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Messages - Hans Chung-Otterson

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brainstorming & development / Re: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
« on: July 07, 2011, 04:00:41 AM »
Yeah, good stuff Ewen.

Just wanted to pop in and say that Pony World (heh...working title) is being worked on. It's pretty well hacked up and pared down AW, with some inspiration from Mouse Guard thrown in. I'm very excited about it. My goals, for an alpha draft:

-feel like an episode of the show, or at least like a cool cartoon show aimed at girls.
-play fast, like 30 minutes or an hour, max
-have fun, fast situation generation for the MC/GM/Pony Princess role
-distinct, playable pre-gen characters, and maybe rules for character creation. If it were just a MLP:FiM game, it wouldn't even need chargen rules, but if I actually want to release it ever, it can't be called MLP, y'know? And then it probably needs rules for chargen.

(but I need to finish the series first! boo hiss, I know. I couldn't help starting to design halfway through the series, and then I got sidetracked by other things.)

brainstorming & development / My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
« on: June 15, 2011, 03:22:09 AM »
Ok, yes, I seriously think a MLP:FiM game could be done right by an AW hack. A pretty deep hack, but a hack nonetheless. For those going "wha?!"

Look, you have 6 playbooks:

-Twilight Sparkle
-Pinkie Pie
-Rainbow Dash
-Apple Jack

The GM in this game is Princess Celestia, since she controls pretty much everything in Equestria. But when the ponies enter the Everfree Forest...control leaves Princess Celestia's hands real quick. That's an aside, though!

There's not much advancement: cartoon characters don't change their inherent natures or abilities much. I still want to keep the experience system, though, because it works well, is fun, and goads players into action. One choice for an advancement is to switch characters next session (episode). I imagine a lot of character switching, with not every pony in every episode. Maybe some small advancements as well, like stat boosts or one new move.

Princess Celestia's prep is pretty different. Maybe organized like a front, but a whole new one every episode. This will probably be where the hardest design work is done.

I also think: less stats. Maybe three per character (+ Friendship/Hx), with five total stats, so each character is missing two core stats and thus some core Moves. My instinct is to simplify, and make the characters very distinct to reward switching characters and trying out new things.

Obviously, stats will be renamed, basic moves will be retooled/changed, and new playbooks written up.

This is simply a post of curiosity. I want to know what you all think about this (you'll probably have to know MLP:FiM to parse this post, but hopefully not the game. Ideally it'll be playable by young girls, and aimed at family play and pony geek play). I'm going to give it my best shot, anyway, until I decide AW isn't the right engine and do something else, or give up on it, or playtest the hell out of it and make it a real thing.

close siblings--that makes sense.

I've only been playing rpgs for a few years (2007ish), so in AW when you say "there are a million ways to GM games," I was assuming hyperbole, and that there are in fact a handful of concrete ways, but now I'm seeing maybe the truth is closer to a million?

What else I've GMed, hmm:

-A coupla single session games of Mouse Guard (play to make the characters heroes)*
-Houses of the Blooded (?! the game didn't hang together for us; I felt like it didn't tell me how to GM)
-A single session of Steal Away Jordan (strangely seems similar to MG: play to make the characters heroes)
-way back, my first playing (GMing, that is) at all: 3.5 D&D (um, play to make the characters heroes? Seems like a lot of that flying around)

*these parentheses are obviously just shorthand, trying (perhaps unwisely) to distill the "way to GM" of each game into a single priority.

And then I've played a bunch of non-GMed games, S/lay w/Me, Breaking the Ice, Dreaming Crucible, GXB, A Penny For My Thoughts, and more. Those probably aren't pertinent to the conversation, but maybe somewhere else it would be fruitful to break down how to approach them as players, because GM-like roles get distributed in different ways in each.

I've played both Dogs (one & a half abortive sessions) & AW.
I've GMed both Dogs & AW.

Now, I know they are both supposed to articulate certain ways of GMing--categorically different ways of GMing, from my understanding--and I'm having trouble parsing that.

When I GM Dogs, I don't plan a story. I'm a fan of the player's characters. I play to find out what happens. I reveal the town in play (I'm honest, even generous, with information).

If you know AW, you know I GM it the same way.

I'm sure that's not all the things I do in either game, but I can't seem to come up with meaningful differences.

