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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 166 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Art-Deco Melodrama, part 2  (Read 36617 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2001, 02:50:00 PM »

Hi Jared,

No, this material isn't going into Soul. Soul has been changed a tad, but not dramatically.

Hi Jesse,

I based my GM-assessment of you guys as players mainly on the personal interactions and emails I've had with you (you, by the way, are the only one I haven't met face to face). They were actually rather caricatured, especially for Paul, whom I was not-very-nicely digging in the ribs with it.

As for the demonic stuff, well, it's a matter of pressing the players for details of the rituals and interactions with their demons during play. Given that stuff, I appropriate it and have it show up when NPC sorcerers or other demons are in play. The connections across the psychotherapeutic tradition, as well as distinct differences with the other sorcery, become quite clear over a series of play sessions.

I tend NOT to start play with well-worked-out sorcerous traditions, but I also tend to end up with very distinct traditions and customs and demon-breeds after finishing a story. That's how the stuff in Chapter 7 came into existence, after an especially powerful set of Sorcerer playtests with three different groups.

Finally, thanks for the kind words about prep ... although I admit to a certain arrogance regarding creativity. In other words, I respect the amazing artistry of Ross MacDonald (or Kenneth Millar, his real name), and would never presume to write a Lew Archer story - but I also think that I have "doped him out" as an artist and can take his thematic PALETTE, and with players, create works of art on our own.

I actually changed very little about the relationship map from the book this time. In my Hero Wars game, for instance, the maps are often unrecognizable in essential connections after I'm done retrofitting them to Gloranthan politics. In many cases I might as well have just started with a map of my own, but it's a source of pleasure to pirate them initially, often linking them to or layering them with maps from other sources.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2001, 02:58:00 PM »

Gordon,

How much time I spend on handouts is a direct function of how much I'm role-playing overall.

About 15 years ago, I was running one Champions game once every two weeks, and playing in another every week. That struck me, then, as an absolute maximum.

From 1996-2000, I played in one group, period, usually meeting weekly. The only exception was Sorcerer playtesting and demos and similar stuff.

This last year, it all went bonkers. I now run one game which meets weekly, although in practice we get about 3 out of every 5 weeks (that's Hero Wars). I also play in another group, in which I'm GMing about half the time, every week (right now it's Little Fears). And during most of the school term, in addition, I'm at the weekly meeting of the gaming club, and there I GM about half the time.

It's nuts. I like all of these but the time drain is terrific. I've cut way back on auxiliary stuff (handouts and so on).

So, to answer your question, IF I were running just one game like a normal human, meeting weekly with occasional cancels, then I'd put a couple of hours a week into generating really nice handouts with pictures and neat things like "fill in the details of this sketchy myth" and stuff like that.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2001, 03:12:00 PM »

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Jesse asked about "Cyberpunk" role-playing mode, which goes like this.

1) I'm built tougher than NPCs. Opponents are not going to be capable of taking me down.
2) It is perfectly OK to shoot anyone under any circumstances. No in-world consequences of note will result.
3) The point of play is to twist assigned objectives into personal advantage.

I want to commend the 1st edition of Cyberpunk for many features that AVOIDED this problem, to some extent. But Cyberpunk 2020 really encouraged these behaviors.

We could also consider the Shadowrun (adding "Big guns are better") and Unknown Armies variants (adding "Jump around and act squirrelly").

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2001, 03:27:00 PM »

I just thought of another question.  How hand-in-hand do these elements go: Character Generation, Style and Premise, Source Material.  Now, OBVIOUSLY, ultimately these will be woven together like a fine wicker basket.  What I mean is initially how tightly are they woven.

For example, you came to us with a sketchy style and a Premise and we created characters to fit those elements.  Now is that because you specifically liked this relationship map for that style and Premise and you knew that we would create characters that would work with it?

