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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 67 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Riddled with Steel on the Prussian Front  (Read 2154 times)
A.Neill
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Posts: 62


« on: April 17, 2003, 08:21:11 AM »

So I ran Riddle of Steel.

Setting: Prussia, 1238, the edge of currently held Teutonic territory
Premise:  Do the means justify the ends?
Key Elements: Crusade, Race, Religion, German Expansionism
Colour: Maps, plastic props, heraldic flags, drawings etc.

Characters:
Gary:Frederick Ostenberg, senior Teutonic Knight. SAs Conscience (persecution of Slavic peoples), Faith (Teutonic Order)

Paul: Grojnik, Livonian Peasant and thug, currently serving Frederick. SAs Luck, Destiny (to find out why he’s so lucky)

Cathy: Anke, niece of the Duke of Saxony, currently on her way to be married off to a Novgorodian Noblewoman. SAs Faith (own ability), Passion (long lost love). Anke was the only character with sorcerous ability.

Fintan: Bohemond, Tolousian Cistercian Monk. SAs Conscience (own extremism), Drive (conversion of Pagan Europe).

The relationship map was loosely based on the Film, The Devil's Backbone. A local Christian chieftain’s son (Vassily) had been held hostage to ensure his father’s good behavior. Another tribe attacks a Christian outpost. Vassily is taken from the local Cistercian Church by a half-dozen Teutonic Knights and murdered. Vassily’s ghost begins haunting Grojnik.

The game lasted five three hour sessions. Overall it was a blast, but there were a couple of problems.

Spending Spirit Points: The party hung onto their SA points between sessions for grim death! In the penultimate session Cathy bought higher Toughness for Anke, but otherwise they preferred their weekly increasing SA dice to permanent improvement.

Participants: My last GMing session for this group was Sorcerer. Scene resolution, joint narrative goals and shared “game space” all came together for one helluva game experience. This time I think we fell back a bit into DnD mode. The skills lists and the combat bouts tended to put our “gm-interprets-dice-for-task-resolution” hats on – where I narrated the outcome (“you miss”, “you slip” etc.) and the other players seemed content to let me. I suspect the pseudo medieval setting had something to do with this as well (“ahh, it must be a DnD clone we’re playing”).

The game ended with a showdown that was fairly satisfying. The big bad guy fought Frederick – knight-on-knight action, with a tense stand off between our Christian chief, the party’s allies and the corrupt knights. Unfortunately, out of SAs for the evening, Frederick had his head well and truly removed from his body. The combat table (a level five wound) left little room for player or seneschal narration. He was dead, that was it. Garry was allowed to spend his SAs post mortem to get some insight points.

Final mini scenes narrated by the players allowed them to create milieus for future choices; Frederick played his dad getting the sad news, Bohemond reported to the Pope that Big Bad guy was a fine example of Teutonic might, Anke was reluctantly escorted toward her groom, suspecting that her lost love was alive and Grojnik’s luck had taken a turn for the worse after getting hit by a falling tree.

So I’m up to run a single session for our heroes soon. Any suggestions for improving narrative juices that can be squeezed from TROS?

Alan.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2003, 08:35:18 AM »

Hi Alan,

Five three-hour sessions! That's a hell of a lot of blood spillage.

I'm not quite understanding your point about the players' use of Spiritual Attributes, especially how it relates the final combat that killed the one character.

I'm not sure whether or how you employed the rules for SA's, so let me lay some of them out.

#1: Using is not spending. SA points don't go away when they get used for dice bonuses (except Luck).

So if my character Hates Von Beck (4) and has Faith in Some Religion (3), and if Von Beck is burning the church, and we're fighting ...

... then I toss 7 extra dice into my CP, no questions asked, and they don't "go away" through that use.

#2: SA increase is handled during play and even action-by-action.

So let's say that I bop Von Beck even for a hit that doesn't penetrate his friggin' TO and Armor. I still get to increase my Passion by 1 and my Faith by 2 (or whatever it is, I don't know the SA-increase rules per-SA by heart; let's say I'm right about the details).

Anyway, that means that next round, I'm at Hate VB 5 and Faith 5. I can dump 10 dice into the CP this time.

#3: Spending can be done right there in play too!

Let's say instead of the 10-die bonus, I decide to spend both of those SA's to 0. This takes no game time whatsoever; it's pure metagame. I forget the exchange rate, but let's say that I use it to increase my Proficiency or an Attribute or something. Whatever.

So now they're both at 0. Do you see that if I just keep fighting Von Beck, and if I live, that they'll ramp up to at least a few points apiece during the next couple rounds of combat?

#4: And finally, that when two SA's are at 0, I can change one of them to anything I want (subjection to duplication constraints). If I'd wanted, I could have changed one of those two into (um) Driven to do something or other.

Anyway, you might know all of this and have applied all of this, I'm not sure. I know what happens in my TROS games using these principles: (a) ongoing and unceasing alternating gain and drop of SAs, (b) frequent spending of SAs to improve proficiencies and attributes, (c) occasional confluence of being able to use them all at once, and (d) shifting of SA's content every so often. It's the most dynamic aspect of play and far outweighs decisions about splitting combat pools into offense and defense, for example.

