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Author Topic: 1001 Nights as a mini-game within another game?  (Read 14218 times)
cra2
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Posts: 53


« on: April 22, 2009, 07:25:18 AM »

Hi,

Any suggestions as to how to bring elements of 1001 Nights into a social (party) scene within a 'traditional' fantasy campaign?

We've been playing a d&d type of game using a fudge rules variant similar to Fate with some shared narration aspects thrown in.
The reality is I've got a group of gamers who are from a d20 background and this was a good way to expose them to some more narrativist ideas while giving them that comfy mechanical foundation to stand on.

They're currently at a large party at a nobleman's mansion celebration his daughter's engagement.
I'm pleased that the party has some social and mental challenges that aren't all "combat" related.
But when I discovered 1001 Nights, I thought that it would be neat to figure out how to use aspects of 1001 Nights to create a social mini-game at the party.

For example, it could be tradition that the major guests (of which the PCs are included) are expected to spin a yarn about their most recent adventures (and presumably, figure out how to tie in some flattery for the hosts).

Using the 1001 Nights mechanics, we would have a framework for how the storytelling goes.
But I fear that, taken in whole, the mechanics might be too.. I dunno.. heavy?  ...for a game-within-a-game.
And obviously, some customization would have to happen - like the sultan's gems being renamed or converted into something more appropriate.

What do you think?
Any ideas?

Thanks,
cra2
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chance.thirteen
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Posts: 210


« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2009, 10:19:11 AM »

You could also tie stories told into a desired social result at the party, be it enhance the tellers image, or flattery to the hosts, or comment on something else going on, such as reliance on magic instead of the gods, or the idea that love should be given some leeway, or that duty is before all. Whatever the characters are likely to want to do.

If you wanted to be nice about it, a successful telling could generate a scene aspect as seen in Spirit of the century when the commented upon issue can come up. That can either be as menchanicsal as the +2 from those rules, or a general leaning in the main participants and audience. Think of those scenes in Shakespear where the stearn ruler is swayed to give youth and love and choosing one duty over another some slack.
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cra2
Member

Posts: 53


« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2009, 11:11:58 AM »

You could also tie stories told into a desired social result at the party, be it enhance the tellers image, or flattery to the hosts, or comment on something else going on, such as reliance on magic instead of the gods, or the idea that love should be given some leeway, or that duty is before all. Whatever the characters are likely to want to do.

Great idea.
You're saying the outcome of their telling should have an impact on their goals (at the party and/or beyond).
Definitely.  There should be stakes involved - bad telling could result in horrible consequences, good telling could result in achieving an objective.

Now what about the mechanics?
I was thinking using ALL of 1001 Nights be too much of a divergence to insert into the game session.
It made me think there should be a "lite" version - not that 1001 Nights is rules-heavy to begin with.


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chance.thirteen
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Posts: 210


« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2009, 02:59:34 PM »

Ooooh, the game. No clue. That will teach me to chime in from the unread topics page without looking carefully first.

I have considered similar things, and the first question is "who" is playing the mini-game, the players, or the characters they control? Really either way I ask how can you carry over some of the strengths of the character into the mini-game.

EG a cheap way to replicate a lucky or skilled character in poker is to allow them more cards than they should get, to represent their better luck or strategies.
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cra2
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Posts: 53


« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2009, 07:12:03 PM »

Ooooh, the game. No clue. That will teach me to chime in from the unread topics page without looking carefully first.

so you're not actually familiar with 1001 nights then?
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Meguey
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2009, 07:21:17 PM »

Hi cra2.
 I think it could work to do as a game-within-a-game. Where I to do it, I'd make the following adjustments, assuming a standard 'medieval-esque' setting for the D&D campaign.  

Use their existing D&D characters as the Court level characters.

The Sultan becomes their host, and what they risk is deeply offending him and being asked to leave. If this messes with your regular story arc too much, maybe they have to pay something significant as forfeit to the happy couple. Ambition becomes their PC's personal goal for this party. Freedom becomes a reward that carries over to the regular D&D game - an item, money, reputation - which will give them motivation. Make it small, but not just a trifle.

Present the game as a bridal celebration in which the guests assume the roles of players to tell instructive tales for the couple's future. That will build in some of the flattery and so on while leaving a lot of room for creativity.
The GM remains constant through all the Stories, assign all Story roles and the GM picks the underlying themes for each story, such as
 reliance on magic instead of the gods is foolish, love should be given some leeway, duty is before all, constancy is rewarded, children are a blessing, honor your ancestors, etc.
Don't give out full character sheets for the game-within-a-game; instead make some 3x5 cards with a few key words - "Eomer, the friendly wizard", "Hazel the love-sick sheep", "Clyde, a scheming shop-keeper", "Mary, the washer-woman's beautiful daughter" - and hand those around as you assign roles. As the 1001 Nights book says, assign roles with care, so as to demonstrate the Story as a place to make pointed commentary.