*OR* could we have said "Nah, Ron, we want a game that has a more Anime Space Opera feel to it with a focus on the aquisition of social status and power politics."  Would you STILL have been able to use the exact same relationship map (obviously transformed differently, but I'm talking about the source.)?  Or would you have rifled through your store of relationship maps and found something more suitable?

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2001, 04:30:00 PM »

Jesse,

As long as we are talking about relationship maps ONLY, they are infinitely adjustable. Money is money, fraud is fraud, murder is murder, property is property, suicide is suicide, marriage is marriage, infidelity is infidelity, parenting is parenting, and all attendant emotions are always the same.

I didn't pick Find a Victim because I thought the map would go well with the setting. I picked it entirely independently, given my past readings and great regard for Ross MacDonald.

As for the other issues, such as Premise, Setting/atmosphere, and character creation, all of those are basically synergistic and will continue to be throughout play. If you guys had veered sharply from my suggestions prior to character creation (by saying so), then I would have veered with you.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2001, 12:44:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-10-31 17:46, Gordon C. Landis wrote:

A specific question on this one, that can be applied to the process in general:  How much time (effort?) are you going to spend putting these handouts together?  If not as an absolute number, maybe as a proportion of your overall prep time?


Well, I don't know about Ron, but with stuff like handouts I find the answer is, how much time do I have? I work on stuff like this as long as I think that the stuff I'm working on will be fun in play to have. Hard to have too much, unless you do nothing but prep for RPGs all day.

As far as effort: effort? I can't stop myself from working on stuff like that even when I should. Doesn't seem to take any effort at all. I just keep thiking of how cool the players will think the handouts are. Handouts are a joy. :smile:

BTW, for pictures, just go to a search engine most of which have media searches these days, select the sort of Image you want (Color, BW) and type something in like guy, man, girl, officer, whaterver. Then select one of the thousand or so images of people you've never seen before. Easy. Same for equipment, buildings, whatever. Also, while you're there, download some sounds and/or music.

Everyone here has a computer and access to the internet. No excuses for not having good materials.

Mike
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2001, 12:55:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-10-31 17:50, Ron Edwards wrote:
I actually changed very little about the relationship map from the book this time. In my Hero Wars game, for instance, the maps are often unrecognizable in essential connections after I'm done retrofitting them to Gloranthan politics. In many cases I might as well have just started with a map of my own, but it's a source of pleasure to pirate them initially, often linking them to or layering them with maps from other sources.


One of my favorite tactics is to take any plot from a movie that I've seen or a TV show, whatever, and start changing elements. This is the key. Take a particular element at random that really doesn't fit and find a parrallel for it. Like if I'm watching Quincy and there is a character who is a Physicist, I change him into a wizard for my fantasy game. This will suggest other changes to keep other things consistent. Insert the PCs somewhere.

I keep at this until I usually can't recognize the original, but have something useful. It just gives you a starting point to work from. Don't worry if your version is as good, better, or worse than the original. That's not the point. Just make sure that it's useful by the time you're done.

Ron obviously does this very well.

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2001, 02:12:00 PM »

Hey everybody,

I'd like to get some more comments about the setup so far, especially from Tor, Jesse, and Paul (although everyone is welcome of course).

Then I'll talk about actual play of the first run, what I'd be looking out for, and most especially how I would continue to use the map.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2001, 05:09:00 PM »

Well, I've finally taken the time to go through the prep a line at a time and map the whole thing on paper so that I can actually see it.  And what I can say is that I understand it all but again I get that little niggling feeling that I have trouble beleiving this scenario will last more than a single session.  This is, I'm sure due to the fact that I'm still so unfamiliar with the technique and how to actually make it work in play.  When you spell it out across multiple posts like you did it looks huge and involved but when I look at it on paper it looks tiny.  

I guess at this point I'm looking most forward to discussion of 'hypothetical' actual play.  Relationship maps and backstory always look good on paper but I have such a hard time making them actually move or do anything always always running the risk of having them just be a graph for the players to uncover a traversal path.

