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[Universalis] Lessons learned

Started by LordSmerf, December 25, 2003, 07:29:34 PM

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After posting i realized that i posted my last response to you in a kind of knee jerk defensive way.  Outside of that MLwM session i have had few truly enjoyable gaming sessions in quite a while (probably more than 6 months.)  However, and ironically in this case, the best in recent memory was my first Face to Face game of Universalis.  Present were: Me, JG, and NL.

As to personal history, WW and I are pretty close friends.  We're also both highly competative.  I think that that competition often overcomes us at bad times.  I would say that the reason our MLwM game went better was beause we had a clear Premise and direction; it also may have helped that WW was the GM, but i don't think so.  In Universalis we didn't have a clear direction to take the story and so we ended up falling back on our Simulationist roots.  I still maintain that Universalis defaults (or at least can be Drifted so easily as to be unnoticed) to a Simulationist system.  Anyway, whether it's the rules or the group, we were going about in the Sim way exploring this world we had just created and these characters that had been thrown together, and i'm profoundly uninterested in that.

I'll try to go into this in more detail in University Days, but i also finished the session and thought to myself "I won, i gained 1 Love and no Self Loathing or Weariness..."  I commented to the group that i felt this way.  Of course i also really enjoyed the session for it's Story and general play.

Quote from: Christopher WeeksThomas, do you think you can have fun with Universalis while being regulated [to hinder rampant Gamism]?
Yes, i might even have more fun.  I broke up one of the games where it got out of hand.

EDIT: I went back over my notes and saw something i pseudo remembered.  WW joined that enjoyable game of Universalis half way through and nothing untoward happened.  It's a story we all still talk about picking back up one day.

Current projects: Caper, Trust and Betrayal, The Suburban Crucible


I'm glad to see this discussion going on while I'm away.  Good stuff.  All of the comments have been pretty much on.  TW, thanks for popping on and offering your perspective.

LS:  A couple of essays on the site might be of interest to you.  Both of these were part of earlier iterations of the rules but edited out for space.  

The first touches on some explicit elements that can be addressed in the tenet phase.  Its entirely within the spirit of the rules for you to add tenets specifically to address the level of mano-a-mano competition between players that is desired.

The second touches on some specific elements that can/should be addressed as part of the tenet phase.  Premise is one of the items specifically addressed.

The Importance of the Social Contract
More Details on Story Elements

Also, I'd like to hear more about how this competition got dragged on.  The design of the game is such that spending too much time "bickering" (if you'll forgive my use of the word) between players should wind up fairly quickly bankrupting the argummentative players allowing the rest of the group to proceed.

Specifically, when looking to add a Trait that then allows you to remove a die from WW's just do it.  You declare you're activating the Trait and that the effect of that is to remove a die from his pool.  If he doesn't like it, he must challenge you.  You don't need permission in advance.  If he makes a good case that you come to agree with then Negotiation can handle it.  If not, you simply shrug.

At that point he either has to pony up the Coins to Challenge you or let it go.  Other players are free to add a Coin here or there to the Challenge also.  If each of 4 other players adds 1 Coin, it takes 5 Coins to beat them.  Spending at a ratio of 5:1 is almost guarenteed to break the bank for any player who tries to be overly competitive about everything.

Further, don't neglect the Fine mechanic.  If need be, read the mechanic to the other players.  The Fine can cost player's Coins, but, as explained in the rules, the primary reason is to give the other players an explicit way to single "hey're spoiling our fun".

I've no doubt that your group is motivated to be considerate of everyone's enjoyment so the occassional prompt when LS or WW get a little over focused may be helpful.

In any case  LS, I surely appreciate your continueing to play, even if it isn't functioning perfectly for you yet.  Please keep me posted on how it goes.


Well, the reason this was able to be dragged out was that i added a Trait with no Challenge and what was under contention was whether the Trait should reduce the die pool or not.  The reason that debate didn't drain coins is because we spent five or ten minutes in Negotiation (ostensibly.)  I'll check those threads when i have some time...

For the record, i think Universalis is great, now i just need to make it work for us!

Current projects: Caper, Trust and Betrayal, The Suburban Crucible