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Messages - Rafu

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Freebooting Venus / Re: A game I love to prep for
« on: October 11, 2016, 04:29:17 AM »
Paul, about your two latest posts, which both happen to include links to other threads, I'm thinking maybe I could move these parts of the conversation to those other threads, if that makes any sense to you?

Freebooting Venus / Re: Statting Up Our Own Monsters
« on: October 11, 2016, 04:14:41 AM »
Yeah, but they're totally straightforward. You know what the range of Violence score means (-2 is a frail child, 0 is average, +3 is a champion of arena combat) and you know how to assign them a bonus to spend: 1 if they master the art of sword-binding, 0 if they don't, plus possible help from ghosts or other magic. Weapons and armor, too, are straightforward: 1-armor for thugs, bodyguards and other professionals, 2-armor for a soldier at war, no armor otherwise; 2 harm for any real weapon, 1 harm for backup weapons or improvised weapons.
This means the only decision you have to make is how prepared to violence this person is - their violent score. Everything else is obvious from their fictional circumstances.

Well, when you roll for treasure you're really "zooming out" of the scene to a more "abstract" or "montage" mode of play, so I suppose that could turn awkward if somebody doesn't "get" it. I also assume that's why examining treasure is more of a "peripheral move" than a basic one. At my table, that takes a few assumptions, that that's what they're entitled to so let's not get hung on the small details of when and how, that we're willing to stretch our imagination a little to the PCs advantage.

In general, I don't see anything like a "what is the treasure" roll in here, though. To me, the point is exactly is that you don't care, or rather that's implied by the circumstances, while the examine treasure roll is a roll to determine what you get to trade your (never described, not important in itself) treasure for. However rolling doubles reverses that, making the actual found thing important: this was (just slightly) awkward - in that we knew where the treasure was from and this imposed limits on what it could plausibly be, as explained in my top post - and required some retconning:
  • Did I tell you the dwarf had paid you out in a mix of bottled smoke and other valuables? I guess the bottled smoke was a negligible part of the overall value, then. What's really interesting here is... uhm... a bunch of silver coins... and they're, like, very old coins...
  • The thing you were examining was a piece of jewelry from the Black Hostess, right? Oh, well, I guess she never realized she'd got magical jewelry in her chest, possibly because she's always worn both earrings at the same time. I wonder where she got these from? But to you, it's immediately apparent that these are no normal earrings...
Also, I've started thinking that tracing these magical earrings to their source (I mean, doing it myself in my prep) may bring some new interesting Trouble.

Freebooting Venus / Re: A game I love to prep for
« on: October 10, 2016, 06:37:28 PM »
I actually enjoy the attention! Though maybe some of these questions and answer are carrying us pretty far from the subject of thread and my original intent for this thread... But whatever.

* You've already discussed how the shift away from playbooks changes your players' interaction with the game. Does the design of moves make the game feel different, too? If so, how?
Well, it's a different game, tops. I'm not sure it's that fruitful to make a detailed, point by point comparison with AW - or, at least, no more useful than such a comparison with any other RPG would be.
But speaking of moves, I think the array of [basic] moves in FV actually does play a very similar role to the one in AW, which is: they shape player's affordances (is that a word? I've heard it used as a game design word) according to a specific mindset and outlook of the designer's choice, which is thus adopted as all PCs's default outlook and world view. Thus available moves subtly shape characters.

* Do you ever use "saves"? (It just occurred to me that "saves" are FV's version of "act under fire".)
I'm using saves a lot. Like "Act under fire" in AW, I'm using them to cover all cases non covered by moves - but unlike "Act under fire" in AW, it's usually me who initiates saves, though often in reply to a PC's initiative. When MCing AW, it's never my job to initiate a player's move for them.

* Aside from the fictional and stylistic requirements (which you've covered nicely), how does MCing it feel different from AW? Is your role somewhat different, in your experience?
At a very bare-bones level, I think my role in the conversation is, in the strictest sense, the same in both games.
But stylistic and fictional stuff is quite a big deal: they do feel different, inasmuch as they each are a different game, make no mistakes.
I later want to get more detailed about my prep, which incidentally will show how exactly this aspect of play

* How much further input from the players do you draw on in play, after the first session?
I'm not sure I understand the question. We all have input, or that's what I like to think. Do you perhaps want to know whether I ask them any "Mountain Witch" questions? As a general principle, I don't - though there have been, and there might again be exceptions to this.