Mechanically, here's what I'd try;
Cut the numbers needed for Safety, Ambition and Freedom from 3-5-7 to 3-4-5
Limit the number of tokens they get - "Each guest receives 5 tokens - one for the bride, one for the groom, one for her family, one for his, and one for their future children!" (Cue ribald laughter) - instead of having a big bowl of dice in the middle of the table. You could use coins or checkers as tokens and flip for it (Heads, GM gets the token) instead or rolling.
Once the GM has received 5 tokens in a Story, interrupt or wrap up instead of going on to 7.

So, your players would need to figure out what their PC's personal goal for the party was, accept the tokens and understand to place one down when they were interested in some aspect of the Story, accept the 3X5 card Story roles and act them, flip or roll tokens when something resolves, and assign tokens to Safety, Ambition, and Freedom (or Reward).
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cra2
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Posts: 53


« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2009, 09:41:04 AM »

I think it could work to do as a game-within-a-game. Where I to do it, I'd make the following adjustments, assuming a standard 'medieval-esque' setting for the D&D campaign.

You're a genius.  Thanks for the thoughtful input.
Assuming this works well (which is highly likely with this group, as I've been giving them more and more narrative control througout the campaign), I think I will then be able to pull back the curtains, so to speak, and reveal that we were actually playing 1001 Nights that session.  Thus they'll be far more ready to integrate games like 1001 Nights, PTA, DiTV, etc into our gaming.

Use their existing D&D characters as the Court level characters.

will do.

The Sultan becomes their host, and what they risk is deeply offending him and being asked to leave. If this messes with your regular story arc too much, maybe they have to pay something significant as forfeit to the happy couple.

yep, the "sultan" role will be the father of the bride-to-be, or the families of the engaged couple, in general.
And I think the risk could be graduated like the 1001 Nights character sheet portrays it.
In other words, one strike would mean you had made a faux pas and lost some of your reputation and social standing.
And a second strike could mean that you've actually offended someone and are asked to leave.  Night over for that PC.
And a third strike could mean they cause someone to initiate a duel with them.  (vs. automatic beheading)

But I'm not sure about this.  If someone gets the second strike and they're asked to leave, they (as a player) will be left out of the session for a time and will be bored.  So maybe I need to come up with another gradient.

Ambition becomes their PC's personal goal for this party. Freedom becomes a reward that carries over to the regular D&D game - an item, money, reputation - which will give them motivation. Make it small, but not just a trifle.

Perfect.  They all have goals and beliefs on their PC sheets and are each at the party pursuing one or more of their goals in town.
So that makes for a good Ambition reward.

So for Freedom, why do you propose it being smaller (in scope) than Ambition?  I'm not arguing - I just want to understand your thinking.
It would seem that Freedom is the greater reward than ambition and costs more gem successes to achieve.  So why would you consider converting it into the smaller reward?

I was pondering saying Ambition is what they can achieve/obtain at the party itself.  Something that is largely only in scope of the party (like reputation, a contact, an item, a donation, a piece of information, etc.), and Freedom is what they can obtain that puts them much closer to achieving one of their longer-term goals on their PC sheets.  Of course, I'd rename Freedom to something more appropriate.  But I guess the general idea is that one would be smaller, scope and localized and one would be larger in scope and more campaign affecting.  I dunno.

Present the game as a bridal celebration in which the guests assume the roles of players to tell instructive tales for the couple's future. That will build in some of the flattery and so on while leaving a lot of room for creativity.

Again, great idea!
Although.. it is a large affair and there are folks there far higher on the social ladder than the PCs.
So I wouldn't see the host relying on these 4 to provide this role at the event.
I'm thinking that, during dinner or something, the NPCs turn to the party because of their recently-gained popularlity as adventurers.
The rest of the dinner guests have been telling stories in the nature that you describe above.
But when it comes to the PCs, the NPCs are just asking them to tell everyone of their recent adventures.
I will just point out that it's clear that the format has been to tell such tales in a manner that's relevent to the host and engaged couple, rather than blathering on about their own personal exploits (me me me me me).
 
