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[Mage Blade] Let's Play a Game...

Started by Lance D. Allen, August 18, 2009, 08:13:37 PM

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Ron Edwards

Hi Jay,

I don't deliver insullts, and if I did, I would not veil them. Please do not bring the usual levels of emotional paranoia in our hobby to this website. No one is attacking you. I've described your character accurately and without malice or any implications concerning you. No one told you you could not make such a character, so there is  no reason to consider yourself belittled.

I mean this most seriously: do not defend yourself against being picked on, at this site. This is for your sake, because people who get into that mode will find themselves in constant states of rage as they imagine being picked on all the time, in "veiled" form, of course.

If you have further concerns about this, you may either address them publicly in a thread at the Site Discussion forum, or privately in a private message to me. This thread is devoted to Lance's project and that's all.

Best, Ron

Darcy Burgess

Hey Lance,

I've been lurking avidly, having missed the initial boat.

What, exactly, are the procedures for distinguishing between Rising and Falling Actions?  When do you make the call on whether or not you're adding to or subtracting from the Endcount?

I'm asking because I can see the potential goals (say, "Marry princess Trondheim")  to drive the Endcount in either direction.  It may be fun to not make the call on how it affects the Endcount until the goal is resolved.

Black Cadillacs - Your soapbox about War.  Use it.

Lance D. Allen



Everybody else (and Darcy),

More in depth responses later. I've had a stupidly long and busy day, and I want to do your comments and observations justice with my reply.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls

Lance D. Allen


As I've said before, my concerns with this exercise haven't been to make characters that fit my setting. I haven't talked about my setting any more than was absolutely necessary (and more than I'd have preferred) on purpose. Tel's dwarf would have had to have been tweaked somewhat to fit into the setting of Mage Blade (though not so much as to be unrecognizable). I'm actually quite glad that someone decided to go vanilla fantasy in this exercise. One of the things I'm doing is looking at the variety of characters made in this exercise, and comparing them to the setting. I want to see how much deviation is necessary. Mostly, the setting can handle all the concepts made here. Some of the very early ones kicked about in the S-G thread (Ben Lehman wanted to make an immortal searching for the means to his own death) would be less fitting, and likely not possible given the character creation rules as they exist.

The setting is somewhat vanilla, because overall, I like vanilla fantasy. It's like Ralph said about elves and dwarves in another recent thread:

QuoteThe reason I like the core races is precisely because there IS so much baggage around them, much of it contradictory. To me this makes them seem much more complex and thus "real" then starting from scratch with nothing but a one page write up.

Take this thought and extrapolate it beyond races into more general fantasy tropes, and you have my thoughts on the matter. The races and things should feel familiar, but be just a little different. Enough difference to intrigue you, but not so much that you find yourself wondering why I bothered with the concepts in the first place.

QuoteSecond, one of the most important features of character creation is learning what can change about what I'm putting on the sheet. ... Again, the solution is very easy, merely by explaining reward mechanics and pointing out their start-up features on the beginning sheet.

I had to read this a couple times to get what you're aiming at, somewhat muddied by the part I omitted. What I believe you're saying is that I need to lay the groundwork for character creation by making sure the players know that their ability to control the story is primary, and that advancing the story is rewarded by equal parts character advancement and further ability to control the story. If I'm correct, then this is something I'm trying to address in the Introduction and Campaign Creation chapters, which precede the Character Generation Chapter. If  you're interested in looking over the current Intro outside the context of this thread, let me know and I'll e-mail it to you.

QuoteThird, I think that the term "endgame" is vague, and open to all manner of hasty interpretations especially by gamers, especially when considering settings of this sort. I rather liked the one we settled on, because the only thing that is truly fixed is that there is an orcish empire whose rule is open to question. I presume that our characters will end up having a shot at doing it, and that we as players commit at least to the possibility that they (our characters) might try. That's all. It doesn't dictate that the empire will end up being ruled at all, nor that said ruler would be one of us, nor anything else. Most especially, it doesn't mean that every one of our characters' situations and every one of the prepped events of play are directed solely at that aim.

