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Messages - Gregor Vuga

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AW:Dark Age / Re: Playtest, thoughts
« on: March 06, 2014, 06:59:03 AM »
Oh, and I can write more about the setting and fiction, if anyone is interested.

AW:Dark Age / Playtest, thoughts
« on: March 06, 2014, 06:56:39 AM »
We played yesterday. I thought it would just be a one-off playtest between campaigns of other games, but everyone wanted to play again, so we're going to do a mini-campaign of it (2-5 more sessions, say).

I was the MC. The players picked the Wicker Wise, Outlaw Heir and War Herald. We might have another player joining next week.

Character creation went faster than expected, especially for the WW and WH. The Outlaw Heir took a bit longer with his lands.

We were a bit unsure about those. We decided that his aunt had murdered his parents and his sister (the rightful heir according to old blood) and taken the throne. The title "outlaw" implied than he was in hiding or otherwise persecuted while she ruled the land, but then he also has a town of 12.000 people that's his by right, and it seemed to be the largest settlement on the map by far, leaving his aunt almost nothing to rule over. I'm assuming that as the MC I should throw in many lands and holdings that are outside the PC's rights in a situation such as this?

I noticed Tim's group rolled Fortunes at the start of the session. We didn't because it says "change of seasons". I guess both are fair.

Like I intuited on my first cursory readthrough, there's a lot more to keep track of than in regular AW. In AW you probably have only one or two characters that have any kind of holding or following. Here everyone has lots of lands and people, and it's awesome. Everyone was excited by this. It's definitely more work, but it didn't seem too much of a burden. As a MC I liked that I could handle their lands and people as part of their character. When the War-Herald proposed a suicidal battle plan to his people, I did the typical AW "tell them the possible consequences and ask", which resulted in 5/6ths of his people leaving before the battle (take away their stuff etc.). It was a very cool moment.

I think I definitely want some sort of worksheet to keep track of all the PC's allies and resources.

I'm not entirely sold on Battles. We had a few, but it seemed that when everyone was suited up and ready, they always defaulted to 0 harm (because of armour, size of units, PC moves etc.). In other cases the harm was of such magnitude that "battle" wasn't really an option that I would consider triggering (like when the Outlaw Heir cut down an unarmed, unarmored NPC by simply dealing 5 harm).

Pray was also weird. The 10+ result makes sense, but on 7-9 we were like "huh?". Reading your comment about scaling difficulty I think I understand better how it's supposed to work, but it still doesn't seem right.
On 10+ the gods take your sacrifice and tell you how you might get what you want. On 7-9 the gods either take or don't take your sacrifice, MC's choice, with no word on what you're asking for. The Wicker-Wise sacrificed an enemy to the god of war, asking for divine support in the upcoming battle. He got a 7-9 and I decided the sacrifice was accepted and the support would be provided (and then treated it as a Helping roll on the War-Herald's Battle roll). But that didn't feel right as the 10+ result implies you still got work to do before you get what you're asking for. Clarifications?

The Take Stock and Take Bearing moves almost always resulted in custom questions being asked (mostly just slight modifications to the core questions though).

Another thing that came up was custom moves and XP. After running lots of AW, MH, Sagas, etc. it's second nature to me now, and I made two custom moves during the game (I can't remember them now, because I didn't write them down, stupid). My instinct was to have the player mark XP for rolling on that custom move (we decided against it for the time being), but I'd like your opinion on it.

On the subject of XP, are the playbooks meant to have different advancement rates? The War-Herald advanced twice during the evening (he seemed to have more stuff to mark on the back of the sheet compared to the other two, plus going into battle alone nets you at least 3-4 XP by my understanding (marking the move, probably armour, harm and fates). Going into battle with your wolf-pack is all the same except substitute your warriors' armour and harm plus it netted him another mark because one of his pack's Better Qualities was relevant to the roll. The Wicker Wise advanced once towards the end of the session, and the Outlaw Heir only advanced at the very end of the session when we revised his sheet and noticed he forgot to mark something. But I think the Outlaw Heir was also failing to use his NPC supporters to any great effect (that might have been a failure on my part as MC, too).

Oh, and the "take a normal name and change one or two letters" rule - we applied it to places and gods to. It got really really silly, but oddly enough it worked pretty well. The old gods all have changed Kaiju names (Mothrag, Gothila, King Fedorah...) and places are all fake European locales (Bospar, Londar, Troaste...)

