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Author Topic: Getting ready- Writing the bangs!  (Read 6716 times)
Delta1
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Posts: 24


« on: June 08, 2003, 04:11:56 AM »

I am on the verge of starting a Sorcerer game.  I have  a good idea of what scene framing is and am excited about trying out narrativist play.

I have read Bankuei's excellent articles on Rpg.net and have done numerous searches on writing and creating bangs.

So this thread is me thinking out loud and calling on interested parties to correct me if I'm leading my self down the wrong path.

Step One

I should meet with the players, sketch out a game setting/genre that both they and I are interested in.

Step Two

Create Characters/Demons and some kick *ss kickers.

Step Three

Come up with or steal a relationship map and create a back story.
This map sets out relationships and conflicts between the NPC's.

Step Four

Tie the playes kickers into this map.

Create Bangs/potential bangs from percieved conflicts on the map that may or may not occur.  Create generic bangs( ie man walks into the scene with a gun) to get me out of a fix if the play slows down.

Step Five

Play
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's step four that has me worried.  

Before a game I'd usually have mapped out the path the adventure was going to take, NPC stats etc.  

This new narrartivist style has me feeling kinda nekkid.  Personally I feel it will be a daunting task that will keep me constantly on my toes?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2003, 07:17:29 AM »

Hi there,

That's a great post.

You're right, Step Four is a lot of work. My current Sorcerer game required many, many hours of my time between our character/demon creation session and our first session. This is typical.

However, here are a couple of ideas that might help.

1. You have all the great material from Steps #1-3 that, at this moment (before it all happens), you can't foresee. So yes, looking at Step #4 is daunting, but that's because you have no ammunition in your gun yet. Think of each step as "loading" the next, and remember that you don't have to do all the work in each one.

2. This is kind of a sub-set of the above point, but it deserves emphasis: take the demons that your characters create, and whatever NPCs are present or implied in their Kickers, and embrace them. Pretend, if that's the right word, that you made them up and love them as the best-est and most anticipated elements of play, that is, on your end.

3. Let the first session be more of an extension of preparation than anything else. I've often noted first sessions of Sorcerer can be a little vague, especially when the characters aren't linked in some way (e.g. Demon Cops does not have vague first runs). This vagueness isn't a bad thing, because the players are really just feeling-out the unique shared ownership of the demons and realizing that their Kickers really do matter, and aren't mere plot-hooks for some prepped plot. They get that sorcerer-look in their eyes some time in the second session, typically.

Have you seen the Art-Deco Melodrama threads in the Adept Press forum? If not, head to the Actual Play webpage at the Sorcerer site, and look toward the bottom of the page. There are four or five links there to some old forum threads that you'll find really interesting.

Best,
Ron
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Bankuei
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2003, 12:51:38 PM »

Hi D,

Thanks, I'm glad that my articles are of use to you.  To emphasize my basic method:  Its all about having a solid conflict.  The conflict should serve as an inspiration("creative springboard" as Ron puts it) that allows you to easily conceive serveral interesting twists, in play, and before play.

Different folks need different amounts of Bangs to feel "good enough" to get by with, but in all honesty, too many is just as bad as too few, because with the former, you tend to lose track of which to use, or what you're trying to do, resulting in a lot of mental juggling.  At least that's my experience.

So what I usually do is seperate the Bangs according to NPCs or groups of NPCs usually having 3-5 each, to work with, and usually that holds it down for a couple of sessions.  And usually only half get used, if that much.

Not quite Sorcerer, but an equivalent prep example is being done for Hero Wars over in this thread:

http://indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6696

which may or may not provide some insight for you.

Chris
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Delta1
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2003, 03:56:14 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi there,

That's a great post.


A good post seems to get good answers, thanks.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
You're right, Step Four is a lot of work. My current Sorcerer game required many, many hours of my time between our character/demon creation session and our first session. This is typical.  


Okay, I'll have a good fortnight between initial prep and  actually playing



Quote from: Ron Edwards
1. You have all the great material from Steps #1-3 that, at this moment (before it all happens), you can't foresee. So yes, looking at Step #4 is daunting, but that's because you have no ammunition in your gun yet. Think of each step as "loading" the next, and remember that you don't have to do all the work in each one.


