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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Cthulhu's Clues: Why failure is not an option  (Read 25211 times)
Scripty
Member

Posts: 286


« Reply #30 on: November 12, 2003, 02:34:12 PM »

Quote from: Ian Charvill
What scenerio was run - a prewritten one or one the GM made up?  If a prewritten one, what was the title?


It was a pre-written campaign. The Narrator had called it "The Haunted" or some such. She had pre-printed maps and all. I'm not sure where she got the scenario from, but it was definitely not her own creation.


Quote from: Ian Charvill
How many of the players had played CoC before?  What was the general play experience of the group (mostly mainstream games, indie stuff, naming some systems would be a real help here)?  You mentioned passim turtling behavior from the other players - have they shown similar tendencies in other games?


All of the players (save one) had played Call of Cthulhu before. Only I had played it outside of this group, however. I had played Call of Cthulhu before in the freeform mini-campaign of which I had mentioned in my previous post and also in a few brief sessions with another group. As far as gaming goes, this group is all over the GS board. They default to 2nd edition D&D and Marvel, but they also tend to play Star Wars d6, RIFTS and Classic Marvel with an uncanny frequency. Any indie games that they've played have come via myself. I'm the indie whore of the group. I'm trying to get them to play HeroQuest, but in the past we've played the Window and that's about it. As far as turtling, yep, that's the M.O. in that group. Hence, I'm trying to get them to play a mythic-level supers game with the HeroQuest system. I figure I'd like to put them in a situation where they'd be silly to turtle. It'd be like if Superman never left his igloo or the Avengers spent the whole comic in a bomb shelter. These guys turtle like fish swim.

Quote from: Ian Charvill
You said you and one other player got into the Lovecraftian spirit.  Do you and the other player have different gaming backgrounds to the rest of the group, or are you all pretty much the same, gaming-history-wise?


I do. But not the other guy. He was just going along for fun. I've played in groups in Georgia, California, Tennessee and several here in Florida. Most of the other players in this group have played with these guys for the entirety of their RPG experience.

Quote from: Ian Charvill
Lastly, how experienced in the GM?  Has she run much Cthulhu before?


She generally runs either Cthulhu or Palladium's Nightbane. I haven't heard her talk of much else. This was the first game that I had played in which she ran, but she has run before.

Quote from: Ian Charvill
Damn, that's more like an interrogation than a couple of questions, but I'd be interested in the answers.


Not a problem.
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Scripty
Member

Posts: 286


« Reply #31 on: November 12, 2003, 02:40:36 PM »

Quote from: Marco

I sounds like my experiences weren't standard--but the question posed is, IME, pretty simple: don't base the adventure on a roll continuing and don't set up the situation to be arbitrarily terminal early on (i.e. a big fight with a tough monster as an opener)

....

-Marco


My experiences, with this group, certainly aren't standard either. I just felt it was eerily coincidental that less than 3 days after I had read b_bankhead's articles I received the opportunity to live them word for word.

Regarding your advice on basing the adventure on a roll, both you and I know better than that. However, she didn't. She was running out of a module and was faced with a situation where (a) no one wanted to do any research, (b) any rolls to drop knowledge in a character's lap had long since failed, and (c) she had run to the end of the advice in the module about "how to get the players involved". I could tell she was uncomfortable with improvising, so I stepped in and helped out. Sure, I was down to 50 SAN by the end of the night, but it was a heck of a lot better than sitting around and staring at these blokes.
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John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


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« Reply #32 on: November 12, 2003, 03:49:17 PM »

Quote from: Scripty
 From the efforts of myself and another player who also jumped on the "Let's Die and Lose Sanity" bandwagon, we played through the entire scenario dragging 5 or so protesting gamers all the way.  Those of us who pursued our demise with tenacity were involved in the story and pivotal (somewhat) to it. Those of the group who boarded themselves up in a safe room and spent their time counting bullets and making molotov cocktails were not.  

While I agree on some points, I'm wary about judging rules by one-off play unless you have seen the group using other systems.  For evaluating the mechanics, the question I would be interested in is not how the game compared to Lovecraft's writing.  The question is how the game compares with the same group using different mechanics.  You mention that this group has played using The Pool, I think.  How does play compare?  Can you extrapolate what this same scenario played with The Pool might come out like?
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- John
Scripty
Member

Posts: 286


« Reply #33 on: November 13, 2003, 06:12:39 AM »

Quote from: John Kim
The question is how the game compares with the same group using different mechanics.  You mention that this group has played using The Pool, I think.  How does play compare?  Can you extrapolate what this same scenario played with The Pool might come out like?


It wasn't the Pool. It was the Window. I also recall us playing Donjon for about a month. The Window would give a better impression as the game I ran with that was a "Night of the Living Dead" style zombie horror game.