That's all for now.

Sagas of the Icelanders / Re: [old, ignore this] Yeah?
« on: March 26, 2012, 09:59:24 AM »
There is no fighting move in the final version. So far that seems to be working fine.

Men must roll in a physical conflict, but otherwise it's all done in the fiction and inflicting harm and trading harm for harm as established.

Sagas of the Icelanders / Re: Playbooks and MC Sheet, final stretch
« on: March 11, 2012, 06:22:23 AM »
The links seem to be broken for me. Anybody else having an issue?
Hello, did you try again since then? If you're still having trouble I can send you the files over email

roleplaying theory, hardcore / Re: Stepping on Up to the Investigation
« on: March 01, 2012, 06:34:03 PM »
So I wrote this little game sometime ago that I think tackles some of the stuff I was talking about here.

It's not a perfect example, because I was too preoccupied with other aspects of the design, but there it is.

Hello again everyone.

I've already posted this on g+, twitter and a thread on SG. It's been a long year. Too long. I'm now taking time off to finalize the mechanics.

This is what I consider the more or less "finished" version of the playbooks (minus layout, art, flavor text and all that), plus the sheet that the MC uses to run the game.

MC Sheet:

I need actual play and constructive feedback to rewrite the things that don't make sense, polish the wording. Maybe throw out or change a move or two that are broken and add a move or two where they're needed and that's it. Then comes the really hard bit: editing, art and layout.

Sagas of the Icelanders / Re: Yeah?
« on: March 01, 2012, 07:42:10 AM »
Hi, Diomede!

Vincent wrote about how some hacks were reskins and others needed deeper tinkering. At first, Sagas was more of a reskin, with analogues. "The Viking" was going to be the "Gunlugger" of the game etc. I used the Operator's gig move because I didn't have anything better to go on at the time.

I'm still working on it - or rather I'd like to believe I'm finishing it (I'll post the new documents in a new thread just as soon as I finish typing this). I have since thrown out that move (and others) I believe the new move I have created for the purpose will work a lot better.

Apocalypse World / Re: MC, ever have trouble being a fan of a PC?
« on: March 18, 2011, 05:58:09 PM »
Before Vader's redemption becomes a thing, you're watching Star Wars and you're in awe at the amazing bad-assery.  But you're totally not rooting for him to win.  Right?  Maybe I'm misunderstanding what being a fan is.
Ok, maybe I'm misunderstanding, too, but I don't think it's a mater of win-lose.

It's more like when you tune in to your favourite show each week and you're thinking "Oh, man, I wonder what trouble [protagonist] will get into this time!" or "Oh man, I wonder how [protagonist] will get out of that hurdle!" or whatever. You're tuning in because you're a fan, because you want to see what will happen, not because you want them to simply triumph unconditionally or fail miserably.

Ok, yeah, often you're watching something and you think "Jeez, [protagonist] is such a dickface, I hope he fucking dies." or something like that, but as a MC, I guess you should reserve that judgement, because it's not in your hands. You're still there to see what happens, not to moralize or play a judgemental god. I totally get how that can be hard to do. If the character is despicable, you just want him to get to a sticky end already.

(a flat or boring character is another thing)

By contrast, I think Poison'd has a much stronger self-destruction (or redemption) bent - I can be playing my pirate as an absolutely disgusting fuck and everyone at the table is like "man, your pirate is such a disgusting fuck", and I'm like "shit, I know, he's horrible!". And we can all just kinda hang back and observe how the character takes on a life of its own and (usually) march straight into hell. AW is looser than that (and it doesn't really have damnation/atonement mechanics of any kind), but it still happens.

Fingers on the Firmament / Re: Firmament Moves
« on: March 18, 2011, 05:43:26 PM »
Dude, this game has such good colour it's not even true.

roleplaying theory, hardcore / Re: Stepping on Up to the Investigation
« on: March 10, 2011, 10:57:58 AM »
Lots of stuff to reply to! I'll be brief.

@David. I've looked at Zendo, and I'm pretty sure that's not what I'm going for. I mean, I don't know, I could be wrong in my own assumptions. But my gut is telling me no.

@stefoid. Dear gods, no. I'm definitely not doing that. That's partially why I'm iffy on zendo, too. It sounds too much like "figure out the GM's clever plot!" to me.

