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[Mud Planet / Sorcerer] The Rules Work!

Started by Frank Tarcikowski, March 03, 2008, 12:46:52 PM

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Frank Tarcikowski

So I finally got to run the refined version of my Ronnies entry Mud Planet, using Sorcerer rules. Conditions were kind of not ideal: It was the evening slot in a forum meet-up and I went there straight from a very deep and powerful game of TRoS, so I was pretty exhausted emotionally and had not had time to let that other game sink. Therefore, I was having a hard time coming up with good bangs. Also, there were a lot of interruptions and one of the players quit early because he was too tired.

We had made character concepts and kickers in advance, but I had had very little prep time and I had not managed to come up with some real good spikes to the kickers. I was basically just connecting the stuff the players had already given me. It did provide for an interesting twist to the setting, where there was sort of a "frontier region", pretty removed from the Stronghold, where the Lancers were doing more of their own thing, including illegal jousting tournaments on dragon-back. I was feeling a struggle for independence coming up, but we did not get that far in the game.

The rules worked pretty well. The reversed Humanity score (Savageness) is a little tricky, though. One of the players played a dragon-blooded lancer and traded Savageness up to 5 and Stamina up to 7. He only had a Will score of 2 but used his Savageness instead to command his dragon, which was pretty cool. However, in some circumstances the oringinal rules don't work with a reverse Humanity score:

  • When making Humanity checks (Savageness gain rolls) that are normally against the demon's (dragon's) Power (Might), the lower your Savageness the higher your chances of failure. In vanilla Sorcerer it's the other way round, though I must admit I never quite got the sense in that. For Mud Planet, I just did the "Savageness vs. Savageness" thing which always results in a 50% chance and I guess that'll do.
  • For increasing attributes after resolving the kicker, the reversal is also kind of consequential. I was thinking about just allowing the player to raise the attribute of his choice, without a roll.
We had a nice combat with one mounted dragon of Might 7 against an unmounted dragon of Might 7 and the rider really made a whole lot of a difference. He used his Gift against the dragon's Gift to confuse it with a psychic attack, which I think is a cool application of that attribute's re-definition, especially because the dragon's gift is only one third of its Might, rounding down. The dragon's stats looked like this:

Stamina 7
Will 7
Gift 2
Might 7

With Armor and Big and Special Damage, it's still horribly dangerous to a human in combat, but the Gifted human has an edge because the Gift is the dragon's weakness. Neat!

We did not get to resolve the kickers (which both turned out to be about pregnancy) and most of my weaves evaporated when the one player quit the game early. It also showed once more that Sorcerer is not really a convention game; we were just beginning to pick up momentum when we quit after a good four hours. Still the game was quite good, I'd probably call it a Double on Judd's Baseball Chart (tm).

What one of the players mentioned to me later, and where I believe he may have a point, was that to his taste the setting offers too little perspective. The people are stranded on this sorry planet and... what now? Where are they going? How do they strive to improve their situation? What is the better life they want to give to the generations to come? Generally speaking: Where is the glimmer of hope?

My first answer was of course: "Well, that is for play to tell!" But the more I think about it, the more I think the setting maybe should be offering some ideas. What do you say?

- Frank
If you come across a post by a guest called Frank T, that was me. My former Forge account was destroyed in the Spam Wars. Collateral damage.

Eero Tuovinen

The way I understood it, Mud Planet offers the image of a pretty stratified, relatively static, medievalish society. Personally, I find that this is just fine; I tend to get annoyed at roleplaying games for always having a setting where, just now, everybody and their nephew have decided to have a cultural revolution. Although I haven't played around with Mud Planet a lot, I'd say that I find the setting more interesting if you leave the future wide open instead of offering one faction that advocates for dragon supremacy, one for the good guys, one for the gangrel (whoops) and one for the guys who just want to know secrets and smile conceitedly at others.

If I may suggest, you might wish to focus on the setting as it is now, instead; DiV has had much success with describing the points of pain and interest in a setting without trying to prescribe revolution or the future for Vincent's setting of fantasy mormons. Something similar might be appropriate here: just tell us about how people tend to act and believe in different situations and about different things, and let the players take care of figuring out what the hope for the future looks like.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Ron Edwards

That makes a lot of sense, Eero. Mud Planet offers a lot of potential for color that can become content - aiming for greater depth rather than prescribed directions for change.

I think that was a successful playtest in a lot of ways, Frank, which isn't saying the same thing as a fun playtest, unfortunately. I'll review some of the points about the reversed score to see whether I can come up with constructive ideas.

Best, Ron