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Xuphia continued...

Started by Bankuei, June 06, 2003, 05:41:42 AM

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Hi folks,

We played the third session of Xuphia, minus one player.  Rod Anderson, Mike Holmes and I played through an exciting session of S&S, which turned out to be one long scene.  

Rod spiked the conflict by creating a rivalry between Price Sabbo's demon, Oroburos, and Zorleb's newly bound demon, Noyalon.  The fight between the two was very exciting and back and forth, with some poor family's house destroyed in the process.

Prince Sabbo began by Punishing Noyalon, but Zorleb managed to banish Oro outright, after some struggle!  Sabbo being the stubborn arrogant bastard that he was, decided to take on Zorleb and his two demons alone...He traded his price down by 4 dice to exact his vengeance, but in the end failed.  Zorleb's other demon, Alsilnoor managed to blast the prince with Hint after Zorleb gave him a rightful thrashing with his staff.  Unfortunately Zorleb was also slightly injured, and only walking around on Noyalon's he walked off to find a safe place to pass out.

All in all, Sorcerer combat is fun, roll overs successes are vital, Price trading makes for exciting comebacks(or almost comebacks, in Sabbo's case), and a good time was had by all.  Concerns folks had about sorcerers' standing to the side while their demons fight out Pokemon style were laid to rest, as we Punished, Banished, and pummeled the daylights out of each other and each other's demons alike.  

Thoughts? Comments?


Ron Edwards

Hi Chris,

What would you say that all this mayhem was about?

Also, what sort of flavor was established or maintained during play? You've talked about the Xuphia look & feel - was it reinforced, tweaked, added to, set aside and ignored, or ...?



Hi Ron,

Unfortunately my demon Oro was banished before he could reveal the exact nature of his beef, but on the other hand, with Zorleb and his demons actually successfully standing up to Sabbo, it became a trip about Sabbo's ego and unwillingness to give up when things turned against him.

I'd say a good deal of the imagery was well kept, although Rod did a lot of passing the narrative right around, which still worked out well:

QuoteBankuei: From beneath the rubble, yellow energy crackles about, and an ancient, royal tongue comes echoing forth, and the curses that make demons wail, the swearing of elder gods echoes forth...somewhere, a god cries..."Suffer!"
rod_cartoonist: Oro brandishes his slashing claws, mocking Zorleb: "Pathetic toad, is that the best you can do? I'm going to cut you to pieces!"
rod_cartoonist: Noyalon writhes and spasms in agony!
Bankuei: "Man or not.  Magical or not.  All must bow to their betters!"
rod_cartoonist: Noyalon to Zorleb:"Do we stand or flee? Choose now!"
Mholmes: "We stand. We'll not run from this boy."
Bankuei: "Boy?  Apparently age did not see fit to grant you wisdom!"
rod_cartoonist: Suddenly. . .
rod_cartoonist: Black light pours out of the old man's body, tearing through his robes, making him seem three times bigger! At the same time, Alsilnoor hovers over his head, pulsing beams of psychedlic light!
Mholmes: The beams streak out, and down through the folded hands of Zorleb, and strike the gossamer form of Ouroborous causing it to become transfixed. Like a shadow melting before the sun, but somewhat in reverse, the demon dissappears.
Bankuei: Sabbo rushes forward, noticing not his guardian's fate, as he grabs the frail frame of Zorleb by the neck and backhands him, pushing him back!  "Dog!  How dare you come to my kingdom, my land, and dare oppose me!?!"
rod_cartoonist: Noyalon: "Look around you, little prince!"
rod_cartoonist: "Where is your guardian now?"
Bankuei: "Ah! Ah! ...."
Bankuei: "I need no Guardian to deal with the likes of you!"
rod_cartoonist: As Sabbo lunges to smash Alsilnoor's jar, beams of pulsing psychedelic light hit him right in the eyes, transfixing him!
Bankuei: Sabbo's head bulges with veins, and the audible sound of teeth grinding somehow audible over the howling winds, his eyes narrow, and a few drops of blood spill forth from the edges.
Bankuei: ""
Bankuei: Zorleb steps forth, pulling back for a solid blow to Sabbo's temple.  His swing whistles only to be jarringly stopped by a dull thump, as it lands in Sabbo's hand.  "Not today old man"
Bankuei: With a harsh shove, Sabbo wrests the staff from Zorleb's grasp, and spins it back and forth.  He recalled his days as a youth, practicing the fine battle arts against scum and knight alike.  The staff swung around, knocking the Alsilnoor's jar from Zorleb's hand, and as it spins in the air, Alsilnoor's eyes turns just in time to see the staff coming at full force.  Blaow!
rod_cartoonist: Alsilnoor rolls acroos the dirt, spraying sparks of rainbow light!
Bankuei: Zorleb angles off, hoping to trip Sabbo, but the young prince keeps him at bay with his own staff.
Mholmes: He turns his attention to the demon on the floor, focusing his will on it to blast it, and throws the staff at Zorleb to keep him away momentarily. Zorleb, however, sensing an openng, leaps forward with his demonically derived strength, catches the staff in the air and brings it down successfully this time on the left knee of the prince. Sabbo, collapses into a crouch holding his badly injured leg.
rod_cartoonist: Zorleb brings the staff down on Sabbo's neck, forcing his head down to meet the waiting gaze of Alsilnoor. Sabbo frantically hurls a cobblestone at Zorleb, striking his hip -- but too late to resist the siren song of Alsilnoor! He finds his mind overwhelmed by bizarre visions of eyeballs and floating, shifting cloudlike forms -- but out of the chaos, he grasps meaning -- an image of Arc-Phalon, the demon of the pact...

