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Author Topic: Hi, looking for some advice on scenario writing for the pool  (Read 5738 times)
nuanarpoq
Member

Posts: 21


« on: July 26, 2003, 03:25:20 AM »

hi guys

i've been encouraged by the +/ve feedback on the pool and have got the guys i regularly game with interested in running a session. i've read through some of the variant systems around, and overall i feel pretty comfortable with resolving contests, using the pool system etc.

what i'm less clear about is how those of you who regularly use the pool approach scenario preparation. how many of you script out a scenario with a generous amount of given plot development, how many of you start with a set of NPCs, character motives & backstory & busk out the rest? or something else entirely? how much control do the playes get over the flow of events when things start going their way?

background: my group pretty much play only in glorantha, and the pool seems like an interesting approach to heroquesting. so my dilemma is, for a one-shot game, should i be preparing myths and a detailed heroquest or be prepared for the players to generate the myth on the fly?

if i've missed extant advice on this topic then my apologies, links will do

cheers

nuan
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Russell Hoyle
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Posts: 40


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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2003, 05:16:57 AM »

A post in Actual Play adresses this topic - you might try joining this discussion...

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=7302


Regards,

Rusty
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Paganini
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2003, 05:54:23 AM »

Well, since you asked for advice...

Scenario writing for the Pool? My advice is: don't. The nature of the Pool is that your players will write the scenario for you as you play. That's sort of the whole point, really. The players get to "wear the GM hat" pretty often, which means that GM-pre-scripting isn't worth much.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't do game prep, though. The trick is to focus on situation rather than events. Think about creating situations that might lead to dramatic events... depending on what the players feel like doing.

The trick is to come up with situations that are dynamic - situations that are charged with dramatic power, so that the play they produce is interesting, without being pre-planned.

When I'm getting ready for a Pool game, I use only a few specific techniques. I find the R-Map to be the most useful. It's easy and quick to create. There's a thread in Actual Play about the Wierd West Supers game I ran on IRC. That was a pickup game. I did the game prep (i.e., R-Map) in the 5 minutes between the time that the group settled on an Accord and the time that we actually started playing. :)

I usually ask my characters to make sure that their characters all have Kickers. The Pool rules don't really require it, and TQB doesn't *specifically* describe kickers, but both systems encourage the kind of character drama that kickers are good for (TQB especially hints around at it). Kickers are great, because they start games off more or less in medias res (in the middle), which hooks the players in right a way, and usually has them MoV-ing pretty early on.

Other than that, I may come up with a couple of Bangs to begin with (usually the kickers handle that), but once play begins, pre-thought-out bangs aren't that useful, because they live a marked life. Any time a player has a MoV, it can invalidate one of your pre-planned bangs, which means that your bang was just that much wasted work.

Mostly, when you think of a "bang," you need to use it right away, because - this is important - if it hasn't been narrated, then it isn't real yet.

In the Wierd West Supers game, frex, I didn't really know what the prspector did until the scene at Sally's when he's waking up with the Preacher. I let everyone know pretty quick (I might have done it in the OOC channel). I knew Sally was going to lose her place fairly early on, but I didn't know exactly how until the fire scene.

Anyway, I hope this helps. Kind of a long post, but basically it says, "be dramatic, and let the players do most of the work." :)
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Paganini
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2003, 05:56:46 AM »

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I always encourage players to give their characters traits that are relationships (like, Feuding with Father, Loves the Fairy Queen). This allows players to add traits to rolls in scenes in which their characters aren't necessarily present; it also tends to get players more involved in actively creating dramatic scenes.
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Bob McNamee
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Posts: 685


« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2003, 06:41:23 AM »

Secret admirer was a fun Trait in the Pool-based version of Heart Quest!

Nathan very good at Pool-based GMing... and a lot of the Indie-netgaming croud are GMs, so we often jump at the chance to narrate MOV's (and big one's ... if you give me a night or so to think about and write them :)  )

My style is to start with a basic situation, then stay very flexible, and spin off of the Players MOVs...if they use them just to narrate the completion of a task, that's fine, but if they give me any hints at all...little facts, rumors, etc... then spin them into importance. If they give a big change... GREAT! Run with that... Keep your eyes open for anything that screams out ...COOL!

We've had so many unexpected twists to our Pool-based games online...players who add in just a fact or two, or a whole MOV, that just makes all the odd facts and events knit together (like the Banana Republic game).

The Weird West Supers game, was unexpectedly cool. I thought it would be a quick throw-away game to show the Pool/TQB concept, but it really hit a neat tone, feel, and plot.
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Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!
James V. West
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2003, 05:58:46 AM »

Bob and Nathan nailed it. Especially when Bob said to keep your eyes open for anything that sceams COOL!

I'm still not really confident in my GMing skills, but running The Pool and TQB has helped quite a bit. You have to pretty much walk out on a limb more often than you might have to in a heavily-prepped game. What helps me is to have a lot of cool character ideas written down and have a handful of interesting scene/backdrop ideas ready to plop down on the players.

