged
Nev the Deranged
Member

Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2007, 03:09:08 PM »

So, hey, I will be running a game of Primitive at the next EnWorld/Games Plus game day, at the end of June. (For those who don't know, it's basically where a bunch of folks from the EnWorld boards get together and eat and chat and game all day).

Anyway, I'm wondering if I should just wing it, or if some prep is in order. What do you guys suggest for an inexperienced GM running Primitive for the first time? Especially for a bunch of old-school trad roleplayers (EnWorld is mostly D&D-centric)?
Logged
Nev the Deranged
Member

Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2007, 03:27:31 PM »

Oh yeah, forgot my specific question... how is PC vs PC conflict handled in Primitive? The book doesn't seem to address it, but you've mentioned that all conflict is PC vs GM, which I'm guessing means the GM rolls on behalf of one of the PCs in question?

Basically I have a habit of imagining actual play beforehand and trying to apply the rules to the situations in my head, so that I can get a feel for them before doing it for real. And this is one I couldn't come up with a satisfactory approach to in my head.

Assume several members of the tribe have descended into a valley looking for a lost member. They come upon an area which seems strangely uniform (basically crops, but they don't know that), and from a distance, see their missing comrade moving among the plants, tending them. He seems to have some kind of burden on his back. As they watch him, the burden moves as if something inside it is alive.

At this point, one player decides he wants to move in for a closer look. Another player tries to grab him and keep him from going.

How do I, as the GM, parse this out and handle it mechanically? None of the approaches I tried in my mental scenario quite worked.
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!