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Author Topic: Curse you Rickard! -- Well of Souls 3  (Read 7828 times)
Peter Nordstrand
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« on: October 15, 2003, 05:40:57 AM »

This thread is a continuation of Well of Souls 1 and Well of Souls 2. Iím not sure if anybody cares about this except me, but Iíll continue my reports until someone tells me to shut up. Please let me know what you think. Is this of interest to anybody but me?

We've just played the second session of Well of Souls. I did what I set out to do, and didn't introduce any new conflicts. The point was to give the players room to act, to gain more knowledge on their own, to give them time and opportunity to use their knowledge, and (most importantly) to make decisions. It went remarkably well. Things were perhaps a little bit too slow at times, but the players really acted on the Bangs from last session. It was great too see that the Bangs can be trusted. All in all, this session has been an eagerly awaited boost to my confidence as a GM.

Here's a brief summary of the evening. Check out Rickard in particular. I'm leaving out a lot of stuff, and probably a lot of important goings on as well, but this will have to do for now.

Player heroes are still Sir Giliam, Dacius, and Rickard.

Sir Giliam
Sir Giliam finally told his daughter (Sister Josette) that Assessor Ratier wants to marry her, but when she broke down and began to cry, he interpreted it as tears of joy!

As soon as Sir Giliam finds out that Alfan plans a heroquest to retrieve Eustef's soul from the clutches of Damsel Ophidia (an ancient earth daimon), he volunteers. Sir Giliam also manages to convince Assessor Ratier to conduct the ritual to open the way to the Other Side. [Note: Alfan is pleased with Giliam's loyalty to Lord Eustef. Naturally, Alfan suspects that this is Sir Giliam's way of drawing attention away from the accusations against himself, but Alfan needs all the support he can get and doesn't care about Giliam's true motivations.]

Essentially, Sir Giliam wants his daughter to marry Assessor Ratier. The player is well aware of the problems, but intentionally maneuvers to get his character into even more trouble, which is GREAT!

Dacius
Dacius has lunch with Etienne and his father Deliam the merchant, and continues to spread rumors about Hugo's upcoming coup d'ťtat. He claims that Hugo has made a deal with Raoul de Nesle regarding the dye monopoly that Deliam controls. Later, Dacius finds out that his scheming is working as intended: Guilbert and his men are becoming increasingly paranoid regarding Hugo's intentions.

Dacius speaks to Old Maslin, and they decide that the night before the upcoming heroquest will be a good time to kidnap Hugo. (They intend to blame Guilbert, remember?)

Dacius tries to convince Josette not to marry Ratier (not too challenging), and promises to talk to her father. When Sir Giliam and Dacius meet, they talk at length about ... eh .... nothing. Dacius tries to make Ratier look bad, by hinting at sexual escapades. Sir Giliam is not impressed by the stories, however.

The player is maneuvering carefully, and it seems almost as if he is afraid to act too soon. Often players are expected to keep things secret from each other. Perhaps he is afraid to spoil things by spilling the beans. However, he is just as likely to just bide his time. I don't know.

Rickard! Oh Rickard!
Last session, Rickard managed to kill one of his own followers and left the other to die. (I cannot believe you folks have not asked me how this happened: a player hero unintentionally killing his own followers.) At the beginning of this session, one of the bodies is discovered, but the other (the maimed one) is missing! It is obvious that some kind of explosion took place, one thing leads to the other, and soon the missing follower is accused of killing his friend using Black Magic. Moreover, Rickard is put in charge of the search party!

As it turns out, Lady Colette has taken care of the dying man, and suggests that they use him as a human sacrifice for her ritual. (Reminder: She knows a ritual that is supposed to bring Eustef back to life again.) Rickard accepts! Yes, he agrees to murder one of his closest friends in a disgusting ritual of human sacrifice. At the end of the ghastly ritual, the poor victim cries out at his former friend: "Curse you Rickard! "

The session ends with me describing a scene at which none of the player heroes are present: The comatose Lord Eustef abruptly sitting up in his bed, screaming into the night: "Curse you Rickard! Curse you!"

Next session
Sir Giliam has invited both Assessor Ratier and Sister Josette to dinner. Ratier will show up, expecting the wedding to be announced. One way or the other, Giliam needs to find out about his daughters pregnancy, and (preferrably) her affair with Guilbert.

Sir Giliam is a drunkard, which needs to be reestablished in some way. He was way too sober this session.

Dacius' plotting must have some serious repercussions. Guilbert and his supporters will act in one way or the other to prevent the threat from younger brother Hugo. In addition, I should probably involve Josette in this.

Josette will demand that Dacius speaks to Guilbert as he promised.

Several of the Bangs from Session One will need to be followed up. Before next session, Iíll make a list of things not touched upon last time.

Naturally, the ghost of Rickardís former follower now possesses Lord Eustefís body.  

Nobody expects the Rokari inquisition!

... and more.

