*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 13, 2021, 03:19:02 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 202 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [KueiCon] Falling Leaves w/ Ion  (Read 3512 times)
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« on: January 17, 2006, 02:05:41 PM »


As it turns out KueiCon was a massively playtest-heavy con, with playtests of Galactic, Falling Leaves (twice!), Drifter's Escape, Dog eat Dog (twice!), and General Mud, plus serious discussion about Bliss Stage, Maps, Five Families, and a few other games-in-development.  Other games that got played include Polaris, InSpectres, Capes, Iron Heroes, and Dogs in the Vineyard.

If you want to know what game I'm talking about, check out the following two threads:
[Falling Leaves] GMless Samurai Angst in Indie Game Design
[Falling Leaves] First Playtest in Actual Play

What a fucked winter we're having!  Apparently there's record highs across the board, and out in the Northern California we're having the rainest rainy season in decades, with multiple floodings and mudslides and power-outages and the works.  Anyway, as a consequence of this, I'm  a day late to KueiCon, 'cause the highways are all blocked by mudslides, the planes won't take off in the rain, and generally we're cut off from the rest of the world.  I stumble in around 4 o'clock on Saturday to find a big group of folks playing Matt Wilson's Galactic, and my good buddy Ion sitting alongside reading InSpectres.  "Hi"s and introductions around the table, but they're all wanting to get back to playing, so I pull Ion aside and say "hey, I've got this game that'll work fine for two players, it's a samurai drama called Falling Leaves, wanna give it a shot?"  He pleads sleepiness, but agrees to give it a shot.

Character creation is, of course, a snap, but we have a little trouble finding our feet in the scene framing.  My first scene is where Ion's samurai is confronted by minions of the merchant who owns his gambling debt: if he lets them steal the tribute he's bring to the Shogun, his massive gambling debts will be forgiven.  I totally can't remember all of the consequences of this, because I don't have the character sheets with me right now.  We definitely struggle with how to work the consequences, but by the end of the scene we have a hang of it.

The game turns out to be complicated spy intrigue, with my master and his son trying to undermine each other, and a plot to frame Ion's lord as a traitor to the shogun.  We didn't actually get time to finish the game, because the Galactic crew finishes up and Ion has to take a call from his brother, so I don't know what happens to our characters in the end.

Here's some rules observations for Tristan:

1) I really want a formal place to write down the agreed-upon consequences, especially ones which reach forward in time (see below).  We ended up using the outside of the circle for this.

2) The rules are exceptionally unclear on how past consequences effect future play.  The particular examples here are that it was established that my lord's son would live to old age and die peacefully.  Should we just avoid ever entering a situation where he can die?  Whose responsibility is it to avoid this (the scene framer?  The samurai?  Everyone?)  Can it be violated later on?  In another example, I gained someone's "complete trust in all things."  Can that be violated later?  In narration?  As a consequence?  As a challenge?

3) The consequences of losing a die-roll need to be highlighted more.  We nearly missed them!

4) A phase where the game's scope is discussed might be useful.

5) Should there be a way to get things out of your mind or change what's written there?  Sometimes we felt that some of the stuff there had been resolved, and we weren't sure how to handle that.  Even if there's no mechanical differences, marking it resolved somehow would be useful.

6) Consider making rolls no matter if the samurai is loyal or not.  I would enjoy having more chances to fail.

7) Consider having some rules for getting folks on the same page about color, scope, and tone.

For people who haven't been following it, here is why the game is interesting:

Falling Leaves belongs to an emerging genre of game design which is new enough to not really have a name.  It includes Polaris (Hey, Tristan!  Have you played Polaris?) as well as several games-in-development.  The core philosophy of these game designs is that the conflict resolution is based on directly accepting / rejecting contributions to the fiction, rather than mechanical consequences which map into the fiction.  Conflict is mostly non-numerical in nature, focusing on narrated consequences.  All of these games that I've played have seemed to focus on strongly shafting your own character.

Now, Polaris does have this sort of conflict, but it is a remarkably short-sighted form.  With the exception of a single phrase, conflict is considered one consequence at a time.  Falling Leaves, by contrast, is a much more subtle and sophisticated conflict form -- costs and benefits are considered en masse, with up to seven mutually interacting consequences for a single decision!  Thus, you aren't simply asking "is it worth it to betray my lord if I can get my debts relieved"  You are asking "is it worth it to betray my lord and also start a rebellion and lie about my betrayal if I can get the commendations of a hero and marry a beautiful princess and have my debts relieved" with an equally complex set of interlocking consequences on the side of loyalty.  This isn't a simple decision, and it can be really unclear what statement is made from it.