Freebooting Venus / Re: What about shields?
« on: October 10, 2016, 05:55:17 PM »
There seems to be an assumption that, though the humans are basically... human, all the fauna and flora is exotic and alien.
Funny how this makes perfect sense now that you say it, but isn't what I'd read in the text myself, at all. Interesting inkblot test indeed!

Freebooting Venus / Re: Statting Up Our Own Monsters
« on: October 10, 2016, 05:53:08 PM »
I've only once statted up a monster - going by ear, of course - but I have yet to deploy it in play, so there's really not much I can add. Violent situations in my game so far have overwhelmingly concerned humans.

Freebooting Venus / Re: Dogs & horses
« on: October 10, 2016, 04:48:43 PM »
That's cool with me. But if there aren't any war steeds, some PCs will invent them eventually. :)

I'm thinking of something like, "He hands you a bag full of coins." "Wait a minute, how much is it worth? I go home and pour out the contents onto my desk..." Would you roll to 'examine treasure' here?
That's exactly what we've been doing so far. That time Iago rolled doubles, it was precisely like that, and that's why I was like: "Uh, I suppose these are antique coins."

So, I had half-dreamt that placing the antique silver coins to a buyer would have been a bit of an adventure, potentially yielding 1 unexamined treasure to each player participating in it, as their share...

However, Iago started making a plan for selling the coins while the other PCs were busy doing other things (you know, Dix was getting lost around some or some other cemetery, as usual, trying to help out some lonesome ghost, while Vetin was enjoying High Living to a battlecry of "shopping! shopping!!!" and Nictus - his player absent from the session - was studying alone, having left strict instructions not to disturb him).
Iago rolled successfully to Regroup & Prepare, chose to study the situation and make a plan - the situation being he'd got a bunch of antique coins from the age of the Wizard-Emperor Zagyg* weighing in his purse - and asked me who in Vanetys was well known to buy collectible antiques. It made sense for me to answer openly and not withhold information (it had previously been established that Iago is from the city and knows his way around it, so he'd know such a thing), so i rolled a bunch of dice looking at the "powerful person" sections of the Job Framework table in Hand to Mouth, for inspiration. Then I answered:
"The wealthy overseer of a commercial enterprise... the boss of the calendar-making house, you know... is known to be an avid collector of antiques. You've also heard rumors that Aktebeth, a mercenary wizard providing sorcerous services to the wealthiest [I'd rolled a "young ambitious wizard" and opted to slot in a character who was already in my notebook], buys anything related to Zagyg,* for some reason of their own. Oh, and of course, there was this princess from House Turisvadys - what was her name - everybody's heard about her collection of coins from all over the world, and possibly other worlds as well."

Iago opted to contact the publisher and the princess, stating he was quite afraid of dealing with wizards. As part of telling him about the situation and having him make a plan, I told him that everybody knew where the calendar-making house was as well as which palace the princess lived in and that, while getting the princess to receive him would have been an astonishing feat, getting to speak with a house clerk was trivial enough. First he went to the publishing house and we quickly role-played a clerk setting him up with an appointment with the master, the he went to the princess's palace and lined up with other petitioners, to a similar effect. But it just happened that the princess's clerk took one of the coins as a sample, to submit to his mistress's attention, and gave Iago a written receipt...

Little I knew that the receipt was later to prove a classic Checov's gun! When Iago was in the middle of breaking and entering into a dead necromancer's butcher shop to plant false evidence connecting the deceased to a murder he had perpetrated, he rolled to size up the room for extra information but got a 6, and I was all like: "Ask me a question anyway, but then tell me what is it that you accidentally drop and unwittingly leave behind..."