Scenecrafting is also very important, in my opinion. Cutting scenes, starting them where you want, and doing it with the players' MoVs in mind... it's all like a dance, ain't it?
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nuanarpoq
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2003, 04:09:37 AM »

thanks to everyone for their advice - the game ran last night and it was one of those things where the players stood around afterwards grinning & saying, "that went much better than i expected".

i was one of them, having had all of 10 minutes to think of a basic scenario in the end - been a hard week at work. as it was i guess i scripted out a story based on years of inground experience, rather than the advice i asked for here! however, next time i'll know what i'm in for - its all a learning curve...

so a few comments based on that 1-off game, a horror-fantasy set in the decadent palace of a fonriti noble in southern glorantha:

1. i think we're all up for doing it again. the players enjoyed the opportunities to take charge of the narrative's direction, & i enjoyed not having a clue where the damn thing was going but somehow roughly weaving it together at the end.

2. framing scenes was really important, as was timing the cuts between the different characters' stories. we got really into it: "you pry open the door and behold at last the Eye of Shafshafa. All we can see is your face, slack with awe and illuminated by a faint, golden glow." and then we cut to the next player whilst the scholar works out what the Eye of Shafshafa actually is...

3. The storyline i'd worked out became a background to the stories the players created themselves. this was fine, but i found myself wishing they were finding out more about the motivations of the villains etc. i don't think MY story was boring, its just that the players were getting off on the chance to do their own thing.

4. next time i'll concentrate more time on designing NPCs & their motivations for the players to interact with. no plot & more NPCs will work better than a little plot & a few NPCs, i think.

5. we chose to play the Puddle rather than the Pool, and then found out half-way through the game there was no mechanic for players gaining dice, only losing them (a mis-print, part of the design logic?). we fudged & said rolling a 6 got you an extra dice but by then it was a little late & they were on downward spirals. being a horror-show it didn't matter too much when they had only 1 die left for their final scenes, facing the monster & got munched horribly. however, i didn't plan it that way & would have been equally happy for them to survive &/or defeat the villains... still a good way of building in inevitable results for those paranoia & chthulu genres

6. best moment:
scholar pursuades a slave to take poisoned sweetmeats to a guard by casting her horoscope. narrator says (thinking of his horror story-line): "the horoscope reveals that she will die a painful and nasty death, very shortly". player: "i tell her she will be carried off by a beautiful prince".  slave duly supplies sweetmeats to the guard. player rolls for effectiveness of the poison & gets an MoV. he says "the guard immediately realises he has been poisoned, and in his last dying pangs skewers the slavegirl through the belly with his sword."

beautiful.

7. advice about spinning off the players' MOVs was right - that turned out to *be* the game

8. now i've jumped in & swum, i see what you were all talking about. the water's great.

so thanks james & cassidy, more satisfied customers ;o)

nuan
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2003, 06:05:52 AM »

Hello,

It looks like I got to this party late, so all I can say is, That Is Excellent! Many people trip themselves up when playing The Pool for the first time through second-guessing themselves, in a kind of, "It can't be that easy" sort of way.

Just for reference's sake, here's another thread to check out regarding prepping and playing: The Pool: Dragons and Jasmine.

Best,
Ron
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Cassidy
Member

Posts: 165


« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2003, 02:39:27 AM »

Quote from: nuanarpoq
5. we chose to play the Puddle rather than the Pool, and then found out half-way through the game there was no mechanic for players gaining dice, only losing them (a mis-print, part of the design logic?).


The mechanic for gaining dice is there, it just isn't too obvious to spot.

Imagine in play and event occurs that's important to the story or action in some way and the GM asks for a dice roll.

If you have a trait that you can connect to the event in some way then the GM will give you a die to roll. You can also roll as many of your pool dice as you want.

If you roll any 5's or 6's then you've got a favourable outcome. If you don't roll any 5's or 6's and you roll 1 or more 1's or 2's then you've got an unfavourable outcome. If all you roll are 3's or 4's then you've got an uncertain outcome to be decided by the GM, it could be good, it could be bad. That's the basic mechanic.

The sneaky bit is that any dice rolled that show a 1 or 2 are are returned to the GM after you roll. Or, put another way, any dice that show a 3,4,5 or 6 are kept in your dice pool.

So, if the GM give you 1 dice and you gamble 3 pool dice that's 4 dice you get to roll. If you roll a 5, 3, 4 and 3 you get a positive outcome. Remember, any dice that show a 1 or 2 are returned to the GM but since you didn't roll any 1's or 2's you get to keep all 4 dice in your pool, including the 1 die the GM gave you, effectively a gain of 1 die to your die pool.

If you choose not to gamble then you'll only be rolling the 1 dice that the GM gives you. There is a 66% chance that you'll get to keep that die in your dice pool.

Not gambling pool dice yields the greatest chance of getting a die back, it also yields the greatest chance of not achieving your desired outcome.

Gambling pool dice yields the greatest chance of achieving your desired outcome, however it also yields the greatest chance of you losing dice from your dice pool.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2003, 08:40:31 AM »

This is what I most like about the puddle design. :-)

Mike
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nuanarpoq
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2003, 04:17:51 AM »

oh nuts - that's what i was doing wrong! (i took back the narrator dice...)

thanks for clearing that up. perhaps you could explicitly state that in the published rules for the benefit of idiots like me...

guy
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