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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 180 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Sons of Liberty] Opening Handclasp, Sign, and Countersign?  (Read 4317 times)
Josh Roby
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« on: July 11, 2007, 01:05:00 PM »

So I've been pondering the Campaign Mode for Sons of Liberty and how much I want to constrain and flavor the three different stages of the campaign.  The levels (sessions) in the first stage should feel different than levels in the last stage.

There are little nearly-rules like "nobody dies in the first stage" but I can't seem to articulate enough of these or enough powerful versions of these to really flavor the different stages appropriately.  I thought about having a little short paragraph that is read at the beginning of each level, with different stages having different readings, kind of like Radio Lightning in Grey Ranks.

Then I thought: what if, at the very top of the game, to open the Grandmasters at the Lodge of the Americas phase, everybody around the table performs the 'secret handclasp' of the Sons of Liberty and gives passwords and counterpasswords to each other, flavored appropriately?

So you start off the Intolerable Acts levels by clasping hands with the guy to your right, saying, "If we do not hang together," to which he responds, "we shall surely hang separately."  Then you go right into creating objectives.
Then, at the end of the campaign, you start off the Fires of Adversity levels by clasping hands and saying, "The States do not have to win," to get the response, "The Empire just has to lose."  And bam, objectives.

Here's the question(s): first, is this hokey, or would it lend a certain air to the 'secret meeting of the grand masters'?  Then, secondly, would starting off in this way color the objectives (which you create literally moments later), and thereby color the whole session where you pursue those objectives?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2007, 02:28:26 PM »

Well, the "If we do not hang together,"/"we shall surely hang separately.". But then you brought in objectives with the second example and that seemed practical and powerful. Then I looked back at the hanging one and I thought 'there could be something there too - but I can't make out an objective'. Do you want objectives at that stage - to me it'd make that whole handshake thing have real grounding and power if it lead straight to the objectives of playing that section.

But you say you want a certain 'air' involved. Do you want it to have practical ramifications in play, or be kind of like painting a car red so it has an air of being faster and sleeker?

Quote
Then, secondly, would starting off in this way color the objectives (which you create literally moments later), and thereby color the whole session where you pursue those objectives?
Well, I would think you were setting your objectives right then and there - anything afterward is just formalising them.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2007, 09:01:41 AM »

Heya, Callan.

Objectives are defined using a mad-libs style random generator (The Sons of Liberty must liberate a lawyer lest the British forge clockwork armor!).  The handclasp here would directly precede that procedure -- the idea being that the handclasp would flavor the interpretation of the randomized objectives.  So in the first stage, after "If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately," that objective might be interpreted more along the lines of "Quick, we have to spring Hamilton out of jail before they get the clockwork designs out of him!"  But if you got the same result in the last stage, after "The States don't have to win, the Empire just has to lose," you might interpret it more along the lines of, "Alright, we've got to bust Hamilton out of the gaol they've got him in before the British can deploy fresh troops."  The idea being that there are practical implications in play without their being mechanical implications in play.  Just not sure the sign/countersign would be strong enough to pull that off.

-- Josh
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MPOSullivan
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2007, 05:16:43 PM »

I haven't read any of the material for Sons of Liberty, but maybe I can help out. 

I like the idea of having the players exchange secret handshakes and such.  It would certainly put me in the mode of someone in that particular time and place.  As I understand, you are basing some of your design thoughts on video games like Dynasty Warriors and Ninety Nine Nights.  Maybe a good thing that will feed into establishing a feeling would be cut scenes, and I mean that in the most video game-y way possible. 

Let's say that you're playing a game like DW, NNN, or Soul Calibur.  Between boards or levels they'll normally have those cut scenes that don't really establish plot or move the story along as that's normally done in the level with some character conversation or whatever.  What they do establish is mood.  You'll see a sweeping shot of an ancient city with fire licking its way through the streets and some ominous "big boss" guy watching over the destruction.  Or maybe a sun-dappled pond glitters in the foreground while a young warrior washes blood off of his hands in the distance.  The scenes don't really have much to do with what goes on in the game proper, but man do they make you feel like there's a whole world of coolness going on between the times when some disembodied voice yells out "Victory!" and "Fight!".