For example it's so easy for me to see cut off points.

Okay so Joey is the father of Chema's child.  My first reaction is that once Joey's dead Eroch ceases to have a reason to care about anything else in the story.  "Good, that lecherous rat bastard's dead and no longer a threat to my sister or her baby.  Chema, let's go home."  Of course a possible solution I see is that Beck is going to start needing to pin Joey's murder on SOMEONE so hey, look here's this archetect and his knocked up sister.  But it took me a while to spot that.  I don't think it would occur to me under the "pressure" of actual play.

Okay, I don't remember the exact details of Richie's kicker so I may be missing a vital point here but it comes down to Richie's father Leo is the member of this shadowy coven of which Sizey ALSO happens to be a member.  Now most of the backstory stuff involves Sizey.  Once Richie finds Leo in the coven the bigest fear that leaps to mind is: "Hey, I'm a shadowy underworld sorcerer.  You're a shadowy underworld sorcerer.  Like father like son.  Hey, let's go grab a beer and catch up."  What reason does EITHER character have to care about what this other coven member Sizey happens to be up to?  That seems like a weak link to me and runs a deep risk of not easily having Richie move into the rest of the relationship map.

Cyril seems to have the quickest path into the goings on.  Tobias comes running to him about the death of his loser friend David.  It's already been established that Cyril cares about Tobias he just wishes he wouldn't idolize him and hang around so much.  So Cyril's going to want to help him out.  However, this runs the risk of walking me right into the (rightly) feared "Call of Cthulhu Mode" as I try to help Tobias solve the murder of his friend.

I know a great deal of this is coming from Actor Stance mentality and the basic asumption is that we're going to have an Author Stance mentality and WANT to be involved but even in Author Stance a character's got to have motivation even if it's retroactive motivation.

So looking over the scenario and knowing nothing of the player's actual styles of play these would be my initial fears.

Jesse
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2001, 06:44:00 AM »

Jesse,

Great analysis! Even though we're not actually going to play, your post gave me  this vivid image of game sessions where you're mapping the scenario during play, with the other players contributing information and referring to your map rather than keeping their own.

'zat how it usually happens?

Paul
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« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2001, 06:52:00 AM »

Ron,

Have you determined if you'll keep the Don and Jo in actual, real love, thing for Chema and Joey van Greysloke? It creates a hook-path for Eroch of sympathy to their romance, followed by the death of van Greysloke, discovery that Hilda did the deed, and then the link to Dr. Heuttner. But if you leave it open, and avoid killing van Greysloke, there's the hook-path of van Greysloke's collapsing business somehow destabilizing the de Pauvan family's already tenuous financial situation, and then van Greysloke turning out to be a creep who took advantage of Chema, which seems to fit better with your material success Premise.

And if you go boldly with the actual, real love thing, are you kind of railroading a single hook path?

But I guess my main question is, related to prep, how do you know where to draw the line? You're planning to keep the murder of Tony Aquista, which I presume isn't backstory as far as the novel is concerned, as a killing of David Pruitt. How do you differentiate that killing from the murder of Don Kerrigan, and not be firmly committed during play to that mirroring itself as Hilda murdering Joey van Greysloke?

Paul

[ This Message was edited by: Paul Czege on 2001-11-02 09:56 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2001, 09:14:00 AM »

 This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-11-02 12:25 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2001, 09:15:00 AM »

Paul,

"Great analysis! Even though we're not actually going to play, your post gave me this vivid image of game sessions where you're mapping the scenario during play, with the other players contributing information and referring to your map rather than keeping their own."
"'zat how it usually happens?"

I'm not sure I understand the question at all, since your post is addressed to Jesse but the question seems to be for me. It could be that you are asking WHO is actually "mapper" during play.

