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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 75 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [TSOY] Settign question  (Read 3246 times)
dindenver
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Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


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« on: January 30, 2008, 08:39:53 AM »

Hi!
  Sometimes I miss settings details, so I just want to double check (and I know you said do what you want with the setting, but I like to use whats in the book as a base).
  Is it possible that there is a place on the map that is bordered on three sides:
1) Old Zeru territory (poosibly at the head of the poison river?)
2) Ammenite empire border
3) Old Maldor border

  Ideally, what I would like to use as the initial starting point for the group would be an old marldorite city-state/walled city that is trying to be a trading nexus between maldor and Ammeni. Is this possible or did I miss something in the "World of NEar" section?
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Dave M
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2008, 10:33:13 AM »

Heh, geography of Near is one interesting beast. Nobody who reads the book and looks at the map sees the same thing - I know of at least five "major" (major in the sense of having had their own maps made) interpretations of Clinton's geography that differ wildly from each other on minor and major points. Pretty fun, actually.

That said, what you describe seems to me to be eminently possible according to my geography of Near. I belong in the school of thought that sees no contradiction in Ammeni and Zaru territory overlapping (that's what it means to be a subject people, after all), which means that old Zary territory might have well reached near current northern Maldor, perhaps along the river. There are also folks who are annoyed by the two peoples living mixed up in the same area of the map, and who have consequently moved Zaru up north where Khale is, or west, for example. So the situation might be different in those geographies.

You should note, though, that while the city you mention makes sense, the borders of the old Maldorian empire wouldn't go anywhere near the city in question; the entire Ammeni was well within the empire, after all! "Ammeni" is the name of a poisonous upstart culture created to justify and bond a number of separate noble houses that emerged from their castles and shelters after the darkness to recolonize and enslave the regressed coastal regions, and, especially, the Zaru delta. Before the Skyfire there probably wasn't much difference between current Ammeni and any other region of the Maldorian empire, but that's certainly changed now.

Also, for what it's worth: that city seems like a fine starting point for a campaign. I'd have the liege lord be in deep dept and perhaps addicted on some Ammeni stuff, just to make the local power structure a bit ambivalent.
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dindenver
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Don't Panic!


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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2008, 11:16:26 AM »

Eero!
  Thanks man, you seem to be an endless font of knowledge!
  Yeah, I misspoke. when I said old Maldor, I meant the remnants that exist in the current setting.
  OK, so how poisonous is the poison river (or is that just a name)? Part of me wonders if there isn't a volcanic hot spring nearby that is dumping sulfur or some other contaminant in the river. But then it would be so much more interesting if an Ammenite poison manufacturer was poisoning the river either overtly or accidentally. But maybe its just a cool name, does it say anywhere (I didn't see, but I think I will read it again during lunch)?
  I kinda see a walled city-state upriver from the Poison river. With the Lord of it being a typical Maldor Prince (complete with messiah complex, etc). I want to call the city Sanctor and have pirates on the river and bandits on the roads leading into town. With merchants using this as a trading post.
  I see the nearby Ammeni Noble as always on the offensive, probing Sanctor for any signs of weakness that can be exploited. I see the local Zeru trying to influence public opinion towards the end of getting someone to free their people or at least treat them like citizens and not slaves. I see Merchants trying to maintain some sort of neutral ground that they can meet and trade and maybe have to pay lower taxes by meeting in a central place rather then venturing across the border and paying even more tolls. And several Ratkin litters nearby in ruined Maldor cities and Zeru swamps.
  It should be fun, I am going to start working out the factions so I can better play the world and know what people want when they are approached.
  Thanks again Eero, you really are a treasure to TSOY players everywhere (well the ones that have internet access, lol).
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Dave M
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2008, 12:14:35 PM »

Hey, that stuff about the Poison River is exactly what you should be figuring out yourself, preferably with the group. I think the river simply never came up last time I played in the Zaru delta.

In general, try not to get too hung up on GM-style preparation before getting together with the group. Ideally, the choice of where to set the game and what aspects of the setting are emphasized is made by the group, not by the Story Guide. The game works much better if the players have a communal excitement and common reason for wanting to play a game set in some definite place on the map, rather than just being somewhere because the gamemaster said so. The character creation should also be informed by the choice of locale in deep ways, as the players are choosing whether their characters are operating on home ground or not, for instance.