I honestly don't know if this would have any space in your presentation of Campaign Mode (awesome name, by the way), but maybe some cut scenes would help.  At the beginning of every level the GM could read some boxed text or whatever that's just really moody and full of cool imagery for the situation at hand.  Maybe the first level cut scene describes a long line of British soldiers patrolling the streets of Boston and one young colonial walking out into the street and standing in front of them, staring them down.  Later levels can describe the aftermaths of famous battles or what have you.  So you read the "cut scene" text, then you get the players to exchange secret handclasps and it's off to the Objectives races. 

Do you think that would help, or even make a good fit for the game?
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Michael P. O'Sullivan
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Callan S.
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2007, 12:50:44 AM »

I second the cut scenes in terms of going this way - the cut scenes are randomised. It's not hard to make a table of badass imagery. And that way no one knows the cut scene except when its happening.

Quote
Objectives are defined using a mad-libs style random generator (The Sons of Liberty must liberate a lawyer lest the British forge clockwork armor!).  The handclasp here would directly precede that procedure -- the idea being that the handclasp would flavor the interpretation of the randomized objectives.
It sounds like you imagine the flavouring as secondary. I keep thinking of it as primary - say the passcode is about saving our loves or such. Even if the laywer is then randomised, he becomes a deep love for the character. When I say primary, I'm setting out (or about to set out) to make a statement with my character by setting that up. As a secondary (flavour) thing, it's not a statement - it'd just be 'oh yeah, it'd be nifty if he was an important love to my character', kind of like adding fuzzy dice to a car, it's just there for fun.

I'm just noting that in case it does seem two ways to go about it and if you then would want to consider which way.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Thenomain
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2007, 07:15:52 AM »

Just to note: The people I normally play with would not RP where touching is involved, and I've run into people who are the same way.  (It's not an uncommon antisocial reaction.)  Using code phrases to set the natura of the scene or even just the mood, though, sounds like a great idea.
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Kent Jenkins / Professional Lurker
Josh Roby
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2007, 08:29:37 AM »

Thanks for the responses, guys.

I do in fact already have cut scenes integrated in the game, mostly as a scene-framing sort of mechanic.  When you direct the cut scene, you take the action from the just-completed level to whichever following level you pick from the objectives sheet.  There are three to four cut scenes in each battle (session), between each level (scene... sort of).  They're a fun little bit of unrestricted player input -- you basically have total fiat to describe what happens, leading up to the next spate of action.  The best is when the Tory player gets the cut scene -- then he can have the Patriots captured, beaten, mocked, and so on -- to fire them up for the next level.

Callan, yeah, I want to inject this color into the game, and do so in a way that makes it significant and powerful.  I'm hoping the dose of color right before generating objectives will do the trick.

Thenomain -- does touching even extend to shaking hands?  I figured that was pretty safe territory...
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Thenomain
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2007, 11:12:22 AM »

Thenomain -- does touching even extend to shaking hands?  I figured that was pretty safe territory...

It depends, I think.  When given the option to shake someone's hand, everyone does their own thing, but the option is there to say "no thanks".

I'm not saying that a bit of LARP in your RPG isn't a cool idea, but I know people, even people who frequently Larp, who still have a very strong adversion to unrequested physical contact.  I have some of this as well and would probably get around this by doing the old-school RPG stand-by of explaining what the character does.  "Okay, we do that handshake thing."

Maybe adding an option to just use conversational code-phrases.  "I understand the South is growing hot this year." / "Yes, as if you can see the flames of red in nearly every home in Charleston."  Translated as: The political situation in the South is not favorable. / Yes, there are Tory spies everywhere.
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Kent Jenkins / Professional Lurker
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