I'd like to do some literary analysis about what sorts of statements we made in our game, but unfortunately since it didn't resolve, and because of the afformentioned complexity of morals, I don't feel comfortably saying anything firmly.  The second KueiCon group finished their game out, so they may have more to say about Premise and literary reaction.  This being a playtest, my reaction was more strongly from the mechanics.

It's an excellent game, though in need of some polishing.  Tristan, I encourage you to publish this game in a little booklet or some such.  I want to pay you money for it.

yrs--
--Ben
Logged

TheTris
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2006, 07:25:02 AM »

Hey!

Thanks for organising playtests so quickly.  I haven't played Polaris, although it is certainly on my mental list of indie games that will arrive at a rate just slow enough that my girlfriend doesn't kill me :-).  I have My Life With Master, Burning Wheel (when I mentioned the forge, this guy at a games shop in Edinburgh pretty much demanded I buy it), and Dogs in the Vineyard so far.  Of the three, My Life With Master impressed me most, although this may be because it was my first forgite game, so way different from anything I'd previously experienced.

One thing that Ben doesn't mention about the form of the game, which I think is important, is that plot emerges directly from the consequences set, and the choices players make, and is developed in the setting of further scenes and consequences.  Or was that not your experience Ben?  Man, I wish I had a recording of you guys playing...

As to actual book form publication, I'd really like to do this.  And it would seem rude to disappoint my public.  Seriously, I'll see what sort of form Falling Leaves ends up in when I'm satisfied with it, and I will publish it in some form.

On to the questions:

1) It seems to me the best place is outside the circle on the character sheet.  When I played I decided to use a loose sheet, so that all the players could see it, which worked okay, but outside the circle is simpler and thematically stronger.

2) The consequences are concrete.  If a long term consequence is set, then this is the pivotal moment - if you wanted that Son dead, this is THE moment.  Otherwise, as a result of (whatever) he WILL live a long and happy life.  Noone may add consequences or incidental narration that change this (clearly I need to make this clearer in the rules).

3) To be honest, so did I :-)  I will clarify them in the next draft.

4 & 7)  I think these are related.  My current leaning is towards providing a section of guidance on agreeing setting and tone, and on setting consequences (more than the - "cut to the bone - don't make them soft" bit).  I'll start drafting that.

One problem with this design is that I find it difficult to make additions to the rules, because I don't want to sully how pure and simple they are :-(

5) I didn't experience this problem in my play, but I can see it happening.  I am against redemption of these flaws, but marking them as resolved (but still weighing, in some way, upon the character's soul) seems reasonable.

6) I'm fairly opposed to this idea.  I like the idea that a samurai doing his duty does not fail, and it seems like an important thematic element to me.  I'll bear this in mind, though I'm loathe to change this unless several people think it is important to do so.

It seems that initial plays of this game seem to be epic in scale, from the few examples I have.  From your experience, do you think it would be easy to create a less world shaking drama?
Logged

My real name is Tristan
Piers
Member

Posts: 72


« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2006, 11:24:20 AM »

I'm tempted to agree with Ben and call for the potential to fail when choosing to do one's duty, if only because otherwise the opportunity to use the "sacrifice your life to suceed" rule never comes up when following your Lord's commands.  I want a chance to do that.

My main worry is to avoid the suckiness of this happening straight away, so if you did choose to do this, maybe you always roll one die less than usual when doing your duty.


Also, how about this: turn the ‘resolution’ of sentences inside the circle into part of mechanism for failing at actions.

Any time you fail a test, but want to suceed, you can cross out one of the sentences inside the circle and change your test to a sucess.  In exchange you have to add to the fiction a description of action you take which prevents you acting on the emotion ever again.  Your description must fit into the fiction either during current mission or before the next one begins.  This addition automatically suceeds, but cannot violate any consequences.

E.g.: If your samurai has two sentences, “I hope Miko loves me” and “I fear my Lord’s brother will kill my Lord”, you can describe any action that prevents these feelings being fulfilled.  For instance, killing the Lord’s brother; or rejecting Miko in such a way that she commits suicide or retreats permanently to a monastery.  Or, perhaps killing yourself, or your Lord. 

Note: 1. The action does not have to be fatal so long as the players agree that it is irrevocable—you can just say the wrong thing to Miko, such that she will never look at you that way again, and that’s enough.  2.  It is possible that the wording of a sentence or a consequence may prevent you taking advantage of this rule. 3.  Killing  yourself will always fulfill the requirement.  (This last fact makes the rule about killing yourself to suceed in any circumstance merely a special case of these rules.) 

Crossing out a sentence does not remove it or reduce the number of dice  you have to roll—the samurai still feels the emotion, he is merely unable to act upon it.  If all of a samurai’s sentences have been crossed out in this way, he sucumbs to despair.  He is filled with emotion which he is unable to resolve, and he commits suicide.  (Note that this is always a choice—you never have to choose to counteract a failure.)

