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Author Topic: Trollbabe PBEM  (Read 6598 times)
Wulf
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Posts: 141


« on: September 06, 2002, 03:12:24 PM »

Hi all. First post by me here.

I've bought Trollbabe, printed & read it a couple of times. I'm considering using it for a play by email game. Has anyone else considered the modifications, if any, needed for this?

Seems to me, apart from the 'Fair and Clear' discussion bit (which could involve a fair bit of wrangling), it's well-suited. You can vary Pace to suit the situation, the player can continue until they win a series (so no messages just saying "I failed that, what else can I try?"), and above all it's SIMPLE.

Any opinions?

Wulf
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2002, 03:18:05 PM »

Hi Wulf,

Welcome to the Forge! Folks, Wulf said some nice things about Trollbabe over on RPG.net the other day.

The big man for PBEM and other modes of electronic play is Raven (greyorm), and he was the very first paying customer for Trollbabe (barring GenCon sales), so let's see what he says.

Incidentally, he said shyly, this is maybe perhaps the first time I've ever been tempted to participate in PBEM play ...

Best,
Ron
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Wulf
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Posts: 141


« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2002, 03:33:24 PM »

Thanks, Mr. Edwards, Sir (always good to be polite to the author... even though these days they all seem to be younger than me...).

My idea was to set up play entirely with a friend of mine. We frequently swap a dozen or so email a day between us while at our respective jobs (both spending much of the working day stuck at a PC...). We've tried quite a few 'normal' RPGs, Tribe8 (erm... when I say 'normal', I mean game mechanics, not subject matter...), Hero Wars, etc. But the problem is having to constantly swap back to GM control, especially if the player fails.

We don't want a 'pbem' game, we want to play a RPG by email... if you see what I mean...

Wulf
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2002, 07:30:51 AM »

Hi Wulf,

I do see what you mean, and I encourage you to try it out. I'd really like to get feedback about it on this forum, and maybe provide some support or guidelines on the Trollbabe site.

Best,
Ron
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Wulf
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Posts: 141


« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2002, 10:50:47 AM »

We attempted a trial of Trollbabe for email, but actually sitting across a table from one another... by limiting ourselves to replying to finished statements, we quickly got started.

Sample (edited to include tricks we learned...)

GM: "Rhianna walks over the crest of the hill, and sees a valley with a village sprawled along the stream running down the middle. The hill opposite has been reshaped by an ancient hillfort, now seemingly long abandoned"
Player: "OK, I'll look around for someone to tell me where I am & what's around here. <rolls, fails> Hmm... nope, no-one nearby, but I can see the whole valley from here, so I'll just have to look around, there must be SOMEONE - reroll for geography, succeed"
GM: "You see a shepherd boy, and eventually walk around the valley toward him. He's scared of you, and cowers while answering your questions. The village is Darmain, and the only thing important round here are the marauding wolves that savage the sheep. He's trying to get away from you, you'll have to persuade him to tell you more, or even stay."
Player: "Sounds like a decent plot to me... "

etc.

We skipped deciding on Pace and Scale, letting the plot point it out rather than having to spend more email just sorting that (after a few more messages we decided to up the pace a bit to what you see above). We're still wasting a lot of time in the discussion of actions, especially in combats, so I decided the GM always declares first, and sticks to it, which is quicker, but limits tactics...

I'm still not sure exactly how much GM lead should be applied, ahould I have an overall plot, or is that restricting the player's options? If you only get 3 rerolls a session (and what counts as a session in PBEM?) you'll be doing a lot of failing, so the temptation is to save it for combat or other deadly peril, meaning your social interraction is neglected...

But it works...

Wulf
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2002, 11:26:44 AM »

Hi Wulf,

H'm .... it looks as if some discussion of Trollbabe rules and play might be helpful. Correct me if I've misread you at any point.

1) Re-rolls apply to individual conflicts, not to entire sessions. If you get into, say, ten conflicts during a session, that's potentially ten individualized sets of three re-rolls.

2) Rolling at all is part of resolving conflicts, not just seeing whether actions "work." My reading of Rhianna looking for someone to ask something is that there was no conflict at hand. So therefore there's no roll, and the GM states whether there is or isn't someone around to ask.

In other words, conflict is an in-game-world thing. It's not a pure Director mechanic in which the player can "force" an NPC to exist in order to ask them about what's going on. Although if the player wants to bring an in-game conflict into existence ("I roll to see if anyone is stalking me") that would be legitimate.

With any luck, clarifying the above two points will allow you to address the "GM plot" issue a lot more easily, especially in combination with the Adventures section in the rules.

Best,
Ron
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Wulf
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Posts: 141


« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2002, 11:39:43 AM »

Rerolls per series... hmm... says it here plainly too... OK that's better :-)

Regarding the rolling for potential non-conflicts ("I roill to see if anyone's about"), that's partly a decision we made for the PBEM - it saves the player and GM having to discuss the situation (using up emails) and decide what to do - one of them takes the lead, and 'asks the question' (aka begins the series) he wants answered. If he fails, the other takes charge.