Cheers,

/Peter N
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Russell Hoyle
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2003, 07:05:03 AM »

Quote

Peter Nordstrand Posted:  
This thread is a continuation of Well of Souls 1 and Well of Souls 2. Iím not sure if anybody cares about this except me


Hey Peter! I am reading them - keep em coming!! Just dont have anything I wanted to add, but please keep posting!

Regards
Rusty
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ScottM
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2003, 10:08:53 AM »

I too am reading this series, and appreciate your effort in transcribing events for us.  Since you're willing, please continue.
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Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.
Brand_Robins
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2003, 12:18:13 PM »

I three am reading, and taking notes. Its among the most useful actual play stuff I've ever read, as I'm mimicking the game with one of my own. (Once things hit play they go differently, of course, but reading your stuff makes me feel prepped, gives me other angles on similar problems, and helps me work out what I want to do.)
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- Brand Robins
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2003, 01:00:00 PM »

Quote from: Peter Nordstrand
Is this of interest to anybody but me?
Dude, you're kidding, right? This stuff is groovy.

Quote
We've just played the second session of Well of Souls. I did what I set out to do, and didn't introduce any new conflicts. The point was to give the players room to act, to gain more knowledge on their own, to give them time and opportunity to use their knowledge, and (most importantly) to make decisions. It went remarkably well. Things were perhaps a little bit too slow at times, but the players really acted on the Bangs from last session. It was great too see that the Bangs can be trusted.
Did you do any "reintroductions"? Reminders about the Bangs? Or were they unneccessary. Remember, if players forget about an outstanding issue, a great way to deal with slowness is to have some NPC remind them somehow.

Quote
Sir Giliam
Essentially, Sir Giliam wants his daughter to marry Assessor Ratier. The player is well aware of the problems, but intentionally maneuvers to get his character into even more trouble, which is GREAT!
That's an excellent sign. Sounds like story has become a team effort.

Quote
Dacius
The player is maneuvering carefully, and it seems almost as if he is afraid to act too soon. Often players are expected to keep things secret from each other. Perhaps he is afraid to spoil things by spilling the beans. However, he is just as likely to just bide his time. I don't know.
That's a problem. It's easy to fix, however. At some point, explain to the player (not in-game to the character, but to the player) exactly what the situation is. I'll bet the player goes off like a shot to accomplish something at that point. Basically it tells the player that the game isn't about player competition, and that having his character "lose", if that happens, isn't a bad thing.

Quote
Rickard! Oh Rickard!
(I cannot believe you folks have not asked me how this happened: a player hero unintentionally killing his own followers.)
OK, I'll bite. How?

Quote
...and soon the missing follower is accused of killing his friend using Black Magic. Moreover, Rickard is put in charge of the search party!
Well done sir. Did you plan on that? Or was that generated on the fly? Either way, nifty work.

Quote
Next session
Sounds like great ideas. Can you verify that once the game is going that it's pretty easy to come up with what happens next session? Did it take you long to come up with those ideas? That's perhaps my favorite part about this sort of play, is the ease with which things go once started.

Mike
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Peter Nordstrand
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2003, 06:08:36 AM »

Howdy,

Thank you all for responding.

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Did you do any "reintroductions"? Reminders about the Bangs? Or were they unnecessary. Remember, if players forget about an outstanding issue, a great way to deal with slowness is to have some NPC remind them somehow.


I remember you mentioning reintroductions before, and I expected to do more than I actually did. I'll probably use the technique more next session. I want a little bit more action on part of the players. I agree that reintroductions are a great way to lit a fire in their pants. However, I deliberately stepped back a bit this time (which turned out to teach me a very valuable lesson, BTW), but I donít have to do that next time.
 
Quote from: Mike Holmes

Quote from: Peter Nordstrand
Dacius
The player is maneuvering carefully, and it seems almost as if he is afraid to act too soon. Often players are expected to keep things secret from each other. Perhaps he is afraid to spoil things by spilling the beans. However, he is just as likely to just bide his time. I don't know.


That's a problem. It's easy to fix, however. At some point, explain to the player (not in-game to the character, but to the player) exactly what the situation is.


Thanks for your advice. I'll remember it. However, I'm not yet convinced that it is a problem. I may just be oversensitive. Next session will show, I think.

Quote

Quote
Rickard! Oh Rickard!
(I cannot believe you folks have not asked me how this happened: a player hero unintentionally killing his own followers.)


OK, I'll bite. How?


This event caused me a lot of pain and a bad conscience. When play began, I had forgotten to decide the powers the relic spear. I only new that I wanted it to be very valuable. Here's what happened:

Rickard gets the spear from Trencavel, and is told a story about how Trencavel's grandfather had taken it home from a crusade in Ralios. It is the very spear that pierced the heart of Saint Xemela, and it is said to possess special powers.

Rickard tries to find out more about the spear, and asks his lover Lady Colette (who revealed her magic powers earlier). When Lady Colette touches the spear, her hands are severely burned. I didn't plan this, it just seemed to make sense at the time with her being a wicked sorceress and all.