Unfortunately due to the nature of IRC, the extended battle scene ate up our whole session.  I'm really interested to see the whole Sorcerer/desperation thing at work here, since Sabbo is probably going to need to change his heart and start doing some Humanity upping things, and/or summon a new powerhouse demon, or perhaps(and against all odds) do it without any demons at all.  Some interesting choices up ahead.


Mike Holmes

I've always wanted to win with a Hint.

Didn't mean much this. Like Chris said, just two typically arrogant sorcerers unwilling to back down once offended. In narrativist terms the question was pride or safety, and we both chose pride. Which meant a lot of play that amounted to a huge pissing contest. Which my character came out on top of.

The subsequent questions for both characters will be:

Zorleb - given a win, can he let go of his pride in his otherworldly abilities, or will he let his hubris take him away from this mortal coil (I was closer to zero humanity than you'll find in most games; let's just say that I was effectively at about a .5 humanity for a while)?

Sabbo - given a humiliating event, will this change the prince to be more humble and humane, or will it just incite him to greater heights of cruelty?

Again, Rod, you've provided us with no human contact, except through violence instigated by our demons. Are you trying to get us to author a spiral straight to zero humanity? :-)

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

Rod Anderson


Well, my idea is for Noyalon, by whisking Zorleb to safety, to be bringing Zorleb into contact with some high-motivation people, including Sabbo's sister.

As for the fact that a violent intermezzo devoured the entire session, well, chalk it up to inexperience, I guess -- with Sorcerer, with Narrativism, with IRC gaming. I've kind of made my peace with using this game as my "training wheels", but -- well, I dunno. Every time I think I've got my shit sorted out, I come into the session and there's something new to learn, and another trick missed, so I don't think I'm going to have my Sorcerer chops anytime soon (I had a convo with Chris already, about these very issues). If the play's sub-par for you, e-mail or PM me and let me know where you'd like to see the game go. I'm not married to it or nothin', just so you know.


Rod Anderson

As an aside, the excerpt Chris posted is a good illustration of what I find frustrating, or at least weird, about playing with the two-window system. The attractive prose that gets put in the "IC" window seems like an afterthought to the actual play of the game. I mean, when I found myself saying (in the OOC window) "OK, now we know what happened -- someone's gotta go narrate it in the IC window" . . . why for? Not that it's not entertaining to wax eloquent, but the notion that there's the "actual gameplay" in one window, and the redacted-for-the-audience version in the other . . . I dunno, it feels like a burden to me.