What this does: It gives the players a way to resolve the emotions they accumulate without letting them off the hook for having them.  In order to do so, they have to take increasingly violent actions when they give into their emotions.  You could give the other player the ability to add a consequence for free, but I don’t think that is necessary.  The actions the samurai takes will immediately become grist for the mill in the next mission.     It also prolongs the end game.  You can rack up sentences in your circle until you chance of suceeding is almost completely gone, and still press on, but at the cost of violently destroying everything you care about.
Logged
GreatWolf
Member

Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets


WWW
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2006, 11:45:59 AM »

What this does: It gives the players a way to resolve the emotions they accumulate without letting them off the hook for having them.  In order to do so, they have to take increasingly violent actions when they give into their emotions.  You could give the other player the ability to add a consequence for free, but I don’t think that is necessary.  The actions the samurai takes will immediately become grist for the mill in the next mission.     It also prolongs the end game.  You can rack up sentences in your circle until you chance of suceeding is almost completely gone, and still press on, but at the cost of violently destroying everything you care about.

Can I just say "YES!!" to this?

Oh good.

Seriously, this is good.  I particularly like how you can lay the consequences on yourself or on your relationships.  This could lead to some pretty potent thematic statements.
Logged

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
GreatWolf
Member

Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets


WWW
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2006, 11:55:29 AM »

Additional thought:

If there is a roll to succeed in fulfilling your duty, then the ability to sacrifice sentences becomes a double-edged sword.  They can be sacrificed to succeed in pursuing either Duty or Self.  That could be quite powerful as well.
Logged

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
TheTris
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2006, 06:03:02 AM »

Okay, more feedback...

Rolling even when carrying out duty:

The potential to fail when doing your duty is something I have considered at length, and remain strongly against.  It weakens the theme of the game, removes the "a perfect samurai does not fail" part, and skews the balance of authority by allowing narration of characters into threatening duty, with associated chance of failure.  It also removes part of the imbalance between the choice of Duty/Not Duty, which is something I like about the game.  The statements made in play are no longer as strong as "I will become weaker, AND risk failure, because this is so important to me", and I think that matters.

Having said that I will playtest the game with this addition, and an open mind.  I'd like to see what other playtesters think about this as well.

"I hope Miko loves me":

You can't have that in your circle.  You can Fear that she loves you, Regret that she loves you, or Desire that she loves you.

Oh my...What if you can resolve a flaw only by changing the keyword?

"I Desire Miko loves me".  *Your brother is madly in love with Miko* "I Fear Miko loves me" *Miko loves you so madly that she runs from her wedding, leaving your brother a broken shell of a man, and shaming your family* "I Regret Miko loves me"

I think that could work.

The cancelling of 'flaws':

The biggest problem is that at it's core, this rule is saying "Being more human makes it easier to succeed".  That seems to jar horribly with the entire game.  Everytime you betray your duty, write another auto-success in your circle?

Another problem is that I'm not sure I understand you.  I have a couple of ideas for marking things in the circle as resolved, and I'm pretty sure that even resolving one of these does not free you from having to roll for it.  What I don't understand is the paragraph you give on what this makes happen.  It does sound awesome, but I'm missing how the adjustment makes this so:

>It gives the players a way to resolve the emotions they accumulate without letting them off the hook for having them.

Yes.  I think some form of marking those emotions will be in the game.

>In order to do so, they have to take increasingly violent actions when they give into their emotions.

I'm not sure what part of the rule makes increasing violence necessary?  Giving in to their emotions is already encompassed in doing something other than duty, I think.

>You could give the other player the ability to add a consequence for free, but I don’t think that is necessary.

Certainly not.  I agree.

>It also prolongs the endgame.  You can rack up sentences in your circle until you chance of suceeding is almost completely gone, and still press on, but at the cost of violently destroying everything you care about.<

Again, I don't see the need for violence, and I can't see how this prolongs the endgame?  You end up with the same dice.

I like the idea of sacrificing relationships, although if the samurai still feels something, but can't act on it, what has he actually sacrificed?  Anyway, I don't understand how the description of what happens flows from the rule.  It sounds worth playtesting though, but I'd love some help on seeing how this is supposed to work, so I understand it better when I play it.
Logged

My real name is Tristan
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2006, 02:00:08 PM »

Tristan --

Just noting: You don't need to defend your decisions as a game designer to us.  Take the feedback for what it's worth, and design what you know the game has to be.

yrs--
--Ben
Logged

TheTris
Member

Posts: 68


« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2006, 01:17:03 AM »

Will Do!

I enjoy discussing the game, and really appreciate people going out of their way to give me ideas.  I won't agree with all of them, but I'll try to explain why when this is the case.

Tris
Logged

My real name is Tristan
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!