But back on track. Iago had originally planned to sell the coins to the highest bidder, but when he got to meet with the calendar publisher, that shrewd collector asked him where the coins where from... After babbling something about a family heirloom, Iago got the collector to cede to his Demand to stop asking questions, but as it always is with that move, there had to be an "if": the collector's condition was, of course, that Iago had to sell the coins to him immediately, before "he changed his mind". In the end, Iago got the equivalent of 2 unexamined treasures out of the deal, but skipped his appointed audience with the princess, never getting back the sample coin. This leaves a loose thread, with some opportunities for even more future trouble...

All things considered, Iago had started with a piece of treasure and doubled it, but with a lot of strings attached.

* I know, I know... It was the first name which crossed my mind when I first described the coins, and now I'm stuck with it. Accidental Gary Gygax tribute (not that any other player got it, but I feel sorta silly writing it here).

Freebooting Venus / Re: The helpless are hard to kill
« on: October 10, 2016, 05:00:05 AM »
"They're wounded, and flee" is a veritable engine of fun: an outcome which drives the story.
Sometimes, it's exactly what the attacker's hoping for, but sometimes it's actually the harshest deal you can give a PC on a 7-9 weak hit. But what I really loved was when, yesterday, Iago attacked an NPC from concealment to prevent her from attacking Dix in turn and, on a 10+ hit, chose to make her flee - it looked like the best tactical choice in the moment - but then had to regret it (the character did, not necessarily the player) when having allowed the NPC to escape made their situation much more complicated (and dangerous).
The availability of this one 2-harm option was what allowed me to set up a whole Thieves in the House situation with a dangerous, monstrous beast let loose to destroy the intruders: perfect swords & sorcery moment.

I wonder whether it's on purpose that putting armor on an NPC totally closes off such a development. Maybe there could be a 1-harm option to the effect that they cautiously retreat, uninjured, or something like that?

Freebooting Venus / Re: Dogs & horses
« on: October 10, 2016, 04:41:52 AM »
In yesterday's session, the first pet pig debuted on screen in the lap of an important NPC.

Having agreed that I hadn't mentioned any horses so far, we've also been thinking about a world without horses a little. It was a funny conversation ("I'll ride a giant goose, then!" "Sorry, no birds." "Aw, right", etc.):
  • One player asks: "No horses, OK, but are there donkeys? Donkeys are lovely!"
  • One player wasn't at all worried about lack of horses and advocated giant lizards. I suppose, as scary war mounts everything goes, but as everyday working animals? That would detract from my suspension of disbelief while enjoying my personal fantasy-anthropology sub-game. To me, it has to be mammals.
  • Looks like camelids are fair game: camel-like and llama-like species can be used as pack animals and a few, like our Terran dromedary camel, could be effective war steeds as well. Though Venus as we've known it so far is too humid for most Terran camelids, they're an extremely adaptive bunch - maybe they're limited to the driest areas of the planet, or maybe there's such a thing as swamp-camels.
  • Elephants don't have too be huge! "Dwarf" elephants, if domesticated, could fill a lot of horse-like roles.
  • Bovines can't compare to horse as fast runners, but have widely been used in the real world as draft animals. Cattle, water buffalo, yaks... Such animals could be an ordinary sighting on busy city streets, pulling carts and carrying weights. Maybe larger, fierce auroch-like bulls pull Venusian war-chariots.

Freebooting Venus / Re: What about shields?
« on: October 09, 2016, 06:53:33 PM »
"Visually wrong" isn't load-bearing, it's just more of my nonsense.
I'm definitely interested in what your vision is, mainly because I've actually liked what's transpired of it so far. Of course, in practice it's always going to be down to some interplay between what transpires of the author's vision and what the actual players actually feel like doing of it, but...

Anyway, we officially established "no domesticated dogs" during today's session and I also stood corrected about horses: players say I haven't mentioned any horses so far.

Freebooting Venus / Re: A game I love to prep for
« on: October 09, 2016, 06:43:54 PM »
Great, thanks! What shape has the game taken over these five sessions?

Has it been mostly a game of the MC causing trouble and the players interacting with the MC's prep?