In the Window game, things went pretty much as they go in the Window. We didn't have a Sanity mechanic, but we captured a "horror" feel with description. The characters were also separated out and only one or two of them were armed. The Window game had a much greater sense of desperation to it and there were a couple of moments when there was something really frightening or disturbing. There were also a couple of moments of campy horror.

The players didn't really know what the setting was going to be when we started play. They just knew it was going to be a Modern setting and that's about it. The characters were all pregen. I don't like to run people through a horror game with potentially high lethality using characters that players have spent hours and hours on. The players in this group seem to take that a little personally.

Donjon, on the other hand, turned out to be much higher on the lethality scale than either the Window or Call of Cthulhu session. Fully 1/3 of the party flat-out died, which is saying a lot, IMO, for Donjon. The PCs were really just interested in pushing the setting's buttons ala a game of Paranoia.

In other games, it often seems this group's M.O. it to break the session by turtling. Typical D&D games involve having to yank the players around by the neck most of the time.

Essentially, the players seemed to be turtling because they *knew* what Call of Cthulhu was about, IMO. They interpreted "winning" as making it through the most games with their Health and Sanity. Therefore, they were not curious about anything, left the area at the first sign of wierdness, wished out loud for failed skill checks, and one even rejoiced because he determined his character was illiterate (and thus could not lose Sanity from reading Mythos texts). Where, in the Window game, the group was playing to the genre, I found them to be "gaming the system" in Call of Cthulhu. Presumably, one could speculate that this may have been because there was very little system to game in The Window.

Scott
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b_bankhead
Member

Posts: 259


« Reply #34 on: November 14, 2003, 01:41:08 PM »

Quote from: Scripty

In other games, it often seems this group's M.O. it to break the session by turtling. Typical D&D games involve having to yank the players around by the neck most of the time.

Essentially, the players seemed to be turtling because they *knew* what Call of Cthulhu was about, IMO. They interpreted "winning" as making it through the most games with their Health and Sanity. Therefore, they were not curious about anything, left the area at the first sign of wierdness, wished out loud for failed skill checks, and one even rejoiced because he determined his character was illiterate (and thus could not lose Sanity from reading Mythos texts). Where, in the Window game, the group was playing to the genre, I found them to be "gaming the system" in Call of Cthulhu. Presumably, one could speculate that this may have been because there was very little system to game in The Window.

Scott


I find your comments gratifying, the eery coincidence that you experenced is neither uncanny or coincidental, my insights are the direct result of playing and running dozens of CoC games over twenty years.

This 'turtle' behaviour you have noticed is the kissing cousin of what we call 'my guy'(also known as 'bunkering)  behaviour on the Forge.  It has been diagnosed as a dysfunctional attempt to maintain control over the character , and is the result of the inherently unequal relationship between player and gamemaster in standard rpgs.

In Call of Cthulhu it often comes about when people take an essentially gamist approach. to play.  As one respondent to these threads pointed out, it's possibe to take the idea of simply surviving in the game as 'victory'.  The corallary to this is avoiding anything that may threaten the character.  These players have essentially take the view that since they probably can't kill the monster THEY KILL THE SCENARIO INSTEAD BECAUSE IT'S MORE VULNERABLE. It's dysfuntional because the primary reason to play a Lovecraft game is to wallow in color, and this short circuits that.

I'm curious about the whole issue of the concept of character mortalilty in rpgs, and I am interested in what happens when the concept is removed.  I am presently adapting Trollbabe for Lovecraftian gaming and that game has a rule that a player can't be killed without  permission.  Is it possible to do this, run CoC or a Lovecraft game without player mortality? Or Mortality under much more narrowly defined constraints? Or for that matter any other rpg?  I think it would cure many aspects of 'turtle' behaviour.  Try it and let me know.....

As far as your experience with the chain gun, welll I have pointed out that in CoC the ONLY form of player effectiveness that can be accumulated reliably is more and bigger guns. You just carried this to it's logical extreme.
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Ian Charvill
Member

Posts: 377


« Reply #35 on: November 14, 2003, 02:17:28 PM »

I agree broadly, that there are examples of very bad mystery scenario design in the Call of Cthulhu ouvre.  It's strikes me that it would be interesting to anatomize such a design - to look at a specific scenerio that had lead to the whiff and dead end pattern that's being cited.

I've come to the conclusion that in order to enjoy Cthulhu as it stands you have - the players have - to buy into into a particular style of play which I would guess fall into two specific camps: functional solve-the-mystery gamism and sim, exploration of colour.  These two styles may be helped by specific scenerio design and minor drifting of the rules.

This requirement to buy in either - depending how you look at it - limits the market or defines it.

I don't buy the turtling behaviour as the fault of CoC, though.  Unless someone wants to argue that turtling didn't exist before Cthulhu hit the scene or that turtling became much more common because of Cthulhu I'm not sure there's much mileage there.  Turtling is a desire to play gamist coupled with a refusal to Step-on-Up.
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Ian Charvill
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