I've done it lots of ways. Sometimes the players are "born mappers" who are drawing diagrams of relationships without any prompting of mine. Others get all boggled and I draw the relationships they've learned so far (accurately or inaccurately), and give it to them as a handout. Still other groups work best with a community whiteboard, and the map gets scribbled on and rearranged by anyone, whether myself or a player.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2001, 09:18:00 AM »

Paul,

"Have you determined if you'll keep the Don and Jo in actual, real love, thing for Chema and Joey van Greysloke?"

Yeah, I'd decided. I definitely wanted to keep Van Graysloke as negative a person as possible, partly because I hadn't been especially sympathetic toward the Kerrigan-Jo thing in the novel anyway. This is what I talk about in "Soul," in that the GM has to exercise judgment regarding the source story and pick which aspects appeal or disgust him/her PERSONALLY. In The Goodbye Look, Rita Shepherd disgusts me, and I have no sympathy even for her efforts to protect her son; thus the character derived from her in my game would be considerably different from the character that another GM might derive.

The same goes for Van Graysloke. I disliked Kerrigan intensely, and thus I would play JVG as a real fuckhead who's enjoying his power-trip over Beck, enjoying his general dominance over his once-snobby wife, and happens to have put one over on the foreign architect, the one guy who'd stymied his shady-business-kickbacks deal, by screwing his sister. In fact, I can see most players pegging him as the villain toward the end of the first run (as a variety of information points to him), in which case (a) his murder and (b) Beck's stonewalling their efforts to understand it will both be sources of pure consternation.

"And if you go boldly with the actual, real love thing, are you kind of railroading a single hook path?"

Yes. That's another reason I was avoiding it. If Chema and Van Graysloke love one another, then I'm pretty much forcing an Eroch-Chema split, or at LEAST making another man in her life more important than her brother, and I don't want that. It would devalue Eroch's entire story significantly.

"But I guess my main question is, related to prep, how do you know where to draw the line? You're planning to keep the murder of Tony Aquista, which I presume isn't backstory as far as the novel is concerned, as a killing of David Pruitt. How do you differentiate that killing from the murder of Don Kerrigan, and not be firmly committed during play to that mirroring itself as Hilda murdering Joey van Greysloke?"

This question blows my mind. I really had to back up and try to piece together how one would be looking at the issue in order to ask these things. I think the answer lies in two points. (1) There is absolutely no reason, whatsoever, to "be consistent" regarding which elements of the source material are kept vs. which are discarded. (2) I am perfectly happy to keep Van Graysloke's murder fixed, or shall we say, 99% fixed. I am gleefully anticipating the moment when ANY player-character, for ANY reason, is discussing highly important matters with the fellow when his head erupts precisely as if a .45 round had entered his temple. I am similarly gleefully anticipating the recognition that Pruitt's death was identical, which may occur BEFORE or AFTER this event, depending on when the body is found.

So therefore, in this specific case, the JVG murder is almost as fixed as the Pruitt murder. But in general, whether it is that fixed, is left as a strong possibility, or is totally thrown open to in-play events, varies any ol' which way, depending on what I think works best for the characters in question and their Kickers.

It raises an important point, though, which is that I am not shy about interjecting horrifically significant events into the storyline well after it has begun. If anyone is laboring under the impression that a Narrativist GM does not keep a bandolier of Bangs handy, they should abandon that misconception as soon as possible. The whole point of the relationship map is that the NPCs *continue* to act.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #29 on: November 02, 2001, 09:45:00 AM »

Hmmm. Unfortunately you are now going to have to start over entirely with this excercise and do it all again. You see, now that the players have seen under the hood, their perceptions of the game have been colored, and actually playing the game would not, as part of the experiment, give a natural result, one that would resemble what would have happened if they had not seen under the hood.

So, this is what you have to do. Start from scratch, write new characters, Ron does his thing preping the game, and then play the game without looking under the hood. Then, after you've played, Ron can again reveal his notes on how he did it, and we can see how that relates to how play went.

I think in the name of Game Science that this is, at this point, a moral imperative. :smile:

Mike
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