I feel blind here. Can someone point it out to me, or ask me provocative questions such that I figure it out myself?

Yeah, before my current game started, I kinda decided in my head what the Maelstrom would be like (ghostly echoes of some kind), but kept it flexible enough so I could see what the players did and how they interacted with it. Once it became clear that it was driving people crazy (psi-harm, since we had a quarantine) it began to take shape and then, the past session, when people started using augury, things got clearer real quick.

Good call. To me this says, "when people interact with the maelstrom, it should gradually become clearer what it is." That's super helpful. Though the PCs have been using Augury in our game since session 1 (that Hocus never seems to roll less than 10 on his Fortunes).

I think I need to cultivate a voice for my maelstrom.

I think that keeping the world's psychic maelstrom perpetually undefined will be counter to your agendas and principles practically every time you play. Sooner or later, in practically every game, you'll have to decide and commit to some concrete explanation, or history, or something for it.

That would have been good to know in the book! (he said, trying not to sound like a jerk)

Anyway, in the first game I MCed, the maelstrom was super-vague & undefined & only towards the end did I define it for myself as something less vague like, "all the souls that died in the Apocalypse, floating in psychic space." It didn't really play a large part in the game, and my less vague description of it didn't come up in a meaningful way.

I realized on my own that that keeping it vague was problematic (just because it didn't seem to be anything, and I wanted it to be something), and in the game I'm MCing now I came up with a fairly concrete definition up-front (for myself). But I never even thought of the possibility of making it a Threat! Or a Front! Maybe I should do. But for now, I feel on solid ground with what I've got. Maybe it'll get solider.

Apocalypse World / Re: The seed of the text blooming (or not) in play
« on: November 19, 2010, 12:07:38 PM »
yeah. A lot in the beginning. But mostly the Gunlugger would take them on, and he has wicked armor and guns.

Apocalypse World / Re: The seed of the text blooming (or not) in play
« on: November 19, 2010, 03:10:08 AM »
I'm in this PbP game Chris is running right now. Were at 1.5 sessions, more or less (hard to say in an online environment), and at least one PC is badly wounded and another is at 11:00 right now (all due to PvP). It's crazy.

Ha. In my (7 sessions & running) game, we've had NO harm from PvP, and I think the max harm any PC has been at (not taken all in one shot, but how many boxes they have filled in) is 6:00, maaaybe once 9:00.

No one took harm last session, I don't think.

Apocalypse World / The seed of the text blooming (or not) in play
« on: November 16, 2010, 05:09:45 AM »
One of the players, last game, said, "Apocalypse World, like Vincent's other games, is really good at being about ONE THING or ONE POINT and hammering it into you over and over, but after a while it gets tired" (paraphrase).


It seems to me that everyone's AW games are really different. I don't think we're (my group) necessarily getting some of the stuff out of AW that the text implies, though. It's like, outside of the game, the players all know that, mechanically, EVERYTHING'S a threat, and so in-game, their characters act accordingly and go for broke against the threats. This is just my inference.

Plus I'm not good at making triangles or sympathetic NPCs. I mean, I've made some sympathetic NPCs, but they've gotten little traction in the larger situation of the game.

I like AW, and want to love it, but I feel like the promise of the text hasn't come to fruition in our game, and I'm not sure why. A blog post is brewing, and I'll link to it here when it's brewed.

Apocalypse World / A new kind of custom move
« on: November 15, 2010, 03:35:53 AM »
...for my game, at least. I suspect it'll also be a new idea for some of yours, which is why I'm sharing it.

For this session, we had 4 characters, 2 characters going together in one (geographic) direction, and 2 characters staying put at the home base. So I created 2 love letters/beginning of session moves, 1 for each pair. Here's how they work:

Dear Key & Dust: You’re off to the remains of old Sludge Pump. So, what happens on the way?  someone roll+sharp, and someone help or hinder.

on a 10+, you get there more or less fine, but choose 1.
on a 7-9, you get there okay: choose both.

    * Clarion wants to tag along: (helping/hindering character choose 1)
          o with Dust?
          o with Key?

    * Dust’s cult begins begging for: (helping/hindering character, choose 1)
          o A religious vision, a touch of the howling psychic maelstrom.
          o A release of their stress, an emotional high, an experience.