Rickard still wants to learn more, and tells his two followers (both fellow garrison members) to practice spear fighting with him. This is when I make the fatal decision to grant the spear a spear fighting ability of its own at 10W2. Naturally, I don't tell the player this. He thinks he is using his regular Spear fighting ability at 17. We run it as a Simple Contest. Rickard rolls a success bumped up to a crit. I roll for the followers: a failure bumped down (with the remaining mastery) to a fumble. I describe the explosion of fire and light; one follower is dead and the other is dying with a broken back.

The thing is, I could have made different decisions. Taking away followers like that is a Very Bad Thing (tm) which should not be taken lightly. So even though it clearly demonstrated that this is a very powerful magical item, it could have damaged the players trust in me. I don't think it did, but it could have.

Notes:

I never fudge die-rolls in HeroQuest. Ever. I even roll the dice publicly, so that the players can see what I rolled. (This is something I strongly recommend, BTW. Fudging in HQ will literally destroy the game.)

Quote

Quote
...and soon the missing follower is accused of killing his friend using Black Magic. Moreover, Rickard is put in charge of the search party!


Well done sir. Did you plan on that? Or was that generated on the fly? Either way, nifty work.


Ha, well, once the killing was discovered, Rickard was the one who told practically everybody that black magic must have been involved. He told Guilbert about the body that was discovered, and Guilbert immediately asked Serge for help. Serge's worst fear is anarchy, so he made the missing follower a scapegoat. It is easier to gather the forces with a defined enemy, right? Serge is not a fool, however, and it is quite possible that he himself will ask the Church to start an investigation.

Does this make sense?

Quote

Quote
Next session


Sounds like great ideas. Can you verify that once the game is going that it's pretty easy to come up with what happens next session? Did it take you long to come up with those ideas? That's perhaps my favorite part about this sort of play, is the ease with which things go once started.


Can I verify that it's easy to prep for the next session? Duh, yeah! It literally took me less than a minute to come up with the ideas. These were just the things that came to mind while I was typing them. Iím not at all worried about the next session, only excited.

I am not afraid. I can fly!

/Peter N
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2003, 06:45:00 AM »

Hi Peter,

I don't know if you've read my original review for Hero Wars here at the Forge, but if you have ...

... you'll know why I am so happy to read your post. Yes, fudging is an abomination in a game like this. Yes, prep at the relationship-map level is a lot of work, but most inter-session prep after that is a breeze. Yes, you can fly.

For that post alone, I plan to buy you a drink if we ever happen to meet.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2003, 07:03:11 AM »

Quote
The thing is, I could have made different decisions. Taking away followers like that is a Very Bad Thing (tm) which should not be taken lightly. So even though it clearly demonstrated that this is a very powerful magical item, it could have damaged the players trust in me. I don't think it did, but it could have.


Not to be taken lightly, true.
Very Bad Thing, no.

In fact, I consider it damn brilliant.  Its hardly a betrayal of the player.  After all you told him it was a powerful relic, demonstrated its power burning Collette, and yet he still chose to test it out on his "friends".  That's not betrayal, that just basic consequences.

In fact, given the player's later treatment of his follower, I'd be real surprised if the player didn't actually expect something nasty to happen and chose to do it anyway.  As you've seen with Gilliam's player, once set free, most players are all too willing to hose themselves.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2003, 01:58:47 PM »

Next time, with the spear or something like that: think about what the Conflict is. Was it really Rickard trying to kill his Followers? Or was it just trying to determine what the power level was in as safe a manner as practicable. People get hurt in sparring contests, sure, but that's not the goal.

What I'd have done is to set it up as the Spear's rating against their rating. That way, you can have the followers augment the PC (instead of using the followers rating for resistance), and have much less chance of blowing everyone up. In fact, a simple failure should be treated as just not being able to determine the facts. I'd have only a critical failure result in a new conflict to see if the followers were hurt.

OTOH, like Ralph said, no big deal. If you're feeling really guilty, give him two new followers who, impressed with him having blown up the previous two, really want to be his pal.

Mike
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Peter Nordstrand
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2003, 10:06:19 AM »

I'm finally back! We shoul'd have played tonight, but I'm ill. Next week, hopefully.

Ron,

I have learned a lot these last couple of years, and The Forge has been a major influence on the way I see things. I can't remember what I figured out on my own, and what I learned from others. On the other hand, it doesn't matter. I will gladly accept the drink, only to buy you one right back. Not that any of these drinks are likely to ever be bought.

Valamir and Mike,

Thinking of it, you are probably both right. I could have handled it differently, but if I had the wonderfully disturbing twist where Eustef's body is possessed by a dead guy who hates Rickard's guts would never have happened.

Cheers,

/Peter N
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2003, 02:40:36 PM »

True enough. I don't think that we're pointing out problems with your game, so much as giving you a perspective on tools to handle such situations. I think you may be past the point where you're likely to have real significant problems.

Mike
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