I've actually enjoyed the separation in games I've played, though if you want to play without the separation, I've done that too, no problem.  My biggest "complaint" with your game, after having watched it last night, is that you don't have a dicebot.  ;)

But really, a lot of that stuff could be simpler if you narrated bits and pieces WHILE the resolution is going on.  Someone says "I want to try this" so they narrate themselves trying it while you resolve its attempt.  Then they narrate the resolution while you go on and resolve the NEXT thing that needs resolving.

Watching your gameplay, it looks as if y'all generally use one window, THEN use another, when the "best" (IMHO) way to use such a separation is to use them concurrently, not consecutively.

Just MNSHO, of course.
Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
Maker of many fine story-games!
Moderator of Indie Netgaming


Hi everyone,

I think the hardest Sorcerer-to-IRC issue is that we don't have those non-verbal cues and the speed of face to face communication.  While we have gotten better about "over, your turn" sorts of things in IRC, we still don't get the "look at how excited I am about this idea" energy expression and the quick level of negotiation.  The entire fight scene would have only taken maybe a half hour at most with face to face.

Rod, on note of the "living up to Sorcerer" concerns- don't worry.  Sorcerer is capable of great things, but that doesn't mean you have to hold yourself to "world shattering" play.  I'm having a good time playing the jerk, I'm enjoying the unpredictability of the dice and outcomes, and while I'm sad Oro the demon didn't get a chance to be provocatuer to Sabbo I had hoped, I'm still excited to see what will happen next.  Defeat or success both held some interesting possibilities, and Mike is right, it's pretty much a constest of egos.  

Other than that, the nice thing about IRC is that we have written records of what play is like and how it works.  I've got a couple of friends who I've been trying to get into it, but they are totally unaware of the paradigm shift I'm talking with protagonist and Narrativist play.  Here, I can send them a file, and say, "Read this, this is how Sorcerer works!" and trip them out.

All in all, I'm having a good time, if not necessarily enjoying the medium of IRC.  


Mike Holmes

Yes, IRC is slow, that's a given. But other than that I have no problems with it. We're doing fine.

I do agree that more could go on in the "play" window. That is, we could keep the OOC window for really out of game stuff. Basically talk about stuff that's not directly related to play. That's the main advantage I see to it, allowing for multiple non-interfering channels of communication. Basically I don't want to wait for narration to be saying something, and the other window makes that easy. If you don't mind system talk messing with the narration, then that's not a problem.

The real problem as I see it is the "who's narrating now" element. In actual play of Sorcerer, or any other RPG, it's not the "I'm excited" thing, IMO, but the "I'm talking" thing. Somehow when face to face, we all know when someone is taking the narrative, just like we know not to interrupt each other. So it works for Sorcerer, even though there are no rules for who narrates. In IRC, you can't tell when someone is typing so you have to indicate that you are. Then, instead of simultaneously processing the input and producing your own output, you're waiting for the narration to appear, and then to read through it.

To an extent the fault is the fortune in the middle. Alexander's problem with the way play looks steps from the fact that there's no narration prior to rolling due to the Fortune in the middle; and unlike other games. The "free and clear" should almost certainly go in the "narration" window because of this.

I don't really see a way around this, unless we wanted to have automatic settings on who narrates what. Like GM does all NPCs only, and players narrate their own successes and failures (except in the case of interplayer conflict in which case the winner narrates). Even then the wait still occurs, as it does in all IRC play. Nothing to be done about that.

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.


Part of what I saw also stems from your group's tendency (at least watching last night) of neglecting to narrate things.  I can think of only one concrete example from last night (one of you initiated a groin shot, which was talked through, resolved, but never that I could see narrated, though perhaps I missed the narration) but I don't think that was the only one.  I'll admit, reading the IRC logs of your play sessions are not very enlightening as a result; I get more confused instead of less.