@Chris, exactly. ToC doesn't make you work for the clues. Which is - to me - essentially a way to make sure the players will get to the end. CoC makes you work for the clues themselves, which (I think) factors into how well prepared you will be for what awaits you. I'm interestend in zooming more on that.

Roughly, it would be like this:
*GM, your job is to prepare: something bad happening, the people and/or monsters responsible for it, a (first) effect or evidence of something bad happening.
*Players, your job is to see if you can figure out what is happening, and who is responsible.

It's not "discover what's going on and then decide what to do about it". That would be like Dogs. I'm certain to discover what's wrong with the Town in Dogs, since the GM's job is to reveal the town actively in play. In Dogs my job as a player is to decide what to do about it, not investigate the mystery.

I'm not interested in the "what do you do about it?" bit! As I pointed out above, once a mystery is resolved, it's often painfully obvious what to do about it. When you find out who the serial killer is, you don't ponder about it, you lock him up! When you know who's the werewolf, you shoot him with a silver bullet, the END. (this of course provided that I'm not interested in getting gripping fiction or thematic narrative from it, it's not Story Now)

Now, to fully ebrace a Step on Up investigation, I guess there must be the "can you" element to it. I think this is the biggest design challenge here.
David, you wrote:
"When I fail to find information, for the love of god, kill me, don't force me to meander about in confusion!  (Or make me trade hit points for info or something.)"

Yes! In a fight, it's pretty obvious when the PCs have lost (or "lost") and need to run away, back down, give up or die or whatever. "Try harder next time." How to make failure not terrible?

How do you know that the players have failed to resolve the mystery? You can't leave them flounder about in the dark, pointlessly doing stuff that has nothing to do with the mystery. When do you say "Ok, guys, I think you can't figure this out, game over?" That's the questions that need answering.

1. I think the simplest and most obvious way is to have one or more progress tracks or countdowns on the table, clicking to inevitable conclusion. CoC handles this well with its Insanity meter, of course. You go insane, insert coin. ToC, too, but I think ToC's motivation for the insanity meter is different than CoC's (intentionally or no).

2. To use Storming as an example again, if I have my character chat up the barmaid or weave baskets instead of going into the dungeon to kick the monster's ass, then I'm playing obstructively. I'm not playing where the game is. My hypothetical game would need simmilar methods of positioning and player direction to keep the characters focused on the task at hand.

(I thought I would be writing this game this month, but I'm currrently caught up in writing a Spartacus game and trying to study, so this will have to wait.)

roleplaying theory, hardcore / Re: Stepping on Up to the Investigation
« on: March 03, 2011, 01:49:04 PM »
The only way to know for sure is to design it.
It's what I'm trying to do right now! That's why I wanted to see if I'm missing any obvious glaring flaws in the premise itself.

@Vernon: crossposted - yes, making failure not boring and not obstructive to the flow of the game is very important

Cool. If anyone has any more questions, comments, thoughts, bring them forth. Meanwhile, I'll try to get a rough draft together.

roleplaying theory, hardcore / Re: Stepping on Up to the Investigation
« on: March 03, 2011, 01:24:19 PM »
I read the GNS-Big model-people's thoughts on it every now and then, but I still don't know if I catch all Ron's and the others thoughts well. For me, your thing is gamism vs narrativism. "Can the PC players solve this module if they really try?" is clearly about gamism for me. Or at least not narrativism. I think I can hardly percieve simulationist agendas. (This connects with I don't really believe, such a thing exists.)
What I'm describing is a Step on Up (or Gamist) approach to the investigation itself, yes. I'm not trying to go for any sort of "versus" opposition however.

I think a Right to Dream investigation game is Trail of Cthulhu. The question in ToC is not "Can you find the clues that lead to the conclusion?" (of course you will) or "What will you do to find the clues?" but rather "How will your investigative skills lead you to the horrible conclusion that will wreck your mind?".

Call of Cthulhu is much closer to what I'm talking about or at least supports this kind of play better than ToC.

You are talking about a different type of play than what Vincent is.  Your werewolf play can be interesting if you are interested in the challenge of beating the werewolf, you are proposing a very much gamist game.

Vincents proposition turns the play around, it's not obvious you kill the werewolf.  There may be little challenge in figuring out who the werewolf or it's weaknesses but deciding what to do about it is where play shines.  Do you try and kill the werewolf or try and cure the innocent victim?  
Yep, of course. Except I'm not really interested in the challenge of beating the werewolf, like, face to face.