Also, in case this comes up: do not feel a pressure to pile all the different cultures and ideas of Near into one city, each one in its own tidy city block. (I'm saying this because the idea of a "city on the edge of these three cultures" smacks of a bit of this.) It's often better to focus the milieu clearly on one or at most two major cultures, even if player characters are from outside them (and thus outsiders, locally speaking). Roleplaying games in general have a tendency for patchwork milieus where cultural currents are lessened into stereotypes that each have a politically correct niche for coolness and whatever. TSoY works better if you let the setting breathe naturally; if the situation is all about slave rights in Ammeni, then let it be, instead of forcing some elves in there because you'd be short-changing the setting or whatever. A tour-de-force through a setting is bound to feel forced. For example, I'd hazard that I've played quite a bit of TSoY, but I've never had more than three cultures play a determining role through an entire campaign.
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oliof
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Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2008, 01:43:19 PM »

in the map of the free spanish edition, your city would be located at the confluence of the poison river and absolon's path, probabl near the lake that's between to mountainous ranges. Perfect for volcanic influences, if you're into that.
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dindenver
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Don't Panic!


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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2008, 03:07:13 PM »

Hi!
  Thanks Oliof.
  Eero, I had no intention of forcing all these cultures into some sort of equal footing. But instead setting a stage where most species could conceivably be drawn to or naturally exist.
  As to setting the stage for the players, I hear you, but my group is too casual for me to not provide some guidelines. If I were to throw the whole world at them and let them pick, we would take at least 2 sessions deciding. Its nothing against them, I am a pretty casual gamer too, so it all goes well together. I am not doing that much prep, just learning the setting so I can play the game right. I know I can riff, but I want to use the printed matter as a base, just in case one of my players actually reads the book (they usually don't).
  Thanks again for your awesome input. Your grasp of the game is simply amazing!
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
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shadowcourt
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Posts: 153


« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2008, 07:28:12 AM »

Dave,

The method you're talking about for setting design is perfectly legit, so don't worry. We often do the same thing in our games, and its worked out well. One of the things that some people overlook in threads like this is the relative equality around the table-- just as the the StoryGuide gets an equal number of gift dice to everyone else, so too should he actually have some say. It's nice to say that the players would be doing all the setting design, but, actually, the StoryGuide is the one who's going to do a fair share of the work around bringing that setting and the NPC's to life. Let him have some input, I say. I wouldn't let one player tell another player what his character should be like, though if there were an idea that rubbed someone in a weird way, we'd work to smooth it out.

My approach has generally been something like this: before character generation even begins, when I'm first pitching the idea of playing TSOY to players, I tend to mention a setting I'm considering focusing on; the most recent time it was Ammeni. I try and pique their interest with that, but not everyone is into it, and we've sometimes switched settings based on a general consensus that people were looking for a different flavor. At character generation, we sit down and discuss some themes that we think would be fun to explore. This is a great time for people to talk about character concepts, but plot and thematics are good, as well. Its also a great time to build in character connections, if that's your thing... though if ever there were a game where that was (a) not really necessary for great game play play, and (b) if you needed it, could practically build itself during play, it's TSOY. I'm usually taking notes, shopping around ideas, pitching things back and forth, and trying to get people to collaboratively brainstorm during this period, coming up with some interesting locales within the setting and Storyguide characters that they'd like to see as allies, goals, antagonists, supporting cast, and what-have-you.

Once people are starting to put pencil to paper about their characters, I'm working on codifying some of those first notes so I have some jumping off points for people to begin. Stealing a page from my first Storyguide (the one who introduced me to TSOY), I tend to incentivize some connections by offering an additional free Key for people who can either concretely tie themselves to the setting (i.e. Key of the Bloodline to a local family, Key of the House to one of the Ammenite houses, Key of the Mission to become the lord of the manor), or to each other (i.e. Key of Love or Guardian or something like that to another player character).

Leave some elbow room for things to grow; the setting needs room to breathe and develop, like any PC. Solicit player ideas about the kinds of things they'd like to see. Are they into pirates? Throw some in, for fun, whether they're bandits who live in the swamps, river pirates who raid barges, or sea-going swashbucklers. Get people to solve the questions which are nagging at you: "You know, I want to include some ratkin in this setting, but I don't have a cool idea for what their warren is like. Does anyone have any fun thoughts about this?" Watch the players surprise you. They're a wealth of creative ideas. Actively troll for their input, even once the game starts. Some GMs don't like it, as they think it strains believability, but I think if you're clear about the process, it doesn't have to break the flow of narrative just become an idea first comes out of someone else's mouth. Get used to saying, "Yes, and...". It's an important technique in improv. When someone offers a suggestion, not only agree with it, but elaborate on it (even if it changes it slightly).

"There's a Church of the Sun King in the community, a pillar of good deeds which helps the poor!"
"Yes, and... yet they're riddled with corruption from within, by a subsect of the priesthood which serves its own purposes. The secret struggle for position of high priest is a dangerous one."

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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