On a miss, both, and it looks like a nasty sandstorm has kicked up: getting to the river will be harder than you thought.

The trick is that the person who rolled the stat chooses the * choice, and the person who helped/hindered gets to choose the o sub-choice. It worked well, and the players thought it was cool. Here's the other one, for posterity:

Dear Pitt & Pollux: What’s going on at the Braindome? Someone roll+hot, and someone help or hinder.

On a 10+, choose 1.
On a 7-9, choose both.

    * Snap has: (helping/hinder character, choose 1)
          o Taken a liking to Pollux, and regularly lets Pollux into the shop (when Pitt’s not there).
          o Begun to fear and distrust Pollux, and won’t willfully let Pollux into the shop or stay there while Pollux is there.

    * The majority of the Braindome population have been demanding: (helping/hindering character, choose 1)
          o That Pitt do something with her tools & workshop about how fucking hungry & thirsty they all are.
          o That CJ get rid of Pollux.

On a miss, choose both, plus, things just don’t feel right today: the next time you consciously act against someone, it’s acting under fire.

Apocalypse World / Re: How weird does AW get?
« on: November 11, 2010, 05:12:12 PM »
on tuesday we had our Savvyhead simultaneously working (in the workspace) on a guy, fucking him, and injecting him with drugs. At the moment of her screaming orgasm, she opened her brain to the psychic maelstrom to tell all the dead souls there that she was sorry, and that she'll fix things. At this same moment about 30 people burst into her room.

so, weird.

blood & guts / Re: Sex moves => vulnerability moves
« on: November 10, 2010, 05:02:53 AM »
Just to say: I don't think you need to change anything. We've played 7 sessions so far, and only ONE of the PC's has had sex, and NO PC has had sex with another PC. As MC, I wish more fucking was happening (because I think it makes things interesting), but it's not like our game is bad or not fun for not having it.

Apocalypse World / Re: Apocalypse Malaise
« on: November 10, 2010, 01:30:35 AM »
session went well tonight. I prepped for like 2 hours, making 2 love letters and very very bare bones on 2 fronts. Man, it takes me a long time to do this stuff!

Anyway, we had fun, I had fun, and we spent a good deal of time just chatting about the game and what's working/what's not. We're going to play twice more and then move on to something else.

Something I realized, which I'll probably expand into a blog post: I'm really sold on how Apocalypse World works, but I think maybe I'm just not passionate about the apocalyptica/scarcity fiction. In 7 sessions I've never successfully made a PC-NPC-PC triangle: the players are all just united and keep mowing down the fronts. And I've read a LOT about the triangles and how to do them! Some of the players mentioned that they just want to be heroes, which I don't think AW is good for.

I'm thinking I'll really love some of the hacks for AW.

Plus, I just want to play it.

Apocalypse World / Re: Apocalypse Malaise
« on: November 09, 2010, 04:52:04 PM »
Thanks for the comments, everybody (esp. nemomeme, that helps a lot!).

Glendower: It's not a problem with the players; like, they don't make me feel like I have to bring the fun. I just put that pressure on myself.

I just re-read the beginning of Play Unsafe and it's made me so much more excited to play. The part where Graham says, "If you play all serious, and conduct yourself like you're at a business meeting, no one's going to have any fun," really struck home with me. I think I've been running AW like I have to have this really weighty, human story, and trying to push it. Instead of, you know, just playing. I've been trying to choke the game and extract something from it (what exactly, I'm not sure), instead of going along with it.

I'm excited again about prepping. I've got some time this afternoon and so I'll probably write a couple love letters and make a front or two.

Apocalypse World / Apocalypse Malaise
« on: November 08, 2010, 08:30:52 PM »
So last time we were supposed to play, I just didn't prep. Just didn't. And so we didn't play (we play every two weeks normally, so it's been a while). We're supposed to play tomorrow, and damn it if I don't want to prep.

It's not like it's hard or anything, I mean, it's pretty easy and pretty fun and doesn't usually take more than an hour, but it just sounds like fucking work to me, you know? Like a slag. I don't know what's up. For some reason with AW, as MC* I feel like this pressure to perform and bring the fun, and I think it's kind of sucking away my enthusiasm.

Anyone else feel this way, with AW specifically?

*Keep in mind this is the first game I've GMed or played for such an extended time (6 sessions so far)

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