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Dust Devils + GNS + Setting + Fu

Started by DevP, August 06, 2004, 12:49:02 PM

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(GNS ahead, but I think its not too twinky. This is basically about how I'm relating to Dust Devils in my own funky way.)

I realized that, the last time I played Dust Devils (VeriCon demo), it was great, but I played it 100% Sim - no Devils, everybody teaming up to take on a big bad, follow the trailblazed plot that I made up on the spot. And like I said, I had a lot of fun. Color goes a long, long, long way.

But reading it over again, I saw how very much the Nar + Devils focus really, really mattered. So, next time I play out DD, I want to give it a better shot. Hence, some questions.

Firstly, the text talks about the players having a lot of authority (outside of a conflict) to create game elements and to collaborate. I feel a bit ambiguous on this point thought - are we talking (in effect) Author stance here? Aggressive player- or dealer-drive scene-framing? Or really just whatever system emerges from contract?

Secondly, what kind of Setting is helpful/generally matters? I was fleshing out my setting (devloping Free Mars, because I love Mars), when I realized (tangentially related to the kitchensinking stuff) that the setting might not really *matter* for the play at hand. That is, my first notions of the political division of Mars didn't really contribute to the personal conflict inherent in Devils.  I've remixed some of my thoughts to make the Setting more precarious in a way that actively promotes character conflict - for example, major cultural tension between first- and second-generation immigrants, and so on. I'm also curious if focusing on *economics* in the Setting can possibly tie into players' personal Devils enough. I'd be very happy to portray the fighting between the classless society and the geolibertarians, but that might just reduce to exploration of setting, and not put the actual characters into central view.

Matt Snyder

Awesome questions, Dev.

First, on stance: Mainly, I'm shooting for a solid Author stance here. Player should be looking to put their characters and fellow player characters into premise-loaded situations. The more they can rationalize that w/ their character concept the better. The text urges this, if perhaps not clearly enough.

Of course, it's ultimately up to each group to negotiate how that process and stances will work, but that's what I was aiming for.

Second, on setting: Your Mars idea sounds like great fun. It really reminds me of one of the most overlooked aspects of the Old West. There was one thing in the mind of most, if not all, real life gunslingers and cowboys. It colored their reaction to other people, and it precipitated some of the most violent scenes in the real west. I'm talking about the Civil War, of course. Some movies gloss over this, or ignore it completely. (Unforgiven, the game's inspiration, certainly does, and it remains my favorite Western.) Others, however, really take it on head-first -- The Outlaw Josey Wales and The Searchers, for example.

I suggest STRONGLY considering how the after effects of the Civil War define setting for your Dust Devils Western games. And, by analog, how something similar could define your Mars setting.

For example: Jesse James was a boy of the south. He was a violent, no good, racist sunnovabitch who got a bit of good Robin Hood style press. Make no mistake; my read of the historical Jesse James was that he was a violent criminal  and character of the worst sort. His violence came, I think, as a result of his participation in violent political acts during and after the Civil War.

All that said, I think you're on the right path dealing with conflicts between immigrant generations and resources. Conflict in the West was ALL ABOUT  resource issues, mainly land and livestock. Either agricultural production, the railroad, or mining result in some as the main causes for violence. You can do that for Mars, almost certainly! Water rights, ore, alien microorganisms, transportation, oxygen, etc. etc. These things matter to people. They matter enough to kill and die for, especially on the frontier.

So, yes, absolutely -- economic issues definitely can tie to Devils. Take a look at ol Jesse James here; you'll note his Devil is purely economic:

Jesse James
Notorious robber

Hand: 3
Eye: 3
Guts: 3
Heart: 4

Ridin' 2
Shootin' 3
Escapin' 3
Runnin' 1
Lyin' 2

Cruel as a cactus
Clever as a snake

Devil: Greedy (3) -- Jesse James both reviled and revered for his violent bank and train robberies. Despite some public affection for his Robin Hood notoriety, Jesse James is fundamentally a greedy man seeking money, perhaps as a rebellious effort to avenge the collapse of his beloved Confederacy.
Matt Snyder

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra


Quote from: Matt SnyderSecond, on setting: Your Mars idea sounds like great fun. It really reminds me of one of the most overlooked aspects of the Old West... I'm talking about the Civil War, of course. Some movies gloss over this, or ignore it completely.
Cool - thanks for the encouragement! I think I've come a ways in drifting my visions of the setting from "this is a interesting but not particularly hooky setting" to "I am constructing an impassable sociopolitical mindfield".


Right, another point I wanted to make - I feel like the American Civil War is inexplicably going to cross talk of race, and given the make up of my friends, I'm not convinced that we'd really achieve anything morally challenging in that space - we'd either be talking about "racism is bad", or otherwise roleplaying some heinous racists none of us are comfortable with.

However, I think some other issues - economic resources, terrorism and radicalism, immigrant/cultural tensions - have a more diverse set of answers (at least for my friends), and still could put the player's on edge.