The GM remains constant through all the Stories, assign all Story roles and the GM picks the underlying themes for each story, such as reliance on magic instead of the gods is foolish, love should be given some leeway, duty is before all, constancy is rewarded, children are a blessing, honor your ancestors, etc.

Hrmm... as I am the GM of the campaign, this sounds like I would wind up choosing the theme AND telling the story.
Or did you mean something different?
I had hoped to allow them to rotate - each having to propose a story (or section of the larger story) from their perspective.
And thus, they'd all get to be in the hot-seat.
Why were you think there should be only one GM?

Don't give out full character sheets for the game-within-a-game; instead make some 3x5 cards with a few key words - "Eomer, the friendly wizard", "Hazel the love-sick sheep", "Clyde, a scheming shop-keeper", "Mary, the washer-woman's beautiful daughter" - and hand those around as you assign roles.

It sounds like you're suggesting one gm, one story, and everyone just gets one role.
No?
 
Thanks so much for your input!
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Meguey
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2009, 05:50:31 PM »

I think the risk could be graduated like the 1001 Nights character sheet portrays it.
In other words, one strike would mean you had made a faux pas and lost some of your reputation and social standing.
And a second strike could mean that you've actually offended someone and are asked to leave.  Night over for that PC.
And a third strike could mean they cause someone to initiate a duel with them.  (vs. automatic beheading)

But I'm not sure about this.  If someone gets the second strike and they're asked to leave, they (as a player) will be left out of the session for a time and will be bored.  So maybe I need to come up with another gradient.

I don't think you want to have a player put out of the game UNLESS you want that to be on the table as an out-come, and the whole party is kicked out. In the actual game, the third strike against a PC ends the game and everyone gets a final epilogue scene. In play, I have had people be so close to one of the three ending conditions (Dead, Free, or Won Ambition) that the players go for one more Story. Often, PCs reach an end condition very close together. So, I'd revise your list to something like:
Strike 1: Faux pas; lose some of your reputation and social standing.
Strike 2: Incur someone's active disfavor - you will have to deal with that eventually.
Strike 3: Actual offense, challenged to a duel or asked to leave.

As to the question about the scope of Freedom vs. Ambition, I think you're on the right track. In the context of your larger campaign, Ambition would be for that party only, whereas Freedom (or perhaps Honor, as in 'I have the honor of blah blah blah") carries forward into the longer arc of their game. Freedom is the greater reward,  I'm just recommending you not make it too mighty a reward; keep it in scale with how pivotal this party is in the grand scheme.

My GM suggestions would shorten things up time-wise, that's all. If you want to take turns around, go for it! I might still go with 3x5 cards that the current, rotating GM could hand out, each with a name, role, and adjective. If you are going to rotate GMs, it might be helpful, at the end of your first Story, to let the players in on the way 1001 Nights is GM'd, in which the GM chooses a rough outline but has no clear path ahead, and just follows the players. I would still absolutely suggest you be the first GM, and you choose a song or nursery rhyme that you know really well. One I often use at Cons is "Jack and Jill", introduced thus:

"This is the story of the noble young prince Hasad; his beautiful but lazy sister Amina, and the quest for water. You see, the flocks of the king were thirsty, and the rains had been long in coming. So at last, he sent out his children to find water for the people. Player A, will you portray the fine prince, Player B the lazy princess, Player C the faithful camel, and Player D the cruel djinn of the well. Our tale begins as the King bids farewell to his children."

Notice that I can expand or contract roles as needed. If I had only two other players, I'd make them either the siblings or one sibling and the djinn. If I had more than 4 other players, I'd add in a timid companion to the princess, a jealous vizier of the King, maybe an ambitious guardsman or the djinn's slave or minion. Now all I know is there are some people trying to get water; by setting the Story up, the players know what's needed (water), why (the people are suffering), and just enough about the Story characters to play them as archetypes that can be used to make broad or pointed comments about the N/PCs listening to the Story. I will have explained the method of taking gems and declaring interests, and so it rolls from there. At the end of the Story, I ask if anyone's guessed the basis of the Story, and it's rare (may have happened once; and now I'll have to choose a new one Smiley ) that someone can guess, but they all can see how it worked.
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Meguey
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Meguey


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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2009, 06:00:40 PM »

Quote
If I had only two other players, I'd make them either the siblings or one sibling and the djinn,
depending on the commentary I wanted to make about the Court level characters. Am I flattering Player A's PC by casting her as the fine and noble prince, or am I mocking her? Do I think that Court level PC has worthy qualities, or do I think she over-steps her gender role? Or am I giving her a chance to redeem herself, or am I  dissing another PC? This goes with all Story roles assigned, obviously.
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