So what you're telling me is it won't seem as daunting as it does now.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
2. This is kind of a sub-set of the above point, but it deserves emphasis: take the demons that your characters create, and whatever NPCs are present or implied in their Kickers, and embrace them. Pretend, if that's the right word, that you made them up and love them as the best-est and most anticipated elements of play, that is, on your end.


So I should be thinking from the NPCs view, their motivations and goals and then coming up with scenes/bangs that are probable and interesting.  By interesting I mean likely to add to the story.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
3. Let the first session be more of an extension of preparation than anything else. I've often noted first sessions of Sorcerer can be a little vague, especially when the characters aren't linked in some way (e.g. Demon Cops does not have vague first runs). This vagueness isn't a bad thing, because the players are really just feeling-out the unique shared ownership of the demons and realizing that their Kickers really do matter, and aren't mere plot-hooks for some prepped plot. They get that sorcerer-look in their eyes some time in the second session, typically.


Essentially don't sweat it on the first night. Concentrate on playing out the kicker.  

So if two players characters don't have a concrete link at the start.  Meaning that if  they don't all "meet in a bar" - then its okay to play out the two different storylines much like a TV episode?

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Have you seen the Art-Deco Melodrama threads in the Adept Press forum? If not, head to the Actual Play webpage at the Sorcerer site, and look toward the bottom of the page. There are four or five links there to some old forum threads that you'll find really interesting.


Currently wading through that mountain of treasure.  I will add my gaming experience to the list as it unfolds.

Cheers

Sean
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Delta1
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2003, 04:43:03 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei


Different folks need different amounts of Bangs to feel "good enough" to get by with, but in all honesty, too many is just as bad as too few, because with the former, you tend to lose track of which to use, or what you're trying to do, resulting in a lot of mental juggling.  At least that's my experience.

So what I usually do is seperate the Bangs according to NPCs or groups of NPCs usually having 3-5 each, to work with, and usually that holds it down for a couple of sessions.  And usually only half get used, if that much.



This bangs thing is another thing that I haven't quite sorted yet.

You've got your characters, their kickers(which are the initial bang).  The NPCs and Demons and the relationships between each.  You then take these relationships and then write a scene(s) where something interesting might happen.


Example:


Lets say the character is a stage Magician, has a Demon whose powers enhance his magic show.  This guy was on a downward spiral until he discovered the existance of Demons.  Now his shows are really pulling the crowds and he's ruffling a few feathers.  

The kicker :

He awakens one morning after a particularly sordid after show party to find the severed head of his nearest rival in the fridge with a silver penny on its tongue.

The bangs:?????

Is this a bang? -

After playing the initial kicker.

At the end of a show the character sees the dead rival sitting in the back row smiling.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2003, 05:52:59 AM »

Hi D1,

Quote
So I should be thinking from the NPCs view, their motivations and goals and then coming up with scenes/bangs that are probable and interesting. By interesting I mean likely to add to the story.


Exactly! And I'll even modify your phrase "to add to the story" into "to engage everyone and inspire them to respond."

Your magician example is also perfectly on-target, regarding the Bang. One danger is weirdness for its own sake: "Bang, Bang, Bang ... um, where are we? I dunno." However, if you combine good weird Bangs with your text that I quoted above, then all is well - the NPCs are doing stuff, hence Bangs, hence player-character decisions with emotional weight, hence -- powerful story.

Best,
Ron
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Rob MacDougall
Member

Posts: 160


« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2003, 05:55:37 AM »

Quote
You've got your characters, their kickers(which are the initial bang). The NPCs and Demons and the relationships between each. You then take these relationships and then write a scene(s) where something interesting might happen.


OK, I'm just learning this myself, but I think I would say you don't write the scene, you just come up with the idea. You don't want to script how it will play out.

Quote
At the end of a show the character sees the dead rival sitting in the back row smiling.