Nonetheless, I see the point. There should be more GM introduction (something I was actually avoiding to reduce railroading).

Wulf
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2002, 12:02:21 PM »

Hi there,

Yeah, that Series/roll thing should help out a lot ...

For a look at some my attempted clarifications of "railroading" as an issue, check out the O Gamer part 2 discussion, as well as the older Is 'railroading' a useful term discussion. The second one in particular ought to be read carefully all the way through.

Best,
Ron
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Wulf
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Posts: 141


« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2002, 12:30:51 PM »

Actually, 'railroading' is probably the wrong word (nice discussions though). What I was avoiding was the 'Here's the plot, get on with it' sort of situation. I had a half dozen ideas of how to get the character into the old hill fort (which was, pretty obviously, the point of interest), but I wanted the player to be able to choose who to talk to (different folks would put different stress on various events) and what pace to take. So I gave him the initial series.

If the 'babe had gone into town, the wolves would just be noises in the night, the problems would be the ghost stories about the fort. Unless you talk to the blacksmith, who's sure there's gold hidden there. But the stable lad's seen weird stunted humanoids when HE tried to find the gold...

I just read Robin's Laws of Good GMing - basically, I had created a loose simple version of his branching structure scenario.

My players rarely worry about railroading. usually a whip and a good kick up the arse is needed to get them on the right path... Narrativism is difficult when your players take the KotDT attitude to First Peron ("If you ever hear me speaking in first person, you can shoot me").

Wulf
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2002, 08:22:56 AM »

Hi Wulf,

Take another look at the Scene Initiation rules; I think they might be easier to use for the kinds of initial-scene and information-branch play issues that we're discussing.

The GM has the right to frame right into a scene if he wants. "You come upon a shepherd-boy."

The player has the right to request a scene if he wants. "I'd like to have a meet-a-shepherd-boy scene." (which then most likely 'ports to the above, unless the GM has some reason for vetoing it)

So in your case, it's a matter of interpreting the player's phrase "Is anyone around to talk to?" a little differently. As I said before, it's not a statement of conflict, so no roll is required. Nor is it a "perception roll" as typically employed in RPGs. Instead, I'd interpret as a request for a scene: "I want to talk to someone," which leaves it up to the GM to determine who, or perhaps the GM says, "Like ...?" and the player supplies an answer, and the GM goes from there.

My real point is that rolling in order to establish plain old info-scenes isn't necessary.

I also suspect that many readers will blow by the "scene and conflict" rules simply because they are used to the way other RPGs do it, and can't imagine that Trollbabe will work any other way, and so miss some crucial elements of the system.

Best,
Ron
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Wulf
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Posts: 141


« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2002, 09:50:14 AM »

Well, my thinking was that if the player retained control until he succeeded, he could define exactly what he wanted from me, the GM. Otherwise, in a PBEM situation, there would be a 2-email (1 each) delay each time he looked for confirmation and/or answers to his actions.

Of course you are right, I could have simply asked him for his actions and told him what happened without a roll, but I felt that this way he could tell that what was happening was under his control (one thing about Trollbabe, the player always knows when his character has succeeded, which makes it hard to pass on misinformation or red herrings...). Also, in the situation described, I had a set of possible outcomes for most situations, and very little 'free' information - the 'babe could have got conflicting info from various people, been well or badly received by any of them (that shepherd boy has a mean sling...), etc. And once a conversation was started, there was no longer a contest unless he was looking for specifics (I just didn't want to fill the forum up with the whole conversation :-).

I do see what you mean though, maybe I'm just trying to make Trollbabe TOO interactive...

Wulf
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2002, 06:42:53 AM »

Hi Wulf,

So how's the game going? I hope I didn't intrude too much, as the main goal is that you enjoy the game ... having the designer go "Oh! Do it this way!" is one of the dangers of the degree of contact that I provide.

Best,
Ron
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Wulf
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Posts: 141


« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2002, 10:03:54 AM »

...we still haven't got it done PBEM (we're both too busy at work!), but we played a 'normal' game and had much fun, although we are still trying to find a happy medium for pace, somewhere between RuneQuest and Hero Wars (Simple Contest) style...

Oh, and without anyone actually discussing it, it seems to be set in an old-fashioned RQ-era Glorantha :-) Exactly how a relationship to a Duck village will help is anyone's guess, but the Minotaur will be useful...

Wulf
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2002, 01:37:40 PM »

Hi Wulf,

Damn good call on the early Glorantha reference. My first thoughts on Trollbabe, very long ago, were planned to be using the RQ rules and the map of the Holy Country found in the RuneQuest Companion. I wasn't planning on having it be Glorantha at all, but rather a much less magical, more Njal's Saga sort of game. Clearly I retained the whole Celtic/Icelandic baseline for the Heortling culture in Glorantha, as it's perfect for what I was driving at.

Best,
Ron
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