I definitely hasn't. Because, when I prep trouble, it's always as a consequence of something they did, or a distant consequence of something already in play, or to make sense of something I had to make up on the spot when they rolled a 6 or less. So it feels more like a game of them inviting their own trouble, and trouble inevitably honoring their invitation. It feels like an extended Fiasco, except that their hopes for success are much higher.

How does it feel different in play from, say, AW?
The main difference is in the kind of world they're interacting with, its feel and sheer scale.
AW was a "small world" game to us: no faceless crowds, almost everybody on screen had a name, everyone knew everybody. Outside this small circle, the world was a blank slate, with literally everything being possible. But, on the other hand, we were very serious about it being a SF game - a near-future SF game with an environmental main theme - and we very consciously kept to our real-world expectations. The threshold for our suspension of disbelief was a very strict "this could fucking seriously be our world 50 years from now". Plus our Maelstrom was fucking scary, arthouse horror film stuff, with a damn strong undercurrent of "something's wrong with both the world and our mind". Every PC's core motivation was to "fix" their world at some very fundamental level, and their own human frailty was what held them back - while, as the MC, I was concerned with highlighting what's wrong with our contemporary, real wold.
Our FV is set in city of 1 million people with a sophisticated culture and lots of social complexity. You can literally hide in plain sight in the middle of a busy marketplace, and there are such things as bureaucracy, etiquette, banking... It's less personal, less scary, more lighthearted. Very close to a cyberpunk RPG "sprawl", if you'll just replace hacking and the cyberspace with necromancy and ghosts (but not the mercenary hit squad, "go on missions and be betrayed by your boss" playstyle I've learned from the Forge many roleplayers associate with Shadowrun), And we're constantly talking about how the wider world works, in general. The opposite of a "small world". And while a lot of people are fucked up, it's also a place of beauty. The PCs are mostly concerned with bettering their own lot in life and fulfilling their own ambitions, some of them also with doing what feels right for its own sake, but they aren't trying to change the world in any fundamental way.

Also, in AW you have all these different playbooks meaning PCs each deal with their own, specific concerns, possibly on a wholly different scale. In FV they're all playing the same character type, for now at least (my understanding is that in the long term the various "modules" will become the equivalent of AW playbooks: a PC wizard establishing their own seclusium has very different mindset and perspectives than a PC who's leading a warband, say).

Have you tried my little magic hack, or are you playing it as-written?
Playing it as written, for now. But, to be fair, there have only been two spells cast  so far over 5 sessions, one by a PC and one by an NPC, thus we haven't really felt the need for any added variety or flexibility.

Freebooting Venus / Re: Dogs & horses
« on: October 09, 2016, 04:01:21 AM »
Penned into my prep notebook 24 hours ago:

A puluth is a fashionable pet. It's a kind of chanting bat, and it goes POOL POOL POOL-LH-LH POOL POOL POOL-LH-LH POOL POOL PLUPLUPUL POOL POOL POOL-LH-LH constantly, hence its name. Strangely, puluth-lovers don't seem to find its chanting maddening. It's a large-ish, blue-black, short-muzzled fructivore (sp?) which is apparently OK clinging to people's clothing most of the time, as long as it recognizes the person and is kept fed. (It's basically very similar to a pug in both size and appearance.) It's said to be closely related to carnivorous bats bred for hunting, specifically by cross-breeding and such, but there are precious little apparent similarities. While technically capable of flight, it's extremely lazy and won't fly except if motivated by hunger - plus, most pet poluths are definitely overweight. The prized Vanetysian breed is black with white patches, and definitely the most fashionable of all.

Now it's established that there aren't dogs on Venus, I'm positive puluths and dwarf-size pigs constitute the staple handbag-sized pets for fashion conscious ladies in the city of Vanetys.

Freebooting Venus / Re: What about shields?
« on: October 09, 2016, 03:28:41 AM »
It's #3, then!

No horses, really? Oh, noes! I was totally assuming horses. I'm pretty sure there are already horses in my game, though just as background noise. Will it somehow "break" the game at a later date, if I have horses in it? Like, in Banners of War? ^_^;
(But please tell me there are war elephants!)

As for no domesticated canids, I guess that's just fair to cats, and I do have ideas for replacements. See this other thread.

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