In other words, things happened entirely in the OOC window that never MADE it to the IC window.  Honestly, I'm not sure why; I've only seen one session of yours so far, but I have my theories (which I stated above - namely that you seem to be using the OOC/IC windows consecutively instead of concurrently, which means you're likely to forget the one used less often, the IC window, and just stick to the OOC window).  

Though not an experienced Sorcerer player (0 games under my belt) I am experienced in RTC/IRC play under a number of different systems(UnderWorld, FUDGE, Rolemaster, The Pool, Synthesis, even a small aborted session of Kathanaksaya recently) and I can speak from THAT experience, at least.  Yes, there are waits - the average online gamer is a hunt-and-peck typist, and instead of talking/listening happening simultaneously, one person "talks" by typing, and then AFTERWARDS the others can "listen."  

But I have seen the wait periods be a LOT shorter than what I saw in your IC posts (20+ minute pauses).  I have faith that that will improve as you become more comfortable with the game and the medium.

Try putting narration on both sides of the Fortune (which is, as was stated earlier, in the middle), instead of just on one; use the IC window to ANNOUNCE your actions (prosaically), then come into the OOC window to resolve them.  Describe how your character feels and why he chooses to aim for his opponents groin.  Then, after he rears back for the strike, pause it (so to speak) and move to the OOC window and go "hey, let's resolve that."  Then move back to describe the resolution.

Then again, if you don't like the two-window system, or find it not to your tastes, run your game in only one.  There's nothing stopping you from doing that, and I've played (and run!) a number of successful RTC/IRC games using nothing more than a channel and private messages.  I mainly like the two-window version so that, afterwards, you have a "transparent" view of the action.  But there's nothing that says it's required.
Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
Maker of many fine story-games!
Moderator of Indie Netgaming

Rod Anderson

For the record, Chris casually made the comment, when his groin shot only got one success, that he was "a little to the left" (or something), so I had him crack Zorleb on the hip, as a sort of tip of the hat. So that's where that went.

In any case, the option I'm favoring now is using a single window for the current scene's gameplay -- dice, discussion, narration and all. The other window can be a sideboard for metagame stuff, general asides and comments, etc.



Hi Alex,

One of the nifty things that is going on is Fortune in the Middle, which is during the "Free and Clear" stage, folks are discussing possible actions, and settling down on it.  The actual success or failure, plus degree of success really determines the results.

I didn't really have any problem with the narration aspect of the game, again, the only thing is that play moves much slower than face to face, and I'm just an impatient sort of guy.

The real concerns about play that folks are raising which are valid- are the human connections which will be the source of Humanity gain checks, which both of our sorcerers need desperately.  You could consider it to be the "healing potions" of Sorcerer.   Again, I feel face to face, we'd be able to zip through scenes and better establish more scenes and more interactions along those lines, so its really just a matter of pacing and the medium.


Mike Holmes

Alex, I wrote a nastygram in reply, but I've replaced it with this.

Chris and I are pretty experienced. We didn't "neglect" anything, especially considering the very different way that Sorcerer works. I'd like to reiterate that I don't think anything was at all wrong with the play that occured. It's not for an audience, and I don't see anyone saying they had a bad time. Except for you.

So in the nicest way, I'm disagreeing with most of what you wrote.

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

Bob McNamee

The speed factor of Face-to-face and IRC play can't be discounted either. I figure it takes around 4 -  3 hour IRC sessions to equal about 1 - 2 to 3 hour face-to-face game.

It may not matter for Sorceror, but for Trollbabe, I would find it impossible to keep up with ingame events if we didn't have the OOC and dicerolling stuff in another window. Especially as I'm cutting between separated characters.  Having to scroll up multiple screens to find the last narration from old scene interspersed with huge amounts of ooc discussions would drive me crazy as GM.

One question, what IRC techniques do you use when doing everything in the same window in order to keep track of whats going on at a later date?
Color coding in game text or something?
Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!