That is a big bang alright, and probably a good one. But don't let the term "bang" make you think they all have to be huge, screeching plot twists that pull the rug out from under everything the PCs believe. I think I was thinking that way when I first started thinking in terms of bangs and it kind of intimidated me.

Given the situation you've described, "quieter" bangs might include: The police coming to the PC and asking if he knows anything about the whereabouts of his rival. The distraught wife of his rival coming and asking the same thing. The not-so-distraught wife of his rival coming and hitting on the PC. The PC gets an offer of a great gig that he knows would have gone to the rival if he was around. Somebody goes to the PCs fridge to get a Snapple. Any of these might fit the "bang" criteria: the PC must react, but it doesn't specify how. And any one of these might spin the story off into an exciting new direction.

This is kind of related to Ron's point #1, above: a lot of these "bangs" are going to come semi-organically out of the NPCs and the relationship maps and the kickers. Especially when you consider the demons involved. How will the PCs' demon react to the severed head in the fridge? That's half your bangs right there.

Rob

[oops - cross-posted with Ron, and what do you know, he said basically what I was going to say, and more concisely too]
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Delta1
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2003, 06:29:12 AM »

Quote from: Rob MacDougall
Quote

Given the situation you've described, "quieter" bangs might include: The police coming to the PC and asking if he knows anything about the whereabouts of his rival. The distraught wife of his rival coming and asking the same thing. The not-so-distraught wife of his rival coming and hitting on the PC. The PC gets an offer of a great gig that he knows would have gone to the rival if he was around. Somebody goes to the PCs fridge to get a Snapple. Any of these might fit the "bang" criteria: the PC must react, but it doesn't specify how. And any one of these might spin the story off into an exciting new direction.

This is kind of related to Ron's point #1, above: a lot of these "bangs" are going to come semi-organically out of the NPCs and the relationship maps and the kickers. Especially when you consider the demons involved. How will the PCs' demon react to the severed head in the fridge? That's half your bangs right there.



So I imagine the basic session to consist of kicker then bangs related to this kicker.  The players take off in unforseeable directions and the GM goes with the flow.  Now because the GM has set up the bangs, has the relationship map and knows the NPC's inside and out he can improv rather well.  

I worry that play will go off in some random direction and I will not be prepared.  I suspect, however, that the amount of bangs that one gets though per gaming session is quite low and the real play and time spent  will occur in the interaction between players, demons and NPC's.
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Delta1
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2003, 06:31:54 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei


So what I usually do is seperate the Bangs according to NPCs or groups of NPCs usually having 3-5 each, to work with, and usually that holds it down for a couple of sessions.  And usually only half get used, if that much.



I like this idea. Gives me some structure to hold on to I will stop procrastinating now and get to work preparing.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2003, 07:02:47 AM »

Hi D1,

I just posted up some example Bangs for the Hero Wars/Quest excercise in the aforementioned thread, although for some more exact examples, consider something like this....

Magician's Rival

-Shows up while the magician is having fun, minding business, or with family, says something, perhaps normal, but could be read in a vaguely threatening context(used by psycho-thriller movies all the time)
-Shows up at one of his shows, steps forwards as a volunteer, and the trick doesn't work, reason unknown....
-Rival's friends and family members discover the rival's beheaded body, police start asking around, including the PC
-A couple of weeks later, the rival's family, determined to find the truth, start asking around, completely broken up over his death(and unaware of his reappearance)
-Other people start ending up dead, but always in some mockery of the rival's famous signature tricks(sawed in half underwater, etc.)

Of course, as previously mentioned, these Bangs only work if you've got some background reason all this stuff is happening.  The key point to remember is that for a Bang to work, you always have to be thinking about how it can affect a PC, because Bangs are aimed at the players.

Then you just go and make a few for each NPC, and watch the fun start.

Another useful tool would be to consider at least one Bang involving one NPC to each PC.   That is, if you have 3 major NPCs, and 3 PCs, then you have 9(3x3) Bangs prepped, each NPC having at least one for each PC.  Of course, unless you have a real tightly knit R-Map, it probably won't work out this way, so just consider it an inspirative and creative excercise that will get you to push out Bangs.

Chris
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