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Orkworld in action

Started by Ron Edwards, May 04, 2001, 08:34:00 PM

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Ron Edwards

Oh boy!

Well, I ran our first run of Orkworld last night. Another run or so, and I can do a review. The plan is four or five sessions for our story, or more if it seems to need it.

Orkworld has some surprising elements, some of which I looked forward to and others I didn't anticipate. The most fun is probably the role of the tala (bard) - if the tala doesn't hear of or see the other characters' exploits, then they can't get Fana (experience points). And the amount they get is based on the tala's roll at the end of the session.

In our case, the tala is a PC, and so the player is having merciless fun by tormenting the other players regarding how he's making songs and stories about their exploits. And it so happened, though, when all the exploits/feats were listed at the end of the session, that it DID make for a pretty impressive, dramatic hero-saga per character.

I thought it was interesting that the female player wanted to play an infertile female character, and one of the male players wanted to play an established mother-character (dowmga). I wonder if any of us has EVER seen a female player with a female character who gets pregnant, carries and births the child, and raises it as a mom ...

For those who don't know, the most important mechanic in Orkworld is Trouble, which is accumulated by players depending on how they OR their characters act, experienced as "bad luck" in a variety of ways, and finally manifested in increased Fana (if you've survived). Frankly, I'm going to have to beef up the consequences of Trouble - the "basic" sort, in the rulebook, is forcing re-rolls, and the damn players keep rolling high on their damn re-rolls, thus getting lots of Fana for no in-game penalty. Lucky boogers.

Anyway, these are just some first impressions. The review, to come later, will certainly be more analytical and complete, but I'm interested in knowing more about others' experiences with Orkworld.



El quicko thought on Trouble:

(Well, two actually)

I found that Trouble was GREAT for both limiting and freeing the GM to do the "let's screw the PCs" thing.  On the one hand, the GM is limited by the amount of Trouble that a PC has (which is directly a result of the player's choices).  On the other hand, because the GM is limited, he is free to act within those boundaries.  I did things to my players using Trouble that would have felt...wrong...if they were done just by GM fiat.  Example:  three thraka are hiding under a bush as a party of humans comes by, looking for them.  Spend Trouble and point to a player.  "You sneeze."  See?  Simple, yet fun.  The best part is that, when done properly, it creates those perilous situations that are at the heart of any drama (whether or not the peril is physical is another question).

Just $.02 before I rush home.  :smile:

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



Stop giving Ron ideas!  Dear god, in our first game, we were attacked by floating infant-heads that tried to chew us to death (they were teething... how cute).  

The kids in our tribe went into convulsions and I had the rush about like a mad woman (I'm a chick in the game) holding their damned heads on.


Ron Edwards

One of the issues I'm coping with in Orkworld is that I'd like Trouble to involve more than just being attacked. A great deal of the examples and assumptions of the rules involve combat situations, or getting busted when sneaking about and thus initiating combat.

However, fighting in Orkworld is really dangerous, especially for non-thraka without much armor. Two of the PCs were brought to "near-death" in our very first run, and if I turn up the Trouble volume in this direction any more, no one will survive the second run.

So I'm thinking more about social, interactive Trouble - popularity among the household, dealings with other beings, and a lot of little annoying things that create a variety of penalties. I'd like players to say to one another, "ooh, sucks to be you," when it's NOT about getting wounded.

OK, I'm all better now. This was more or less a public display of the sort of thing that usually gets scribbled in my notebooks as I prep for play.


P.S. Don't worry, Dav - I have PLENTY of ideas, all on my own.

Ron Edwards

Another issue, based on Seth's comments.

I have refined my GMing into very focused, conflict-based events. I'm utterly uninterested in logistic, organizational, step-by-step establishing of scenes - instead, with the players as co-contributors, my job is to establish and present potential conflicts. That's it.

If a scene doesn't introduce, develop, or resolve a conflict, it was an utter waste of time. This doesn't mean every character has to be in conflict with every other one (this may be termed the "Marvel error"), but rather than everyone is INVOLVED with some conflict of some kind.

This means, essentially, that Trouble is my chief concern in role-playing - of ANY kind. Trouble-less play is something I simply don't do. Therefore it's kind of odd to be playing Orkworld, which in my case, means Trouble is simply always being expressed in every scene. It's nice to have a mechanic for it, but it's hard to imagine (or remember) a style of play in which it would be NECESSARY to use it, in order for Troublous-things to be occurring.