How do the above points relate to your point about the use of SA's in your game, if at all? I guess my biggest question is how is it that the player-character had no SA's "left" during that combat scene?

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2003, 08:38:55 AM »

Quote from: Nuredin
Any suggestions for improving narrative juices that can be squeezed from TROS?


Give more SA points out. This means that the players will have more of an incentive to spend them down for improvement, and that in doing so, they might change SAs. This will hopefully lead to a more dynamic environment.

Just a thought.

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2003, 08:57:24 AM »

Ron, I'm right with you with #1...that's the first thing I thought of when I read this description.

But #2-3...wow...do you really hand out the points THAT fast.  I mean they should flow pretty quickly...but do you mean I could max out my passion for hating some guy each round I swing at him...spend the points...and then keep fighting and ramp those points back up...

That's certainly a very interesting way to play (and no doubt a powerful one)...but I don't think that's what the rules suggest and *I* certainly would not hand them out that quickly.  Maybe 1 die for entering the fight with the guy you hate but not several over the course of a single engagement (unless circumstances warranted, like the enemy mocked him or cut off an ear or something).

No wonder you say that the SAs dominate the combat pools.  That sounds a little too dominating for my taste though.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2003, 10:15:21 AM »

Hi Ralph,

Try it before you knock it. Blood Opera, man.

And I don't think it's counter to the rules-text.

Best,
Ron
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2003, 11:43:46 AM »

Hi Nuredin,

Sounds like fun, but I'm curious. Did each character only have two SAs? Or did you just list the ones they considered 'important?'

Also, I notice that you have descriptors listed for the Conscience SAs, which is cool but not necessarily by the book. One of the cool things about Conscience is that by acting on their charitable impulses, characters can pump it up pretty quickly. If you restrict them to only gaining and being able to use Conscience SA points when they act within those narrow bounds the players are likely to be more conservative.

If you're having trouble getting them to use or spend SAs, maybe they aren't understanding the system perfectly. The only SAs that are gone (for the session anyway) when you use them are Luck. The others remain available while you continue to engage in the situation to which they are applicable.

As far as SPENDING the points goes, in most cases SAs are capped at 5, so if you are distributing points regularly, they are going to max fast and anything you would be awarded beyond that is lost -- so you better spend them or lose out.

As for the unfortunate beheading, unless you're looking for a fitting death scene, it is probably a good idea for a player to keep a luck point in reserve for just such a situation. He could have burned a luck point permanently and kept his character.

For instance, if you translated the story Queen of the Black Coast into RoS, Conan spent a point of luck at the end, causing Belit to materialize and block the blow that would have killed him. Best of all, if the player at the same time spent down his Passion: Love for Belit, he could rewrite it as Passion: Hatred of Ape Demon and probably even gain a few points for it.
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A.Neill
Member

Posts: 62


« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2003, 11:17:28 PM »

Thanks guys!

After scrambling for my copy of TroS I can say that I’m pretty okay with #2 and #3, except in respect that we had a formal session at the end of each game to award SA points, so there probably was a predisposition to spend them at that time and maybe inadvertently discourage their acquisition during play. With #1 I’m not so off the hook. Only Destiny and Drive descriptions say directly that the pool refreshes after use and then only when the Seneschal allows. Of course only the Luck description says that used points are gone for the session and I completely ignored the “as long as the Seneschal says so” direction. Next time I will allow SA pools to refresh after each use, rather than treating them all like Luck and I'm gonna try Ron’s fast and loose approach. My new enlightenment doesn’t do poor Frederick much good – I should definitely have allowed him to use Conscience and possibly Faith in every round during his showdown with the bad guy..

Mike – I was going to dismiss your suggestion out of hand – I awarded SA points, or rather we collectively awarded SA points, in line with the TroS suggestions. However given point #2 I don’t think we paid enough attention to action-by-action awards – which may have allowed the awards to be pumped up –actions deserving SAs would be fresher in the mind.

Thor – no just the important SAs listed – although 3 was the norm.

I suspect a correct implementation of SAs – better though it will be for the next session, may only be addressing the symptom rather than the cause. Sometimes we were in “heartbreaker fantasy” mode. The players wanted to find the “plot monster” and associated rewards while saving their own bacon. I think the number of sessions (I originally intended three) was also indicative of this – we descended into skill based task resolution, rather than resolving scenes and having a better eye on the story. Maybe the skill list and the large number of stats distracted us from our mission at times. I am over stating the case slightly – we did have some beautiful scenes - a confessional with Bohemond and Anke, and a town meeting centring on Frederick to name but two. Combat was sweet, but it was only in the last couple of sessions that we started experimenting with combat manoeuvres. I had the foresight to stat up a few men-at-arms mini sheets – red shirts if you will – so that players could experiment without undue risk! We took some good steps on the ‘story now’ road – but next time we jump.

Alan.
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