Using Storming the Wizard's tower as an example of a de facto Step on Up game, the large scale question is "Can you help/save the town?" (of course you can say "Screw this, I don't care about these peasants." but that's obviously not where the game is, if you do that, you're not really playing). Zooming in, the source of the trouble is a monster, so the question is really "Can you deal with the monster?".
Now, there's an investigative phase in Storming, too, namely the foundational rolls. These pretty much ensure you will get to the monster.* You can get extra info, but it's all only relevant in the scope of your ability to defeat the monster. Interrogating people, checking your childhood memories and so on might tell you what the monster's weakness is, or where it lies, which can give you an edge in battle, and that's what matters.

What I'm proposing (or questioning the possibility of) is a Step on Up game where the investigation itself is the main challenge. Finding more information does not really build up to you having an edge in the fight, but rather definitely resolving the final outcome. So instead of "there's a werewolf, what do you do about it?", it becomes "there's a mystery, what do you do about it?" and instead of "can you (save the village by) defeat(ing) the werewolf?" it becomes "can you (save the village by) unravel(ing) the mystery?".

I don't know if I'm explaining myself well.

*By comparison, the town in Dogs is similarly revealed in play. You will find out what the problem is, and the question remains how you deal with it.

roleplaying theory, hardcore / Stepping on Up to the Investigation
« on: March 03, 2011, 10:16:23 AM »
This is part rant, part question, part proposition, part idle musing. Make of it what you will.

Over on anyway. Vincent had a conversation with Dave Berg about his game Delve. (link:

 At one point, he wrote:
Do I solve the weird problems in play, or does the GM solve them in prep?

Missing children, foul odor, destroyed forest, magics at work, I'm right with you. I've got my augury and my special perception and I'm psyched; bring it on. But is it my job, as player, to discover what's going on and then decide what to do about it, or to discover what's going on, discover what to do about it, and then do it?
(bolded by me, italics Vincent's)
The former is good, the latter sucks, yeah?

So, anyway, let's say that I'm playing a game, where the core question is "Can you solve this mystery?". And my character goes about, solving it, investigating a situation. The GM is not leading me by the breadcrumb trail, he has no planned reveal, I could easily fail to figure out what's going on, the GM doesn't care either way, yada yada, all that stuff. Awesome.

But consider this: let's say that at the heart of the mystery is a murderous werewolf. During the course of the game, my character discovers this fact. He also discovers that werewolves have a deadly allergy to silver. I could have failed to discover that information, I was actively discovering stuff, not simply accepting the GM's reveals. But once I win this investigation (by my wits, luck and skill, playing the dice as hard as I can) does it really really remain any question about "what to do about it?". I fucking shoot the werewolf with a silver bullet.

Much like in a fight, if there is a best weapon+power combo, the game gets boring, because there's an obvious answer to a question. Why would I ever not pick that weapon+power combo? Why would I ever not shoot the werewolf with a silver bullet?

So consider the investigation as a conflict. The better I am at investigating, the more I learn, until the only clear solution presents itself, and I've won. Getting enough information is like taking away all the enemy's HP. Discovering that I can shoot the werewolf with a silver bullet is taking the mystery to 0, sine missione. But maybe I wasn't as good in my investigation, and I'm forced to face the werewolf without the benefit of knowing about silver and there's some compromise, not a complete victory. Or maybe I completely fail to discover the beast and it carries out its goals.

I'll break here for now. Thoughts?

As Vincent said a game can be colour-first in the sense that Colour is the most important element of Exploration or it can be designed colour-first in the sense that you start the design by designing its colour first. AW is the former, not the later. Colour happens in play.

Monsterhearts / Re: Let's Fight About Source Material
« on: February 02, 2011, 11:05:54 AM »
I'm actually very surprised there's so little True Blood in here. Yeah, ok TB maybe isn't about teenagers, all the characters are supposedly adults. But they
a) fucking behave like teenagers half the time
b) constantly have sex with monsters (vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches)
c) overact and secrete melodrama from all of their pores, breathing each other's names out with pained expressions on their faces
d) betray, cheat, trick, lie and generally throw themselves (or are forced into) all kinds of fucked up relationships
e) there's at least one bucket of blood per minute (obbpm)
f) juxtapose their fantasy world problems with real world issues (God hates fangs!)

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