Endgame, as a phase of play, is a discrete thing. Once you enter Endgame, the whole point of play is to determine if the exact statement of the Endgame Goal happens, or not. Once it's been determined that it has happened, or that it is not going to, you get to play a little bit of denouement, and the campaign is finished. You may take the same characters into a followup campaign if that's your bag, and continue on in such vein as long as you're interested in playing those characters and their stories, or you may move on to some other game, system, characters or campaign.

I want to address your last line especially: Everything that happens in play should comment on and contribute to Endgame. Everything. This is different than saying that everything must be directly aimed at Endgame. One of the primary instigators for creating Falling Actions is something about Final Fantasy VI (originally released as FFIII in the U.S.) that I really enjoyed; Complete digressions from the main story. You could go discover that the character Locke is in love with a girl who has been in a coma since they were kids together, and finally resolve that deeply buried issue for him. You can go back to Doma Castle, and let Cyan fight off the ghosts that haunt him (literally) about how he failed to protect king and family. Neither of these side plots are required for the main story. You can play through it without ever doing them. But it gives the characters dimension, and helps you to empathize with them, understand them. It informs the ending, because you know better who your characters are, and what they're fighting for.


Thanks for your observation. I'm glad that there is some input as to why someone didn't participate.

QuoteI don't think that knowing the destination would prevent me enjoying the journey, but I also have to say that I wouldn't actually bet money we'd get there.  I would also ask the following question: how long do you expect it to take?  I would be interested to see how you intend to manage the at-the-table play toward such an end.

Interesting comment. Why don't you think the group would make it to Endgame? To answer your own questions, how long it takes to get to Endgame is a variable matter, based partly on the value set for Endcount (as I said upthread, I set 50 * the number of players, so 200 for this campaign; I expect this would make for a semi-short game) and moreso on the group's collective drive to 'finish' the campaign. The players will set Rising and Falling Actions, making specific statements about what they want to happen in the fiction, and how quickly they want to advance. A 4 player game with an Endcount of 200 could take longer than a game with an Endcount of 500, if the players pursue more digressions. The GM's input into this process is to pick and choose which goals to highlight at any given time, something he should do with the players and the fiction in mind.


To expand upon my further, cryptic remark... You asked how you distinguish between Rising and Falling Actions. There isn't a hard and fast answer to this. The most influential factor is going to be the choice that the player makes when he purchases the Goal. This is open to comment by the GM and the other players. If, during play, Tel were to set a Goal for Ahldam as "Be acknowledged as a Master Smith" and declare it as a Rising Action, it might come under some criticism. At this point, he can justify why he feels it qualifies as a Rising Action, or someone else can make a case for him. If we've all been playing a while, and we trust Tel as a player, we might simply raise our collective brows and say "Interesting." If it comes down to the group being unable to come to a consensus agreement, then the GM is best advised to accept the player's declaration, then frame the conflicts leading up to the Goal in such a way that it IS a Rising Action.

QuoteIt may be fun to not make the call on how it affects the Endcount until the goal is resolved.

There are some mechanical differences between the Goals beyond just how the increment/deincrement Endcount, so this becomes problematic. I can see that there might be times that something is set as a Falling Action, and once it plays out, it's obvious that it's pushed toward Endgame, or vice versa. I'll make sure to address this possibility in the text, and give guidance on how you might retroactively turn one type into another, if that's what you feel needs to happen. Mostly though, I think it's best just to leave things the way they are. A thing may be fictionally a Rising Action, but it doesn't necessarily HAVE to make the end more imminent, or vice versa. This should be limited however, as the numbers should mostly reflect the fiction, even if the occasional exception is permitted.

You see why I waited? If I'd have tried to post that last night, it'd have been twice as long, and half as sensible.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls


I might have made my goal more Micro-cosmic. I could have Aldham's goal be to collect enough Mithril to decorate his great axe handle inscription of his family crest. The I might be able to call it a Rising Action? Or am I completely 'off the page'?